Appetizers

Sushimoto

Right next to the Holdom Skytrain Station in central Burnaby, is a comfortable, friendly, slightly surreal sushi joint called Sushimoto. It’s a somewhat sleek and very unique venue.

Aside from the great fare, the room is full of interesting knick-knacks. Some traditional Japanese, some quirky eye candy. There’s the requisite paper lanterns but there’s also a cool collection of action figures.

The detail on Tony Montana is freaking eerie…right down to the five o’clock shadow!

I’ve been meaning to hit this place up for quite awhile. Since I first saw their vibrant menu and then read the continuing stream of positive commentary, it was obvious that this was a spot to go to for stellar eats.

Sushimoto offers up some pretty decent lunch specials. One of them is the Maki Roll, Miso Soup, Sunomono Combo. For $9.99 you choose from one of eight specialty rolls and your choice of Vegetable, Tako or Ebi Sunomono.

Quite a substantial sunomono. Nearly double the size I’ve become accustomed to in a combo setting. Clean, cool and very fresh.

The Red Hot Chili Roll really hit the mark. Great sushi rice to start…perfectly cooked and seasoned. A nice, creamy scallop filling topped with spicy tuna and drizzled with spicy sauce & mayo. It has a bit of zip…no serious heat factor, though.

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La Parranda in Mérida, Yucatán

During last year’s trip to Mérida, we stumbled across La Parranda, a funky restaurant/bar in the downtown area. With a few great meals and memories under our belts, we came back this year to gather a few more.

Literally translated, La Parranda means ”The Binge”. We did the name proud.

While roaming around the city, we had wandered past it many times. It seemed like your average, touristy kind of place…nothing to write home about. In the evening, however, it gave off a totally different vibe.

In Mérida, on the weekends at dusk, they close off many streets around the central square allowing the restaurants to spill out onto the sidewalks and beyond. It makes for a whole lot more ambiance.

The place has a load of kitsch about it…typical Mexicana abounds. The enormous sombreros are brought out with mock rifles so the customers can pose for cheesy photo-ops. After a few tequilas and Margaritas, it’s hard to resist.

The well-stocked bar that was responsible for this bout of silliness….

A nicely varied menu…some touristy favorites, but quite a few regional specialties. No idea why we didn’t grab some of the ”Mayan’s Cuisine”. Great reason to hurry on back!!

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Snackin’ in the Yucatán

Mexico is a snacking wonderland. From the ubiquitous taco stand to a wide variety of regional treats, antojitos can be found virtually everywhere. Wikipedia sums up antojitos perfectly: “a Mexican street snack designed to satisfy a craving“.

Granted, our first stop isn’t “exactly” street food, but comes damn close.

As we were wandering the streets of Piste, near Chichen Itza, I had an intense craving for Pollo Carbon (Grilled Chicken). We passed by a few empty spots with some dodgy looking poultry on half-warm grills. After nearly giving up, we spotted smoke billowing from a thatched hut a block away. At the very front of the small restaurant an older lady was tending the grill. Three or four whole, butterflied birds were slowly being cooked to perfection over smouldering charcoal. Heaven.

Sometimes the best places don’t even require a name.

As we approached, salivary glands went into overdrive. I was literally drooling. I just stood there enveloped in the mouthwatering, smoky aroma. Looking around the few occupied tables, I noticed everyone was digging into a shared platter. As there was no menu and no signage whatsoever, we ordered a whole chicken.

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Taberna De Los Frailes in Valladolid, Yucatán

The Yucatán region of Mexico is absolutely stuffed with a ton of amazing places to visit. Being constrained to one week, you have to narrow your list of sites down considerably. A must see is the colonial city of Valladolid.

Valladolid is a small city, about 50,000 inhabitants. If you’re into places that ooze history, this is for you. A stunning cathedral alongside a city square that could pass for a small forest. Young and elderly alike congregate on shady park benches munching on treats from a myriad of street vendors. We bypassed the vendors and wandered up a scenic, cobble-stoned avenue in search of Taberna de los Frailes.

This is an exceptionally beautiful town. At dusk, even more so. Two-hundred year old buildings newly painted in pastels make for a stunning streetscape.

After a half-hour saunter, we arrived at our destination.

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