Yup. It’s time to crank up the old blog. After two and a half years, it’s time to dive back into the pool. I’ve returned to my old stomping grounds and it seems to have come alive with a variety of interesting and inspiring venues. New Westminster looks to have been revitalized and I can’t wait to check out what’s new and visit some of the better, long-standing spaces I have neglected.
Longtail Kitchen is a cozy resto of about twenty seats located in the Quay at New West. I’ve yet to dig in to their mainly Thai menu but from the word on the street and this wall of deliciousness, I know I will soon.
Every so often Chef An opens his space for an interesting variety of dining experiences.
This past Saturday, Chef Alex Chen put together a five-course Malaysian feast. His bio states that “He enjoys re-creating dishes from his childhood that were cooked by his mother”. Judging from this night’s menu, it appears Chef Chen was paying full attention to his Mom’s repertoire.
Although being a small space, the folks at Longtail made the most of utilizing it. Two long tables sat the crowd quite comfortably. The close proximity made for quick introductions and good conversation. I was seated next to Chef Chen’s wife and their two wonderful little kids. When their daughter was asked what her favorite food was, she responded immediately, “Steak!”. Awesome.
Another great part of the set-up was this.
New Westminster isn’t exactly a mecca for Vietnamese food in Greater Vancouver. Until now, we’ve had only three fairly average joints to speak of. When I heard of a new one advertising “Authentic” Vietnamese cuisine, I dragged Darciberger down to Columbia St. to see if Le Saigonnais was the real deal.
Unfortunately, the previous occupants, Royal City Thai, closed their doors. They put out some decent Thai food but I guess not enough New Westers gave them a go. It’s always sad to see it happen but in this case, it made way for some pretty damn good Vietnamese.
Le Saigonnais‘ menu is chock-full of authentic Vietnamese fare…not your average joint by any means. The fact that they used Vietnamese titles in a very non-Asian area gave me great hope. Of the four Vietnamese restos here, they’re the first. Bringing authentic Asian fare to this area is always a challenge. Here’s to hoping that it’s the beginning of a trend.
Their version of Bún bò Huế was pretty solid…stacked with flavor and loaded with meat. The broth was spicy enough but it lacked the lemongrass kick. The addition of beef balls in lieu of the pork knuckle was unique. It dropped the authenticity level down a notch but didn’t detract from the bowl a whole lot. The ultra-tender beef slices, great broth and chewy round noodles made up for things quite well.
The latest addition to New Westminster’s growing Asian restaurant scene is Okonomi Sushi on Sixth St. They recently took over the spot that The Orange Room previously occupied. Okonomi has another location in New West down on Fourth St. I was a bit surprised to see a second one open so close. Then again, this stretch of Sixth St. is in definite need of quality Japanese.
Sherman and I arrived on a Monday at noon to a warm and inviting yet deserted room. Knowing we’d be eating large, we grabbed a four-top for extra room. Our very friendly server presented us with one of the heftiest menus I’ve come across.
Weighing in at around two pounds (at least it felt like that!) this menu is absolutely loaded with options, 199 to be exact. To get a good sense of the fare, we opted for the Okonamiyaki & Tempura combo as well as the Special Assorted Combo A.
As the main parts of our meals were being prepared, we were peppered with an assortment of appies and sides.
Inn Noodle House is a recent addition to New Westminster’s “dining scene”. It’s located at street-level in Plaza 88, New Westminster’s brand new condo/shopping/entertainment complex. It’s a reincarnation of the old Dragon Palace that used to reside just up the road on 8th.
I was a bit apprehensive before this visit. You see, New West isn’t exactly flush with great Chinese food. There’s the odd bit of decent fare but it’s hit or miss. Having had a couple of pretty good dishes from Dragon Palace gave me reason for hope. On this visit, we decided to keep it basic. A couple types of dim sum and some items off the lunch special menu ought to give us a flavor of this new resto.
Like I said in my previous post, “If Hot & Sour Soup is on the menu, it will be ordered!”. This is one of the rare times I should’ve gone for the corn chowder or whatever else was on offer. Can’t say that I’ve had a weirder tasting bowl. As I was taking pics, The Gut mumbled something about beef. I thought he meant there was beef instead of pork in it. He meant there was beef consomme in it! It wasn’t horrible…we did finish it, after all. Just very, very odd with that flavor.
We were impressed by the Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) as soon as they hit the table…they look to be good-sized, well-made dumplings. Unfortunately, as soon as you try and pick one up, the wrap breaks…obviously over-steamed. That’s confirmed by a tough, chewy ball of glued-together prawn. Bit of a shame, that.
On the other hand, our second dim sum choice was a great pick. As the Pan-fried Dumplings and the Steamed Pork Dumplings weren’t available, our server suggested these…
It’s been waaay too long…well over ten years now since I’ve paid a visit to Burger Heaven. Strange, really, considering that they’re just down the hill. Maybe I’ve developed some sort of food-phobia of New Westminster. Whenever I think of some place to eat it’s usually west of here. There are, actually, a few really good restaurants around town. It’s just that a lot of them are hit or miss. If memory serves, Burger Heaven was always a hit.
Whenever I’m flipping through the Royal City Record, our local rag, I notice Burger Heaven has a 2 for 1 coupon. As there wasn’t a copy handy at the office, I downloaded the page from their PDF version and clipped out the coupon. You’d figure that’d be as good as the newspaper coupon, no? Apparently not. I was asked if I made a photo copy of the coupon. When I said, “No”, the server checked with her manager, came back and told us they’d accept it only this time. Isn’t the idea of offering a deal at your restaurant to drum up business? Oh, well. All that doesn’t matter one whit. What matters is the food!
Aside from the “regular” burgers, Burger Heaven offers up three ginormous varieties. The Ernie’s Mile High, if you can’t make out the description above, is two and a half pounds (eight patties) loaded with cheddar, mozza, bacon and shrooms. Not sure how one would tackle such a thing but I’d love to see someone try!
The one person I thought would give it a go, chickened out and went with the Hulk Burger.
The Gut likes his burgers and he likes ’em large. The Hulk Burger consists of two six-ounce patties, cheddar, mozza, bacon, mushrooms, onions, tomato and lettuce. He polished this off without so much as a grunt. Kudos, my friend.