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whoeliusVancouverSince March 24, 200923 Reviews
Average Rating
3.5 (3.3)
  • Food3.5 (3.5)
  • Service3 (3.1)
  • Value3 (3)
  • Ambiance3.5 (3.4)

Reviews

Displaying 1 - 20 of 23 Reviews Found
Closed
Smiley's Public House911 W Pender Street, Vancouver
I come here chiefly to watch the boxing
Submitted Sunday, May 15, 2011 - 1:15pm [Dine in]

My wife and I have been here at least half a dozen times in the last couple of years, as it's one of the few places downtown which screens the big boxing matches even when hockey is on. One of the members of staff will usually switch a couple of the TVs over, leaving the hockey on the big screens, and that's fine for me.

Smiley's is a Donnelly's outfit so there's a staple set of good-quality pub food - nachos, wings, burgers, and a very good poutine - as well as some salads, good hearty sandwiches and a surprisingly good fish and chips. I usually go for the braised-short-rib-topped poutine, which is very satisfying and of a good standard, and I like the asymmetrical bowl in which it arrives! This same poutine can be found at the other Donnelly houses.

The selection of beers is actually pretty decent - obviously not as good as at the imperiously brilliant Alibi Room, but much better than the half-filled glasses of frozen urine one can expect at places like Earls. Smiley's is one of the few places outside of a liquor store one can find the Unibroue beers - the Belgian-style beers from Quebec - including Trois Pistoles and La Fin du Monde, which are arguably among the best beers in the world.

Smiley's can be understandably very busy in the evenings, but the service has always held up well for us. We've never been ignored and food and drinks have always arrived promptly and cheerfully. And I'm sure the gents among me will agree that the waitress' uniform is quite commendable.

I like the room. The TVs aren't debilitatingly loud as they can be elsewhere, and the chairs are very comfortable, so one really can sit back, relax and listen to one's wife. And if one's wife isn't particularly interesting, there are at least fifteen television screens.

So, in summary, I do come here primarily because they show boxing but if I happened to be in the area and needed nourishment, Smiley's would be one of my first choices.

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Closed
Asahi-Ya1230 Robson Street, Vancouver
Super
Submitted Friday, April 9, 2010 - 4:06pm [Dine in]

Asahi-Ya is my local. I've been here maybe fifty times in the last three years, and I'll be happy if I go another fifty times in the next three years.

When I first moved to Vancouver a few years ago, my fiancée took me to Asahi-Ya to introduce me to Japanese food. I was hooked immediately, though having tried a few other Japanese outlets on the Downtown peninsula and then being a little underwhelmed by Asahi-Ya, we didn't go much for the next year or so.

Then we gave it another go and it was as if the chefs had all been put through rigorous chefayaki banzai karate training; the food just seemed fresher and tastier and the waiting was happier.

For sushi, I don't know of a better Japanese restaurant down town. It's very fresh, very flavourful, nicely prepared and the portions are sizeable. I like the more exotic rolls and nigiri, and Asahi-Ya does not disappoint. The asari miso soup (a miso soup with two clams) is to die for, and sometimes so much so that I would suggest the asari miso hot pot, which is basically a huge asari miso soup with ten clams in it! I'm also a big fan of their excellent curry.

The service is decent. I'm a shy chap so the reserved nature of the service suits me. They don't sit on you like they do at the Keg and they don't ask you personal questions like they do at Earls. Sometimes there's a bit of an English-as-a-second-language issue, but that's okay; I don't go there for a debate.

Prices at Asahi-Ya do seem to have that extra 10% added to them compared with other Japanese restaurants in the area. For me, Asahi-Ya is well worth it. I often eat here by myself with a book, and if I pay $44 instead of $40 for getting stuffed on sushi and a little slurry on sake, I don't mind provided I leave satisfied, and my satisfaction is as good as guaranteed at Asahi-Ya. Three stars here means "solid" while four means "outstanding", so I'd like to give 3½ for value. I suppose it's closer to solid than outstanding.

I like the place. It's a very basically designed room. That's fine for me - I'm not at a castle, a museum or an art gallery - though the bench seats are wooden and quite hard! If you suffer from haemorrhoids you'd certainly be better off sitting on one of the chairs!

Taking the other comments into account - and noting that the negative ones are old - I recommend Asahi-Ya to anyone in or visiting Vancouver.

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Earls905 Hornby Street, Vancouver
Err. Thanks.
Submitted Sunday, March 21, 2010 - 9:46pm [Dine in]

My fiancée and I spontaneously turned into Earls today after a lazy Downtown Sunday. I had a hankering for a steak and as we're regulars at another Earls outlet, I was curious as to how good this location would be.

We were seated with the usual Sunday recital of 'How was your weekend?' - which we both hate as it is none of the business of a stranger who'll have forgotten us by the next day - near a column of televisions, which was great for me as the boxing was on.

With my beer I ordered the 10-ounce steak and with hers the fiancée plumped for the half order of chicken and baby back ribs. I can proclaim from vast experience that both of those are sure winners at Earls. My steaks have always been cooked to perfection and the chicken and ribs dish is supremely succulent. The chef today was true to form, providing us both with an excellent meal. I was close to rating it with five stars.

The good lady's instructions were to have her potato salad without corn, and asparagus instead of coleslaw. The result was that a waiter moved to put a squash soup on our table and my fiancée's plate was missing the vegetables. I'll leave that one to the reader to figure out. The soup was a mystery to everybody. We then asked for a finger bowl and we got a coffee cup of cold tap water with a slice of lemon in it. Once I'd finished my meal, my plate was on the table for a good five minutes before it was removed, despite there being three and often four waitresses gossiping to one another about some typical Vancouver girl nonsense not three yards behind me.

The management clearly isn't as stringent as it is at Earls on Top (Robson Street), where the service is very strong and very attentive.

The value is typically solid and today the beers were $4 each, so that's good.

I liked the setting - the televisions were nice the music wasn't blazing. Our waitress had on a fabulously short skirt and she jiggled delightfully, but that only appeased one of us and we left the restaurant more baffled at the Barbie-Girl service than delighted with the food.

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Rice 'N Spice1055 West Georgia Street, Unit 218, Vancouver
That long line ain't there for nothin'!
Submitted Sunday, February 21, 2010 - 3:52pm [Dine in]

My fiancée and I often take a trip to this corner of the Royal Centre at lunchtime as we work nearby and there's a good variety down here in the Bentall Underworld.

While the good lady usually goes next door to Manny's, I'll get in the queue for what is an exceptional curry selection. The servers are always happy to tell us what is what and while the spicy dishes are often very, very spicy indeed, I've never once been disappointed. Usually I go for a half dose of rice with three meats (chosen from about six options). Vegetables come free and I like to just go for the potatoes.

My meal usually comes to $10, which is okay given that I get three meats and the quality on offer.

It's comfortably the best place I've eaten either in the Royal Centre or the Bentall Centre. I just wish it was open on Sundays!

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Closed
Kam's Place1043 Davie Street, Vancouver
Best Oriental I've had in Vancouver
Submitted Monday, October 12, 2009 - 11:16pm [Dine in]

My fiancée and I have had takeaway delivered to us from Kam's many times and have always been impressed with the consistent quality of the food; the portion sizes, the spices and the flavours are great.

After a Friday stroll through Vancouver, we stopped at Kam's for the first time and we were seated immediately. For a drink, the lady chose the Kam's Special Cocktail, which was a piña colada with a particularly nutty flavour, and she said it was the best piña colada she'd ever had. My Singapore Sling was pretty good too.

After I'd started with the hot and spicy soup, namely suar lang la tang, which was wonderful and brilliantly spicy, we chose the lemon chicken, the rock salt chili pork and the pineapple fried coconut rice with beef. It was consistently eight-out-of-ten stuff, save for the rice, which was even better. Everything just tasted right and we were very happy, even the next day when we fried up what we couldn't finish.

The place feels authentically oriental and the service for us was fine, even when the manager saw my camera and called me Mr. Nikon for the rest of the night.

We'll certainly be back and I'd recommend Kam's to anybody.

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Cactus Club Cafe588 Burrard Street, Vancouver
Surprisingly High Quality
Submitted Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - 11:54pm [Dine in]

My fiancée and I whimsically chose Cactus Club Cafe on Burrard Street for lunch on Tuesday afternoon, the day of the Bellini specials.

We were seated after waiting a couple of minutes and we took the advice of the waitress, going for the Bellinis. They were awesome; tartier, more fruity and whipped much better than at Earl's.

I chose one of the lunch specials: the short rib sandwich, and my lovely lady went for the three mini bacon cheeseburgers. I was thrilled with my food. The beef was ludicrously soft and the sandwich was perfectly moist. Even the accompanying fries were perfect. Maybe I can squeeze in a minor complaint about my au jus, which was bland.

The lady says her meal was really good. She was surprised though when she was asked whether she wanted yam fries or salad, and when she picked yam fries we discovered later that we'd been charged an extra $4. The manner of the waitress' question suggested it was one or the other as part of the meal, especially given that it was $12. $12 just for three 3-inch burgers is extortionate, in my opinion, and so is $4 for a handful of fries.

I felt like I had room for dessert once I'd had my wonderful sandwich, so we shared the white chocolate cheesecake. It was the best cheesecake I've had in Vancouver. It was lightly whipped and the biscuit base was excellent. I don't like dark chocolate, so we got the dark chocolate sauce on the side in a bowl, and my fiancée liked that too.

We had a different waiter towards the end, a tall young man whose manner was terrific. Never have I felt so comfortable about asking for or receiving a cup of tea. Had he been our waiter throughout, I'd have rated the service with 5 stars. Indeed, the tea he brought was fantastic.

My main meal was $16, which despite its brilliance still seems very high. $16 for a sandwich? A superb sandwich, unquestionably it was, but it was a sandwich. Our Tuesday lunch came to $56.

The restaurant is nice. The decor is modern and the waiting staff look nice, particularly the jiggly females.

I'd certainly recommend Cactus Club Cafe to fans of Earl's or anyone looking for a good lunch.

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Mandalay Lounge and Steakhouse3900 Bayview Street, #140, Richmond
A Pleasure
Submitted Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 10:57pm [Dine in]

Having lugged an enormous painting through Steveston with my bare hands, I deserved a rest and a good meal. We stopped at Mandalay overlooking the channel of the Fraser River. The chairs didn't seem to match the tables but that was okay; I only wanted to sit on one piece of furniture and eat from the other and once I'd used my engineering skills to remove the chair from under the table I was okay.

My fiancée and I had a beer each and we both opted for the fish and chips after the waiter enthusiastically said it was halibut.

The sun was in my face and I felt like I was either in heaven or the Mediterranean. The music was like an old-fashioned Cuban salsa and I was able to take a couple of photographs before the dinner arrived.

The waiter proved to be even more enthusiastic than we first thought. He returned with our plates, delivering mine like a frisbee and launching most of my chips onto the table. "Oh, that was amazing", was his review of the situation, whereas I just laughed and presumed he was desperate to put my fish in the middle of my plate, which was where it finished up. My fiancée's food landed more safely in front of her and we ate amused.

My meal was the best fish and chips I've had in Canada. The fish was fresh, beautifully cooked and lightly battered and my fries - at least those I managed to salvage - were fine. Even the tomato and tartar sauces were lovely. Having asked my fiancée, she says her fish was outstanding, thoroughly cooked and light. She says the fries could have been crispier but the flavour of both the fries and the yam fries was lovely. She got a nicely spicy mayo with her yam fries, which she also loved.

We finished with the cheesecake. I thought it was too thick, but that's how the lady likes it so I suppose there can be no complaints there. It was a bit dull though as I could barely tell the difference in texture between what was supposed to be the biscuit and the cheesecake. I like a light cheesecake with a crispy biscuit!

The ambience was, for my taste, flawless. I sat facing the sun and there was nothing ugly between it and I, and the quaint harbour feel could charm a dead man to sing.

The charming waiter brought extra fries for me and I think he bought one of my beers, which he really didn't have to but I was very grateful.

The bill came to about $60, which I was okay; perhaps a little on the mean side, but okay. My fish and chips were of the very highest order so I wouldn't complain.

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Pasparos Taverna132 W 3rd St, North Vancouver
Lovely
Submitted Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 10:14pm [Dine in]

On a day trip across the Burrard Inlet, my fiancée took a recommendation from one of her friends and stopped at Pasparos on Saturday.

We were seated after about a minute of waiting, even though there were more spare tables than engaged ones, and I immediately noticed a discomforting chilly breeze on my arm. I was next to a patio door which didn't shut properly, leaving an inch gap. Of course, I should have asked to be moved but I'm clearly not intelligent enough to exercise such wisdom on an empty stomach.

I went for my usual Greek favourites - avgolemono soup and roast lamb - while the good lady picked the saganaki to start, followed by the Heirino me Thamaskina from the specials menu.

My food was glorious. Absolutely glorious. Just a few days earlier I'd been to Taki's downtown, which had served me the best avgolemono soup I'd had in Vancouver, and then Pasparos just went ahead and gazumped it with an even better soup. It was magnificent. The lamb followed suit, as did the accompanying potatoes. The salad and rice were both lovely. I was delighted.

My fiancée reports that her saganaki was also of the very highest order. In her main meal, the meat was tender, the sauce was a pleasant, sweet plum sauce and she enjoyed it. For her taste, the rice was a bit too soft. We got the same rice and for me it was perfect so I suppose it depends on how you like it.

We washed our food down with a shared pitcher of sangria. That was okay. It was just sangria and nothing special; perhaps a bit tart for my liking. Sangria should be fresh and inviting. It was okay.

The service was very, very good indeed. The young man was soft-spoken. I was amused when my fiancée asked him if her choice of main meal was something he'd go for and his cute reply was that although he'd never had it, he knew it was good.

Including the tip, our bill was $100 and I found this somewhat steep given the table and where I was sat. Two stars here at dinehere.ca means "decent", and that's how I rate the value. I certainly didn't feel we were ripped off. The food was exceptional and every bit as satisfying as the brilliant Taki's in Downtown Vancouver. I would recommend Pasparos to anyone on the lookout for good Greek food.

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Takis Taverna1106 Davie Street, Vancouver
Excellent
Submitted Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 12:54pm [Dine in]

I had the pleasure of dining at Taki’s on Davie Street just the other day.

The good lady and I arrived and were seated after having waited a few minutes. We were both comfortable and despite being quite close to our neighbours, we didn’t feel vulnerable to our nosy dining neighbours as one often can in cramped Mediterranean restaurants.

I picked my usual favourites: avgolemono soup for an appetiser and lamb kleftiko to follow, and also taramasalata, which I was delighted to see on the menu. My fiancée started with the saganaki and then had the chicken souvlaki.

I was thrilled with my soup; it was the best avgolemono I’ve had in Vancouver, hot and tart with just the right amounts of chicken, rice and lemon. The taramasalata was very nice and fresh, too. My kleftiko was excellent. The accompanying potatoes, rice and vegetables tended more towards mediocre than the rest of the meal did, but as a carnivore, that hardly mattered to me. The lamb was soft and cooked beautifully. My lady said her rice was a little on the hard side, but otherwise her meal was excellent and she loved it.

We shared a pitcher of sangria to wash the dinner down, and that was perfect.

We could barely hear the music over the ambient chatter but what we could hear was traditional Greek and that’s always welcome. Every now and then a set of plates would smash and everybody applauded.

Our service was fine. The waiter was happy and non-intrusive without being aloof. I think he was a Cypriot.

The bill came to about $70 and it was the best Greek I’ve had downtown. Maria’s Tavern on Denman is also excellent. Olympus, also on Denman, is very popular but really quite generic and nowhere near the standard of Taki’s or Maria’s Tavern. I’d recommend Taki’s to anybody looking out for a high-quality Greek dining experience with a true Hellenic ambience.

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City Wok530 Hornby Street, #4, Vancouver
I'm not kidding!
Submitted Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 4:51pm [Dine in]

I've been here for lunch three times with my good lady in the last few weeks and the food is terrific.

City Wok is one of about eight little alcoves in Hornby Food Court, an abditive little food court on Hornby St, just off West Pender St. Also in there are Filipino, Japanese, Greek establishments and a salad bar.

As it was so brilliant the first time, I've kept going for the chicken curry each time I've been. There are no peas in the rice, which is brilliant! I hate peas! The barbecue pork is better than in any other fast Chinese place I've tried it, and everything else I've tried has been hot, fresh and very, very flavourful. I think my rice with three "things" was less than $8. Fantastic!

The good lady works at Thurlow Street, so to get here we walk past the Bentall Centres, ignoring those food courts, and walking another couple of blocks just to get here.

The ambiance is fine, even if the place is a little packed, and last time I was in there, it sounded like Darth Vader was sat next to me, such was his heavy breathing. Perhaps he was enjoying his City Wok even more than I was.

This place is brilliant and I wholeheartedly recommend City Wok to anyone who works nearby.

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Take 5 Cafe701 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
Trust Starbucks instead
Submitted Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 4:02pm [Dine in]

After a spot of lingerie shopping with my fiancée, I was feeling understandably wonderful. Stopping short of walking straight out of the Pacific Centre, we stopped at Take 5 Cafe for a quick bite.

Having waiting in line for a couple of minutes, we made our order of a breakfast fajita for me and some Italian ham and cheese toastie for the good lady. Neither of us could understand what the assistant behind the till said but we were nonetheless entertained by the manner in which she punched our order into the computer. It was like watching a boxer practising on a speed ball.

Five minutes later, a man shouted "Order number 100!" and we picked up our food from the counter.

My fajita was promisingly hot on the outside - I could barely pick it up with my fingers - and horribly warm on the inside. Its ingredients were supposedly bacon, egg, green onions, cheese and tomato sauce. The only one I could taste was the tomato sauce and unfortunately, that was all concentrated into one measly spot of the innards of my fajita. I laboured through my meal, submitting to boredom and dolour with about one fifth of it left.

I also took a little bite of my poor fiancée's toastie. It wasn't at all Italian and, like my fajita, it had a lukewarm filling.

I would have felt ripped off had the price been 50 cents, so a $15 total for this crap should have been a case for the humanity courts.

The chair was very comfortable, but I would still strongly advise my fellow Vancouverites, as well as tourists, to pick one of the 86 Starbucks outlets that are within 5 kilometres of this place instead.

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Twisted Fork Bistro1147 Granville Street, Vancouver
Thank you, dinehere.ca
Submitted Sunday, August 30, 2009 - 5:58pm [Dine in]

My fiancée and I heeded advice of this very website just last night and went to Twisted Fork Bistro.

From the outside, Twisted Fork Bistro doesn’t look out of place on seedy Granville Street. On entering, one could be forgiven for thinking they’d entered a cheap English pub.

We were seated in the dark before the waitress lit a limp candle which allowed me to, once again, make out my fiancée.

When my eyes had adjusted, I read the single-sided menu to find every single dish included a set of vegetables quite horrifying to a meat-lover like me. I eventually settled on the cured duck, which came with potato puree (that’s a foppish French term for what the rest of us call mashed potatoes) and cranberry sauce. Ratatouille also came with it as standard but, gallantly, I donated that to the waitress. The good lady had the chicken breast with barley risotto, roasted squash and chicken jus.

My meal was utterly exceptional to the taste. It was truly sublime. The duck and potatoes were terrific and even the cranberry sauce was of the highest order. It was a little on the small side – and the “but it’s French” excuse doesn’t work for me; small is small – but I forgave that, having eaten it in approximately three minutes. My fiancée also enjoyed her meal.

We then shared the Caramel Napoleon, a sweet, raspberry-caramel-ice cream mousse affair. It was delightful, even though the sourness of the raspberries was a little overbearing as the ice cream melted away.

We also shared a carafe of a very oaky red wine.

The prices fairly represented what we got. On first glance, the $20 for my main meal would seem extortionate given the size of it, but it tasted like the proverbial million dollars and I felt like I was in heaven throughout my love affair with it.

The service was good. Our waitress was pleasant and not an idiot. I was glad, though, that a man who appeared to be the manager didn’t come over. He was too tall, his jeans were too tight and his manner was more suited to a New York bar.

I would recommend Twisted Fork Bistro, but with the caveat that one probably should be able to tolerate vegetables and a limited menu.

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Komi Sushi1100 Melville Street, #100, Vancouver
Food isn't good enough
Submitted Friday, August 14, 2009 - 12:43am [Dine in]

This place is absolutely packed at lunchtimes with people from the adjacent Sun Life Building and escapees from the Bentall buildings. My guess is that most of them have either forgotten what a good Japanese meal is as a result of gouging themselves on this generic rubbish every day, or they just don't know where the better nearby Japanese eateries are.

I, too, have fallen into Komi a few times. The boxes have been bland - though with substantial portions, the sushi has never been anything but dry and the sashimi has only been bad. The unagi was respectable. There is also no option to alter the boxes at lunchtime. You can't, for example, exchange a dynamite roll for a california roll because, by their own admission, the boxes are preprepared.

When food is below the standard one would expect, service doesn't really matter. How well can one have bad food delivered to them? Well, at Komi, the food is, at least, delivered efficiently and sometimes that is by the toughest-looking man in the whole of Vancouver. He looks friendly enough and I don't feel scared that he'll plant my face into my chicken teriyaki if I ask for my coke with no ice, but he still reminds me of Bruce Lee.

The prices are what one would expect and restaurant is comfortable.

May I take the liberty of suggesting a sandwich from Mangez Mangez just next door?

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Vinada Vietnamese Restaurant1260 Robson Street, Vancouver, Vancouver
Dreadful Experience
Submitted Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 11:56pm [Dine in]

Vinada was the very first restaurant in which I ate in Vancouver. It was in the November of 2007 and it was the first Vietnamese meal I'd ever had. We liked it so much that we went again the week after.

We returned to Vinada as it was snowing heavily last Christmas. We entered and, despite being the only people in the establishment, it took 5 minutes for the girl to see to us. She had bad skin and bad manners, barely registering our existence as she dumped the cups of tea and our menus at the table.

Having made our decisions, we waited for ten minutes as I watched our waitress have a snowball fight with her friends just outside the front door. She came in. We made our order.

As we waited for the food, our waitress went back outside to play with her friends until she came back in fifteen minutes later to grab our food from the chef before delivering it to us - all of it except a portion of chicken wings. I asked her if they were on their way and her reply was: "Oh, sorry, we're sold out." Of course, had she not been doing her job she could have told me that before the meals arrived and I could have ordered an alternative.

As it was, I left unsatisfied with a small portion of a very average meal that had been delivered to me with the worst service I have ever experienced anywhere in the world. I felt insulted and I think my fiancée did too.

Since then, I've twice passed people stood outside looking at the menu. On both occasions, I've successfully persuaded them not to enter. I will continue to do so. This place is an insult to Robson Street.

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Fortune Express Restaurant505 Burrard Stree, #106, Vancouver
A Very Pleasant Surprise
Submitted Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 10:30pm [Dine in]

My fiancée and I escaped to the Bentall Centre for our lunch hour during the week, looking for something new and simple. We stopped in the Bentall food court, made the sane decision to dismiss Subway outright as we wanted to taste our food, and picked Fortune Express out of a choice of it, A&W and a pizza joint.

With my noodles I opted for the boneless sweet and sour pork and chicken balls. The good lady plumped for the lemon chicken and ginger pork. For fast, simple Chinese, both of our meals were fantastic. The food was very hot and fresh, the noodles were done perfectly and the meat was very flavourful; not haplessly bland like the pathetic Flaming Wok outlets. We were even served with a smile, despite the busyness of the court. A special mention should go to the lemon chicken, which was, believe it or not, the best I've had in the city.

Neither of us could quite finish our meals as we were so generously served. As we left, we saw a number of people enjoying the bowls of soup also on offer at Fortune Express. I'm almost excited to go back just to try out them for myself!

If you're in the area, I wholeheartedly recommend Fortune Express for a good-quality lunchtime Chinese meal.

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Hamburger Mary's Diner1202 Davie Street, Vancouver
Eat the food. Don't look at the server.
Submitted Sunday, July 26, 2009 - 5:02pm [Dine in]

My fiancée and I have been to Hamburger Mary’s many times in the last year as we’ve been consistently satisfied with the burgers, the quality in the variety and the wonderful hot turkey sandwich.

Uniquely retro, Hamburger Mary’s boasts comfort, atmosphere and food among its qualities and if it had the service to match, it would be difficult to find a better diner of its style on the Downtown peninsula.

My personal favourite is Mary’s famous Hot Turkey Sandwich, a solid portion of turkey with thick gravy on top of the toast of your choice, a more-than-sufficient pot of cranberry sauce and a load of fries (or, optionally, the soup of the day). They never hold back with toast and their selection of jam, marmalade and peanut butter. Another huge favourite of mine is the awesome, rich-in-flavour bison burger. On occasion they have kangaroo burgers available, too; that’s a little dry and really does need cheese with it, but it’s nice to get the opportunity to try something like that in a metropolis such as Vancouver. The lady likes the Arctic burger (a mix of bison, venison and musk ox), which is rather lean but, with a big dollop of cheese and the brilliant bacon, it’s lovely.

I’ve never felt enthusiasm in the service. Perhaps this is intended as it fits in with the ‘50s decor, but the waiters and waitresses do seem like they rolled out of the wrong side of the bed. We’ve always had what we’ve asked for but a smile wouldn’t go amiss.

That mediocre-at-best service is by no means enough to discourage me from dining here. The food has always been of a high standard and it suits meat-eater me. I’d certainly recommend Hamburger Mary’s to couples.

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Cafe Luxy1235 Davie Street, Vancouver
Good
Submitted Sunday, July 26, 2009 - 4:04pm [Dine in]

My good lady and I left Cafe Luxy very satisfied earlier today.

We'd been walking up Davie Street on the way to the outstanding Hamburger Mary's when some Eggs Benedict caught my eye.

We turned left, entered Cafe Luxy, and were greeted warmly by a pleasant waitress. We both decided on Benedict; I plumped for the smoked salmon variety with a simple cup of tea while my companion chose the Italian style with pancetta, chorizo and ham, and a coffee.

The Eggs Benedict were delivered with roasted potato hash browns, a chopped half apple, a cherry and a few grapes, a delightful balance to start my day and I was very pleased with the portion size – we both had two eggs, each on a half muffin. The food tasted very fresh and I was quite impressed. I wasn’t drowned in a pool of a very dull excuse for Hollandaise sauce like one can be at other places. I was delighted when my lady decided she couldn’t eat her whole portion and cut off half of one of her Eggs Benedict for me; that too tasted nice and fresh.

The decor is lovely even if the carpet in the middle of the floor seems misplaced – my chair was only half on it! I wasn’t very comfortable on what was a very hard seat. The place feels relatively expensive, especially having walked in from Davie Street. Our waitress was charming and I was more than happy to give her a healthy tip.

The quality of the food left me curious enough to want to return for dinner one time and I would certainly recommend Cafe Luxy to those nearby looking for a quality, good value breakfast.

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Earls1185 Robson St, Vancouver
Choose wisely
Submitted Sunday, June 21, 2009 - 12:53am [Dine in]

Earl's On Top is a difficult one to rate with star ratings. For example, if you pick the right dish, it's one of the best on the Downtown peninsula (more on the ribs and chicken later); and if you don't, you'll quickly forget you ate it. As a fellow reviewer pointed out, if you go here when it's busy, the service will most likely be desperately amateurish; otherwise it'll be friendly and surprisingly knowledgeable, even with the delightfully short skirts.

My fianceé and I have been here at least 50 times in the last year as it's in such a convenient spot right above London Drugs, and usually we go at moderately busy week nights when the waiting isn't overwhelmed and the music doesn't burst the eardrums.

Usually we'll go for so much food that we end up taking a lot of it home. A starter course comprising of a simple but exceptional wedge of pan bread with a saucer of dipping vinegar and oil, and perhaps appetiser plates of ribs and some hot wings (the latter should be mandatory, the wings are incredible) set us up nicely for the exceptional entrée.

That Cajun blackened chicken breast with hickory back ribs and potato salad warrants a 6-star rating. We've had it more than twenty times and never does the tenderness of the chicken or the flavour of the ribs fail to impress. The potato salad on the side is so good that I think I could live on it and it alone for a month. I think that dish is about $29 and it's still a bargain.

As an Englishman, I'm somewhat disappointed by the lack of variety where the beer is concerned. One would expect a much wider range at a place like this. On the other hand, the martinis are expertly mixed, so a bit of Sex Appeal can suffice.

There have been disappointing times, though. Just a few weeks ago I tried the tacos and they were the epitome of bland. But then, to balance it out, just last week I tried a burger there - simply because I was in a big silly burger and beer mood - and it was the best burger I've ever had, completely outclassing the likes of Handburger Mary's. It was 8 ounces of sirloin steak!

The service can be good and it can also be totally retarded. Regulars will know which members of staff to avoid. Sometimes you can get lucky and all will be fine and dandy.

While not low, the prices are fair. The martinis seem somewhat overpriced while the food is good value (if you pick the right thing, of course). At weekend, the lounge/bar area can get very noisy, but the dining area is still quiet and comfortable.

We love Earl's On Top because we know what they do well - and that they do brilliantly - and we don't ask much of the service. If you pick something that isn't one of the chef's specialities, and you pick it on the wrong day, you'll probably avoid it like the plague in future.

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Closed
Don Guacamoles1333 Robson Street, Vancouver
You see that big queue of people waiting to get in?
Submitted Saturday, June 20, 2009 - 11:52pm [Dine in]

Don Guacamoles is a true highlight of Downtown Vancouver and I feel very fortunate to live close to it.

This place is exceptional. As I write, my mouth moistens with a desire to return.

After sharing a plate of steak nachos with jalapeño peppers, my fiancée plumped for a beef fajitas dish while I went for the burrito, thinking I was playing safe. The portions were full - we both took food home - and delivered with friendly, enthusiastic service by a very pleasant young man. The meals were excellent.

Our experience clearly wasn't a fluke. We've seen queues of people waiting to get in even on Monday evenings. And, by the way, those queues of people are served drinks as they wait to go in.

The drinks selection is also very impressive, with a big variety of beers, wines and cocktails. My good lady's Margarita was excellent.

I would obviously recommend this place to anybody. Don Guacamoles is a delight.

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Kirin Mandarin Restaurant1172 Alberni Street, Vancouver
Lesson Learned
Submitted Saturday, June 20, 2009 - 11:26pm [Dine in]

My fiancée and I had the terrible misfortune of being swayed by reputation and price when we decided to part with $150 for a combination of desperately average food and woeful service at Kirin.

The restaurant is very beautiful; the decor is very pleasant and the carpets and staircase look warm and, upon entering, one certainly feels invited. If our meals had followed the standard of my starter - the shark fin soup - then we'd have been delighted. The soup was utterly sumptuous with a beautiful texture and a flavour to die for.

From then on things didn't just go downhill, they hurtled down to with an almighty crash. Our entrées - a balanced selection of meat and rice dishes - were unbelievably bland. I wondered if I had something wrong with my sense of taste until I looked up at the good lady, who also looked rather upset. Specifically, the food was hopelessly dry and the sauces oozed nothingness.

Even worse than the food was the fact that our waiter stayed within ten feet of our table for the entire time. I'm not exaggerating. He did not budge. When we were served, we were actually served by different members of staff. This one particular waiter watched over us from the moment our entrées were delivered until we paid the gargantuan bill.

It may very well be that we caught the restaurant on a bad day, and the other reviews certainly suggest this was the case. I can only vouch for my own experience, though, and mine completely ruined my Sunday afternoon.

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