Copa Cafe is a busy, Hong Kong-style restaurant that the boyfriend and I discovered late one night after missing the last bus home from a date. Pleasantly surprised to find a restaurant open after 11:00pm on Cambie/King Edward, we strolled on in and have been back a few times since.
I feel as though I need to mention the service at Copa Cafe before I go into detail about anything else. First of all, the food at Copa is good and the ambiance is great. It's a decent place to go. However, I am astounded that people go back just because the service is laughably atrocious. You do eventually learn to cope with being ignored by the wait staff and having to deal with people who hardly seem to speak any English, but it can be a huge hurdle to overcome. It is extremely depressing to me to be sitting at a table, waiting for my meal, when I notice the staff walking back and forth from one side of the restaurant to the other not really doing anything, completely ignoring the people at the front of the restaurant who have been waiting for a seat for the last five minutes. There are no assigned areas for the staff either - you will probably never see the waitress who took your order again because it'll be somebody else who brings you your food and then later on your bill. I tend to just smile now with a forced patience when my boyfriend has received his food fifteen minutes before my own arrived, having had to inquire when to expect it.
This is Copa Cafe. It's part of the deal.
With this said - like most Hong Kong-styled restaurants, the menu offers a variety of quick, semi fast food-esque Asian dishes. You'll find all the familiar favorites of Chinese curries, fried rices, noodles, some seafood, steaks, and so on. You'll also find some Western dishes on the menu as well, although if you are like me and are a bit squeamish about Asian restaurants that offer Western dishes, you'll find that a lot of the Western food itself has been influenced by the Asian ingredients. For example, I once ordered a BLT and Roast Beef sandwich. Unlike the traditional strips of bacon, I got very fatty side-bacon, and the roast beef itself was mostly fat with very little meat. Even so, everything I've had is usually very good, and I've yet to encounter something I couldn't finish. There's enough variety in the menu for just a light snack to a full-out meal, plus some desserts and bubble teas.
The prices, however, are very fair. If you're a student on a budget, you can get an enormous plate of something for pretty cheap. They have a special in their main menu that lets you choose three different meats (sole fillets, rib-eye steaks, leg of lamb, etc) with a side (potatoes, rice, etc) and an appetizer soup.
Ambiance-wise, Copa Cafe fits the description of a hip and trendy Hong Kong restaurant. Everything is usually very clean and tidy. The background music is usually subdued, but tasteful. You will, however, encounter the staff yelling at each other in very loud, sharp Mandarin from one side of the restaurant to the other, but alas, I always know that everything will be fine.
Again, this is Copa Cafe. A paradox of love and hate. Joy and sorrow. Everything will be all right, I promise you.