Archive for ‘Under $15’

December 16, 2011

$12.95 All You Can Eat Sushi at Toyama Japanese Restaurant


Stephanie here,

This is another post I’m pretty excited to write about.  Since I’m going to be working downtown this summer, I thought it might be good to pre-build a list of eating destinations in downtown. One of those restaurants on that list happened to be Toyama Japanese Restaurant on Seymour St.  I always notice it on my way walking to the Central Library, where I usually study with GP.

However, it was the last day of classes for the winter term and one of my friends suggested Toyama Sushi to eat and celebrate. (Yes .. if you haven’t noticed, we celebrate a lot. I think we’ve gone out the eat for almost every midterm, final exam and last day of classes)

Toyama Sushi offers all you can eat sushi for $12.95 for lunch. For dinner, it’s $19.95. As a poor starving student, here’s a tip: Only go for late night or lunch AYCE sushi, cause dinner is quite expensive.

For $12.95, AYCE Lunch is average – I think the cheapest I’ve seen is $9.95 for lunch, but that is quite rare nowadays. I previously posted about Tomokazu (See $10.95 Late Night All You Can Eat Sushi at Tomokazu)which offered $10.95 AYCE Late Night but since then it’s risen to $12.95.

Anyway, back to the food! Overall, I thought that the items we had were very good. In my opinion, this place ranks just as high as Tomokazu and I would go back here again. The cooked items were very good – my favourite were the beef short-ribs, (a bit greasy though) and the rolls were quite decent as well. The sushi rice as a bit gummy but it worked. My favourite was the BC Roll.  The salmon sushi was fresh, and I think they used sockeye salmon (b/c of the colour), which I liked. The average items that I thought were only so-so was the Agedashi Tofu and Ebi Sunomono. The ebi sunomono was not that great actually- the noodles were too hard and it wasn’t really vinegary. The chicken karaage was pretty good as well.  One thing I like about Toyama is their variety – they had some unusual items such as yam fries (good, but very oily) and croquette.

The only thing that was a bit disappointing was that sashimi was extra charge. Though it wasn’t too bad, but we compensated by ordering lots of salmon sushi. 😀

Overall, the AYCE lunch items at Toyama is pretty good! And the price of $12.45 is reasonable .. we paid about $15 each with tax & tip. Would highly recommend going there again for AYCE.
Toyama Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


September 24, 2011

The Factory… All food $5.95. with one exception

Hey everyone, GP here with my second post! *Que lame applause*

I was actually supposed to do the review for The Warehouse on Granville St, but Steph nabbed the opportunity before I did… so now I’m back. And writing. Ironically, The Factory is only one block away from the Warehouse… So what’s the difference? Is the extra 1 dollar per menu item worth it? Well, after a long (productive) day of study and research at the library downtown, Steph, Jeff and I decided to find out!

When we got to The Factory, obviously some comparisons were made. Seating and overall atmosphere of the restaurant was much cleaner and brighter than The Warehouse.

Service overall was much friendlier as well! Our waitress was very quick and friendly; refilling our water whenever she saw that we were low. Our food came quick as well; just under fifteen minutes.

Here’s what we ordered:

Steph >> Santa Fe Chicken Burger

What is it? A toasted chicken burger with avocado, mango salsa, lettuce and chipotle mayo. Choice of fries or salad. She chose fries.

How did it taste? Chicken breast was a bit dry at first… But the sweetness and moistness of the mango salsa helped to even out the overall texture. Bread was very good as well!


GP >> Jack Hammer Burger

What is it? A beef patty, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo on a fresh and toasted bun. Change to a veggie patty at no extra charge. I didn’t.

How did it taste? Nothing spectacular. Very substantive amount of food for 6 bucks but there’s nothing special I can say about the burger itself. It was cooked just right and tasted good. Same type of bun used on Stephs burger; very good! We both thought our fries were a little salty, but I didnt mind personally.


Jeff >> The Anaconda (the only thing on the menu that wasn’t 5.95… for good reason)

What is it? Ready? Four sandwiches in one. Yes. Four. A BLT, cheeseburger, crispy onion strings between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches. Phew. It was 9.95.

How did it taste? When asked this question, Jeff answered… Tough on the outside until you got to the center… But most of the meat was burnt. We all thought the sandwich would’ve been bigger, especially how much the menu tried to hype it. The grilled cheese was good though; soft bread and good cheese!



Overall verdict?

Service: fantastic. Much better than the warehouse by far. Servers were very nice and laid back.

Atmosphere: much cleaner than the Warehouse. Cleaner. Worth the 1.00 extra that you pay.

Food Quality: overall, it would be about the same as The Warehouse… Would definitely order the Anaconda again. Not worth the extra five dollars. The other burgers we had were great though!

Next time? Steph wants to try the Mac n cheese. GP saw a chicken wrap that looked good… Jeff would have ordered something that came with a side of vegetables.

PSST: The Warehouse has much more variety on their menu… If you don’t mind the dive-ish atmosphere, definitely stick with the Warehouse.

PSST 2: the entrees on the menu are all served without sides… So fries, veggies and mashed potatoes are all extra, on top of the 5.95 you pay. Stick with the wraps and sandwiches! They come with fries or salad.

You can check out their menu here:

September 19, 2011

$10.45 H-U-G-E HK Style Cafe Meal at Kam Do


Chinese Soup and Garlic Bread!

Stephanie here,

This is another post I’m super excited to write about.  Some of my friends who regularly read my blog have always been raving about Kam Do Restaurant & Bakery because of it’s large portions and low prices.  AS most of you know, I spend a lot of my time eating out and most of the times I eat out, it’s usually at a HK Style Cafe.  If you don’t know what a HK Style cafe is, take a look at one of my previous posts at other HK Style Cafes in Vancouver!

One of the special things about HK Style Cafes is that they offer a set meal that

This darn thing was MASSIVE

includes, soup, bread, HK Style drink and a main dish ranging anywhere between $6-$15 dollars.  The type of soup, bread and drinks are almost always the same at HK Style Cafes.

For soups, they usually offer a clear brothy-like soup, or cream of mushroom/corn or Russian borscht (which tastes more like Campbells’  vegetable soup to me).
For the bread, it’s usually a Chinese bun or a slice of garlic bread.
For drinks, you can order Ying Yang (coffee mixed with tea), Lai Chai (milk tea), Horlick (almond?) or Lemon Iced Tea (note, this is not Nestea)

Some of the main dishes that are quite common are Baked Porkchop/Seafood on Rice, Noodle Soups, Fried Rice, Portuguese Chicken on Rice, Baked Spaghetti,

Eee-Mein Noodles

and one of my favourites, chicken steak.

One of the biggest differences that I have seen, are the portion sizes. Here at Kam Do, the portions sizes are massive! I went out with my brother, uncle and grandma and we ordered Baked Porkchop on Rice and the dish came on a pie plate! I have never seen that before. Usually the portions are half that size.

The bread was a normal size, but the soup bowl was quite large. You can’t see from the picture, but the actually soup bowl was quite large. The dish was not the best I’ve tasted, but nonetheless, it was pretty solid.  It was a bit more tomatoey than what I’m used to, but I liked that there was a lot of cheese baked on top. The porkchop was nice and moist, while the coating tasted OK. Overall, it was not bad at all.

We also ordered Eee-Mein (which are also know as wedding noodles). This was just OK. The noodles were a bit soft, and I felt that they were lacking a bit more “wok-hay”. And the flavour didn’t really stand out either. Once again, there serving size was quite large though!

Considering the portions-to-price ratio at Kam Do, this is a fantastic deal! I’m pretty sure that 3 people could share that $10 meal at Kam Do, and still be full.

PSST: As far as I know, this is the only place that gives you free refills on drinks! I’ve actually never at other HK Style cafes. But, I usually can never finish my drink since they are quite large anyway.

Kam Do Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon

September 15, 2011

$13.95 Prime Rib Sandwich at Oswego Grill (US)

Hi Stephanie here,

$9.50 Salt & Pepper Calamari

So in the summer, my family and I went to Portland for some shopping and we stayed in a hotel about 15 minutes from the Burlington Outlets. When you go out of town on a trip, you want to eat at the local restaurants, but sometimes it’s hard to find out which ones are the good ones and which ones are the bad ones.  Sure, you can look at Urbanspoon, but if you’re in a small town I don’t find Urbanspoon as reliable.

You can't really see it here, but the prime rib was HUGE!

There’s usually only one or two votes so it’s hard to get a clear picture if the restaurant is well-liked.

At Lake Oswego (where my family was staying), I didn’t have enough time to do research on places to eat, so we just went down the list of top restaurants in Lake Oswego on Urbanspoon. Oswego Grill was #2 on the list, and I am pleased to say that I quite enjoyed the dining experience at Oswego Grill (for those of you who don’t know, I think it’s pronounced “Oz way go”.

Though Oswego Grill only has two locations, it felt like walking into a chain

$29.95 18oz Steak

restaurant. Not that I don’t like chain restaurants, but I thought it was interesting.  It felt like a White Spot, but a bit more sophisticated.

The prices at Oswego Grill are quite reasonable (around the $15-$20 range). For the amount of food that we got, it was quite the deal.  To start, my family ordered the Salt & Pepper Calamari, $9.50 to share.  The first bite of the calamari that I had was amazing! It was super tender, and the coating was indeed very salty & peppery. It might

$17.95 Flat Iron Steak

be my personal preference, but I preferred a little less seasoning.  It’ was a bit different than the greek calamari that I’m used to – they used slices and chunks of squid instead of having it in rings.

For our mains, I had the Prime Rib Sandwich. I was very impressed by the size of this sandwich! What impressed me the most, was that they actually had a huge slab of prime rib in the sandwich. Most places I’ve experienced only give you slices of prime rib so there’s lots of air in

$16.95 Danish Baby Back Ribs

the sandwich. This was definitely not the case. The prime rib was cooked perfectly to a medium rare. One thing I don’t understand about ordering prime rib is how restaurants prepare it. To cook a rib, you need to roast the whole thing in the oven.  So how do they serve a group of people who only order medium-rare? If you know the answer, please tell me.  Anyway, what else to say? The fries were crunchy, and I like dipping it into the au jus. Not much to say, except the Prime Rib Sandwich was delicious and a fantastic deal.

my brother had the Bone-In Rib Eye, $29.95. This thing was massive!! It was

Loved this place!

18 oz, and it took up the entire plate. I tried a bit of my brother’s rib eye, and the meat was quite tender and perfectly cooked to a medium rare.

My mom had one of their dinner features, their Flat Iron Steak, $17.95. This was a beautifully presented dish, and again, the steak was cooked perfectly to medium-rare (my family likes medium-rare if you haven’t noticed)

My dad ordered the Half Rack Danish Baby Back Ribs. This was very good as well. I forget what this tasted like, but I knew my dad enjoyed it because he ate every bit of it!

Overall, our experience at Oswego Grill was a wonderful one. If we ever go back to Burlington Outlets, we will definitely come back to this place. Oh, and did I mention the service? Our server was extremely friendly and provided excellent service. Go check this place out!

Oswego Grill on Urbanspoon

August 25, 2011

$12.50 AMAZING Chicken Wings at Phnom Penh


famous chicken wings

Stephanie here.

I think it’s about time I had a post on Phnom Penh – I’ve been here at least 4 times since I’ve started blogging.  It’s been so long because I’ve been wating for that perfect picture of their deep fried chicken wings. Mmmm I get cravings just thinking about their chicken wings.

In my opinion this is one of the best restaurants in Vancouver.  And it’s not just me, Phnom Penh is the #1 restaurant rated on Urbanspoon. It’s also been featured on the Food Network and has been visited by Anthony Bourdain. This place is good!

Now with any place that is #1 in Vancouver, has been featured on the food

butter beef!!!

network you know that there are going to be lineups. I’ve been to Phnom Penh at the oddest times (2:30pm, 3pm, 5:30pm on weekdays) and there is still a bit of a wait. I’m glad this place is open 7 days of week.

Phnom Penh is a city in Vietnam, and this restaurant plays true to its namesake by specializing Vietnamese and also Cambodian cuisine. However, this is definitely not your typical pho restaurant. Word of advice: Don’t order the pho. It’s just average. Order their specialties.

They are most famous for their deep-fried chicken wings. And I order this

fried rice

everytime. These chicken wings are super crispy and garlicky there is a hint of sweetness to the crispy skin. I think that even though these wings are super crispy, they are not dry on the inside and they are quite meaty as well. I definitely think that there is some sugar coated on the chicken. But wait, you have to also dip the chicken wing into the special dipping sauce. I’ve heard that it’s just lemon juice and salt & pepper, but something makes me think that there is a special ingredient because it tastes so good. These wings are AMAZING … these are probably the best chicken wings I’ve ever had in my

look at that oil slick ...

whole entire like. Not exaggerating. Ok, maybe a little.

Not only are they famous for their wings, but also their butter beef. This is basically extremely thin raw slices of beef marinated in soy sauce and vinegar and deep fried garlic and tons of cilantro.  Usually I don’t eat raw beef (I’m not a huge fan of beef carpaccio) but this beef is amazing! All the intense, fresh flavours work together so well. The butter beef works so well with the acidity of the vinegary soy sauce, the saltyness and crispyness of the deep fried garlic and the freshness of the

iced coffee

cilantro is AMAZING …

Next up, I ordered their trieu chow fried rice. This fried rice is not AMAZING .. but I would say that it’s very good. This fried rice as a little bit different than your regular Chinese fried rice because it’s got a lot more different stuff in it. From what I remember it has got Chinese sausage in it. That’s about all I remember.  It’s not completely white so they must fry it in the wok with some sauce.

Next up was the curry chicken hot pot. I don’t remember this dish being that oily but when it came, there was a huuuge oil slick on top of the curry.  Mmmm .. that’s when you know the dish is good. Hahah just kidding, only sometimes. Though there was huge evidence of oil, it didn’t taste the oily. I loved the curry in this. It was extremely smooth and flavourful and only a little bit spicy. It also has potatoes and yams in the hot pot and the chicken come in

filet beef with egg on fried rice

large pieces and the are just falling of the bone. Mmmmm ..

Last but not least, we had the beef lu lac on rice with egg. This is essentially a saucy sliced beef dish with egg, and some sliced lettuce and cucumber. Once again. this is very homestyle cooking so I wouldn’t say that this is AMAZING, but nonethelss it is very simple, but good. Actually I think my grandma can make something very similar to this. What you have to do is mix the egg, beef, vegetables and the rice all together.

I’ve also tried the jackfruit smoothie and the iced coffee. The iced coffee is pretty strong but they give you a very small amount. I probably wouldn’t order the iced coffee again, since I stayed up till 3am after only drinking it in the afternoon.  The jackfruit smoothie is very good! It tastes like real fruit and it’s very refreshing. I thought it tasted a lot like mango.

All in all, Phnom Penh is a wonderful restaurant and it is quite cheap for the quality and execution of it’s dishes. I think it’s a great deal, actuallly. If you’re a poorstarvingstudent, come here! Just try to avoid the lineups

Phnom Penh 金邊小館 on Urbanspoon

August 15, 2011

$13.00 Turkey Clubhouse at Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe

Hey everyone,

Turkey Clubhouse

Stephanie here.

A couple days ago my friends and I dined at Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe for dinner before the fireworks. Actually, this was attempt #2 because we tried visiting Sophie’s a while back but found out that it had closed for renovations.

I think as a group, we’ve visited a lot of restaurants on West 4th. It’s a great, trendy neighbourhood for eats and they also have nice retail shops as well.

Grilled Cheese w/ Ham

Being an (extreme) couponer, I knew that Sophie’s had a coupon in the entertainment book, but I didn’t bring it. Oh well, next time.

Sophie’s has been around for a while and it is pretty well known in Vancouver. Located in the Kits area, it is full of hip, young diners but it’s also family friendly. It’s a retro-themed diner, complete with all those random diner decorations posters of old movies and pictures of movie stars.

I was feeling in a bit of a sandwich mood so I ordered the Turkey Clubhouse

Tostada Salad

w/ house salad. Just having dined at the Warehouse (See $4.95 Menu at The Famous Warehouse) where I ordered the Turkey Clubhouse, I made a couple comparisons.

As you can see in the picture, the sandwich was huge. It was hard for me eat the sandwich and get all of the sandwich in one bite. It was a triple layer sandwich on multigrain bread with bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Essentially a BLT with Turkey.  Once again, this was a solid Turkey Clubhouse.

Steak Sandwich

The turkey wasn’t dry and I appreciated the real turkey being used and not deli meat.

However, I think I liked the Turkey Clubhouse at the Famous Warehouse a bit more. I liked that they used Cranberry Sourdough bread, and of course, you can’t beat the price of $4.95.

Oh yea, the ‘house’ salad was quite boring. It was just mixed greens and some shredded carrots with oil, oregano and vinegar on the side. I kind of expected more, but there was nothing wrong with the greens.

It seems my other friends were in a sandwich mood so they ordered Grilled

Tuna Sandwich

Cheese w/ Ham, Steak Sandwich, Tuna Sandwich and my other friend was in a really healthy mood so he ordered the Tostada Salad.

I’m pretty sure that they all thought their meals were solid. I think one of my friends didn’t really like the Tuna Sandwich because it got kind a soggy and wet as she was eating it. I tried their fries and they were pretty good as well.  I liked that they were pretty thin-cut and it was still potatoey on the inside.

Overall, the food at Sophie’s is pretty solid diner food. It’s not greasy, which is great and the price is pretty reflective of other restaurants in the West 4th area. It’s not the super cheapest place, but hey, it’s pretty good.

Sophie's Cosmic Cafe on Urbanspoon

June 11, 2011

13.95 H-U-G-E Pastas at Roman Ristorante

Hi Stephanie here.

Take-out Menu

I first heard about Roman Ristorante in the Joyce area on Kingsway from my aunt & uncle who were raving about the pastas and pizza from Roman Ristorante.  I’ve been here before and the pastas are a great deal. They’re an average price, but the portions are H-U-G-E (hence the name). It’s much like the portion size of the infamous Anton’s Pasta Bar in Burnaby, where the portions are enough for 3 people.  However, the restaurant is very small (only fits about 20ish people).  The wait for the food to come out takes a bit of while, since there’s only one guy at the back cooking all the food. I’m glad to see this hidden gem is still there because this place is awesome! They have a lot of daily specials, so the pastas aren’t the only dishes that are a great deal.

This week, my family ordered take-out from Roman Ristorante. We ordered a Large Alla Vongole w/ Angel Hair Pasta and Large Capricciosa Pizza. In my opinion, the sauce on the pasta is AMAZING. However, Roman doesn’t add much (any) salt to his pasta, so at first, you might that it’s a bit bland.  But if you add the salt, WOW, it really makes the sauce sing.  I can’t

$13.95 Alla Vongole

really describe the sauce; it’s not as tomatoey & thick as you would expect, but more of a light sauce that is a little bit creamy. I can detect wine in the pasta, but it’s not overwhelming.  You have a choice what type of pasta you would like (penne, linguine, tortellini, fettuccine, rotini, whole wheat spaghetti), but I would recommend choosing the Angel Hair: just because it gets coated with the sauce more.

Though the pastas are a great value, I wouldn’t say the pizzas are of the same value. It’s kind of pricey, but they are good! I can tell they’re made in a brick oven (from the charring), so the pizzas are decently chewy & crispy. The toppings are fresh, plentiful & enough.  It’s a great, authentic Italian pizza.

On Mondays, they have a pizza special (25% off the pizzas) for dine-in only. However, when we picked up our food, they gave us the discount anyway. Score!

We only ordered two things, which came up to around $35. For four people, and as a poorstarvingstudent, I think that’s a

Large Capricciosa Pizza

great deal! Go check this place out, and make sure you order at least a large pasta!
Roman Ristorante on Urbanspoon

May 26, 2011

$11.95 All You Can Eat Fish n Chips at Wee Chippie

Hi, Stephanie here.

Wee Chippie. Seriously, that's the name.

While we were driving to the Souljourner’s retreat (my church fellowship) at Camp Luther in Mission, BC, we came across this place called Wee Chippie. No joke. That’s actually the name. With a name like that, we actually turned the car around and drove to eat at this place. We didn’t even know if this place was good or not.

Walking in, we were pleasantly surprised that even at 5pm, there were a good amount of people. This place was not sketch at all! Actually, it felt very homey, and service was excellent. This originally wasn’t going to be a poorstarvingstudent post, but when we saw that All You Can Eat Cod Fish n Chips were 11.95, which included bottomless pop, I decided to post this up.

When the fish n chips arrived, it was HUGE. The beer batter was very tasty, but it was a bit thick. The cod was decent, but I felt it was a tad

Cod Fish n Chips

overcooked.  I did like the fries though. It was pretty generic concession-stand type fries, but nothing wrong with it! I barely managed to finish 3 pieces of fish, so it might have been better to order off the regular menu (2pc fish n chips for $8.95).

Overall, this experience was pretty great. Maybe it was because we kept giggling at the name whilst we were eating.

So if you’re every driving through Mission, BC why not stop at Wee Chippie for a bite to eat, instead of the usual McDonald’s, A&W or Subway. With a name like Wee Chippie (and also great service), this place deserves a visit.

February 3, 2011

$10.95 Late Night All You Can Eat Sushi at Tomokazu

Note: Tomokazu has raised it’s the late night special to $12.95.

Apparently the concept of eating unlimited sushi until the buttons on your jeans burst is great marketing (at least in Vancouver).

Tomokau - One of the better AYCE restaurants in Vancouver

There are over 20 AYCE

japanese restaurants in metro Vancouver on Urbanspoon. It seems the concept of ordering 20+ dishes for a set price is very popular in Vancouver. I, myself have eaten AYCE sushi many, many, many, many times in the past. Maybe 15-20 times in my lifetime? (How many times have you eaten AYCE sushi? Leave a comment!)

In my opinion, there are so many ways that AYCE sushi communicates value in comparison to other restaurants offering a set price for unlimited food (E.g. Uncle Willy’s, Hotel Vancouver, Indian buffets). According to urbanspoon, 6 out of the top 10 buffet restaurants in Vancouver are AYCE Japanese restaurants ( Not one of those restaurants are fancy hotel buffets (e.g. Griffins)

either. Surprising huh?

From my 19+ years experience of dining out at AYCE Japanese restaurants, there are a few things that I see about AYCE sushi that helps it market itself well.

  • Able to target different consumer tastes/segments: AYCE offers of sushi, sashimi, noodles, salad, cooked meats, cooked fish, rice, BBQ items, soup etc. Even if you don’t like raw food, there’s still a lot of choices
  • Better customer service: AYCE isn’t slapped on your plate like a cafeteria, or is sitting overcooked in a warmer for 4+ hours (ahem, Uncle Willy’s). It’s mostly made-to-order and served by servers who actually take your order like a real restaurant.
  • Pricing is more afforable: AYCE lunches usually cost around $10-$13 for lunch. The Sunday brunch buffet at the Pan Pacific hotel costs $50.
  • Suits demographics: There is a high Asian population in Vancouver, and most Asians, when they’re dining out, tend to stick to Asian restaurants. At AYCE Japanese restaurants, there’s Asians everywhere eating . (at least in my experience).
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