NORI Bento & Udon – UBC

While visiting friends at UBC, we noticed a brand new building along University Blvd across the street near the Shoppers Drug Mart.  There were quite a few eateries at the ground level that you can choose from including a coffee shop, pizza joint, Mexican food and this bento and udon shop.

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Their sandwich board outside shows their main features available:

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The setup is like a fast food restaurant where you order at the counter first.  You start by ordering your rice or udon selection, then as you move down the line, you can pickup premade sides.  They were mostly fried foods as you can see below:

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Drinks and cold sides in the fridge:

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There is a limited seating area inside the restaurant.  It was still quite busy on the Friday before xmas even with students out of class for the winter break. We found some seats but be prepared to be elbow to elbow and back to back with other patrons.

Our first item was a plain udon:

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It was in a clear broth with some fresh green onions and topped with shredded tempura batter.  The broth was basic and not too salty.  The udon was a bit too soggy for our liking. We prefer a more chewy al-dente texture.

What ruined this udon more was the shredded tempura.  It seemed like it was fried in oil that had not yet reached optimal temperature.  Thus, the tempura tasted super oily like it soaked up too much oil during frying.  This also made the soup taste oily too as we were unable to remove the tempura in time.

We also picked up a side order of fried chicken.

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Unfortunately it was not hot at all. It was probably sitting around for a long time.  The chicken pieces were already very hard to chew.

Next we ordered a teriyaki chicken rice bowl.

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It was a good sized portion for lunch and was not too expensive.  There was also plenty of tender chicken pieces to enjoy.  The only problem was that everything in the bowl was lukewarm.  This was odd because it was not a pre-made bowl waiting to be picked up.  After ordering, we waited for the kitchen to put the rice bowl together so we expected a hot rice bowl.  This would have tasted better hot.

It’s great to see more food selection for the UBC community available as more modern buildings get built around campus.  Nori offers a good selection at fair prices.  Unfortunately not everything worked out as we would like during this visit.  Serving cold and lukewarm dishes is just unacceptable.

Hopefully Nori is still working out the kinks in their operations and will have better quality prepared food next time we visit.

SFDD gives 2.5 out of 5 Delights.

NORI Bento & Udon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Matsumoto Shave Ice – Haleiwa, HI (North Shore)

On our final day in Hawaii, we rented a car and drove up to the North Shore which is known to be a surfer town. It was a nice pleasant drive from Waikiki away from the big city.

We heard one of the popular places people visit is Matsumoto Shave Ice.  It was true because the line up was huge when we got there.

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While lining up they pass out the menu for you to look at prior to entering to the shop.

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There was plenty of flavors to choose from to fit many tastes so it may take a few minutes for you to decide if you like many fruity flavours.

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Inside the store, while lining up you can pick up some Matsumoto souvenirs to take home.

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OK, after 20 minutes in line, we finally arrived at the order line.  We took a pic of the shaved ice machine working hard.

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We chose yuzu, pineapple and lychee.  On top of that we added red bean and mochi which is a chewy rice ball.

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The red beans were cooked soft Japanese style.  The mochi was just plain nothing really special about it.  This was not the best shaved ice in Hawaii.  We’ve had better in Maui as we blogged about it here. The syrup was a bit unbalanced and you can see that part of the shaved ice didn’t have any syrup touching it.  Furthermore, the ice melted way too fast.  It was not even too hot that day.  Perhaps the shaved ice was just not cold enough from the beginning.  It turned into a watery mess rather quickly.

It wasn’t horrible, but certainly not a worth the line up.  Luckily there are other cool things to do in this part of Hawaii as it is a neat little town with much local art shops to see.

SFDD gives 3 out of 5 Delights.

Matsumoto Shave Ice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Honolulu Coffee Co – Honolulu Special

We are a bit behind blogging about our Honolulu trip food and drinks from way back in September, so here is another one we dug out as we organise our photos.

This was an afternoon coffee break we needed after a long walk along the Waikiki Strip. Looking at google maps and Zomato, we finally decided to try out Honolulu Coffee Co. There’s a chain of these coffee shops in Hawaii, this location is inside a hotel.

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The shop was not too busy when we arrived.  It’s nicely laid out with a spacious seating area and several windows overlooking the street and bringing in natural Hawaii sunlight.

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We ordered a small brewed coffee of the day.

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It was served in some nice looking china, not just the plain white cups.  The coffee had a nice nutty aroma and a slight fruity acidity to it.

Next we ordered one of their special green tea ice teas.

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The ice tea had a fancy name like it had many important ingredients but it was not that special.  Kind of bland in fact and it was unsweetened.

They also have a good selection of desserts to choose from.  We chose a tiramisu cup to share.

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The tiramisu cup was surprisingly good.  It was light and not too sweet.  What made this extra special was that the cup itself was made of chocolate.  So after eating the tiramisu, you can enjoy eating the cup.

In terms of service, the staff member who took our orders seemed to be out of it.  He did not acknowledge us at all, nor did he smile.  Instead he just gave us a cold blank look while taking our orders.  This was certainly not the Aloha way.  He didn’t even bother telling us how much we owed.  He just pointed us to look at the cash register numbers after he was done tallying up our order.  There was no problem with his speaking though because afterwards we saw him chatting and laughing with his colleagues.

However, afterwards when I was looking at the coffee beans, another staff member came up to me and was very helpful to explain to me the different beans they had available.  This changed our view of the service to a more positive experience.

Overall, this was a nice place to hang out to rest and enjoy some drinks and great tasting desserts.

SFDD gives 3.5 out of 5 Delights.

Honolulu Coffee Moana Surfrider Store Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kauai Coffee Beans – Costco

We needed a new bag of coffee beans so we picked up one that was on sale at Costco.  We normally don’t blog about coffee beans but thought it would be fun to do so seeing this was such a great testing bag compared to other home beans we had in the past.

We haven’t noticed this at Costco before, but we did see it in Hawaii sold all over the place, only it was not in such a giant bag.

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This is a big 900 gram bag as expected probably packed especially for Costco.  It’s medium roast 100% Arabica coffee.

Opening the bag we noticed right away  the beans aren’t as oily as other whole beans we’ve purchased in the past.  It also had a very nutty aroma to it.  It also did not smell burned.

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Ground: For use with pour over
Equipment: Hario manual coffee grinder, Hario Ceramic Dripper, Hario glass Carafe, Tully’s goose neck kettle

During the grounding, the aroma of the beans filled the room rather nicely.

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We put in two scoops of the ground coffee and levelled it.  The water produced a slight bloom.

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Finally we were able to make a 200 ml of coffee.  The coffee flavour was slightly acidic and had a very distinct nutty aroma to it.  We normally only get this kind of taste when visiting an  indie coffee shop, so we were very happy we can sort of replicate this flavour.  Being a medium roast probably made a big difference for us in the flavour because normally we used dark roast beans for our espresso shots and for pour over.

This bag won’t last long, it was too bad we didn’t stock up more when it was on sale last month at Costco.

SFDD gives 4.5 out of 5 Delights.

Pho Khang – Richmond

We headed up to Williams and No 3 road area for lunch with initial plans to eat at Gami Sushi, except that it was packed with people and we didn’t want to wait.  Hence we walked over to Pho Khang located just footsteps away and still within the Broadmoor strip mall.

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The restaurant was only about half full when we arrived so we had a choice of tables.  They had the usual selection of typical dishes you’d find in the average pho restaurant.  One thing that stood out was their bubble tea selection.  It’s rare to find bubble tea at pho restaurants so it was one thing that didn’t seem to fit here.

The prices here seem to be quite reasonable and comparable to Thai Son where much of the dishes were under $10 even for a large pho bowl.

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We started with an order of grilled chicken salad roll.  It comes in a pair:

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The chicken inside was still warm when it arrived.  It came wrapped with fresh veggies and some vermicelli noodles.  The rice paper here was a bit sticky so we had to almost tare it off it’s partner.  It came with a peanut sauce dip.   All the ingredients in this salad roll balanced out and complimented each other well.

We ordered the chicken house special noodle soup:

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This had chicken balls and lemon grass chicken.  What’s new with this pho bowl is that it comes with healthy cauliflower and broccoli.  This is new for us as we don’t recall veggies included at other pho places.  Usually it’s just cilantro and bean sprouts.

The broth was very hot and fit for our cold winter day, it didn’t seem to be too salty which was good for our taste.  The noodles were also fine, not too soggy at all,  and had a good serving size.

Next we ordered a grilled lemon grass chicken and spring roll vermicelli bowl.  This is dry with no soup:

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This was also less than $10 and was a good serving size.  The vermicelli was warm just how we like it.  The spring roll here is fried and had a nice crisp. Inside the spring rolls was a mix of different minced meats and vegetables.

What we would have liked better is if the lemon grass chicken can be pan fried a little more to crisp the outside. You can see in the picture that the chicken looked seared,   but it was actually a bit too soggy and lost the crisp already. Flavour wise it was fine though.

Being in the Broadmoor strip mall, parking was convenient and you can do your grocery shopping nearby too.  While we were there, we observed many walk in customers ordering take out pho.

Next time we visit we will be sure to try out the beef pho noodle soups too.

SFDD gives 3.5 out of 5 Delights.

Pho Khang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato