Food, friends, Hub Restaurant, Ki Sushi, New West, New Westminster, Okonomi Sushi Restaurant, Poutine, Sandwich Garden, sushi, Sushi Zone, The Hide Out Cafe, The Old Spaghetti Factory, The Spud Shack Fry Co.
Three months since my last post? How quickly time flies by. Work and life in general have been busy, pushing everything else to the side. Looking at the date of my last post, I realize that the blogging paused just before project work took me to New Westminster for seven weeks. I’ve since left my beloved project team to take on another position. So many changes in such a short period of time.
I was originally told that I would be spending a week in the New West office but as project matters tend to go, a week became two partial weeks… which then extended to three and four partial weeks … and suddenly seven weeks later, I was still on-site doing support work.
While working in the New Westminster office, I took the opportunity to eat around the neighbourhood. There are a number of sushi places in the area and New Westminster’s Plaza 88 is also within walking distance. The mornings were easy decisions. I stopped by Tim Horton’s or Starbucks at the skytrain station to pick up a drink before walking to the office. Lunch time was a little more challenging as I was not familiar with the area. Here are the places that I went to:
My first lunch while working in New West was a take-out order from Sushi Zone. My co-worker, S, suggested pre-ordering and then walking over to pick-up. Not knowing what is good on the menu, I stuck to my basics… california roll and futomaki roll. We waited a few minutes before walking over but still sat around while they finished up our take-out order. My total bill came out to less than $10 and I was stuffed by the time I finished the last piece.
We went back a week or so later and dined in (rather than take-out). There are a few tables there for guests that choose to dine in and we managed to secure a table by the wall. I ordered a vegetarian-ish combo box.
S and I had an enjoyable lunch …. except for the annoying little fly that kept pestering us. The box itself was okay although I prefer california rolls. My personal preference is ordering take-out and enjoying the california rolls in the office. And yes, we did do a couple more take-outs from Sushi Zone while I was there.
A few years ago, another co-worker (A) and myself were working in New Westminster for a few days and we went for a dim sum lunch. Fast forward a few years and suddenly the dim sum place is now Ki Sushi, a japanese restaurant directly across the street from Sushi Zone. That very same co-worker, A, now works in/transferred to the New Westminster office. When she found out that I was in the “neighbourhood” for project work, we made arrangements to go for lunch. It worked out very nicely as her husband was able to bring their baby girl and join us. We had a great time catching up … and being entertained by the cute little toddler.
When all the food arrived at the table, it seemed like we had ordered a lot. With three adults and a tiny toddler, there was definitely some leftovers. I ordered a lunch box with a bit of everything thinking that I could easily finish it. Nope, not this time. I finished everything else in my lunch box but only managed a couple of bites of the noodles. Despite being full, I enjoyed the two bites of noodles so I packed the rest to go.
Somewhere in that seven week period, I had a birthday. S asked me where I wanted to have a “birthday lunch” and I picked Ki Sushi. I was craving noodles and comfortable seating so Ki Sushi seemed like a good place to go. Perhaps we had just missed the lunch hour rush as we were amused by the 8-person corner booth that the two of us were given. I haven’t had Nabeyaki Udon in a long time so it didn’t take me long to decide what to order.
Overall, the Nabeyaki Udon was okay. It wasn’t particularly outstanding but it was a bowl of hot noodles. Comparing the order of Nabeyaki Udon and the Lunch Box B… I prefer Box B. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that for my last “official” day of working in New West, S asked me where I wanted to eat and I picked Ki Sushi for the Box B.
Okonomi Sushi Restaurant
For another lunch, A and I went for pink sushi at Okonomi Sushi Restaurant which was close to the Columbia Skytrain Station. According to their menu, the pink rice is due to a fruit and vegetable extraction that has been added to the white rice to enhance its nutritional value.
A ordered the veggie box which includes avocado roll, tempura, tofu teriyaki, salad and a choice of veggie udon or inari tempura. A picked veggie udon. As I’m not a big fan of raw fish, I picked Lunch Box A with all cooked contents. My box included california roll, veggie & prawn tempura, choice of udon, gyoza or chicken karage and choice of beef or chicken teriyaki. I opted for gyoza and chicken teriyaki.
I didn’t detect much difference in taste for the pink rice. The california roll just seemed like a typical california roll. The visual effect was probably more striking with the shiny pink sheen surrounding the filling. Overall, the box itself tasted pretty good. I finished most of the box leaving only some salad and veggie from the chicken teriyaki section.
The Hide Out Cafe
After a week of sushi lunches and after realizing that my stint in New West was going to be longer than a week or two, I decided that it was time to try the other food options in the neighbourhood. S wanted to check out a little retro shop a few blocks from the office so we stopped at The Hide Out Cafe to grab a bite before heading over to the little shop. Looking at the glass display case, S and I both agreed that the wrap looked the most appetizing. However, the size of a full wrap at $10 was too much food for either one of us. Simple solution…? We ordered the grilled Thai Chicken Wrap to share. The half-portion each was perfect for us. I quite enjoyed the wrap. It was flavourful and filling. Not bad for only $5 each!
I returned to the cafe for some take-out a few weeks later. This time, I was on my own and feeling the start of a sore throat. I was craving some soothing soup and decided to stop in to see what the cafe had to offer. I ordered a take-out of the Roasted Tomato Soup and the Quinoa Salad. The portion size was a bit smaller than I had expected… especially after paying $12. Poor S had to listen to me whine in the office about how expensive it was and for the same type of take-away, the portion would be slightly larger in downtown Vancouver. I have to say though, despite my price-whining that was very, very tasty soup.
The Spud Shack Fry Co.
On one of our non-sushi food adventures, S told me about a poutine shop that she had been to at the skytrain station and asked me if I wanted to try it out. What?!? A poutine shop?? How could I possibly say no!!? I love poutine. And without further ado, S and I walked over The Spud Shack Fry Co. to have poutine for lunch. I’ve always had decision-making difficulty when faced with many mouth-watering choices. I was quite tempted by the Fish & Frites options on the menu board but thought about my oncoming sore throat. Having fries would already be a big no-no with my sore throat but since poutine is slathered with gravy, it seems a little less damaging to my raw throat. I then considered ordering a Poutine Specialty (topping) but usually on my first try, I like to stick with the basics. As if in answer to my struggle, my eyes landed on the words “Arugula Salad.” Another one of my menu favourites: arugula or rocket (roquette). I remember making many menu choices in Australia based on which items had rocket (arugula/roquette). Decision made… Arugula Salad and a regular poutine. At least I’m not eating a fully deep-fried meal.
I really enjoyed my Arugula Salad and poutine. Now that I think back, I wish we had come out here for another lunch before my project work ended. Oh well, maybe I need to take a day off work to visit S and go for poutine (and arugula salad) with her again.
I met up with one of my friends, L, for dinner after work one evening. As we were both in New Westminster that afternoon, we decided to stay somewhere in the area. It was suggested to us to try the Hub Restaurant at the skytrain station. Sure, why not? It would make for an easy departure after dinner – my friend’s car was parked a block away and I was taking the train home.
It was an absolutely gorgeous May evening. Although there was a slight breeze, we opted to sit on the patio to enjoy the last bits of sunlight. We were still within the happy hour time frame and took advantage of the half price appetizers. After examining all the appetizer options, we ordered a Garlic Sautéed Prawns to share. For our main courses, L ordered the Falafel wrap and I ordered the Crab Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Yes, crab is another one of my weaknesses… sigh… So many food weaknesses….
I really enjoyed our meal. The prawns tasted great and crab grilled cheese sandwich was delightful. I was quite happy with my choices. I was actually a bit surprised by how low Hub Restaurant was rated on Urbanspoon and read some of the comments. I can relate to people who had poor service because if that was my experience, I would definitely not “like” the place. After all, when I’m eating out, I’m paying for not just food but also service. Perhaps my friend and I were fortunate in that our server was often around or walking by when we needed something. I don’t recall any mishaps during our dining time. Even on our way out, from the patio to the front door, we were thanked by multiple servers. We did notice, however, that the restaurant itself was fairly quiet for a happy hour / dinner time. Was everyone in the restaurant already seated on the patio? All in all, I had a good dining experience at the restaurant.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
Towards the end of my seven-week stint in New West, the project manager and project team lead dropped by to have lunch with S and myself. Someone (I’m not sure who) suggested having lunch The Old Spaghetti Factory. Although I’ve been to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown many, many times, this was my first visit to the New Westminster location. My team members know that I take pictures of food and (sort of) blog… but not wanting to make it too obvious during a work lunch, I just settled for photographing my meal and not everyone else’s. 😉
The lunch was okay — It’s The Old Spaghetti Factory. It’s not high on my “must return for another visit” list. I admit that all the pasta places downtown have really spoiled me… but The Old Spaghetti Factory brings back the “in university” feel. Even with the shop talk around the table, I felt like I had been transported back to my university days.
Remember earlier in this blog post, I whined about the pricing of my take-out soup and salad? At that time, S had suggested we could go to a different place and get larger portions for the soup and salad. We talked about having lunch there a few times but didn’t end up going until my very last day on the project. In fact, she was not expecting me to be in New West. My colleague had arranged to drop by the New West office to work on some tasks. My colleague and I arrived mid-morning. I had fun surprising S with my unannounced visit and after her initial shock, we quickly got to work on our many tasks.
In a blink of the eye, it was lunch time. As we pondered over where we should go to grab a quick-lunch, I suggested the soup and sandwich place that S had previously mentioned. It was an interesting little place. I’m not sure what to classify it as but it has everything from soup to salad to sandwich to sushi. There was more on the menu but after trying to read too many options, I just settled for the special of the day, which was a sandwich and soup. $10 with change… I was content with my warm and “homemade” meal.
… And that pretty much sums up my seven weeks of eating in New Westminster.