Aladdin Cafe (Vancouver)

On a Friday afternoon, AJ and I wanted to grab something quick for lunch. We decided to try Aladdin Cafe on Robson and Seymour Street in downtown Vancouver.

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I went with the Shawarma Plate, and what can I say? The pictures tell a thousand words… 🙂

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I mean, the one other time I visited Aladdin, I wanted the fries that was advertised on their menu – but they didn’t have it because they’d just opened for that day and the fries wouldn’t be ready for while.

I ended up not getting anything that day, but the Shawarma Plate on this Friday afternoon was just what I needed.

Unfortunately, not everybody has had pleasant experiences here. The following is feedback left by a New Westminster (BC) resident on Yelp.ca from July 2018:

The food here was just okay. I found it a little overpriced, given the complete lack of ambiance and presentation. The Chicken Shawarma Arabi was better than the Lamb Shawarma Platter, and cheaper by a couple dollars, so I’d probably go with that if I came back.

Bizarrely, the man who served us would not provide us with tap water, and he charged us for bottled water even though my father didn’t say we’d buy any, which I found quite rude. I’m not sure I’ve ever been refused a cup of tap water before. Even the ultra-cheap places like Fresh Slice will give you a little styrofoam cup of it.

I don’t think we will be giving this place a second chance.

The person who left those comments gave Aladdin a one-star review. Yikes.

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Jethro’s Fine Grub (Bute St. Downtown)

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A few co-workers wanted to grab a bite, and the group settled on Jethro’s Fine Grub on Bute and Robson Street in downtown Vancouver (833 Bute Street).

One of the guys had eaten there before, and told us the portions were huge, so we all wanted to check it out.

There were a lot of interesting items on the menu, including breakfast and specialty items like frog legs and alligator tacos. But I picked something more traditional – the Chicken Fried Steak (C$15), which was actually sirloin beef steak beaten, battered and fried, and topped with gravy. It also came with eggs, hash browns, and toast.

Because this was a social activity, I didn’t pay much attention to the food but to the conversations. R mocked me for using a draw to drink my glass of root beer – haha – and there was some amusing banter going on.

I thought the chicken fried steak was fine. I remember it being thick and having a crispy coating. The gravy was good. I couldn’t finish the toast.

Overall, a good place if you like huge portions.

By the way, Jethro’s also has locations in Vancouver West on Dunbar (3420 Dunbar Street) and in East Vancouver on Fraser (3455 Fraser Street).

Book Kyung Ban Jeom (Re-visit)

I guess Book Kyung Ban Jeom, located on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver, is SC’s favourite restaurant. That’s because it was the third time we’d been there out of the last four times I’d met up with him – and this particular re-visit was earlier this month.

As it was about a month away from Christmas, Book Kyung Ban Jeom had already started its decorations for the holiday season.

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I had one of their Spicy Noodle dishes this time, and it was good. Not too spicy, and certainly enough noodles for me. This dish cost C$9.00.

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Book Kyung Ban Jeom is located on 1638 Robson Street.

BASE: Eat And Drink (Re-Visits)

I was at BASE: Eat And Drink (on Robson) a couple more times – and the latter two visits weren’t that great.

First of all, I was there in late summer because I wanted to pick up an item for HW, and so I called the restaurant to try and order for pick-up. In fact, according to the menu on their website, they suggested that you call and order if you wish to get the food to-go. Unfortunately, on my way I kept calling and calling, but yet it kept going to voice mail. When I arrived, I told the young woman at the front that I’d called and called – but nobody had answered. She apologized saying they’d forgotten to hook the system up that day. Lame.

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Then, when I ordered (I got the Spicy Pork for HM), she didn’t factor in the Happy Hour discount. When I asked her about it, she said there was no discount for pick-ups, which was not true. I said I would show the online menu to her because I’d just seen it before calling them. She then decided to give me the discount. That’s really poor service on her part. And of course, since I had to order in person, it meant a half-hour wait. (She’d said it would be 15 minutes, but whatever.)

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(Picture taken after HW had scooped a bowl of it)

One month later, I was at BASE again, and alas, by then there was no more Happy Hour discount. (The discount sign outside was gone.) Without the discount, it’s pretty useless to even go there anymore because the prices are way too expensive.

But that’s not all. Once again, the service was LACKING. The wait was slow. Everything about them was slow. First off, nobody was at the front to greet me when I arrived, so I just stood there for a couple of minutes before someone seated me.

I timed this so I know, but nobody brought me any iced water until 15 minutes after I’d sat down. That’s poor service. I noticed that at another table shortly after, a couple that came in got iced water almost right away. Another group came in a short time later, and they got waters immediately as well. (Haha, that group looked at the menu, talked amongst themselves, and then took off without ordering anything.)

When it was time to pay, I asked the young woman server for a take-out box AS WELL AS THE BILL. She never brought me the bill. At the table next to me some time later, an older couple asked for the bill and she brought them the card machine for payment. Why no such service for me? Frustrated, I eventually got up and paid at the front. That’s really poor service.

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As for the actual food, I ordered two dishes. The beef noodle dish was mediocre, as the beef was very chewy and the dish seemed rather small for something that cost C$9.50. And again, the meat was very hard to chew. Pathetic.

The second dish – a stone bowl – wasn’t much better. Yes, it was spicy as advertised, but there was a lot of dried rice at the bottom. Sure, this was typical for stone bowl dishes like this one, but I’d had others at other Korean places where it wasn’t like that.

Overall, these last two visits were awful. And again, without any discount, there is no point going back.

Base: Eat And Drink (Re-visit)

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BASE: Eat And Drink is a Korean restaurant on Robson and Nicola Street in downtown Vancouver, and according to its website, the owners consider the establishment a “casual dining restaurant that puts on a creative spin on Korean classics.” They advertise quality, authentic Asian food at an upscale yet affordable place with upbeat house music and “the perfect place to satisfy your craving.” Basically, they are targeting the young crowd who love hanging out with friends over food and beer.

I’d first dined at BASE back in mid-June when I saw the “Happy Hour: 30% off 4pm-7pm, Sunday-Thursday” sign. Wanting to try other dishes at discounted prices, I was back at BASE in mid-July for a couple of items – during happy hour, of course.

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I ordered the Chicken Gangjeong (C$14.00) and Hot Stone Spicy Pork (C$9.50). The chicken gangjeong was Korean-style crispy chicken nuggets with rice cakes. The hot stone spicy pork, meanwhile, was spicy pork and veggies with rice in a hot stone bowl.

The service was pretty good, as the waiter dude got me a glass of iced water when I was first seated and kept refilling it for me without being asked. The flatscreen in a distant was on Sportsnet, and it was the “pre-game” show for the Toronto-Oakland ballgame as they were showing the best highlights of the week in baseball. Since I was able to watch from the middle of the highlight clip all the way to the end of the countdown during the wait, I realized the wait was at least 15 minutes.

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The chicken gangjeong came first – after the fairly lengthy wait – and they were delicious. Crunchy on the outside. Unfortunately, there were way too many pieces – much more than I’d expected – and I had to pack half of the dish to go. (I ended up giving that half to V., and she agreed they were very tasty.)

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As for the hot stone spicy pork, I found that a lot of the rice at the bottom was dried up. Not edible, unfortunately. But the bright side was that I was full already by that point. I liked the spicy pork – very juicy.

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Chicken Gangjeong and Hot Stone Spicy Pork – C$14.00 and C$9.50 (but C$9.80 and C$6.65 during happy hour)

Overall, a great deal since there was that 30% discount off all food items from Sunday to Thursday during happy hour (4:00 to 7:00). And during this second visit, the service was great. I can definitely see BASE being crowded later in the evenings – but for some reason there were only 2-3 other tables being occupied during this visit. Perhaps the reason was that it was only 6:30 and the cool people didn’t show up till later?? One negative thing about BASE is that they don’t offer side dishes the way that other Korean establishments do.

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