hunger pangs

Documenting the dining adventures of Dennis Pang

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Mike’s Chili Parlor (1447 NW Ballard Way, Seattle, WA)

THE Best Chili I’ve Ever Had. Period.

Aside from tasty food, they say the experience itself is what defines good dining. It’s not fine dining, but this place really blew us out of the water during our stay in Seattle. This parlor was on a street corner, that stood out in the industrial neighborhood where it was located.

After we parked, we wanted to take a photo outside to document our dining adventures. A stranger rolled up, got out of his car, and offered to take the photo for us. Once inside, we knew what we wanted to order: Anything chili! This parlor was featured in Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on The Food Network, and this was why we were there. I love chili, and we wanted to venture away from the beaten path to expand our chili horizons. Boy, did we venture out on the right path! We ordered our beer and then waited in anticipation. The atmosphere in this place was very laid back and casual. It was about 75% full when we got there, and it was around lunchtime. 

We were approached by a man wearing a Mike’s Chili Parlor jacket, asking if anyone had taken our orders, and he made sure we got our IPA’s. He continued to talk to us throughout our visit, and we soon discovered that this was Phil Semandiris - the grandson of the original Mike who opened this place in 1938. It’s been passed down since from generation to generation, and now Phil has also passed it down to his son, who is also named Mike. A few moments later, Mike introduces himself to us - it turns out that he was the kind man who offered to take our photo outside! To see the passion these two had for their modest chili joint was so amazing. Mike and Phil are so genuine - they make an effort to talk to everyone who comes in. It made us think of how many places were like this in Vancouver. And sadly, there aren’t enough.

We ordered 3 things. A bowl of chili, a small order of chili fries, and the deluxe cheeseburger. Phil passed along a helpful tip - eat the chili before anything else, and while it’s still hot. And that’s exactly what we did. There’s nothing better than gooey cheese, aromatic spices, and onions and jalapeños that will warm up your insides. The jalapeños added just the right amount of heat. Remember the Gastown Blues & Chili Fest in the summer? While we agree that Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar’s award winning chili (<— trophy picture) was good, it’s nothing compared to the chili at Mike’s. This chili is nothing fancy, and it’s not trying to be something its not. It’s just good, hardcore, old-fashioned comfort chili. The chili fries were amazing, and they were topped with diced onions and jalapeños as well, and layered throughout with gooey cheese. The deluxe cheeseburger was also good, but it wasn’t what we came for. I didn’t get a picture of it either. I was tempted to order the chili burger but I felt it might’ve been chili overload.

In the end, the food was delicious, and the hospitality was great. We still would have been satisfied if neither Mike or Phil were there, but they both made our experience that much more special, and it was a real treat to meet them. We’ll definitely be back to try their chili dog and chili burger!

I’d like to thank May (@Miss_MayC), my lovely partner in crime, for her contributions to this piece.

Mike's Chili Parlor on Urbanspoon

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Hot Oven Pizza (5620 Hastings, Burnaby)
I&#8217;ve never been to Chicago, so I&#8217;ve never tried authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza. But I&#8217;ve got to say this is the best I&#8217;ve had here. And in terms of local pizza in general, I would say it&#8217;s definitely up there.
The pizza shown here is a medium, half Roast Beef Dinner (beef, potato, corn, beets, gravy), and half Hot Oven Select (salami, Italian sausage, onion, tomato, mushroom, bell pepper, feta, pesto). The Roast Beef Dinner is awesome. Definitely not your typical pizza toppings. It&#8217;s like a Shepherd&#8217;s Pie pizza. The Hot Oven Select is much more traditional. The two things I like most about their pizzas? They&#8217;re not greasy like at other places, and for those people who don&#8217;t eat pizza crusts, the crust is sweet and delicious.
Total damage $16.95. But you could feed 3 with this. I can usually devour an entire medium pizza to myself, but I could only do 3 slices of this. It&#8217;s that weighed out.
I plan on visiting Chicago in the near future for an epic dining adventure, but in the meantime this will have to do.
Will I return? OBVIOUSLY.

Hot Oven Pizza (5620 Hastings, Burnaby)

I’ve never been to Chicago, so I’ve never tried authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza. But I’ve got to say this is the best I’ve had here. And in terms of local pizza in general, I would say it’s definitely up there.

The pizza shown here is a medium, half Roast Beef Dinner (beef, potato, corn, beets, gravy), and half Hot Oven Select (salami, Italian sausage, onion, tomato, mushroom, bell pepper, feta, pesto). The Roast Beef Dinner is awesome. Definitely not your typical pizza toppings. It’s like a Shepherd’s Pie pizza. The Hot Oven Select is much more traditional. The two things I like most about their pizzas? They’re not greasy like at other places, and for those people who don’t eat pizza crusts, the crust is sweet and delicious.

Total damage $16.95. But you could feed 3 with this. I can usually devour an entire medium pizza to myself, but I could only do 3 slices of this. It’s that weighed out.

I plan on visiting Chicago in the near future for an epic dining adventure, but in the meantime this will have to do.

Will I return? OBVIOUSLY.

Hot Oven Pizza and Pasta on Urbanspoon

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Lucy’s Eastside Diner (2708 Main St., Vancouver)

This place has been open for just under a month, and I happened to stumble upon it by fluke with my friend Beki, as we were both looking for a quick bite to eat somewhere on Main Street (which is always a good call). Since then I’ve returned three times to try other things on their menu.

I was excited when I saw this place because I’m a big fan of traditional diner food. I often watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and wish we had the kind of diners they feature on the show in Vancouver.

Madden Burger $10
2 patties, bacon, onions, mushrooms, cheese, fried egg, & chili

When I saw this on the menu, I knew right away I had to try it. I love eggs in burgers, and I especially love bacon and mushrooms. I also love chili. So it was everything I like in one burger.

This burger did not disappoint. It was obscenely huge. It came open-faced and piled 5 inches high. Eating it probably took 3 years off my lifespan. I expected the chili to be saucier, but instead it was pretty much just the veggies from the chili on top. This worked in the burger’s favour as it didn’t make it soggy. Good call. For something this big, you would kind of expect it to fall apart, but it held together quite nicely. I think the double patty is unnecessary though, as I would’ve been okay with just a single. I would definitely get this burger again.

Lucy’s Scramble $8.00
Bacon, mushrooms, onions and cream cheese served with hashbrowns & toast

Delicious. The hashbrowns were pretty unique too. I’ve seen shoestring hashbrowns, but these ones were more noodle-like. Beki also upgraded her plain toast to french toast. It was a decently sized portion. Good choice.

Three Little Pigs $8.50
Triple benny sampler (ham, bacon, and chorizo)

I love bennies. I couldn’t decide between ham, bacon, or chorizo, so I just went with the sampler and got all three. The chorizo was a bit on the dry side, but having runny eggs helped alleviate that. The eggs were soft poached just the way I like them, and the hollandaise sauce was fantastic. The hashbrowns this time around were kind of different than in the chorizo hash. Mind you, this was on a different day so I’m not sure if they changed it up slightly since the opening day. Anyways the best way I can describe the hashbrowns this time is to compare them to Hostess Hickory Sticks snack (and I love those!), but thankfully not nearly as salty. I highly recommend their eggs bennies.

Lucy’s Home Made Mac n Cheese $6

Really good, really creamy, really cheesy, baked crispy on top. Everything you want from mac n cheese. It was good. My only wish is that it was bigger. That small casserole dish doesn’t quite do the job as a main course, especially since it doesn’t come with any sides. But then again, it’s $6. What do you really expect?

Homemade Veggie Chili with Beef $5 (+$2 for beef)

This was a very hearty portion, and I couldn’t even finish it. It came loaded with vegetables. The beef was a bit too charred for my liking, and I would’ve preferred it cooked and mixed in to the chili, rather than just layered on top. Carrots, chickpeas, celery, beans, corn, tomatoes. I usually like my chili with heat, but this one tasted more like stew. Up the heat and I think it’d be pretty decent.

Lucy’s Mom’s Meatloaf $8.50
Mashed potatoes, veggies, & gravy

Meatloaf was very good. Very traditional, hence the name. Very moist, well done. Mashed potatoes and gravy were pretty standard. The frozen Green Giant medley for veggies was pretty disappointing.

Fried Chicken Dinner $8.50
Fried chicken served with mashed potatoes, veggies, & gravy

I have to say I was very disappointed in the fried chicken. They were essentially chicken tenders that tasted like they came out from a frozen food box. Same mashed potatoes and veggies as above. Definitely stay away from this dish. It’s a no go.

Will I return? Yes, but only for certain things. I think their breakfast and brunch items are great. And they do a good job on their burgers. I want to try their milkshakes next time. Oh and guess what? It’s open 24 hours! And doubles are only $6.

Lucy's Eastside Diner on Urbanspoon

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Acme Cafe (51 West Hastings St., Vancouver)

I just discovered this place not too long ago as it was recommended by my friend Colene, who goes there every week for their quiches (they have a different one every day). It’s busy but not quite packed on weekdays, but it’s insane on weekends. If you want to have lunch on a weekend, try to get there early. I tried to go at 12:30pm on a Sunday and the lineup was out the door.

Meat Loaf Sandwich $11.50
whole wheat hoagie bun, meat loaf, BBQ sauce, grainy dijon mayo, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and arugula

I’m a big fan of meat loaf, and having never had it in a sandwich I decided to give it a go. I found there wasn’t quite enough meatloaf in the sandwich, the BBQ sauce was nothing really spectacular, and I wish they’d toasted the bun. It wasn’t bad, but I’d give it a 5/10

Shrimp Guacamole $12.00
whole wheat hoagie bun, shrimp, avocado purée, corn, shredded jack cheese, diced tomato and onion dressed with lime, cumin and cilantro.

As you can see from the pictures, this sandwich came loaded with shrimp, and was very good. It was served with chips and a side of coleslaw. The coleslaw was creamy and delicious, and probably up there with the best coleslaw I’ve ever tried.

Chicken Pot Pie $12.50
with greens. Baked to order, please allow 15 minutes

I am a huge fan of chicken pot pies. I’ve had some great ones, and also some not so good ones that made you wonder if it came out of a Swanson box. This one I would have to say is somewhere in the middle. The filling was awesome with carrots and shredded chicken, and the gravy was fantastic. The crust was flaky and crispy. My biggest complaint was that the outer crust was baked on to the bowl, and I couldn’t get it off. Perhaps they could’ve greased the outside of the bowl? But the outer crust is one of the best part and it was sad that I had to leave that part behind.

Shepherds Pie $12.50

If you happen to go to Acme Cafe and you see their Shepherds Pie on the menu, get it. I went there twice and the second time, they didn’t even have it. Imagine a mashed potato poutine (minus the cheese) with beef and corn, drenched in gravy. Need I say more? My friend had it and said it was easily the best sherpherds pie he’s ever had. I was fortunate to have a bite, but I hope to luck out and get it next time I go.

Will I return? Most definitely. It’s a great little spot, and I still want to try other things on their menu. Hopefully they’ll have the sherpherds pie next time. Oh, and on your way out, make sure you take a look at their baked goods. I tried the chocolate rice crispy swirl and the peanut butter cookie sandwich (very popular). One word: AWESOME.

Acme Cafe on Urbanspoon

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One Hundred Days (350 Davie St., Vancouver)

The location is the old Elixir Restaurant inside the Opus Hotel in Yaletown. Why it’s interesting is because it’s a temporary pop-up restaurant that’s only going to be open for 100 days (until December 31) until a permanent restaurant takes its place in early 2011.

Anyways this is Hunger Pangs so let’s cut the small talk shall we?

Lobster & crab bites - served with Hennessy and lobster bisque dipping sauce. $14

We started off with this appetizer which is essentially a crab cake, served in deep fried ball form. I say anytime you can serve food in ball form and on a stick, do it. The Hennessy (which you couldn’t taste) and lobster bisque dipping sauce was very creamy and good. The crab ball was not bad, but it wasn’t great either. It was definitely lacking something, like salt or seasoning. But the sauce made up for it.

Duck pot pie - duck confit, shallots, wild mushroom ragout, gratin potato crust. $17

I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of pot pies. When I think pot pies, I think buttery, crispy, flaky pie pastry. OOHH. So having never had a duck pot pie, I was really excited to try it. When it finally arrived, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. It looked really small, and there was no flaky pie pastry. Instead it was topped with gratin potatoes (ie. scalloped potatoes baked with cheese on top). Huh. Interesting indeed. On a somewhat related note, White Spot’s chicken pot pie is huge and delicious.

Anyways this pot pie was DELICIOUS. The wild mushrooms, whole garlic cloves, shallots, and chunks of moist, tender duck (lots of it too), all fit so well together. It was served with a side salad, and though it looked like a small serving, it was actually really filling. It was perfect.

Wild BC Salmon - salmon filet, dungeoness crab and sweet corn hash, avocado purée. $24

The salmon was very fresh and cooked through quite well. The sweet corn hash had a nice crunchy bite from the potatoes and corn. Sorry I don’t have much to say about this one, I was too in love with my duck pot pie to really care about this one. But all in all, this was also a solid dish.

Will I return? I want to try this place for brunch. I’d obviously come back again for the duck pot pie, but I also wouldn’t mind trying their lobster and crab mac & cheese. I recommend that you check this place out (and soon!). It’ll be gone before you know it.

100 Days on Urbanspoon

Filed under Vancouver 100 days one hundred days dining yaletown

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Milestones (Brentwood)

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Milestone’s. In fact, I’m not. But I thought I’d give it a chance because I was told that it was decent for brunch. So my hunger pangs led me there one fateful morning.

Prime rib hash - slow roasted, thinly sliced prime rib tossed with crispy potatoes, bell peppers, sweet onions, and roasted corn. Topped with poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, roma tomatoes, and toasted French bread. $12.99

Californian omelette - double-smoked bacon, avocada salsa, roma tomatoes and cheddar. $9.99

Verdict: prime rib hash was salty, but tasty. The poached eggs were overcooked (I prefer my eggs to be on the runny side). The Californian omelette was pretty standard. I didn’t like that they just had 2 strips of bacon sitting inside the omelette. I would’ve preferred if they cut it up and cooked it into the omelette.

Will I return? Likely not. There are way better places out there for brunch.

Milestones Grill and Bar (Brentwood) on Urbanspoon

Filed under milestones brunch dining vancouver breakfast

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Pinpin Restaurant (6113 Fraser St., Vancouver, B.C.)

First time I’ve ever eaten at this place. I’d only previously had Filipino food once at a restaurant called Josephine’s on Main St. Not really a big fan of Josephine’s. I’ve had plenty of home cooked Filipino meals at friends’ houses though.

We tried the BBQ chicken skewer combo (served with rice and pickled papaya), lumpia shanghai (spring rolls), and crispy pata (deep fried pork hocks).

Verdict: BBQ chicken was delicious, crispy pata probably took 3 years off my life, and the lumpia’s were as good as any I’d previously had.

Will I return? Absolutely.

Pinpin on Urbanspoon

Filed under filipino dining vancouver bbq