People Watching - Vancouver Restaurants

 

H-Mart – Korean food fair downtown

H-Mart (wikipedia, website, map, 200 – 550 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada) is a Korean-American grocery store chain with many locations throughout North America. In Vancouver they are on the second floor at the corner of Robson and Seymour – a prime spot in the downtown shopping district.

From a recent press release by H-Mart Online:

As you enter the store, your eyes are greeted with a foyer full of small electrics, including rice steamers and griddles. From there, you enter a world of household necessities including ‘Joy Gloves.’ Which brings up a point. Some product names just don’t come through translation to have the same impact in English as they did in their native country’s language.

[…] The prepared foods are tasty as well. The kim-chee from the refrigerator case is top notch, as are the fried beef and sesame chicken. In the freezers are everything from squid and octopus to red bean ice cream. Try some of the gyoza or steamed dumplings for a treat. There are also frozen ducks in the case labeled ‘duck, parts missing.’ It’s best to not think too hard about which parts are absent.

I really like their gyoza and kim-chee, as well as their prepackaged sushi which becomes discounted near the end of the day.

But a little-known feature of this grocery store is the food court that is at the north side facing Robson street. Here you can get a variety of popular Korean dishes such as the spicy tofu soup, spicy beef broth, seafood pancake, and many more (menu shown below).

I tried the Item #5 which is described as “Mixed Vegetables and Rice in a Stone Hot Pot” ($8.50, pictured below) – it is called Bibimbap in Korean.

The ingredients are arranged artfully on rice in a super-hot stone bowl, and it’s up to you to mix them up and wait a couple minutes for everything to cook.

In the photos below I’ve shown what the dish looks like before and after mixing the ingredients. It tasted fabulous – the combination of rice, egg, vegetables, and meat was quite filling and satisfying but also was non-greasy and seemed healthy.

The stone bowl remains piping hot for a long time; after resting my chopsticks on it for a minute the wood became almost too hot to touch. The dish is served with some kim-chee (spicy Korean pickled cabbage) and a warm soup broth with green onions.

After enjoying Item #5 for a second time, I’ve decided to make the H-Mart Korean Supermarket one of my regular dining spots. Visiting the food fair is like taking a mini vacation to Korea – most of the other patrons seem to be talking in Korean, and many of the signs are in both Korean and English.

Bibimbap Korean food ($8.50) from H-Mart Market in Vancouver BC Canada - before mixing the ingredients.

Bibimbap Korean food ($8.50) from H-Mart Market in Vancouver BC Canada - before mixing the ingredients.

Korean Bibimbap dish after mixing the ingredients in the hot stone bowl.

Korean Bibimbap dish after mixing the ingredients in the hot stone bowl.

H-Mart Korean Food Fair Menu, located on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver.

H-Mart Korean Food Fair Menu, located on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver.

Beyond Robson has a review of the H-Mart food court from 2007.

37,057 views - Posted Monday, June 22nd, 2009

 

Ikea Restaurant (Coquitlam, Richmond)

An Ikea Restaurant is located in both Ikea stores in the Vancouver area: Richmond (map, 3200 Sweden Way, Richmond, British Columbia, phone: 604-273-2051) and Coquitlam (map, 1000 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam, British Columbia, phone: 604-636-1000).

IKEA is famous for the clean and modern design of their reasonably priced home furnishings and accessories. Their stores are “family friendly” which means there is a room filled with balls for kids to play in (one of my favorite places to go when I was a kid), and a bunch of kid-friendly items such as hotdogs and meatballs on the menu at their restaurant.

I went on a visit to Ikea on a Sunday afternoon, mainly to try their restaurant. The food at the restaurant is fairly inexpensive, because they know if people feel comforted by good food, they might be more inclined to spend hundreds of dollars on that new couch, table, or desk. It sure worked for me – I really only intended to visit the restaurant and then have a quick look around the store, and I ended up spending over $300 on various items. Yikes!

Being a Swedish company, Ikea features some Swedish items on their menu including the meatballs (pictured below) which cost around $7 for 15 meatballs with potatoes or fries (or $6.49 for 10 meatballs, potatoes, fries, and a soft drink). They also have some really tasty cold smoked salmon dishes such as the Gravlax with mustard and dill (also pictured below, around $5.00). For dessert they offer some nice pastries and cakes, such as the one pictured below (around $2.00).

If you like pasta, you can get a plate of Organic Pasta for $1.99. Their menu describes this dish as, “organic pasta with organic vegetarian tomato sauce” and says the pasta is available after 11am. But if you go before 11am you can get a $1.00 (yes, that’s one dollar) breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, and home fries. Their hope is that you’ll spend much more on the home furnishings and accessories. After all, you are already there, so why not pick up a TV stand, lamp, and chaise lounge or two?

Ikea Swedish Meatballs from Ikea in Coquitlam (a suburb of Vancouver BC Canada). Around $7.00.

Ikea Swedish Meatballs from Ikea in Coquitlam (a suburb of Vancouver BC Canada). Around $7.00.

Ikea Swedish Gravlax with Mustard and Dill (smoked salmon, delicious!). Around $5.00. From Ikea in Coquitlam BC Canada, a suburb of Vancouver.

Ikea Swedish Gravlax with Mustard and Dill (smoked salmon, delicious!). Around $5.00. From Ikea in Coquitlam BC Canada, a suburb of Vancouver.

Swedish Dessert pastry from Ikea restaurant in Coquitlam BC Canada (a suburb of Vancouver). Around $2.00.

Swedish Dessert pastry from Ikea restaurant in Coquitlam BC Canada (a suburb of Vancouver). Around $2.00.

30,167 views - Posted Friday, May 22nd, 2009

 

EPIC Vancouver 2009 – Sustainable Living Expo (Video)

Yesterday I attended the EPIC Vancouver 2009 Sustainable Living Expo, a trade show in Vancouver focusing on green consumer lifestyles and an eco-marketplace.

The show ran from May 8th to 10th 2009 – but don’t worry if you missed it; you can soon visit the trade show’s web site for more info about next year’s show.

Highlights included a speech by Summer Rayne Oakes, ‘the Eco super-model’ who talked about sustainability and the environment, as well as her career as an entrepreneur among other things.

Also there were many eco-friendly merchants such as Vital Gifts selling fair-trade and organic foods and gifts.

I checked out the cool electric cars and fancy bikes, and listened to knowledgeable gardener Steve Whysall, author and Vancouver Sun gardening editor, talk about healthy, sustainable and fuss-free gardens. It was interesting to hear how he makes his garden weed-free by pulling up the weeds before they get a chance to bloom.

The trade show took place at Vancouver’s brand new Trade and Convention Centre which is downtown on the waterfront next to the cruise ship terminal, the Pan Pacific Hotel, CN IMAX Theatre, and Canada Place.

I made a video journal of my experiences attending the conference and have posted it below (or you can view it on Youtube by clicking here). Hope you enjoy Vancouver’s great Spring and eventually Summer weather!  -Geoff

Summer Rayne Oakes, the Eco-Supermodel, talking at the EPIC Vancouver 2009 Trade Show.

Summer Rayne Oakes, the "Eco-Supermodel", talking at the EPIC Vancouver 2009 Trade Show.

12,908 views - Posted Sunday, May 10th, 2009