1778 Hwy 97 South
Prince George, BC  V2L 5L3

250-564-2255

M-W: 11a – 9p/Th-Sa: 11a – 10p/Su & Holidays: 4p – 9p

ThanhVu on Urbanspoon

September 3, 2011

In the seven years since we’ve moved up here, this past Labour Day was the first long-weekend *ever* that we’re not driving down to the Coast.  Kinda blows the mind how much driving we do!  However, that being said we still needed to go back-to-school clothes shopping for Mr O, so we decided to make a drive up to Prince George and make a daytrip out of it.

Although not as long of a drive as it is driving into Vancouver, it’s still a bit of distance and by the time we were within the city limits of Prince George, I was more than ready for some lunch.  Situated along the highway on the right-hand side as you’re driving into the city, next to the Four Points by Sheraton hotel, is the Thanh Vu Restaurant.  Now that’s not a name you’d see every day in Williams Lake!  It serves Vietnamese cuisine (coincidentally something I’ve been craving for awhile now.)

We get there after the lunch rush but there were still quite a few tables occupied.  We were seated in a booth, which was separated by glass partitions so you can clearly see over your companion’s shoulder who is sitting in the next booth.  A bit awkward but then you learn to keep eye contact with those you’re sitting with.

The menu is a little overwhelming at first because there’s just so much STUFF on it.  Plus you have adjust to reading the English menu after the preceding Vietnamese words.  There are lots of different types of rolls and soups to choose from, and the main dishes are broken down into meat categories, which include: beef, chicken, pork, seafood and tofu.  Because of its geographical proximity, Vietnamese cuisine has a lot of influence from Chinese, Indian, Thai and French cuisines (it being a former French colony and all).  So it’s not surprising to find wonton soups next to the curries next to the baguettes!  Today, Mr O ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee and the Chicken Lemon Grass, and I ordered the Spring Rolls with rice noodles.

...the beginnings of something special...

Soft Vietnamese music floated in the background as we waited for our food, and strings of Vietnamese conversation could be heard from the kitchen staff every time that door was swung open.  On one of these occasions the waitress brought over Mr O’s coffee.  Iced coffee is a highly favoured beverage amongst the Vietnamese.  The espresso-strength coffee grinds are pressed into this metal contraption which sits over a glass and hot water is poured in to start to brewing process.  At the bottom of the glass is a layer of sweetened condensed milk, probably about half an inch thick, and it’s neat to watch the black coffee slowly drip onto the creamy surface.  And I’m not kidding about the slow part… it’s not unheard of for the coffee to be finally finished dripping just as you’re finishing up your meal.

Soon after, our food arrives.  Mr O’s chicken was nothing like the grilled lemon grass version we were accustomed to eating down south.  The version here is more akin to a light curry, infused with coconut milk, lemon grass and chili peppers.  The chicken breast is sliced and there is a generous amount of it in the dish, along with sliced onions and scallions.  The coconut actually went really well with the lemon grass, and the curry and chilli peppers did not overwhelm the dish at all.  It’s accompanied by a large bowl of rice which soaks up the sauce beautifully.

...lemon grass curry...

A Vietnamese spring roll is different from a Chinese one in that there are hardly any vegetables in it.  It’s made up mostly of ground pork, which is normally mixed with cellophane noodles, wood-ear mushrooms, grated carrots, egg and various spices.  And the truly authentic stuff is wrapped with rice paper instead of a wheat-based wrapper.  It’s more of a pain to prepare this way, but by using the rice paper the rice content puffs up nicely in the hot oil when it’s deep-fried which gives it a lighter and crispier exterior.

...springroll heaven...

...pork and nuoc mam together at last...

These spring rolls are one of the best I’ve ever had (not including Momma’s of course!) and I love to drown them in the ‘nuoc mam’, which is a sweet and salty concoction made of water, vinegar, sugar and fish sauce.  Yes, I said it… fish sauce… fermented fish extract.  Scrunching your faces is only gonna hurt my feelings so stop that, and I absolutely urge you to try it if the opportunity ever arises.  I used to drown all my food in that stuff as a kid and I knew I wasn’t the only one doing that growing up!

So as I was saying, the spring rolls is served with a heaping pile of vermicelli rice noodles, which have been sprinkled over with pickled carrots and sliced scallions.  Usually you’d find bean sprouts, slivered cucumber and chopped roasted nuts with the noodles too, but not today in Prince George.  And did I pour some of my nuoc mam over my noodles?  Oh you bet I did… I even had to ask the waitress for an extra bowl of the stuff!

We ate and ate until our bellies were stuffed and we still had leftovers.  So we had our food packed away into a doggie bag and by around this point Mr O’s coffee was finally ready for us.  The neatest part about the drink is when you swirl the condensed milk into the coffee and you watch the liquid go from pure black to a nice chocolaty colour.  As kids my siblings and I used to always fight over who go to stir Poppa’s coffee.  So naturally, Mr O let me do the honours today.

Once everything is mixed up nice, a glass full of ice is brought to you and the whole thing is poured right in.  You’d think the milk and melted ice would mellow out the drink, but it’s still crazy strong and one sip is enough to coat the whole mouth; which is perfect if you happen to be eating something spicy, or just happen to crave caffeine like Mr O does.

...coffee pre-iced...

...iced magic...

We didn’t see any signs of a dessert menu, but that was fine because we were much too full for it anyways.  Now we have a whole afternoon of shopping ahead of us to look forward to, which is always better when it’s done on a full stomach.

54 MacKenzie Ave N.
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 1N5

250-398-8983

Gecko Tree on Urbanspoon

November 4, 2010

Today I have a lunch date with Miss M, who had just returned from a 5 week sojourn in Thailand.  I figured that last thing she wanted to eat was something heavy so I suggested the Gecko Tree as our meeting point.

I arrived first and sat myself at a small table close to the window and admired the textile brocades that were hanging up on the walls.  There always seemed to be a rotating collection of local art up on display on their walls which lends it a very eclectic and homey environment.  And if anything ever happens to catch your eye, you’ll be happy to know that it’s all for sale!

It wasn’t too long until Miss M walks through the door, and after a quick hug and brief catch up, our waitress came by to take our orders.  A chalk board hanging on a beam post tells us today’s specials, which happened to be a pizza loaded with all sorts of veggies, a roasted garlic tomato soup, and cherry chocolate cake.

This place had formerly catered to vegetarians in the past, but a few years ago they started adding meat items to their menu.  They use organic beef and chicken that are all locally grown and supplied from the local butcher, and everything else is made fresh on site.  The menu is pretty extensive and includes a full page dedicated to all-day breakfast foods, salads, wraps, and other deliciously healthy items.

Miss M opted to go with the soup special, and I decided on the Thai Salad.  Just as we had our orders taken, Miss B walks in through the door… what a delightful surprise!  She had already eaten so she had just ordered a vanilla latte and a Yum Bar.  Coffee here is locally roasted from Uncle Paul’s, and their decaf stash is supplied by Kicking Horse.  Her coffee came quickly and I eyed her Yum bar enviously as I was quite hungry.  It was a thing of chocolate wonder holding together all sorts of wonderful seeds, oats and grains.  Luck was with me though… for one, my mom made sure I knew my manners, so I was able to refrain from grabbing it from her plate, and two… my food arrived!

...yum bar...

My salad was much bigger than I had anticipated… and man was it ever a salad!  It had cold noodles, green and red bell peppers, zucchini, red onions, tomatoes, sprouts, red cabbage, and marinated tofu.  All of this sat on top of a bed of green romaine that had never seen the likes of a triple-washed and bagged environment, and was prepped on-site.  A homemade peanut sauce dressed the contents and the salad was almost too big for the plate as I tried to amalgamate all the ingredients together.  The bites were big too when I tried to incorporate a little bit of everything onto one forkful, so things got a big messy, but it was well worth the constant napkin action because this salad was good.  Not “good” like the five cent version, but…

SO.

GOOD.

...yummy thai salad...

...sproutsy!...

I was so hungry and it was so yummy… what a perfect combination we made!  But somehow I was only able to finish half of it.  I was defeated by a salad??  That was fine, because I was able to bring the rest of it home with me for dinner.

Miss M’s soup looked amazing as well.  It came piping hot, and had a very creamy texture.  It smelled incredible.  When Miss M insisted that everyone have a taste, I jumped at the opportunity and found that the mild flavour of garlic went really well with the earthy tomatoes.  I’ve never been much of a tomato soup fan, but this had me rethinking my views now.

...to-mah-to soup...

Of course, lunch just isn’t complete without a little dessert!  Miss M also ordered a Yum Bar.  I debated about trying out their cake special, but I knew my heart was in it for one of their homemade brownies, so that was what ended arriving in front of me.  Yes, this place is great for eating healthy food that gives you a good feeling inside.  However, this brownie was not one of them.  Insider sources have told me that this rich and decadent treat contains a startling amount of real butter.  Butter!  But this was Julia Child’s favourite ingredient after all, so this indulgence makes it okay in my books.

...*drools*...

I finished the whole thing… all by myself!  And I felt so sinful!  But I figured everyone’s allowed indulge once in awhile… right?

2828 Trans-Canada Hwy
Lytton, BC  V0k 1Z0

250-455-2228

Sun-Fri: 8am – 8pm/ Sat: Closed

Kanaka Bar Cafe on Urbanspoon

October 11, 2010

Today we ventured into the Kanaka Bar Cafe in time for brunch.  It was truly one of those places where I didn’t know what to expect.  I figured that Kanaka sounded Japanese so maybe they had asian food.  But then Mr O mentioned that it was a Chinook word for “Hawaiian”.  Well, according to the area’s history he was right, but I should get half points since it turned out that it was a western-slash-Chinese food joint.  Chinese is asian right?

...store front...

 

The inside decor was a pretty outdated fusion of rustic lodge and Chinese paraphernalia, old school cafeteria style chairs and tables and vinyl booths.  The restaurant had a role in the movie “The Pledge” which was filmed back in 2000 and I suspected that much of the interior design might have been a relic from those days.

The menu consists of both western food and westernized Chinese food.  In particular, there is a rather extensive selection of breakfast type foods.   Mr O ordered the Sunshine breakfast.  As for me, earlier I had overheard the owners speaking in Cantonese when we walked in and decided to take the risk and ordered a Chinese two-item dinner combo. There were about nine items to choose from and I decided on the stereotypical sweet and sour pork with chicken chow-mein.

For those interested, an old album of some behind-the-scenes pictures of the filming of the Pledge is available for flipping through, which was what we did while we waited for our food to arrive.  In it there were quite a few pictures of the family’s young toddler son posing with various cast and crew members.  What was kinda weird, though, was looking up from the album to see that same son, now a young man, working behind the till.

...the "pledge"...

 

My plate came with bright red saucy pork on one side, and neutral coloured noodles on the other. The chow-mein had shredded cabbage and bean sprouts in it, as well as sparse amounts of what looked like deli-cut chicken.  This disappointed me.  But then I found that the pork was surprisingly tender, and the atomic red sauce actually won me over.  My initial impression of the sauce was it smelled very pungent and vinegary, but the more I ate the more I began to enjoy it.  I also caught on to what tasted like a hint of ginger, which was pretty nice.  And while I’ll still maintain that the noodles were pretty blah, it really balanced out the aggressive flavours of the pork dish.  Overall, I have to say that as westernized Chinese food goes, this was pretty decent.

...s&s pork and chicky chowmein...

 

Mr O’s Sunshine breakfast came with sausage links, bacon, eggs and pancakes which all came in pairs of 2s, and home-made hashbrowns. The potatoes were cooked perfectly but could’ve used a bit more seasoning in my opinion.  The bacon also came out really crispy, and the pancakes were very thick and cakey. This is great for someone who prefer their pancakes cooked this way, which was actually how Mr O liked them.

...breaky...take 1...

...and take 2...

 

The proprietor also happened to be the waitress and she was very friendly and seemed outgoing.  Unfortunately she spent pretty much most of her time conversing with a rather large crowd that was seated on the other side of the restaurant so we didn’t see much of her.  Mr O wanted more coffee, and I was hoping for some chopsticks to eat my food with, neither of which we got because we were never once checked up on once our food arrived.  That kinda sucked because there was just something wrong about a Chinese person eating chow-mein with a fork.

Overall, I’m very glad that we finally had the opportunity to check this place out and solve the long standing mystery of what kind of food you’d find inside.  If you love westernized Chinese food, you’ll probably like it here as they do it quite well and I would recommend this place.  And the breakfasts here are very reasonably priced with great portions.  We may hit this place up again, but it’ll be more fun to try something new.

72 Oliver Street
Williams Lake, BC   V2G 1L7

778-412-5282

M-W: 7a-6p, Th/F: 7a-9p, Sa: 8a-9p (closed Sundays and Holidays, Live Music when available)

New World Coffee and Tea House on Urbanspoon

January 7, 2010

It was gonna be a quickie but we made it happened… Miss B and I finally had a firm lunch date with Miss M!  Our dear friend had returned awhile ago from her voyage through Peru, but due to other out-of-town trips we weren’t able to catch up with her until today.  I had exactly only *ONE* hour to do this, which is really not anywhere near enough time to try to hear about someone’s 6 week long journey!  But it was better than nothing and we made the New World Coffee and Tea House our meeting place.  (Beside that, this would be my first time at NWCaTH so there’s nothing like killing two birds with one stone!)

We seated ourselves at one of the round bistro-style tables and an employee was quick to greet us with menus and the daily special.  Miss B and I had a few minutes to decide what we wanted to eat while we waited for Miss M to arrive.  As it was, the both of us had rung in the new year with a self-enforced diet and I was trying very hard not to notice the freshly baked apple and pumpkin pies that were sitting in the cooler, right below the slices of various cheesecakes…. *gulp!*

...chai latte anyone?

Today’s special happened to be quiches!  Healthy, diet approved quiches… what luck!  The three of us ordered variations of the same meal which meant the Turkey and Veggie soup, a garden salad, and a slice of quiche.  Miss B and Miss M asked for the spinach, peppers and parmesan version and I had the dill and shrimp one.   Miss M indulged herself and also got herself a chai latte, whereas Miss B and I stuck with lemon water.

...soup's on!...

There really wasn’t much to say about the soup other than it was very hot and included actual chunks of real turkey meat.  It was nice, but I wasn’t particularly wowed by the flavour.  Luckily, the quiche was a whole other story… it was so good!  The crust with flakey and very light – I barely realised that there was even a crust – and hence, I did not feel guilty at all for eating carbs!  And the filling was very savoury, flavourful and smooth like silken tofu.  In the past quiches had been synonymous to me with rubbery egg dishes… who knew that it could be so light and wonderful?

...oh how quiche!...

...sooo silky...

I even enjoyed the salad.  My opinion of salad is you eat it out of necessity.  I’m an adult… I’m *supposed* to like eating salads.  And so I always eat them plain with no dressing… why ruin the nutrients I’m supposed to be ingesting by drenching it with fat and sugar?  But curious to know what the pink stuff sitting inside the tin cup was, I dipped my fork in to taste it, and before I knew it I was drizzling the stuff right over my greens.  (Not much, mind you… I do know how to practice restraint at times ;) )  The dressing was very yummy and is definitely something I can envision wanting more of as soon as my wedding date is over.

Now the neatest thing of all occurred when Miss M took the tea bag out of her chai.  The bag was simply enormous and we all had a good laugh about it (though heaven only knew why).  Turns out that it was a cloth bag that they stuffed with their own loose leaves, which they washed and re-used for the next tea.  That is so green and I love it!

...reusable tea bag...

...ready for more...