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.

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83 2nd Avenue
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 3W3

250-392-5629

Porky's Deli on Urbanspoon

October 7, 2009

It’s been a long while since the last time I’ve had lunch with the girls from work so today we decided to rectify that.  It was a very brisk autumn afternoon… (read: it was very cold!)  Funny how in a matter of mere days the weather goes from one extreme to the next up here in the Cariboo.  So braving the frigid temperatures, we walked to Porky’s Deli.

There are no hours posted up at the place and I’ve yet to determine exactly what their hours are.  However, I do know that they close at 5:30pm on weeknights.  Lunch time is always steady here with a line of hungry consumers, and the food is very good.  The menu typically stays the same and it’s made fresh everyday.

 

cabbage roll and lasagna... mmm...

cabbage roll and lasagna... mmm...

You’ll find the format of the restaurant very similiar to that of a cafeteria.  Basically, you get yourself into the line-up, browse the selection of food available behind the glass panel (but don’t take too long!), tell the nice lady what you’d like to eat, and then proceed on to the check-out where your food will be waiting for you.  They even serve your food on those nifty cheap plastic trays!

Food is served in 6, 8, 10, 12 or 14 ounce containers.  Containers larger than 10 ounces allow you the option to choose more than one food item if you wish.  I can’t recall what the exact prices are for each of the sizes, but I do remember that you can choose a combo platter which allows you 4 different items for the mere price of $10.

 

curried chicken & chapatis

curried chicken & chapatis

cinny bun

cinny bun

My companions today are Miss B and Miss D.  I decided to split a 10 0z dish and chose the meat lasagna and a cabbage roll.  For dessert I added in a cube of their lemon cake.  Miss B ordered an 8oz dish of curried chicken and chapatis.  A huge honkin’ cinnamon roll rounded off her meal.  Miss D decided to follow her appetite’s calling and had the combo plate.  They filled it with curried rice & brocoli, beef stroganoff, roasted potatoes & sausage, and mac & cheese.  No dessert for her today, but she got an orange pop to drink.

Oiy, it was so much food and it was so good!  The noodles on my lasagna were really tender and the sauce nicely seasoned, as was the cabbage roll.  My only complaint was that there could’ve been more sauce on the cabbage roll itself.  And my cake was moist and very dense without overwhelming me with a strong flavour of lemon… just the way I like it.  Miss B’s dish looked delicious but I knew that it was way too spicy for me, and I was too stuffed to steal a bite out of her cinnamon roll.  The most surprising thing about this date for me though is probably witnessing Miss D finish her entire plate of food.  Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve never *ever* seen Miss D eat that much before!  I never knew that she even had it in her!  Needless to say, she didn’t help herself to the cinnamon roll either.

 

...combo plate anyone?...

...combo plate anyone?...

What if you’re not that hungry?  Well, for the merely peckish folks, they have a cooler full of sandwiches, quiches, cold breads and many types of salads.  As well they have a counter full of large glass jars that are filled with what looked like chocolate candies.

So folks, don’t let the plain store front fool you… there are lots of good stuff to eat inside!  I know I’ll be back for sure.

Edited on February 8, 2010: I’m sad to say that I’ve discovered this restaurant has shut its doors for the last time this past month.  A steakhouse by the name of Big Mama’s has re-opened in its place and I’m gonna look forward to trying this place out!

1527 S. Cariboo Highway
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 2W3

250-392-4225

Open 1:30-1:30pm (lunch) and 5:30-8:30pm (dinner).  Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Blue Spoon on Urbanspoon


Store Front.

Store Front.

July 28th, 2009

Was minding my own business at work today when I noticed a fax sitting in the fax machine that had just come in earlier this morning.  It was this week’s menu for the Blue Spoon.  It had butter chicken on it!  I hadn’t intended to start my first restaurant review until at least this weekend when Mr O and I were due to make a trip down to the coast… but c’mon… I’m soooOoOo there for butter chicken!

Blue Spoon is primarily a catering company and had only recently re-opened its on-site restaurant.  Turns out they hired a new chef who happened to specialise in East Indian cuisine and they now offer a daily buffet menu comprised of different types of curry.

I showed the copy of fax to Miss B and she was just as excited about it as I was.  We decided right then to have lunch there today and arrived at the restaurant a little after 1pm along with Miss J.

It was a miserable 32c outside with an unfavourable humidex and although the lovely smells of tumeric and cumin enticed our olfactory senses as we stepped through the doors, we noticed there wasn’t much of a significant drop in temperature inside the building.  We saw past the heat though because we was hun-ga-ry.  But the first order of protocol… you must pay for your meal upfront along with your drink.  Miss J was the only one out of our trio to try the mango lassi, a slushy-like drink made primarily of mangos and yogurt, designed to cut the heat inside your mouth.  I just wasn’t in the mood for a sweet drink, but as it turned out, I found myself wishing I had ordered it as the meal progressed.

mmm... Curry!

mmm... Curry!

We opted for the buffet style menu, which went for $12.50 per adult, and $7.00 per child.  They also offer a daily special, which just happened to be a samosa plate today, in addition to a western style menu for those with a less adventurous palate (chicken strips anyone?)

Now, I love spicy food but my poor taste buds  just do not have the tolerance for the heat.  So the vegetable pakora (fritter), mixed veggies and palak paneer (cheese curry and spinach) were mild enough even for a wuss like me!  And of course, the star of the show… butter chicken!  Whole pieces of dark meat smothered in a creamy, tomato-based curry sauce… Yum!  The more I ate the more heaty it got inside my mouth… but everything was so good!  There was also dal makhni available which is a  lentil type dish that Miss B tried and told me that it was pretty spicy.  None for me, thanks.

There was raita, a yogurt and cucumber dip that reminded me a lot of  liquified tzatziki, which helped to cool everything down and the cilantro chutney was absolutely to die for!  And of course, the meal just isn’t complete without the steamy basmati rice and naan.  Seriously, I could just sit there with a bowl of butter chicken and naan and noshed on it all day.  In fact, Miss B and I went back for seconds.

Good food, good company, good view… Oh yes, the eating area is surrounded with windows that look down onto Williams Lake.  It’s very picturesque, especially on a clear blue day with the sun shining down onto the water like it was today.  However, this created an almost green house-like effect inside and the few fans placed strategically about, working at full tilt, just didn’t do anything to cool the place down.

rice pudding

rice pudding

So it was by this point that the heat was really starting to get to me and I could feel a layer of moisture beginning to form on my skin. I was even wiping my face down with a napkin and fanning myself with my hand like a wannabe southern belle.  It was hard to determine if my current predicament was mostly due to the spicy nature of the food or due to the warmth inside the room.  Hoping to rectify at least one of the possible factors, the three of us headed for the chilled buffet for dessert.

Both Miss B and Miss J opted for the rice pudding.  I, however, being Chinese hold firm to the idea that rice do NOT have any business trying to pass itself off as a dessert item.  Instead, I stuck with the fruit salad.  There was also gajar ka halwa, which is apparently a very popular dessert made from simmered carrots, but none of us tried it.

In the end, Miss B persuaded me to try the pudding and I was surprised to find that it tasted very much like a thinned-out congee with a light hint of cardamom.  It was quite pleasant actually, except according to Miss B it should’ve had a much thicker consistency.  I suspect that the rice pudding had fallen victim to the heat.

help yourself!

help yourself!

By now we were well and truly stuffed.  We toddled out of the dining room and back into the stifling Cariboo heat, but not before Miss B grabbed a small sample of the candied fennel seeds that was available for tasting by the cashier’s desk.  Traditionally, Indians offer this after meals to aid in digestion, as well to cut the smell of curry from one’s breath.  As it was suppose to taste like black licorice and I was already done work for the day, I passed on this opportunity.

candied fennel seeds anyone?

candied fennel seeds anyone?

Mr O can just deal with my curry kisses :)