Toren's Resto Rants Volume 8: New Spicy Chili

From the restaurant reviewer who can’t handle spicy food comes…

New Spicy Chili interior
New Spicy Chili interior

New Spicy Chili Restaurant

Their blurb: No website. No blurb. No fun.

No Online Menu Available

Address: 4200 No 3 Rd #160, Richmond, BC V6X 2C2
Phone: (604) 273-3388
Open 11:30am to 9:30pm except Fri, Sat, Sun open until 10pm.
Booths? No
Noisy? Nope. Not even any music.
Candies with your bill? Negative.
When I dined: Sunday afternoon.

What a facade!
What a facade!

Do you like menus that have giant photos of the food? Photos that are so big you can only fit 3 to 5 items on a page? This might be the restaurant for you!

My date chose this restaurant because we were in Richmond and she was craving dandan noodles. Almost everything in the menu had at least one little chili icon beside it, sometimes up to 3 of them. Since I can’t handle capsaicin spice, it was a challenge to find something that wasn’t scary to me. I also wanted to order a dish that was under $16 (all of the items on the menu had little stickers for prices – they had obviously altered the original menu prices). Also, some items on the menu had prices only in Chinese, which I cannot read. The food seemed overly expensive but I managed to find a noodle dish for about ten bucks that had no chili icon and I verbally confirmed with the server was not spicy.

We did not wait long for our food, and it was actually quite tasty. My co-eater (a term of endearment) also enjoyed her spicy noodles. I had very low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. If I enjoyed spicy food I think I would have had a better experience.

As expected, there are no smiles or pleasantness in the service here. Also the server’s phone was constantly going off in her pocket. I read a review on another site that the server chased down someone trying to leave because they didn’t leave a big enough tip. I guess that’s one way to run a successful business?

I did appreciate the dearth of disposable chopsticks. Hooray future of planet Earth!

Biggest Rave: At no time during our dining experience were was there more than three tables occupied. Apart from the obnoxious phone ringer in the server’s pocket it was very peaceful.

Biggest Rant: This place is cash only, unless your bill is $60 or more. Which, if you order more than three items is likely. Since most of my friends don’t carry cash, this is a huge drawback. Might return to try some other dish. Maybe. Probably not.

Fun stuffed chilis hanging in the corner.
Fun stuffed chilis hanging in the corner.

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Toren's Resto Rants vol 7: Tap & Barrel

They have so many beers here! Are the beers good? I’ll never know because I don’t drink beer.

Photo taken from the Tap & Barrel website
Photo taken from the Tap & Barrel website

“The Original” Tap & Barrel

Their blurb: “Our commitment to creating our food from scratch is also paramount to our food philosophy. From the tartar sauce to the craft beer cheddar sauce, to the red wine and onion gravy our cooks make these ingredients daily to help us create dishes that taste authentic and not out of the box.”


Address: 1 Athletes Way, Olympic Village, Vancouver
Phone: 604.685.2223
Open 7 days a week 11am to “Late”
Weekend & Holiday Brunch: 10am – 3pm
When I visited: weekday lunch
Booths? No
Noisy? Yes but mostly human noise rather than music.
Lives up to its name? Yes, our server tapped out and had us over a barrel.
Candies with your bill? Damn I forget.

They have two patios! Whoopee for them! They serve most of their food on those wooden pizza boards which I’m sure have a name but who cares? Are they more sanitary than ceramic plates? I’ll never know. I had the cobb salad and it was so-so. The chicken especially was chewy and lackluster. I’ve eaten other things here once or twice in the past – probably a burger – and don’t remember it being stellar so I have to say that the food is okay but slightly overpriced. Also the tables are a bit rickety.

Lastly, their website is a chore to navigate. Less is more “TO”T&B! Less is more.

Biggest Rave: They have some ocean wise seafood options and proper desserts.

Biggest Rant:  Of all the many tables open, the server seated us at a table that was half in the sun and half in the shade. As the sunlight began to consume the entire table and we had been left to our own devices for some time (it wasn’t busy so I had to wonder what he was up to) we tried to move a giant umbrella over our table ourselves. No luck with that so when the server finally came back he moved us to another table. Then we got to watch him and two other staff members try to move an umbrella over that previous table, with limited success, and obviously inconveniencing the neighboring table. Also – open 11am to “Late?” What the damn is “late?” Is it 11pm? is it 1am? Is it 3am? What happens if I try to schedule my life with actual numerical time? I guess I shouldn’t count on you.


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Toren's Resto Rants vol 6: Caffe Barney

This seems like a decent place to go to drink alcohol. I don’t really drink alcohol.

Caffe Barney

Their blurb: No website = no blurb. Sad for them.


Address: 2526 Main St, Vancouver, BC
Phone: (604) 568-0426
Sunday through Monday: 9am to midnight
Friday and Saturday: 9am to 1am
When I visited: Lunch
Booths? No
Noisy? Kind of.
Lives up to its name? I did not see Barney.
Candies with your bill? No!

I have been here at least two times. Despite the fact that it’s not a large joint I have never had a problem getting seated – maybe I just arrived at opportune times (like on a Wednesday at 11:45am). I have ordered the nachos which were decent and I have ordered the “Bobb Cobb.” I don’t know why it’s called the Bobb Cobb. Did Bobb make it? Does Bobb really have an extra ‘b’ at the end? Does it stand for ‘bargain?’ Anyway, the food is decent enough. The prices aren’t bad. The ambience is fine and I didn’t recall any loud or horrible music so that’s a plus. They have a front patio. I saw on another review they have a back patio but I never went back there. The servers were friendly enough but they were not very attentive – this seems to be a common complaint here.

Biggest Rave: Brunch until 4pm! Yeah!

Biggest Rant: The server didn’t ask if we wanted the bill split before she brought it, then had to take it back to split it. Then when she came back she let half of my party pay for the bill (me) but then walked away for several minutes leaving my associate waiting and wondering if she would be back. I took the opportunity to pet a dog. The dog was nice-looking but could have been friendlier. 3/5 for the dog.


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Toren's Resto Rants vol 5: Kishimoto

I am not a fan of fish. I have no business reviewing this restaurant.

Photo from Kishimoto's facebook page
Photo from Kishimoto’s facebook page

Kishimoto Japanese Restaurant

Their blurb: None. No website. What gives?


Address: 2095 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4V1
Phone:(604) 558-4641
CLOSED MONDAYS, otherwise open 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-9:45pm
Booths? Not really – they have booth chairs along the wall but the tables are not separated with anything but space.
Noisy? Can be
Candies with your bill? Yes but not good ones.

kishimoto (1)I live near this place and its very rare that there isn’t a queue of folks loitering outside. I’m sure this has to do with the fact that the food is good but equally due to the fact that this dining area is miniature.  Also I appreciate a sushi joint where they provide reusable chopsticks rather than disposable ones. They do have a Draconian policy with regard to the wait list – they put your name on the list and if you leave they cross you off. As a person who generally avoids food from the ocean I usually get vegetarian sushi, goma ae, chicken, edamame and gyoza when in Japanese restaurants but I did try a bit of fish this time. Everything was well made, except the gyoza was unexceptional. We tried the crispy beet salad and it was like a party in my mouth.

I don’t remember any mention of Ocean Wise or sustainable fish on the menu and I can’t find anything online right now so I guess that’s a strike against it. Also it’s not cheap but you do seem to get what you pay for. If you want a lot of sushi for your money there are other better places, such as Sushiyama.

Also the art on the walls was not good. But who goes to a restaurant for art? NOT ME!

Biggest Rave: Crispy beet salad OMG. Also consistent business hours.

Biggest Rant: This restaurant doesn’t take reservations, and you can expect to wait an hour or more to get seated. If you don’t like line ups or are actually hungry, AVOID Kishimoto. Also the tables are too close together.

kishimoto (4)

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Toren's Resto Rants vol 4: Tangent Cafe

I don’t drink beer, I only review the food.

image taken from Tangent's facebook page
image taken from Tangent’s facebook page

Tangent Cafe

Their blurb: “gathering friends around great food & beer”


Address: 2095 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4V1
Phone:(604) 558-4641
When I visited: Weekday evening.
Booths? Ooh – I don’t think so.
Noisy? Yes!?
Lives up to its name? I didn’t see any tangents but I could have made some.
Candies with your bill? I saw a big bowl of candies, but none came with our bill. So I just took one on the way out.

On a Wednesday night my friends and I tried to get in to Mezcaleria (1.5 hour wait) and then Kishimoto (1 hour wait) and wanted to eat immediately so we were happy to find that Tangent Cafe had no wait time. This looks like a regular white dude pub but I was pleased to find their menu has a “West” side with burgers and paninis and an “East” side with various Malaysian dishes. I came with three friends and I ordered the Malaysian chicken burger (which was tasty but didn’t strike me as overly Malaysian) and Malaysian poutine which was quite good (fries and cheese with curry sauce and chicken). My friends ordered chicken wings and mee goreng and I didn’t hear any complaints.

The service was not great. We waited a while to get water and our orders, and then waited a longer while (too long) for dessert and the bill. The dessert was amaretto-banana flambe roti and it was excellent.

They have a patio, which was nice to get away from the musicians (I don’t understand live music in restaurants – either as a patron or a musician).

Biggest Rave: No wait to get in!

Biggest Rant: They played recorded music on the speakers while live musicians played on stage. We had to ask them to turn off one of them (they chose the pre-recorded).

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Toren's Resto Rants vol 3: Carthage Cafe

Image from the Carthage Cafe website
Image from the Carthage Cafe website

Carthage Cafe

Their blurb: “Carthage Café is a small and intimate restaurant that offers a unique Tunisian and French menu. The decor is warm and intimate, an oasis of Tunisian hospitality that will make you feel comfortable and welcomed. We offer “food for the soul” that is prepared with care and is sure to excite your taste buds. Our menu is combination of classic French and inventive Tunisian cuisine that is sure to appeal to everyone. We invite you to experience Vancouver’s best Tunisian food. The service is courteous and the atmosphere welcoming. Enjoy a taste of Tunisian culture and imagine yourself in one of the most beautiful African countries on the coast of the sun-drenched Mediterranean.”


Address: 1851 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N
Phone:(604) 215-0661
When I visited: Weekday evening
Booths? No
Noisy? No
Lives up to it’s name? Less of a cafe, more of a restaurant. No alliteration there though I suppose.
Candies with Bill? Yes but boring.

This is one of those restaurants that provide a little basket of complimentary bread with your meal – though I read somewhere they charge for refills. We tried the Moroccan iced tea which was fine, and my date had the seafood bouillabaise -fish of the day, scallops, tiger prawns and mussels in saffron broth and she said it was decent. I really appreciate restaurants that have ‘sampler’ plates where I can try a bunch of different stuff in one entree, so I chose the Couscous Carthage – steamed couscous, chicken, lamb, merguez and autumn vegetables in tomato sauce. It was pretty good. Service was good. Music was light and jazzy and Frenchy but not offensively so.

Although this is indeed a unique dining experience, the food won’t knock your socks off. Desserts “all made on site” but still overpriced. I could get that tart in a deli for half the price. I’ve been here twice – I probably won’t go back, I feel like I’ve got the experience and don’t need to spend the money a third time. I would recommend it though if you haven’t been, are looking for something a bit (but not wildly) different, and don’t mind spending some money.

Biggest Rave: If you’re looking for some fine dining that is open past 9pm this is an option!

Biggest Rant: Unnecessarily hoity-toity. Also – I don’t understand these thin, dry sausages. Who likes them?


TRIVIA: Carthage is a seaside suburb of Tunisia’s capital, Tunis…in Africa! It was once the center of the ancient Carthaginian civilization.

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Toren's Resto Rants vol 2: La Mezcaleria

MezcaleriaLa Mezcaleria
“…the first restaurant to offer a wide variety of the finest mezcals, as well as high quality tequilas and cocktails inspired by the different regions of Mexico. Our dishes mirror traditional Mexican recipes while sourcing organic ingredients locally and serving ocean-friendly seafood options. Many of our dishes are inspired to be shared with family and friends. We welcome every member of the family by offering gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and carnivorous options. At La Mezcaleria, we strive to make every guest who walks through the door feel welcome, happy and at home.”

Address: 1622 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y4
Phone:(604) 559-8226
When I dined: Sunday brunch
Booths? No
Noisy? Not bad.
Lives up to it’s name? Yes you can get mezcal there!
Candies with your bill? No

Tamarind Jarritos
Also I had a tamarind jarritos

Went for brunch on a Sunday at 2pm (they’re closed 3pm-5pm). Everything on the menu was new to me and I had a hard time deciding. Asked the server for recommendations and he gave us four of them. We took two: Huevos Motulenos (ham, eggs, peas, black beans, cheese on tortilla) and Hongos Con Kale (mushroom caps with kale, eggs, chipotle hollandaise, hashbrowns). All the food was tasty and well-prepared.

There is not a lot of space at this venue which is a con to me, and they sat us at the bar which is also one of my least favourite things. Luckily the diners to our left and right cleared out pretty quick so I didn’t have to worry about elbowing them. On the plus side we got to watch the bartender make an avocado slushy alcoholic beverage which I wanted to try. Every staff member we encountered was pleasant and friendly without being a big Fakey Fakerson. I also appreciated their sustainable seafood options. They gave us three kinds of hot sauce as condiments.

They did have some music playing, but it was not obtrusive (or perhaps we were just seated far enough away from the speakers that I didn’t notice).

Important note: if you want to eat here, call ahead to make a reservation. Tried to come here once and the wait was one and a half hours.

Biggest Rave: The hashbrowns get 9/10 on the hashometer.

Biggest Rant: We ordered horchata, one of my date’s favourite beverages, but they told us they didn’t have enough to serve us and still leave some for their alcoholic drinks. I understand that from a business perspective but it didn’t make me feel super appreciated.

I would like to go back and try their dinner menu, when I do I will update this review. I guess we’ll have to call ahead to make sure they have enough horchata for us?

TRIVIA: Mezcal  is a spirit distilled from mash made out of the steamed hearts of various species of agaves. Horchata is a sweet, cinnamon-flavored milky beverage made of almonds, sesame seeds, rice or tigernuts.

La Mezcaleria

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Toren's Resto Rants vol 1: Martini's


Martini’s Whole Wheat Pizza
“Comfy eatery with exposed brick & a bar open until late, crafting pizzas & diverse dishes.”
Address: 151 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1P4
Hours: open until midnight at least
Booths? kind of
When I dined: Usually lunch.
Noisy? Can be.
Lives up to its name? Yes you can order martinis.
Candies with your bill? Yes but they’re lame.

Martini’s is perfectly serviceable western food, and it’s 2 blocks from my work so I am there once a week. They usually have good lunch specials that come with soup and other junk. When I feel like eating healthy I have the grilled chicken salad (sometimes this comes on tomato bocconcini salad, sometimes Greek salad). Otherwise I have the lamb pita wrap or a chicken burger. Weird thing – they put black olives and pineapple in their green salad. I kind of like it. Prices are adequate. Service is decent. Generally speaking, this entire restaurant is adequate. They bill themselves as a pizza place but if you want pizza there are much better places to go in the city.

Biggest Rave: once they had a grilled chicken salad with gorgonzola in it that was amazing. Unfortunately it was just the one time and I have never seen it on the menu since.

Biggest Rant: The server forgot about us and we were about to leave after waiting something like 40 minutes. Then she said “oh we’ll get your meal to you immediately” then it took another 20 minutes and even after my friend had to leave to get back to work (before the food finally arrived) they didn’t even give us a discount.

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No, not Marteny's - Martini's!
No, not Marteny’s – Martini’s!