Revisits: Sushi Garden, La Taqueria, Hi Genki, Potter’s Garden

Here is a quick compilation of restaurants I’ve revisited over the past month or so, featuring Sushi Garden, La Taqueria, Hi Genki and Potter’s Garden. All of these were already mentioned in my “Check Off My List” (Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3) series from forever ago, so I thought I would just throw them together for a little update. (:ย 

Sushi Garden

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[05/16/2015] Papa Rae has been on a sushi kick recently, so he suggested that we go out to Sushi Garden for dinner one night. Not the brightest idea since it was a weekend and we know how bustling the place gets, but Papa Rae justified the wait with the cheap prices. ๐Ÿ˜› Personally, it’s not my pick for a sushi restaurant, simply due to the lack of care they put into their food. I mean, it’s just way too busy for the chef to take the time to neatly assemble the food, and I’d rather pay a little more for better preparation.ย 
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Anyways, here’s what we ordered. We started off with an appetizer, the Gomae ($3.50), or spinach salad. It’s basically cooked spinach dressed in a sweet sesame dressing, served cold. For the price though, I was hoping for a bigger portion.ย (3/5)

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I went with Papa Rae and Granny, and Granny refuses to eat anything raw. So, we settled her with a Unagi Don (sorry, no pic.. Granny was hungry!) and got some sushi to share between the two of us.ย 

We got two maki, or rolls. The first is Negihama ($2.75), which has hamachi (yellowtail fish) and scallions. (3/5) Next, is the Alaska Roll ($3.95). I believe this is one of Sushi Garden’s most popular rolls. This is essentially an avocado roll topped with slices of salmon and tobiko (fish roe), then doused with some sort of sauce. (3/5) I liked the flavour of the rolls, and the ingredients were all very fresh. However, they were poorly put together and fall apart easily.ย 
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We ordered the Sashimi & Sushi Combo ($8.75) as well, and this comes with a selection of sashimi and nigiri. It comes with 2 pieces of each of salmon and tuna, but I’m disappointed to find the sashimi slices shrinking with every visit. Seriously, they used to be twice the size! While the salmon was relatively fresh, the tuna, not so much.. They were unpleasantly mushy, which seems to be the problem for most tuna sashimi. I also found strands of fat in the pieces here and there..
As for the nigiri, the combo comes with ebi (shrimp), tuna, salmon, hokkiggai (surf clam), and chopped scallop. Papa Rae added an order ofย tako (octopus) too. Again, with the exception of tuna, the seafood was all quite delicious. (Sashimi- 2.5/5, Nigiri- 3/5)

The Assorted Tempura ($7.50) was the last thing to arrive, although everything came out really quickly. It has two pieces each of shrimp (Papa Rae ate one already, haha), zucchini, sweet potato, and one carrot. The tempura was very well done! The batter was light and were deep fried to crispiness. (4/5)

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Final Thoughts



Even though they were super busy, the waiters were efficient and surprisingly keen on filling our cups. It’s not the nicest place for conversations, as you can imagine with the crowd and hangry eyes staring you down while you dine. ๐Ÿ˜› You definitely feel rushed having a meal here.. you pretty much go in, wait for an hour, chow down your food starving in 10 minutes, then leave right away. If you live in the area, I would recommend you to give a call for a takeout instead. Well, in the end, the prices are affordable and you really get what you pay for.ย 
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1:ย Terrible |ย 2:ย Poor |ย 3:ย Average |ย 4:ย Good |ย 5:ย Excellent
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Food:ย 3/5
Service:ย 3/5ย 
Value:ย 4/5
Ambiance:ย 2/5
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Overall: 3/5
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La Taqueria

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[05/19/2015] During the Victoria Day long weekend, my school also followed up with a Pro-D Day.. on that Tuesday.. which means, Taco Tuesday! Well, La Taqueria actually has a Taco Wednesday promotion but it’s always Taco Tuesday for me! I convinced Faitho to come with me, who at first insisted that she would “study” for a psychology test the following week. Pft, yeah right. (; (Hi Faitho if you’re reading. :3)ย 
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Knowing that this place gets quite busy, we planned to arrive right when the store opens at 11. We had a super awkward incident where the door was locked and we couldn’t get in, while everyone in the store stared at us, probably thinking we were two weaklings who didn’t have the strength to pull it open. ._.ย 
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La Taqueria is one of the most popular places for tacos in Vancouver, and they use all local and organic ingredients. Their menu has both meat and vegetarian, even vegan friendly options. The meat tacos are 4 for $9.50, and the veggies are 4 for $7.50. Individually, they are $2.75 and $2.25 each.ย 

They have a station for salsa along with pickled vegetables. The jalapeรฑos are super addictive! For the salsas, the bottles increase in spiciness from left to right- a refreshing Salsa Verde, sweet and tangy Chipotle, peppery Chile de Arbol and the last one, without a name, is the hottest (well the only one I thought was actually hot) one! That of course, was my favourite. Faitho preferred the lighter salsa verde.ย 
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Now onto tacos! We each ordered four, and this time, I explored some things from the vegetarian menu because I tried a fair number of the meats on my previous visit.ย 
Faitho ordered Al Pastor (marinated pork with pineapples), Carnitas (pork confit), Asada (grilled flank beef) and Tinga de Hongo (sautรฉed mushrooms). Her favourite was the Carnitas, which was what I recommended to her!ย I got Tinga de Hongo, Al Pastor, Frijoles Charros con Queso and Tinga de Hongo.ย 
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First, I tried Tinga de Hongo. This is a vegan option with mushrooms sauteed in a spicy chipotle sauce. My taco had barely any mushroom in it, so it was very saucy.. Faitho was quite lucky with some giant, full pieces though. With that said, I wasn’t very happy with what I got, a so-called mushroom taco with barely any mushroom.. I also couldn’t detect any hint of spiciness. (2.5/5)

 

The Al Pastor is said to be pork marinated in chilli and pineapple, but we both found that it lacked flavour. There really wasn’t much pineapple taste besides the few pieces that they threw on top. On the other hand, the meat was very tender and juicy. (3/5)
Next, I tried the Frijoles Charros con Queso. This is refried beans topped with Mexican cheese, but as simple as it is, it turned out delicious. The mixture was super creamy and smooth and I just couldn’t get enough of it! (4/5)

 

Lastly, I really enjoyed the Pescado, which was very refreshing and flavourful! This features zerandeado fish, accompanied by chipotle mayo, tomatoes, radish and pumpkin seeds. I thought the radish and pumpkin seeds, although a little random, added a nice crunch. (4/5)

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Final Thoughts

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Does La Taqueria live up to its name of being the best taqueria in Vancouver? I’m not sure since I haven’t been to enough Mexican shops to make that judgment, but the tacos here are delicious without a doubt. However, there were a couple of problems on this particular visit, maybe it just wasn’t our lucky day.. ย 

1:ย Terrible |ย 2:ย Poor |ย 3:ย Average |ย 4:ย Good |ย 5:ย Excellent

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Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Value: 4/5ย 
Ambiance: 3/5
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Overall: 3.5/5
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Restaurant site:ย http://www.lataqueria.com/

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Hi Genki

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[05/23/2015] This is one of my all time favourite restaurants, but I haven’t done a full on detailed review on it yet.. I’ll definitely do it once I return with a bigger group of people (or bigger appetite) because I never order much. xD Mama Rae and I came here for dinner one night, when I was hankering for some homey Japanese food.
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One thing we did notice is that the place isn’t nearly as busy as it used to be. I remember long lines forming even before the dinner hours began but this time, there were a couple of empty seats.ย 

The entree we picked was the Satsuma Curry ($9.50), which was on their daily special menu. The dish comes with rice, a side salad, half a hard boiled egg, and of course the star of the dish- satsuma-age (fried fish cakes) bathed in a pool of curry sauce. There were potatoes, carrots and onions in the curry.ย 

Don’t be fooled by the picture, the plate is actually pretty deep so there’s more than enough rice!

The curry was smooth and subtly sweet, totally distinct from Indian or other curries. It was actually my first time having Japanese curry so I have nothing to compare it, but I loved it! I wish there was more sauce to go with the huge amount of rice though. (4/5)

We ordered the Assorted Tempuraย ($4.95) as an appetizer, but it came after the curry. Although Mama Rae mentioned that the tempura wasn’t very good from prior visits, she ordered it anyways because she had a random craving. To our surprise, it was a lot better! The batter wasn’t as thick as it ย was before and Mama Rae really enjoyed it. It comes with 2 pieces of shrimp and 5 vegetables- zucchini, carrot, kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), yellow bell pepper, and eggplant. We found the yellow bell pepper kinda random haha, everything else was great though. (4/5)
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Final Thoughts

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A great place for simple, comforting Japanese food, which is reasonably priced for the quality and relatively large portions. I do wonder why the flow of people toned down so much though..
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1:ย Terrible |ย 2:ย Poor |ย 3:ย Average |ย 4:ย Good |ย 5:ย Excellent
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Food: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Value: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
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Overall: 4/5

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Potter’s Garden

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[06/04/2015] For some reason, I’ve been craving bibimbap (actually, it might be due to the excessive hours spent watching Eat Your Kimchi– I’m going to their meetup in July, eeeeep!) despite the hot hot weather lately. Mama Rae texted me afterschool “I’m feeling lazy today let’s go somewhere nearby for dinner”, and I was like score! Potter’s Garden it is.ย 
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We both ordered dolsot-bibimbap, I chose the nakji (spicy stir-fried octopus) variety ($13.95) and Mama Rae went for the spicy pork (11.95). I always got the classic bibimbap served in a bowl (dolsot refers to the hot stone bowl) because I was too cheap to pay the extra dollar. ๐Ÿ˜› This time, Mama Rae treated me for not only the stone bowl, but also the one with octopus, which is the priciest one in the menu! I don’t remember the last time I tried octopus, so I was super excited.

While the regular bibimbap comes with gochujang (red pepper paste) on the side, the dolsot ones are pre-seasoned with the stir-fry. With a traditional bibimbap, you get toppings such as bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, bulgogi-beef and a raw egg all laid out on the rice, and once you get it, you stir everything together with the sauce. For this one, the rice has already been mixed so is it really a bibimbap.. hmmm.. (“bibim” means mixed!) Anyways.. since it’s all mixed for you, the dish was incredibly flavourful! Mine came with lots of veggies including zucchinis, scallions, green onions, carrots, a sprinkle of seaweed strips and of course the octopus. A few odd pieces were overcooked and way too tough, but most had a really nice chewy texture. I noticed that there’s less octopus in my bowl than what was given to Mama Rae, but quality is definitely over quantity and I guess octopus is just more expensive. ๐Ÿ˜› Instead of a raw egg that you whisk you, Potter’s Garden uses a fried egg. I’ve been meaning to ask them to do mine with a raw egg but I keep forgetting.. and I think it may have something to do with salmonella. ย (4/5)

Between Jang Mo Jib and Potter’s Garden, I definitely like Potter Garden and one of the reason is the banchan (“small appetizers”, “side dishes”). There’s definitely more types and they are more than happy to give you seconds too. These are the typical ones- bean sprouts, kimchi, seaweed and stewed potatoes.ย 
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Final Thoughts

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I have so many Korean places on my wishlist but when I want ย Korean food, I always resort to the this convenient stop. I haven’t been here in a while but the good food and service didn’t change one bit. I also like the fact that this actually feels like a restaurant you would find in Korea- the bell, TV playing Kpop shows, water jugs, Korean staff, which all adds to the experience. c: This place is also probably awesome for adults because they open late at night and they have a soju happy hour! xD Must come here for Korean BBQ one day..ย 
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1:ย Terrible |ย 2:ย Poor |ย 3:ย Average |ย 4:ย Good |ย 5:ย Excellent
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Food: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Value: 3.5/5
Ambiance: 4/5
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Overall: 4/5
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I decided it’s best that I take a break from blogging until finals are over. This year, I have 7 tests (4 done!), 4 finals and a provincial, and I’m seriously braindead ahaha.. I promise you’ll be seeing more quality content on my blog over the summer but for now, I shall allocate my time to studying. To all the other students out there, fighting!! (:ย 
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<3,
Rae
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