The Perfect Summer Meal: Big Island Poke

The Poke craze started in Hawaii but is making its way all over North America. Poke is a raw fish salad from Hawaiian cuisine which is healthy and delicious. With a few Poke restaurants opening up later this year, Poke will definitely be part of the next food craze in Vancouver.

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I couldn’t wait to try Poke, so heading south of the border was my chance at trying this Hawaiian dish. A little further down from Seattle sits Big Island Poke in the small city of Renton, WA.

In this “Subway-style” restaurant you build your own Poke bowl using fresh ingredients.

  1. BASE: rice, salad, or tortilla chips
  2. PROTEIN: tuna, salmon, octopus, or crab
  3. TOPPINGS: avocado, cucumber, furikake, green onion, masago, sesame seeds, sweet onion
  4. SIDES & SAUCES: seaweed salad, kimchi cucumber salad, and sauces like wasabi mayo and siracha garlic aioli

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On the left is the Hawaiian: tuna, green & sweet onion, sesame seeds, limu, shoyu, sesame oil on brown rice. I also added cucumber, seaweed salad, and wasabi mayo (spicy!)

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On the right is a self creation: Hawaiian tuna and spicy ahi tuna on white rice with cucumber, seaweed salad, tobiko, and arugula salad.

In the mason jar is the Big Island Poke home-made Passionfruit Lemonade. Super refreshing and great souvenir to take home!

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The ingredients were all very fresh and I liked the creativity in the sauces. My only concern was that I couldn’t taste the fish very well (but maybe that’s because the other flavours overpowered the fish).

I had a pleasant experience at Big Island Poke and service was fast, the place was clean, and the food was decently priced (around $11 per bowl).

I can’t wait to try the Poke restaurants that open up in Vancouver, but for now, Big Island Poke is my Poke place to go.

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Photo credits to Nathan Ng

Shishinori: Healthy Japanese Food That Won’t Leave You Feeling Guilty

Forget the bento boxes, ramen, and sushi rolls for a second. Japanese food is being served the really healthy way at Shishinori. Here, salad bowls featuring lots of healthy ingredients will leave you satisfied without feeling guilty.

Ahi Tuna Carpaccio Bowl ($12): brown rice, spinach, ahi tuna carpaccio slices, 1/2 egg, edamame, carrot, radish and apple slices, grapes, and a side of ginger.

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Hawaii Ahi Poke Bowl ($12) : leafy greens, brown rice, sprouts, chunks of tuna sashimi, avocado, carrot and radish slices, and grapes.

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From my experience, all the ingredients were very fresh and I really enjoyed my salad bowl. You’ll be getting yummy protein from the sashimi, and the brown rice will leave your tummy satisfied and full. If dessert is a must for you, daily desserts (such as matcha mousse and matcha ice cream) are available!

Shishinori is located off Broadway and Cambie and also features subs, desserts, and breakfast options. The place is tidy, small, and especially busy during lunch hour.

Shishinori: 2328 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC

BEST RAMEN in Vancouver: Kintaro

In the heart of downtown Vancouver, this famous restaurant serves bowls of ramen in a compact, unpretentious setting. Kintaro Ramen serves the tastiest ramen noodle soup with toppings such as BBQ Pork, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, corn, and green onion.

The place is small, simple, and always packed. Have they given much thought to interior decorations? Nope. But it’s not relevant because their ramen is the star of the show.

The three main ramen soups you can choose from include:

  1. Shoyu Ramen $9.95 (special soy-sauce soup with pork bone stock)
  2. Shio Ramen $9.95 (mild soup made from pork bone stock and sea salt)
  3. Miso Ramen $10.45 (known as “Kintaro’s BEST!!” features a soup with a blend of soy bean pastes and 12 spices)

All come with BBQ Pork (lean or fat), bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, corn, and green onion.

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Taking a look at the menu outside while waiting for seats.

Now for the special items of the menu: I’ve heard the Spicy Garlic Ramen is super popular, but I always order the CHEESE RAMEN. 

That’s right, I said cheese. As it says on the menu, Kintaro’s Cheese Ramen ($11.75) comes in an “exquisitely balanced special miso soup and two kinds of cheese. Ladies just lo-o-o-ve it!!”

Couldn’t agree more, I do just “lo-o-o-ve it!!” IMG_0495IMG_0496

The melted cheese along with the perfectly cooked ramen noodles in the miso soup is amazing. The (lean) BBQ pork is fresh and tender. The miso soup is rich and savoury, and the toppings just add to this great combination. Once you taste this you will feel your soul melting into your stomach. It’s beyond good.

You won’t find Cheese Ramen anywhere else in the city, so make sure to try it here at Kintaro.

Lastly, a few things to note:

  • There are long wait times to get seated and for your ramen to arrive. But be patient because it’s worth it!
  • The portions (and bowls) are pretty big here
  • Kintaro is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday

Kintaro Ramen: 788 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2L5

ONE OF THE BEST Burgers South of the Canadian Border

Tucked away at Exit 252 of Highway I-5S sits the best retro-looking burger joint and drive- in. Boomers Drive-In serves delicious burgers, world-famous waffle fries, and ice cream shakes that are to die for! No wonder this place has been voted Best Burger in Bellingham again, and again.

From Vancouver, Boomers is located a 1.5 hour drive away. Yes, you have to cross the border to get there. But I’m telling you, making the trip is worth it. I visited Boomers this weekend, and it was the perfect place to travel to on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.

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Crossing the Canada-US border

Welcome to Boomers! As the sign reads: Anniversary Sale All Burgers $2.99. Loving the retro-look of this place.

You can choose to sit in your car and eat, but I’m not one to devour a messy burger all over the inside of my car. The drive-in experience is super fun, but I chose to dine in today. Due to its anniversary sale, the place was packed with people.

Cute looking and colourful menu inside. Look at all the shake flavours available!

If you are a first timer, go for Combo #1. This includes a Boomer burger, hard ice cream shake, and waffle fries for $7.79. Also known as the ultimate Boomer experience!

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The Boomer Burger is served on a toasted sesame bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and a special sauce. The burger is juicy and the vegetables are super fresh. All the right ingredients to make the perfect, yet simple burger.

The waffle fries are perfectly seasoned and are so fun to eat. As for the hard ice cream shakes: they are creamy, sweet, cold, and addicting! So far I’ve tried Peanut Butter, Root Beer, Butterscotch, and Oreo flavour. Always go for the Oreo, but I heard the chocolate is really popular as well.

Boomers also offers unique burgers such as: Guacamole Bacon, Teriyaki Chicken, Fish, and Veggie burgers.

With their anniversary sale, I couldn’t resist but try the Honey Dijon Chicken Burger for $.2.99. Grilled chicken paired with lettuce, tomato, pickles, topped with sweet dijon sauce, and a slice of Swiss cheese.

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All I have is high praise for Boomers and its food which is fresh and so delicious. I only wish it wasn’t so far from Vancouver, but I guess it makes the visit that much more special. Boomers is the burger joint and drive-in to visit.

Visit Boomers Drive-In at: 310 N Samish Way, Bellingham, WA 98225, United States