Hakkaku Ramen; Comfort Food

Sometimes when the load we are carrying becomes unusually heavy we need to hit the pause button in life and have a bowl of soup. Vietnamese pho has been my go-to for comfort in a bowl.

However, yesterday I found a new source of comfort – a massive bowl of ramen.

Curry Ramen

I was in Burnaby Heights and I needed a bowl of comfort. I recalled reading on Beyond the Rhetoric about a ramen joint in that neighborhood so I headed for Hakkaku Ramen on Hastings St just east of Willingdon.

Wow. What a positive experience! I opted for the “rich” broth and the more tender pork belly in a curry ramen. Seriously. Wow.

The broth was extraordinary. Rich doesn’t begin to describe it. I almost felt like it was 3-dimensional…if that makes any sense.

The soft boiled egg was beautifully cooked with a squishy soft yolk. Little heaps of green onions and a soft potato all added to the goodness of the bowl.

The noodles were cooked just beyond al dente with a lovely resistance to the teeth. And that pork belly – chashu pork. Tender. Pull apart tenderness.

Now admittedly I have not had ramen at any of the well known downtown ramen joints in Vancouver so I have nothing to compare the Hakkaku Ramen soups to, however, I will definitely be returning to Hakkaku Ramen and searching out more ramen joints to try more of this super comfort food.

  • My massive bowl of curry ramen was $9.00
  • Hakkaku Ramen is located at 4530 E Hastings Street, Burnaby

Lunch; Steak and Potatoes

Good old lunch of steak and potatoes with a little sautéed broccolini to make it even more healthy.

Steak and potatoes

The potatoes are fingerlings. Steamed. Best eaten dipped in a creamy dip. The broccolini is cooked by adding it to a large pan that is already hot. Let it cook until it gets dark green and then remove from heat. It is best served right out of the sauté pan – spooned up on to the plate.

To prepare the bacon wrapped steak we put it in a pan under the broiler for five minutes. Pull it out, flip it over, another five minutes and then remove from the oven. Let it rest for a few minutes. Then eat. That’s it.

Steak and potatoes.

 

Meatless Monday With Thug Kitchen 101

Meatless Monday today in the Test Kitchen and I kicked up the flavour meter on my Skillet Beer Chili Mac by adding some STR8 Flexin Imperial Stout from my local craft brewery, Twin Sails. The ultra deep flavour profile of the Imperial Stout really adds to the complexity of the mac (and the kids get a kick out of thinking they are getting some beer).


Seeing as this is a recipe from the Thug Kitchen cookbook, I figure they won’t care if I mod-out their recipes. So I added in a 1/4 cup of broken up cashews to add a bit more meaty texture to the dish. I also had a yam in the pantry that needed to be put into play … asap … so I diced it up and added it to the pot when I added in the chopped carrot. I didn’t have a bell pepper, so I skipped that. Meatless Monday with the Thug Kitchen. 

The best part – one pot to wash and the kids both ate it. 

New Westminster’s Old Crow Coffee Co

Do you know why the hipster burned his lip while drinking coffee? Because he drank it before it was cool. 

Speaking of hipsters, the Old Crow Coffee Company looks like an atypical hipster enterprise. 

After all, who, other than some hipsters would open a coffee shop on a one-way back street in New Westminster and expect to have success? 

But you know, the folks behind Old Crow Coffee Co are doing good stuff. Of course I only tried an Americano coffee but I have to say, it was a very tasty cup of coffee. 

I will definitely be returning to Old Crow Coffee to try more of their menu. 

The Old Crow Coffee Company is located at 655 Front Street in New Westminster. 

Dr Ian Stirling on Polar Bears and Climate Change

Seeing as I live a pretty wild and crazy life, especially on the weekends, I decided to attend a lecture hosted by The Vancouver Institute that featured by Dr Ian Stirling speaking on the topic of polar bears and how climate change is impacting them.

polar bears

Dr Ian Stirling has been studying polar bears for 50 years and he knows his topic very well. He speaks in an easy to understand and very frank manner about polar bears and how climate change is impacting them.

It was interesting to note that most of the people in the UBC lecture hall had hair as white as polar bears. However, Dr Stirling did not see that as a “problem”. In fact, he emphasized that while elementary school age children are very powerful agents of change, he added in that the more elderly members of society can also play an important role in “saving the world for polar bears”.

Elderly members of society are better able to meet with politicians and bureaucrats and the people who make the policies that may save the polar ice caps and the polar bears.

Elderly members of society can make investment choices, choose what types of cars they drive, how often they drive, and they can control the thermostat in their homes. Dr Stirling said that as a matter of principle he keeps the thermostat set at 17 degrees in his home and if anyone is cold in the house, they are told to put on a sweater. Or another sweater. He said we all have small things we can do to slow climate change.

polar bears

As for elementary school age children – Dr Ian Stirling said that they get the problem – the polar ice around the Arctic is melting which means that polar bear habitat is shrinking. Very quickly.

In the last 30 years the polar ice around the Arctic shrunk from something like 8 million square kilometres to just under 4 million. It has shrunk by more than half in less than 30 years.

And kids get it; if there is less polar ice, there is less habitat for polar bears. And when kids get it, from a very early age they begin making changes and questioning the way that things are done. They are the future agents of change and disruptors of the status quo.

After Dr Stirling’s lecture and incredible slide show of images of polar bears, there was a question and answer session. He was asked if “polar bear tourism” is having a net positive or negative impact on polar bears.

He openly admitted that he does some work in the polar bear tourism field but he did say that all things considered, people coming to view polar bears is a positive because of the awareness that it brings to more people. He feels that the more people who are aware of the plight of the polar bears, the more people who will be advocates for slowing climate change.

The primary difficulty that polar bears are having is that they hunt ring seals from the polar ice. As I said above, the less polar ice there is, the less hunting grounds for polar bears. As a result, some polar bears have been exploring new food sources and one of those new food sources is the community of Churchill, Manitoba.

With the growing numbers of polar bears coming into Churchill, the conservation officers were having to shoot and kill the bears. They quickly realized this was not the way to handle the situation.

So now, rather than shooting and killing the bears, they are now being kept for months without being fed, in an old decommissioned Canadian Armed Forces base.

Huh? Yes! Polar bears do not need to eat for months on end (they can live for months and months off the fat that they build on their bodies) so they are kept, without being fed, in an enclosure on the decommissioned military base.

As the bears get to the point where they are going to need to eat to replenish their fatty layer, they are taken from the enclosure and transported further north.

This new system of “handling” polar bears that are coming into contact with humans in Churchill has reduced the number of polar bears being shot in Churchill from 30 down to one or two a year.

At the end of the lecture Dr Ian Stirling did emphasize that although it is getting quite late, there really is time to change the path that humans have taken the natural environment on.

Our choices do matter.

Burquitlam Safeway; Price Check On Aisle One

Seeing as I needed a loaf of bread, I decided to make another visit to the Burquitlam Safeway. While I was there I also checked out the layout of the store and the prices in the new store.

Burquitlam Safeway

After leaving the fresh produce section of the store you enter the main part of the store. I was pleased to see that they have a relatively large “Wellness Market” where they have a wide selection of vitamins and other health-related products.

Burquitlam Safeway

I stopped shopping at Safeway a long time ago because they stopped being price-competitive with stores like Superstore or No-Frills. However, I did notice that many of the prices in the store have yellow tags on them indicating temporary discounted pricing.

A savvy shopper will be able to save money by purchasing items with the yellow discount tags.

Burquitlam Safeway

Seeing as I was looking for bread, I grabbed a photo of one of the many shelves of bread. You can buy baked in store bread, artisan bread, “grocery store” bread, and some of what I call, good quality grocery store breads.

If you buy two loaves of the Silver Hills bread you get a discounted price of $3.50 a loaf. That to me is a pretty fair price for a decent quality bread.

Burquitlam Safeway

Just like the bread, the frozen veggies seem to be competitively priced.

Burquitlam Safeway

And of course butter. A staple in my cooking (if you’ve ever seen me in the kitchen you’ll know what I mean). The house brand of butter is $3.99. I usually buy butter at my local No-Frills for $3.89 so again, competitive pricing.

Burquitlam Safeway

And of course the thing that seems to have many people excited; the liquor store. Well, bad news folks; there is no liquor store in the new Safeway. However, there is a liquor store downstairs and outside the new Burquitlam Safeway.

The “Safeway Liquor Store” is actually a separate store from the new Safeway. The word on the street is that Safeway bought up the license or something like that to the Rhino Pub Liquor Store which is across the street in a building that is being demolished to make way for another high-rise tower.

So in effect, the Rhino Pub liquor store is simply moving across the street into a newer, fancier building with the Safeway name added to it.

Bottom line, the people who looked forward to “one stop shopping” for groceries and booze in the Burquitlam Safeway are not really going to get their wish.

All in all, I am still impressed enough with the new store to keep returning.

 

Dinner With Dad

One of the best ways to get kids who are reluctant eaters (how is it that I end up with a reluctant ester?) to eat is to make bizarre things out of the food. 

Last night I decided to make a low level Jenga game of the potatoes I had chopped into French fry shape. 

While we were eating the object of the game was to extract the baked fries one at a time without making the entire pan collapse. 

They ate the entire pan of potatoes. Mission accomplished.