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

At Home With Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups

If there’s one thing that I really enjoy, it is the total premium steakhouse experience.

I love the feeling of a steakhouse. I love the food served in a steakhouse and I love the professionalism of the servers, the dark wood decor, the larger than life plates and the heavy stainless steel cutlery. Best of all, I love the premium soups and steaks that are served in a steakhouse.

Simply put, I love the steakhouse experience.

Unfortunately I don’t get to visit a steakhouse as often as I would like with the kids’ busy after-school schedules and my wife’s never-ending commitments to work. So, it is really difficult to find time for us to get away to enjoy the steakhouse experience.

In fact, more often than not, this is what my dining room table looks like at dinner time. Unruly kids letting me know that they are starving while pounding on the table demanding food … Not even close to what a classy premium steakhouse looks like.

That’s why when the people behind Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups offered to partner with me so that I could bring the premium steakhouse experience into my own home, and to earn the title of the #KingofSoup…

I had to say YES!!

I received four packages of Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups all of which delivered the flavorful, slow-cooked taste of restaurant-quality potato soup straight to my table.

The soups are filled with real Idaho® red potatoes and red potato skins that deliver exceptional taste and texture in every spoonful. Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups are available in four delicious flavor varieties: Creamy Potato, Loaded Potato, Cheddar Broccoli and Three Cheese Chipotle.

The best part? These soups can be prepared IN FIVE MINUTES!

But that thing about the #KingofSoup…as well as getting to sample great soups that are ready in five minutes, I am also in a contest with a bunch of other cool dads to see which one of us will be crowned as the King of Soup.

To be crowned the King of Soup we are each doing our best to convert our homes from regular homes into a premium steakhouse experience. To see more about who will be the King of Soup you can follow the hashtag #KingofSoup on Twitter or Instagram. I have to admit, I have some pretty serious competition in the run up to my coronation.

Literally five minutes and I had the Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups on the table.

To prepare the soup all I had to do was put four cups of water in a sauce pan, bring it to a boil and then add the steakhouse soup to the boiling water.

I whisked it a little, and then left it with the lid off to simmer for five minutes.

I let the soup sit for a couple of minutes to cool down and then served bowls of the Cheddar Broccoli Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups.

I added a little grated cheddar cheese, a pinch of chopped parsley, and the soup course of dinner was ready.

Honestly, the Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soup was amazing. It is a premium steakhouse quality soup with chunks of potatoes and broccoli, with a great cheese taste to complement the potato. I was very impressed with the soup – especially seeing as I was able to have it on the table IN FIVE MINUTES.

If you want to get social with Idahoan Foods:

Disclosure; As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, I have partnered with Life of Dad and Idahoan® Foods for this campaign, but as always, my opinions expressed in this blog, are my own. 

Noodle Soup with Soft Poached Egg

Today’s high school cafeteria lunch was a bowl of noodles in a sweet and savoury broth. The spiralized carrots and radish added a nice little crunch to the soup while the steamed spinach created a little bed for the beautiful soft poached egg. 

While the soup was delicious, it didn’t fill me up completely so I wandered over to Raw Cuts Sandwich shop for a sandwich. 

They made a bang up good job on their classic sandwich filled with turkey breast. Half of that sandwich was more than enough to fill me up! 

That was lunch. 

Breakfast at Pho Holiday

Friday afternoon I got a chill that for whatever reason, settled deep inside me and I just couldn’t shake it.

House Special Pho
House Special Pho

So my solution? A steaming hot bowl of the house special pho for breakfast from the ladies at Pho Holiday in Coquitlam.

The house special has rare beef, brisket, fatty brisket, tripe, and beef balls.

  • The small sized house special pho costs $8.25.
  • Pho Holiday is located at  1054D Austin Ave

The Hideout Cafe

Even though I had not been into The Hideout Cafe for at least three years (only because I no longer have an office near them), when I entered the cafe, the woman working there greeted me with a big smile and asked where I had been. Still offering awesome customer – would their food be just as good as I remember?

The Hideout Cafe
Thai Chicken Wrap and Soup

I ordered the Thai chicken wrap – and had them put it through the grill thingy to warm it up.

The wrap (actually a half of a wrap because they are massive) was stuffed with roasted chicken breast, rice, red and green peppers, cilantro, basil, sweet chili sauce, Thai slaw, peanut sauce, soy sauce and green onions. Yes, it was full of freakishly good flavours!

Because I was really hungry, I asked for a bowl of their Thai yam coconut soup. A perfect bowl of soup. Big chunks of yam and carrot with the sweetness of the coconut. Wonderful.

It is obvious that The Hideout Cafe has not lost their groove. I will be returning.

The Hideout Cafe is located at 716 Carnarvon Street in New Westminster.

Recipe for Potato and Leek Soup

On my Instagram and Facebook I follow people who share pictures of interesting food. My friend Paul often posts pictures of the soups he makes from vegetables he grows in his garden so I asked him to share the recipe for his favourite potato and leek soup.

This is what he sent me –

In the quiet days in between holidays, with fresh leeks still in the garden and a bag of The Little Potato Company’s yellow spuds in cool dark storage, I decided to bring them both together into what has become my most popular soup, a classic Leek and Potato.


  • 2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium potatoes, any type, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced into thin rings
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a grind of freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 4 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock

Instructions – 

  1. Melt the butter in a stock pot or large Dutch oven.
  2. Add the cubed potatoes and sliced leeks to the pot. Stir them to coat with butter. (Make sure the leeks are not getting browned.)
  3. Add the broth. Increase heat to high to get the soup up to a boil.
  4. Shortly after getting to the boil, lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes (or long enough to let the potatoes cook through)

If you want to, you can use a submersion blender and blend the soup right in the pot or you can pour it into a blender and give it a whirl to make it a bit more creamy (Editor’s note – I use a Vitamix to blend soups like this one)

You can easily modify this soup by adding kale or other greens to it to give it an extra “healthy kick”.

Easy, healthy and full of flavour. This is a winner soup.

Lunch at Pho Holiday

Mondays call for a bowl of pho. 

As well as a small bowl of pho with rare beef, brisket and tendon, today I had a Vietnamese sub sandwich with grilled pork. 

The sandwich was wonderful. The French style roll, baked in a nearby Vietnamese bakery had the perfect crisp outer crust with the soft interior that willingly absorbs the flavour of the mayo, pickled carrot, cilantro and the grilled pork. 

Pho Holiday is at 1054 Austin Ave in Coquitlam. 

Pho Holiday Lunch

A wonderfully spicy soup today for lunch with squid cooked to the perfect crunch. Add in a few shrimp, some imitation crab and a whack of crisp bean sprouts, and lunch is served. 

At Pho Holiday today, 1054 Austin Ave in Coquitlam. Open everyday from 11-9pm. 

My Trusted Pho Joints

Rather than write about and describe restaurants as “must try” places, I realized that it is more accurate to describe the places as “trusted” places. After all, they are not necessarily places you must-try, they are simply places that I or my friends have tried and found to be places that you too can trust.

The first pho place that I will add to my trusted list is Pho Maxima.


Excellent pho – a deep and flavourful broth filled with many very thinly sliced pieces of beef brisket and tiny slices of green onion. Under the slices of brisket, were the noodles. Cooked beyond al dente but far from mushy.

For less than seven dollars for a “small” bowl of soup, Pho Maxima serves up a perfect comfort. I will definitely be returning to Pho Maxima when I am in need of another bowl of pho. A great addition to my “trusted” places list.

Pho Maxima is located at 822 20th Street, New Westminster.
Pho Maxima Restaurant on Urbanspoon