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By Brittany Tiplady

If you’re looking for seasonal, colourful, Italian cuisine in the Fraser Valley, the heart of Langley has a true hidden gem: The OSSO Lunchroom is a rustic, Italian break to your day, serving up fabulous lunch and dinner plates.

Helmed by the acclaimed executive chef and owner Sean Bone, the chalkboard menu is always budding with options suitable for various palates and preferences. It’s nearly impossible to decide one item: the options for soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and desserts seem to be endless.

The space is warm and inviting; the decor is somewhat reminiscent of a rustic kitchen or dining area that could be found in a Tuscan villa. “Our vision for the restaurant was to have a modest beginning, based on Italian cuisine. Providing food made from scratch using as much local product as we could, from the ground to your plate,” says Chef Bone. “So naturally our design for the space came from the surrounding areas of Langley: a rich history of farming and early settlement. We used local reclaimed wood, metal and stone.”

Image courtesy of OSSO Lunchroom

Lunch at OSSO called for an abundant feast for two. We opted for the kale, butternut squash and feta salad to start ($13.75, option to add rosemary chicken for $4.95); a generous portion accented with fresh radishes, carrots, peppers, and chickpeas. Fulled by robust greens, we moved on to the polenta fries special accompanied by a dollop dilly yogurt ($6.50); perfectly seasoned with a delightful salty crunch and a soft earthy centre. For our main, we shared the favoured prosciutto, arugula, pesto, tomato pizza ($17.50). Served flatbread style in a perfect-for-sharing-portion, with thin crust, fresh greens, and gentle notes of acidity from the tomato and pesto base.

Polenta fries

To drink, I had a crisp glass of gamay rosé from the Bordertown Osoyoos Winery. For craft beer lovers, OSSO also has a selection of rotating taps featuring local breweries—Trading Post, Steel & Oak and Four Winds were represented. “Our wines are all from BC with some being organic,” explains Chef Bone. “We have a small variety of local wines that have great value in a restaurant setting but still provide exceptional flavour.”

Although well-hidden, OSSO is a coveted Langley spot often buzzing with hungry (and thirsty!) patrons during lunch hour. Whether you’re heading in for a quick bite to go, or for a more traditional sit-down meal, OSSO hits the spot.

“The community response to [our restaurant] has been so great. We are still in a city where big chain restaurants lead the charge with major food purveyors supplying them their goods. So to get our message across, we continue to use no major food purveyors for our produce, beef, veal, pork, lamb and seafood. We do this to prove that when you source food directly from farmers, small local producers, or when it’s grown yourself, you can truly give back to the community that you’re doing business in.”

OSSO Lunchroom
20381 #703 62 Ave.
Langley, BC, Canada
ossolunchroom.com

Open Monday-Wednesday (11 am- 8 pm), Thursday-Saturday (11 am – 9 pm).

By Kathy Mak

Dried pasta is one of the most popular staples in home pantries around the world. While it may seem like a basic food – made with flour and water – there’s far more to dried pasta than you think.  Specifically, artisan-style dried pasta crafted from traditional methods is higher in quality, flavour and is better for you, as I learned from North Vancouver’s Ingrain Pastificio. What it boils down to is that their artisan pasta offers a better textured, more flavourful, highly digestible pasta with greater nutritional values.

Behind an understated storefront in Parkgate Village, near Deep Cove, you’ll find the welcoming contemporary pasta-centric eatery, Ingrain, where stellar dishes are abundant and pastas are all house-made on premise by Head Chef Erick Kauko and his team. Ingrain is considered the only manufacturer of slow dried, traditional pasta in the Lower Mainland and one of a few on the west coast.

This West Coast Pastificio opened in 2015 after co-owners Erick Kauko and Alistair Knox were determined to produce the perfect dried pasta in Vancouver with 100% western grains.

The inspiration for a Pastificio (meaning pasta factory) was conceived during a trip to Italy, the world’s largest producer of dried pasta. The “aha!” moment came when Knox discovered that pasta made in Italy and sold in Canada contained exported Canadian-grown grains.  He also realized the advantages of the traditional methods for making pasta, which yields a healthier and superior taste experience.

Knox and Kauko have been successful restauranteurs, running the popular Arms Reach Bistro in Deep Cove, since 2004.  They were already passionate about local ingredients and starting a Pastificio was a natural opportunity when no other existed in the Lower Mainland and organic, ancient and single-origin grains are easily sourced from the Fraser Valley as well as durum wheat from neighbouring provinces.  Rather than exporting Canadian grains and buying back a finished product, they believe their pasta is created with a dramatically smaller carbon footprint.

Before opening, the ambitious Ingrain team spent a year and a half exploring what makes perfect pasta and painstakingly experimented with various grains. Their winning formula is a delicate process using high quality milled grains from western Canada and the time-tested, traditional method of extruding dough through bronze dies (molds) then slow drying at very low temperatures.

In contrast, cheaper and mass-produced pasta uses steel or Teflon dies, creating pasta that is too smooth for sauces.  The use of bronze dies allows for traditional, rough-textured surface to which sauce can cling.

Ingrain Pastificio makes available 5-6 diverse types of hand-crafted dried, short noodle pasta with 100% western grains. The main flours used are durum semolina, organic spelt and organic emmer with the organic flours coming from Anita’s Organic Mill in Chilliwack.  Shapes of pasta include Rigatoni, Lilies, Penne, Shells, Spinners, Paccheri, Casarecce, and Radiatori.

After the dough is extracted, the newly made pasta is cured and dried slowly for 24-48 hours at low temperatures.   In comparison, conventional pasta is dried in ovens at ultra-high temperatures for 1-2 hours, converting gluten into a harder state.  Ingrain’s slower drying process delivers numerous advantages – nutrients are preserved, the pasta is easier to digest, and the aroma and flavour of the grains are retained.

 

At Ingrain’s casual dining space, accented with an open kitchen as an anchor point, you can enjoy beautifully prepared, modern pasta dishes with a variety of well-crafted sauces. Think Maccheroni tossed with braised beef, Mornay sauce, mushrooms and aged cheddar, or broccoli, chilis, garlic, lemon, walnuts and parmesan folded into Lilies.

Bags of their dried pasta are available for purchase to cook up at home with your own favourite sauces.  Pick up Ingrain pasta directly at the eatery or from a growing number of locations in Metro Vancouver.

You may never want to seek out imported dried pasta again. With Ingrain pasta, you’re getting a higher quality product that is made in Vancouver from Canadian ingredients with traditional Italian methods.

Ingrain Pastificio
126 – 1133 Mt Seymour Rd
North Vancouver, British Columbia
604.988.8926
ingrainpastificio.com

By Nikki Hillman

You’ll know Rocco’s is passionate about supporting local as soon as you enter the store. The seating area is dominated by two, long wooden tables, built by a company directly across the street, who salvaged fallen trees from within the area. These tables foster traditional Italian family dining and, if you’ve visited Italy, you will be familiar with this concept – and Rocco’s is definitely about family.

The store is managed by Andy and Jana Mollica (a retired Air Canada employee) and their trusted employee, general manager and chef, Pat Toynbee. Stop by on a weekday afternoon and you could be entertained by their adorable children as they munch on pepperoni sticks from behind the deli glass.

Interior of Rocco’s, with family tables made of salvaged local wood.
Interior of Rocco’s, with family tables made of salvaged local wood.

Rocco’s opened in August of 2015 and has quickly become the go-to place for coffee, meats, cheeses and treats. Most of the pastries are made in store; try a café misto and a house-made apple fritter for a lovely afternoon snack. The coffee is out of this world, hand crafted on a classic Victoria Arduino espresso machine, producing the perfect crema.

Try a perfect café misto from a classic Victoria Arduino espresso machine.
Try a perfect café misto from a classic Victoria Arduino espresso machine.

Andy himself has enjoyed a long history within the BC food industry as a caterer, and most notably as the owner of Anducci’s in Coquitlam. But Andy admits that he has been searching for his niche in the food market and has finally found his passion with Rocco’s. There are so many delicious options in the small store; in-house prepared pasta dishes, pastries, muffins and soups along with dry goods imported from Italy. Their pizza dough is prepared with flour sourced from the Prairies and they are careful to support local bakeries for their breads, rolls and baguettes.

 In-house made pastries.
In-house made pastries.

Of course, given the owner’s background, Rocco’s offers catering and if you are looking for a charcuterie option you will not be disappointed with the choice of products, or the quality of the meats and cheeses. The plate he offered us featured the classics such as prosciutto and salami but also included some unique and spicy flavors, complimented with flavorful and colorful olives. (I highly recommend the Port Wine Derby cheese!)

If you are looking for a healthier replacement of the standard deli meats for yours, or your children’s lunches, Rocco’s prepares sliced, roasted, organic chicken and turkey along with an in-house cured roast beef. When these meats are paired with the fresh breads and buns, Rocco’s offers some amazing panini’s available for lunch or take out.

But the most interesting aspect of this deli is the refillable olive oil program. This grew in part from a fond memory for Andy. As a child, he remembers visiting a local store with his uncle, who would take along small, glass containers which they would re-fill with grappa. With a growing trend toward “bring your own container” shopping, Rocco’s is on point with this initiative. Shoppers simply purchase the bottles available in the store (there are two sizes) and the staff will fill it with a neutral, filtered, extra virgin olive oil well suited for dressings and sauces. I took home a small bottle of the oil, paired it with a balsamic vinegar reduction, a ciabatta bun and an olive baguette. My family and I were impressed by the fresh taste and smell of this oil, it was unlike any store bought oil I’ve tried before.

Refills are available of fresh, extra virgin olive oil.
Refills are available of fresh, extra virgin olive oil.

Rocco’s will soon undergo a small reno during which Andy will realize his long term goal of balancing his coolers with 50% Rocco’s in-house cured meats and 50% imported Italian meats. They also plan to begin an “Italian happy hour” offering beer, wine and mixed cocktails between 4-8pm; charcuterie included in the price. This is a great place to stop on your way home from work, celebrating a traditional Italian activity proving their motto “We eat what we sell, we sell what we eat.”

Before you visit, make sure to download Rocco’s Deli app, and begin earning a point for every dollar you spend in their store, redeemable for merchandise.

Rocco’s Deli Eatalian Street Food and Deli
228 Schoolhouse Road
Coquitlam, BC
roccosdeli.ca

Open: Mon-Sat 7am-6pm, Sun 10-5pm, and conveniently located near Zone Bowling Coquitlam and across the street from Cineplex SilverCity, a 20 screen movie theatre.

By Kristi Alexandra

The River Market is thriving with multicultural cuisines, and really is a bon marché of sorts. From Hainanese poultry to European sweet treats, the River Market is a hot bed of gastronomic discovery, so you can live the life of a travelling gourmand without the pricey plane ticket. Bon appetite… or should we say bon voyage?

Italian

Aa a country built on its reputation for personal pleasure, it’s no secret Italians pride themselves on their indulgences. Those “indulgences” include fine cheeses, cured meats and, of course, gelato. Grab a made-to-order Italian sandwich at the La Grotta Del Formaggio’s deli counter inside Donald’s Market, along with some plum olives, and enjoy it as a picnic at the adjacent Pier Park. A scoop of Tre Galli Gelato’s homemade lemon gelato in a waffle cone will transport your tastebuds to Florence.

rivermarket_tregalli_frominstagram

Thai

Fitting that traditional Thai coastal cuisine should be located right on a body of water. The River Market’s Longtail Kitchen serves up steaming bowls of curried seafood, like the geng gati southern turmeric curry of mussels and the dom ka hot & sour coconut soup of clams. For a taste of Bangkok fusion, try fried fish balls with sweet chili sauce or crispy oysters with nam jim sauce. Dig into these dishes with a dream of tropical Thailand at the Pier Park Beach while you watch tugboats and fishermen traverse the Fraser.

Hot and sour soup | image courtesy of Longtable Kitchen / Instagram
Hot and sour soup | image courtesy of Longtable Kitchen / Instagram

Hainanese

Ditch the supermarket rotisserie chicken in favour of some Asian-inspired fare from Freebird Chicken Shack. Order a quarter or a half chicken, complete with its take-out fixings: rice and pickles or rice and papaya salad. Less in favour of the ethnic flavours of Hanoi? Take a bite of Freebird’s Vietnamese-style chicken bahn mi. Grab your pack and head down to Pier Park’s volleyball courts to share with friends. Boom box blasting Lynryd Skynryd optional.

Chinese Fusion

You can get dim sum anywhere from Vancouver to Surrey, but in traditional Chinese custom, you won’t be able to get it past 2 p.m. Enter Wild Rice, where Asian-inspired small dishes come with local flavours (and no time limit). Chef Todd Albright sources BC-raised pork and coastal spot prawns for his Sui Mai dumplings, and goes for Chinatown-style curried steam buns, stuffed with local root vegetables and sitting in coconut curry. These small plates are best enjoyed on Wild Rice’s own patio along the Quay boulevard.

Image courtesy of Wild Rice / Instagram
Image courtesy of Wild Rice / Instagram

Southern American

Flip open the tailgate and watch the river pass in the quay parking lot – The River Market’s Re-Up BBQ is the closest we’ll get to Memphis. Grab a slow-cooked pulled pork sandwich, complete with in-house coleslaw; tack on a side of pit beans and sip on some clear, homemade cola. Alternatively, Re-Up BBQ offers up bring-home combos of pulled pork or smoked brisket and sells their signature buttermilk biscuits in packs of 12. All the fixings needed for a southern feast up north.

 Pulled pork | image courtesy of Re-Up BBQ / Instagram
Pulled pork | image courtesy of Re-Up BBQ / Instagram

Mexican

Perhaps best known for its fresh-baked breads and irresistibly beautiful sweets, Pamola Bakery doles out a little taste of Mexico to those in the know. Bag up some fresh loaves to take home, but snack on Pamola’s tacos or a three-enchiladas combo. Your bag of sweets and Mexican hot chocolate are best enjoyed under the city’s iconic W sculpture at the very end of the Pier Park boulevard.

Enchiladas | image courtesy of Pamola Bakery / Instagram
Enchiladas | image courtesy of Pamola Bakery / Instagram

River Market
810 Quayside Drive
New Westminster, BC
rivermarket.ca

By Sheliza Mitha & The City of Coquitlam

The temperate climate of BC’s Lower Mainland makes it especially easy to enjoy impromptu (and planned) barbecues and picnics – particularly in the warmer months of spring, summer and early fall. So, why not take it easy on yourself and enjoy the weather… and let someone else (preferably an expert!) do all the prep work?

Enter Coquitlam’s array of specialty and multicultural delis, where you’ll find everything from authentic Italian salami and street food to Eastern European delights and even some flavourful Persian treats and meat.

Here are just a few Coquitlam delis (in alphabetical order) where you can pop in and grab what you need for a quick and delicious meal:

Euro Food Tri-City Deli & Catering

1-555 North Road

Tucked away in Coquitlam’s North Road, this eclectic deli features most anything one could imagine from Central, Eastern and Northern Europe. Think smoked fish, sturgeon caviar, and hard-to-find salamis and sausages (including Pick salami, reputed to be the world’s oldest salami recipe) and cheese (such as Greek sheep cheese and creamy Macedonian goat cheese). You’ll also find some delicious house-made items – including salads, borscht, goulash, cabbage rolls, poppy-seed strudels, etc. While here, enjoy a cup of tea and the specialty item of the day (fresh crepes anyone?). Or snack on a frozen treat reminiscent of a mini cheesecake dipped in chocolate. Pick up a unique drink made from bread (yes, bread). This colourful store also carries an impressive variety of pickled vegetables, spices, teas, coffee, ginger breads and dry breads from Latvia, Russia and Ukraine, along with authentic Russian candy, chocolate and much more.

Euro Food Tri-City Deli & Catering
Euro Food Tri-City Deli & Catering

Giancarlo Deli

1115 A/B Austin Avenue

Giancarlo’s might just be one of the most perfectly casual spots to get your Italian caffeine fix in Coquitlam. While here, check out the colourful shelves of pasta, sauces, imported biscuits, crackers, juices and more. Dine in with one of the freshly made sandwiches or take home items for later such as homemade lasagne, sauces and an array of cheese and savoury cold cuts from the deli case (salami, prosciutto, rosemary ham and more).

Rocco’s Deli Eatalian Street Food & Market

228 Schoolhouse Street

A visit here yields a true taste of Italy with fresh panini, salads and deli items that include Italian charcuterie and a fully-stocked market of authentic pasta sauces and other Italian staples. Olive oil connoisseurs will especially love Rocco’s olive oil tap, where you can browse and refill your own bottles. Be sure to also visit Rocco’s website to get some healthy, homemade and tasty recipes… then make your way here to pick up the ingredients. (Yes, it’s that simple.)

Euro Food Tri-City Deli & Catering
Euro Food Tri-City Deli & Catering

Sumbul Supermarket

A – 1037 Ridgeway Avenue

With friendly staff always at the ready, Sumbul has a full offering of fresh and frozen halal meat, such as beef, lamb, chicken, turkey as well as a variety of specialty Middle Eastern groceries. Along with ample selections of Basmati rice and halwa, you’ll also find fresh fruit, vegetables and bulk items of nuts, raisins, dried berries, toasted pine nuts and other essentials.

Tina European Deli

931 Brunette Avenue

This European deli features an array of culinary delights that are sure to please most any appetite and palate. From canned goods to sweet treats and more, this deli is home to some flavourful ingredients and foods that are uniquely European.

Urban Gate

102 – 1158 The High Street

Part restaurant/part deli, Urban Gate has it all. Along with a full-service restaurant, Urban Gate features a Middle Eastern/Persian supermarket that presents everything from local and imported spices to an entire corner dedicated to some impressive (and tantalizing) pastries. In another section, you’ll find some remarkably fresh cuts of meat (including a one-of-a-kind lamb selection) with expert, knowledgeable butchers who are ready to slice and dice. All you have to do is fire up that oven or barbeque.

Urban Gate pastries
Urban Gate pastries

By Sheliza Mitha

For those who love coffee, there is nothing quite as satisfying and soul replenishing as an authentically-Italian cup of joe (whether it’s an Americano, cappuccino, latte, etc.). In Coquitlam’s Austin Heights, a veritable foodie hub, you’ll find the GianCarlo Deli – the perfect place to get your Italian caffeine fix, and then some. A few short blocks away are more tempting Italian old-world traditions and flavours at the acclaimed Golden Boot Caffe and Jimoco Café and Pasta.

I ventured to Austin Heights in search of traditional Italian fare – and that’s just what I got, in many different forms. My self-guided tour of Italy kicked off with a smooth latte at GianCarlo’s, where I perused the neatly stacked shelves of pasta, sauces, imported biscuits, crackers, juices and more.

The morning I was there, the owner was busily making homemade lasagne noodles in the kitchen at the back of this dual café/store. A large pot of meat sauce simmered a few steps away. Once the noodles are made, the next step, he told me, will be to layer the noodles with some cheese and sauce; it will then go in the freezer at the front of the store for customers to take home and bake. In case there’s any question, I do think this would qualify as a “homemade” meal. (I’m just saying.)

For the lunch crowd, GianCarlo’s prepares various types of sandwiches (including their extremely popular meatball subs) with ingredients straight from their own deli case, which is home to an array of cheese and savoury and seasoned cold cuts (think salami, prosciutto, rosemary ham and more).

After perusing the Italian and other European items, I promise myself to come back for takeaway items such as homemade lasagne, cheese and salami before heading to my next stop: The Golden Boot Caffe. Here is where classic Italian cooking meets cool, urban ambiance.

With a penchant for Italian cooking from his three aunts, paired with many summers spent cooking and eating with family in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, owner/chef David Azzi opened his first Italian restaurant – not in his hometown of Coquitlam, but rather in the heart of downtown Vancouver inside the ultra-stylish Leone boutique. After a few years, he travelled east and opened The Golden Boot Caffe.

The Golden Boot Caffe: Pizza Margherita
The Golden Boot Caffe: Pizza Margherita

During my recent visit, I sampled two of their many homemade specialties: Pizza Margherita Napoli and handmade tortellini with prosciutto and parmesan. Aside from the fact that you’re greeted almost immediately with homemade focaccia bread, that the parmesan is the truest kind you can find anywhere in the world – that’s to say, parmesan from Parma, Italy – and that all the meat (for paninis) is roasted in-house, all the sauces are homemade and the pizza genuinely rivals any you might find in Rome or Naples. Aside from all this, the most amazing aspect of my meal was the handmade tortellini, which is hand rolled only after you’ve ordered it. The result? An exceptional and extraordinarily flavourful, melt-in-your-mouth pasta experience you won’t soon forget.

The Golden Boot Caffe: Handmade Tortellini
The Golden Boot Caffe: Handmade Tortellini

But since Austin Heights is rife with remarkable dining, there’s another not-to-be-missed experience mere blocks away – this time, at Jimoco Café and Pasta, a bustling neighbourhood favourite known for delicious cuisine, generous portions and savvy pricing.

This intimate and cozy restaurant is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Jayden and Jane Lee who serve up fresh and delicious pizzas, sandwiches, pasta dishes and more – both traditional and with a twist.

Though of Korean descent, Jayden spent a number of years in Northern Italy learning the craft and honing his skills in traditional Italian cooking at a prestigious culinary school in the City of Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region, known for some of the country’s finest cuisine and particularly famous for its prosciutto, Parmesan cheese, architecture and music.

Here in Coquitlam, Jayden has taken his Italian culinary skills to new heights at Jimoco Café and Pasta with standard favourites such as Chicken Cacciatore and Spaghetti alla Bolognese (spaghetti with meat sauce) as well as some fusion fare that includes the Penne alla Bombay (pasta with chicken and tomatoes in a curry cream sauce).

Jimoco Café and Pasta: Linguine
Jimoco Café and Pasta: Linguine

Whether you need a quick Italian coffee fix, some European groceries, homemade take-and-bake lasagne – or prefer to dine out on a memorable Italian meal – simply make your way to Coquitlam’s Austin Heights (no passport or euros needed!). Here, a taste of Italy is easy to find, keep and take home. All you have to do is bring your appetite.

Buon appetito!

By Tim Pawsey

Foodies have long known that the stretch of Hastings Street which runs east from Boundary Road (known as Burnaby Heights) is home to a wealth of myriad flavours.

A reviewer once cheekily suggested that The Pear Tree was one of downtown Vancouver’s best dining destinations. (It’s not downtown and never has been, but just sports a certain sophistication that makes it feel that way.)

Over the years, Pear Tree owners Stephanie and Scott Jaeger have won accolades for being very polished, cutting edge, and serving with casual flair in contemporary but comfortable surroundings. Scott’s regionally driven plates features the likes of pan roasted Lois Lake Steelhead salmon, served with pomme Dauphine and butternut squash, or twice cooked ‘Berkshire’ pork belly with white bean Cassoulet.

Also firmly locally focused, Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria features VPN certified Neapolitan pizza (by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana ) and down to earth, truly traditional Italian cuisine. Based on the best of local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients, this cut-above pizzeria cooks its creative pies ( in a classic wood fired brick forno. Plates are traditionally true to form but often with a decidedly west coast twist).

Tim-Pawsey---Chocolate-1

Ask Chéz Christophe owner Jessica Bonzon why she and her chocolatier husband Christophe Bonzon chose to locate their patisserie in “the Heights” and she’ll tell you it’s because the area reminds them very much of their native Switzerland—especially for its neighbourly, village feeling.

Christophe studied for a decade with some of Europe’s best and was executive pastry chef at Robson Street’s CinCin before opening the store. The patisserie is spotless and the decor pleasingly sparse, with all attention focused on the displays of exquisite hand-made chocolates, intricately decorated cakes, éclairs, tiramisu, mille-feuilles, croissants, brioches and savoury ‘flutes’ for dipping ‘à la Suisse’ in Champagne. All are hand-made in-house (along with superb preserves); and it pays to go early in the day, advises Jessica, before the selection dwindles.

For more savoury daytime tastes, Chez Meme Baguette Bistro obliges with mouthwatering, formidable, meal sized sandwiches, on the freshest of French bread; from Ratatouille to Beef Bourguignon and smoked salmon. Or, to dance up a storm to a live band after a classic Italian dinner, head to red brick and dark beam trimmed Baci Restaurant, filled with generations worth of memorabilia—and a mainstay in the Heights for decades.

The Pear Tree
4120 Hastings St. E., 604-299-2772

Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria
6011 Hastings St. E., 604-299-8002

Chéz Christophe
4712 Hastings St. E., 604-428-4200

Chez Meme Baguette Bistro
4016 Hastings St. E., 604-299-1141

Baci Restaurant
3728 Hastings St. E,. 604-299-7047