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It's difficult to say "great" or "awful" or "mediocre" about this place. The pizza was really great yet with a significant drawback: it was really, really, really oily. I don't just mean greasy to the taste. I mean looking at the pizza one could see little pools of pure oil on the surface. To eat the pizza, we had to pick up a slice, hold it up and let the oil drip off, pat the thing on both sides with clean paper towels, and then eat it.

It's a shame because the toppings were so good. On Tuesdays Pizza From Hell, the take-out portion of Hell's Kitchen, does a good deal: buy one, get one free pizza. Since the pizzas are ordinarily rather expensive, this is the perfect time to try them. We ordered a 15" Sergeant Pepperoni (fancy pepperoni and wild mushrooms with thyme) and a 15" Aphrodite (pesto, chicken, almonds, asiago cheese and sun-dried tomatoes). Each would ordinarily be $21.45, so we got the pair for that price.

I really don't know why they were so very very oily. I've never seen anything like it.

Once they were blotted with the paper towels, the taste was pretty good, but more prissy people than us would perhaps be sickened at the concept of needing to blot one's food, lol.

Name: Pizza From Hell (part of Hell's Kitchen)
Location: 2041 W. 4th Ave Vancouver BC (604) 736-4355
Prices: all their 15" pizzas are around $20
Service: The door was locked when The Boyfriend went to pick up the pizzas, and someone had to open it for him. Dunno what that was about.
Food: Good quality ingredients, nice combinations, but whence cometh the oil?
Recommended?: TBQH I have not been particularly impressed with the pizza joints in this city. You might as well go to Fresh Slice.

Hell's Kitchen on Urbanspoon
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My qualifiers this evening were 1) take-out available and 2) somewhere on the way from my apartment to my boyfriend's job. AKA Kits and South Cambie in general.

My first thought was sandwiches; then I considered, in turn, pad thai, Chinese, donairs, and tonkatsu. At some point in my Googling and browsing I came across Indian Oven, whose website advertised that all take-out orders receive a 10% discount. (Nota Bene, the printed menus in the restaurant itself say 5%, but the discount given on my bill was clearly 10%, so apparently the discount has been increased.) The website also claimed (with quotes from local newspaper reviews to back them up) that they had the best butter chicken in the city.

I love butter chicken, so I called in for a take out order and in about 15 minutes I was walking out of there with a paper bag containing butter chicken (12.95), palak paneer (10.95), and naan (1.75).

Nota bene again, the $1.75 naan is for one naan, a large piece of naan granted, but you may want to consider getting more than one if you like naan as much as me and The Boyfriend.

I don't have any pictures, but take-away isn't particularly photogenic in these cases. Picture one of the pie-tin take-away containers containing orange-red sauce and white lumps, and another containing green sauce and white cubes, and you've got the gist of it.

The palak paneer was competent but the butter chicken was, indeed, truly outstanding. In fact The Boyfriend and I kept accusing each other of trying to eat all of it, lol. The best thing I can say about it is that it was assertive yet balanced. The creamy sweetness of the dairy was the field in which the kicky spices frolicked, if I can be metaphorical for a moment. And of course there's nothing worse than having a great sauce dumped over dry or tough meat, and the chicken didn't disappoint. It was very tender.

Indian Oven, as the name suggests, also is known for its tandoori, so that'll be something to try next time. I would skip the palak paneer; I've had it done better elsewhere in Vancouver. It wasn't bad, but perhaps it was outshone by the butter chicken.

Name: Indian Oven
Location: 2006 West 4th Ave Vancouver, BC. V6Z 1N9 (604) 730-5069
Prices: $10-20/entree, 10% discount on take-out
Service: I made a mistake when I was ordering on the phone and ordered saag chicken instead of butter chicken. The woman taking my order inquired if I was sure I wanted two spinach dishes, at which point I realized my mistake, so that was perceptive of her. In addition, the food was ready within the promised 15 minutes.
Food: Really good, especially the butter chicken, which is deservedly famous.
Recommended?: The place looked pretty empty when I came in to pick up, so I hope that they were doing a lot of take-out orders and/or were just having a slow night. If not, go here, because they deserve to stay in business.

Indian Oven on Urbanspoon
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After the disappointing experience we had at Migz, The Boyfriend and I were definitely excited to return to Memphis Blues for REAL barbecue on the 4th of July holiday. On our previous trip we had sampled their BBQ poutine (so WRONG yet so RIGHT) as well as their brisket and ribs.

As a cartoon by Canadian Kate Beaton has it, being an American is all about fighting for freedom, eating some barbecues, and bayoneting British men. One out of three isn't bad, I guess? But, only one out of three of us were American, because my roommate joined us. I attribute the failure to wreak revolution and murder Englishmen to them.

Memphis Blues has room to sit down, but you order at the front. We ordered a pitcher of beer ($12.95) and the Memphis Feast ($39.95) for all three of us. The Memphis Feast contains portions of every kind of meat plus all the "fixins": ribs, rib ends, half a chicken, brisket, pulled pork, sausage, baked beans, coleslaw, fries, and potato salad.

Meat meat meat. Meat? Meat. Meat meat, meat meat meat meat. MEAT.


I'll rank the meats in order of how much I liked them, with the understanding that the "least" was still miles ahead of Migz. I'll DQ the sausage because I liked it but it's not my favorite kind of sausage so I don't really know how to judge it--it was kind of like summer sausage style, a little sweet. Least was the ribs. They were basically BBQ sauce delivery mechanisms. Which is fine, because their BBQ sauce is awesome, but still. The chicken next, okay on its own, and very tender, but still primarily a BBQ sauce delivery system. When we get to the pulled pork, we're talking heaven. As good as anything I ever had in the states. The best of all is the brisket. Practically melt in your mouth tender, and with a light seasoning that suited it so well I actually ate it without the sauce.

As far as the other sides go, I'm very picky about my potato salad, and I don't like coleslaw, so I skipped those, but the other two gave them a thumbs up, and I liked the beans very much.

We also decided to get some collard greens because I hadn't had them for a while and while, yes, MEAT MEAT MEAT is happy times, some greens are nice too; plus, my roommate and The Boyfriend had never tried them. I give the greens a "meh". I felt they were kind of small for what we paid ($3.95) and spiced much too heavily. Collard greens are not a prissy kind of plant, they have a very assertive flavor, and the answer is not to smother them with pepper. In other words, they didn't make them like my mommy does. ;) She's from Maryland, not Tennessee, so maybe they're following a different style of collard recipe, but to me it just felt wrong. The Boyfriend actually ate most of it.

Here's what the table looked like about the time we all decided we were full:

Yep. Even with three of us, there were still leftovers. If you want to bring a larger group, Memphis Blues also has an Elvis Platter and a Priscilla Platter with even more meat. We were planning on packing this up and heading out, until I idly commented that I wondered if their pecan pie was any good, and The Boyfriend said he'd never had it. This had to change, natch.

Pecan pie is my mother's favorite pie, and I have high standards for it, and this slice fit it perfectly. Even with how full we were, we finished it. The caramel bourbon sauce was a great match, and tasted like it would be amazing poured warm over ice cream.

And when we were done, we shed a tear for liberty.

Name: Memphis Blues
Location: has several locations; we were at the one at 1465 West Broadway Ave Vancouver, B.C. V6H 1H6 (604) 738.6806
Prices: Prices are not cheap (considering it's really more a take-out place with seats than a sit-down restaurant) but worth it. $7-$10 for appetizers, ~$8 for sandwiches, $11-20 for individual meals. Bring a huge gang and attack one of their larger platters, or order their picnic pack to take out--these will all average about $13/person or so.
Service: Order at the front, and if you are dining in they will bring it to the table.
Food: Mouth-watering slow-cooked Southern BBQ and sides.
Recommended?: I absolutely adored it. If you are not a vegetarian, try this place.

Memphis Blues Barbeque House (Broadway) on Urbanspoon
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We were having one of those nights where we couldn't decide where to eat. I had something of a burger craving, that was about the only strong feeling anyone had. We were walking along W. Broadway just wavering about things, considering and rejecting a Mongolian Barbecue place and several Greek restaurants. Finally we decided to try a place called Migz BBQ, at Broadway and MacDonald.

We walked in about 7pm on a Sunday and the place was dead. Literally there was no one there, and no host at the front, and no sign saying whether to seat oneself or not. There were three people at the bar, the bartender and two staff, none of whom even looked at us.

Uncertain, I asked the boyfriend what he wanted to do. He wanted to sit down, so we did. We sat for a few minutes, and I had a bad feeling and kind of wanted to leave, but I didn't voice it because we had been trying to pick a place for 45 minutes and I was just hungry. The place had a sports bar feel, with three or four televisions, two of which were showing NASCAR, which surprised me. A waitress finally came out, gave us menus, and took our drink orders (water for him, a Pepsi for me).

For an appetizer we ordered the potato skins with pulled pork ($8.95).

To be honest I wasn't a huge fan. To me, stuffed potato skins ought to be just that--potato skins, with just a little bit of potato so that the skins get really crunchy, and lots of toppings. This was more like half a baked potato with toppings. Gordon, however, liked this way better, so YMMV.

The only burger they had that was, y'know, a burger, and not chicken or veggie, came with cheddar and bacon. So, I ordered that, even though I'm not a huge bacon-on-burger person. I chose to pair it with a house salad with dressing on the side instead of fries. Gotta cut calories somewhere. ($11.95)

The salad was really good. Very fresh and a nice blend, no one veggie overpowering the others. The burger, however, was just average. It's not easy to make a tasty, juicy burger cooked well-done as the law requires, but it can be done. Theirs relied too heavily on the toppings. It wasn't bad, but I've had much better here in Vancouver--Moderne Burger or Vera's, heck, even Triple-O's does a better burger.

Gordon thought that you have to order BBQ from a place with BBQ in the name, so he got smoked chicken, and for his two sides he picked yam fries (on my request) and hush puppies ($16.95).

I was going to be diplomatic and say some things about how you can taste the smoke flavor in the chicken and that the bbq sauce was nice, but I'm getting a little tired of this review so I'm just going to say it sucked. The chicken was dry, so it really needed that sauce. The hushpuppies had some kind of weird spice in them, which to me as a half-Southerner was just wrong. He had ordered the hushpuppies because he had never tried them before, but this was a bad introduction to the true nobility possible in lumps of fried cornmeal. The yam fries were okay, but how do you mess up yam fries? Plus they didn't come with any dips other than ketchup--to get any other dip, you had to pay.

Satiated, if not exactly satisfied, we left.

Pretty much anything Migz does, you can get better someplace else. Their main attraction, BBQ, just doesn't even compare to the euphoric experience we had at Memphis Blues (W. Broadway and Granville). I think Memphis Blues sucked all the BBQ culinary talent out of Broadway and thus there was none left for Migz. The best thing I got out of my experience at Migz BBQ was a determination to go back to Memphis Blues ASAP, and write a review showing what real barbecue can be. And if you want a burger, again, Vera's or Moderne Burger will set you up nice. I haven't been to any other sports bars yet (I prefer to watch the Penguins at home), but I'm sure there's a better sports bar than this one, with its tiny televisions and short bar. And, like I said, the service, despite the place being empty when we walked in, was distracted and indifferent.

Moral of the story: If you want into a place on a weekend evening and no one is there and you can't get served within a minute? Leave.

Name: Migz BBQ
Location: 2884 W. Broadway Vancouver BC 604 773 3002
Prices: $10-20 for entrees, $5-15 appetizers. Licensed for beer, wine and spirits. Lots of drink specials.
Service: No one there to greet us when we came in. Not served for a few minutes even though we were the only ones there, and the bartender and his chatty crew must have seen us. Bartender and two waiters(?) spent entire time gabbing not far from where we were seated. Waitress smiled a lot but that's about the only thing nice you can say.
Food: Mediocre. BBQ was dry. Appetizers overpriced for amount gotten.
Recommended?: Don't go here.

Migz BBQ on Urbanspoon
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Vancouver is 17% Chinese. Its nearby suburb of Richmond is something like 40% Chinese (59% immigrant, and the source says that the majority are from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China). So you can get Chinese food in pretty much the same variety and quality that you would in Chinese-speaking countries.

Connie's Cook House (好味店) pretty much rocks it old school. Though Connie herself is Cantonese, the menu offers a staggering variety of dishes, from Sichuan Bean Curd (四川薑汁豆腐) to Shanghai Thick Noodles (上海粗麵). Everything you would expect at a North American Chinese restaurant is there too: hot and sour soup, wonton soup, General Tso's chicken, but alas, not my favorite inauthentic "Chinese" dish, crab rangoon. Crab rangoon cured me of my snobbery when I was a young Sinophile. When I was about 16, 17, I was very bratty about "OMG authentic Chinese food ONLY and if you don't eat it with chopsticks then GO HOME." Then I realized that deep fried wontons filled with cream cheese and fake crab meat is too delicious to give up. So I became a lot more relaxed, which was good for me.

I digress! Back to Connie's! I have been here twice, both times for lunch. Connie's has a very reasonably priced lunch menu. $6.50 for one of a variety of main courses, served with rice, a cup of wonton or hot and sour soup, and a hot pot of tea. Can't beat that with a stick.

I really like Chinese-style chicken broth so I always finish all of my wonton soup. Connie's is very good, not salty. The hot and sour soup has a nice amount of bean curd.

On the trip where I took pictures, I had vegetable fried rice (什蔡炒飯). A sizeable portion, done competently. Not greasy at all. The vegetables included were carrots, corn, peas, broccoli and mushrooms. Tasty, but nothing to write and tell mother about. It actually tasted a lot like the fried rice I make myself.

Gordon had Sichuan Chicken with Green Beans (四川豆仔雞), and his was a lot more special. The sauce had a kicky hot mustard and vinegar flavor, the green beans had just the right texture, and the chicken was tender.

On our previous trip I had that Cantonese staple, beef chow fun (乾炒牛河). I can never make shahe noodles myself (they stick to the wok or break or burn!), so I like getting it when I go out. Connie's does it well. Gordon had the House Special Chicken and liked it a lot. I'm afraid I can't remember what was in it though. XD I remember it was spicy.

We've had the same waitress both times and she's very friendly and attentive. She actually recommended me some Taiwanese restaurants when I mentioned that that I loved Taiwanese food. Because of her, we discovered No 1 Beef Noodle House in Burnaby, which sells my favorite Taiwanese desserts! A place that recommends their competitors??? That's rare these days!

Connie herself makes frequent appearances, and asks how everything is.

Connie's Cook House is licensed. Delivery is free after 5pm ($20 minimum), but there is a 10% discount on pick-up orders. Connie's does not use MSG. Lunch specials are served from 11:30 until 4pm.

Name: Connie's Cook House
Location: 2135 W 4th Ave Vancouver, BC V6K (604) 484-6289
Prices: lunch for $6.50; dinner prices from $10-15
Service: Very concerned that every guest is having a good time.
Food: Large portions of tasty and ungreasy North American Chinese food. There are options for the fans of more or less authentic Chinese food.
Recommended?: This is a great kind of every day place, especially for lunch. On those terms, I recommend it. :)

Connie's Cookhouse on Urbanspoon
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The New Bohemian (subtitled "Local Restaurant and Social Lounge", I guess as opposed to restaurants that require out-of-province ID at the door and bars which cater to agoraphobics) sent me a card in the mail for $10 off. This is a good way to get me to try your restaurant because I am a sucker for coupons and sales. So, Gordon and I tripped over there.

The atmosphere is similar to a lot of recently opened high-end casual restaurants: lots of muted lighting and warm colors, hip music, couches for VIPs and their posses to crowd around, and at least one piece of bizarre decoration. In this case it's that "icon" sign you see to the right of the bar. What does it mean? Who knows?

Our waitress fit the scene to a T, with her stylish outfit that could have fit in perfectly at a club. She was friendly and gave me the frank advice that I had better not have the soup, because not many people order it during the summer so it's not as good. A quibble: we had to ask what the specials were, then we had to ask about drink specials, and finally I had to ask what the soup was (spurring her advice). Overall though she was excellent.

Drinks first. Gordon ordered the Bohemian Lager on tap, and I ordered a gin and tonic. Despite being a drink special, my gin and tonic didn't skimp on the gin. With my meal, I ordered a caipirinha, because I had never tasted cachaça before. Interestingly enough, although Gordon and I are often bitterly opposed on cocktails (he likes vodka, I like gin) we both really liked the caipirinha. COULD THIS DRINK BRING ABOUT WORLD PEACE? Possibly. We'll have to get a bourbon partisan and a scotch supporter to taste it, then we'll see.

For an appetizer, we ordered the 1/2 pound mussels and frites ($9), because Gordon had never tried mussels. We picked the leek and chardonnay sauce option for the mussels. I think the subtlety of the sauce was the perfect way to let the plump mussels shine. The frites were sprinkled with kosher salt, and although they were served with ketchup, we dipped them into the mussel sauce.

We had long debates about what to order for our meals. The New Bohemian uses organic meat and Ocean Wise seafood, "Ocean Wise" meaning that the Vancouver Aquarium approved of it in some fashion. After a number of rounds of "Well if you get that then I could get this, but if you get this I'll get this other thing," we decided on the grilled wild salmon sandwich for him ($14, plus $1.25 for yam frites instead of potato frites) and the slow-braised organic lamb shank for me ($20). Gordon asked for no tomatoes. Well, I asked. He didn't want to make a fuss. LOL.

His sandwich was great: two thick pieces of salmon steak with a splash of lemon aioli and some greens, served on a warm and crunchy ciabatta. And served with a truly enormous bowl of yam frites, with a curry mayo to dip them in. I don't know what's up with Vancouver and yam frites, but I can get behind it.

As soon as my plate got to me, I just sat and inhaled for about a minute, it smelled so good. The lamb was fork-tender and covered with a tangy tomato puree. The angelhair pasta's truffle cream sauce was low-key, yet it held its own against the strong flavors of the meat. I would have liked a few more veggies, but that's partly because the ones that were there were so tasty. :3

Gordon was still slightly hungry after we finished our main courses. We debated getting another food item or dessert, and finally decided to split a vanilla bean cheesecake ($6.50) and two signature coffees.

I was a little sad for our dessert. Real vanilla bean is such a lovely flavor. There was absolutely no need to smother the poor little vanilla bean cheesecake with raspberry and caramel sauces, not to mention the assertive flavor of graham cracker crust. I don't think that caramel and raspberry go together that well in the first place. The bites I enjoyed the most were the ones I got with only cheesecake on my fork. However, this might be another case of YMMV. Gordon remarked on how great the raspberry sauce was, and he used his fork to scrape up caramel and raspberry sauce when the cheesecake was gone.

Gordon told me his verdict was that this was a good place to impress a date. ^_^ He didn't really need to impress me, but I agree that this is a fun date place. I think it's especially a good place to try something new, either libations-wise or food-wise, but their more conventional offerings will please the hidebound. It's not a cheap place if you're drinking--our bill was about $86 (including tax, not including tip, not including our coupon). If you need a place to unwind after flipping another downtown condo, you could eat here regularly. The rest of us can have it as a special occasion. :)

I should also note that The New Bohemian is open nightly until 2am, and it advertises that its kitchen is open "late". How late is late, I don't know, but Vancouver's cardinal flaw in my eyes is that even restaurants are mostly closed by 10. I'm the kind of person who thinks life doesn't even begin until then. So if you're looking for something late night, this might be a place to try.

Name: The New Bohemian
Location: 3162 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC 604.736.7576 (reservations recommended on Fridays and Saturdays)
Prices: $15-25/person for food, beers $4-7, cocktails $5-10, wines by the bottle $27 and up, wines by the glass $6.75-12.50
Service: The waiters may be cooler than you, but they won't be snooty. Attentive, friendly, and prompt. Food and drinks came out quickly. Restroom clean, but it looked like it was not wheelchair friendly (the toilet blocks the path to the sink).
Food: Contemporary Western fare done excellently with fresh, often organic ingredients. An inventive and skilled bartender offers old standbys and many intriguing new combinations, with champagne cocktails a specialty.
Recommended?: A special occasion and a wish for experimentation? Look no further.

The New Bohemian on Urbanspoon
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Mandala Iki Asian Bistro is apparently an offspring of Iki Japanese Restaurant on W. Broadway. Mandala Iki does sushi and Japanese cuisine but also "chinoise dish" as the menu says.

I'm a big fan of sushi and raw fish, but with several qualifications that you, discerning restaurant review reader, should know. I don't like the taste of nori, that dried salty seaweed wrap common in rolls, even though I like seaweed. And I grew up and go to university in Pennsylvania, a land-locked state. I don't believe that sushi can be gotten fresh enough there, so I only went out for sushi when dragged by friends.

No, my love affair with uncooked fish began in Taiwan. Because of this, however, I'm more or less clueless on the proper Japanese names for different kinds of sushi.

This brings us to the bad part of the review.

I was a little surprised that the menu offered no English translations of any of the Japanese terms like unagi, hamachi, etc, nor did many of the dishes have descriptions of what they contained. So I waited for the waiter to come back and said "Excuse me, do you have a cheat sheet or something with translations of the Japanese terms?" And he said "Uh, like what?" "You know, like, the kind of fish in the sushi. Like, what is hamachi, for example." "Hamachi is yellowtail." And he was giving me this look of condescension, like, that he was bemused by the idea of wanting/needing English translations of these things. So I was feeling embarrassed, and although I had planned on asking more (like, which one was the kind of sushi that doesn't have seaweed), I just quickly asked what two of the bowls were, since Gordon had expressed interest in them (Oyako Don and Chirashi). He told me, with the same look of disbelief, and a tone of impatience.

He really made me feel foolish. I was blushing. Excuse me, buster, but I'm from a landlocked state. I don't eat sushi there because I don't feel the fish can be brought in fresh enough. I ate it in Taiwan but the menus there were in Chinese. I apologize profusely for not knowing the terms in Japanese for the twenty or so different kinds of fish you offer.

I ended up ordering the Power Sushi Bowl (on special for $9, pictured above, half-eaten) because it was one of the specials and thus had a description, where it mentioned that the raw fish were tuna and salmon. Thanks very much! Sounds delicious! And it was. But the service was weird. Giving your customer the stinkeye because she doesn't know that saba is mackerel is not the road to a high tip.

Gordon got beef teriyaki ($8.50), and as you can see, by the time I took the picture he had already eaten most of it. Both dinners came with miso soup.

Mandala Iki and its parent restaurant are known for using brown rice. Their website is even However you can order white rice instead if you liked. Personally I liked the healthiness of my Power Sushi Bowl over brown rice. The salmon, in particular, was delicious, and the seasoned vinegared rice was just right.

We also ordered one of their sushi specials, a crunchy artichoke roll ($7).

A vegetarian sushi, this contained artichoke heart, cream cheese, and sundried tomato, and some kind of special sauce. It was wrapped with a rice paper, then brown rice, then rolled in pumpkin seeds. AMAZING. I don't even like sundried tomatoes and I thought it was amazing. However, it was a special, so it may or may not be there if you go.

Mandala Iki also has a selection of hot teas, including six different kinds of green tea, three of them organic, all for the ridiculously cheap price of $.75, with free hot water refills of course. I got the organic green tea and Gordon got the organic brown rice green tea, which I wasn't too keen on. The brown rice flavor was there and I felt like it made the drink less refreshing. Additionally, we got an appetizer of edamame ($3), since we both love it.

Dinner for two came out to about $30, and you can't beat that in Vancouver for the amount of food we got. Mandala Iki is fully licensed and carries wines, beers and sakes by the glass and bottle, but we did not have any on our trip.

The atmosphere fully fit the name "bistro." The restaurant is not large, and the place is cozily lit, with warm colors and framed kanji on the walls.

All in all I'd like to go back to Mandala Iki, but I would print out a sushi glossary before I went, and hope for a more welcoming and patient waiter--especially since my boyfriend has even less sushi experience than I do, and I was trying to convert him to my raw fishy ways.

Name: Mandala Iki Asian Bistro
Location: 2394 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V6K 1P1 (604) 734-3715
Prices: $10-$15/person (if not drinking alcohol), lunch specials available
Service: My waiter was impatient with my questions, but service was prompt. He looked miffed when we gave him a 15% percent tip (you pay at a register), which under the circumstances I thought was generous.
Food: Large portions, reasonably priced, of delicious Japanese and Chinese food, with specials changing regularly. I often walk by here and the specials always look fantastic.
Recommended?: Food and atmosphere I recommend strongly, but I was not very pleased with the service, however that may have been just that one guy. I will go back.

Mandala IKI Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon


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