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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Pig King–Butaya

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Why do I call it Pig King? That's what the Japanese characters (豚王) stands for. Butaya is a one of a kind Japanese style fried food restaurant. On the side of the eatery, an advertisement claims that they are the first of its kind in lower mainland. Indeed, everything on their menu is fried. We learned of this place through a friend (Ringo, who went on several food adventures with us). Today, Ying and I both had the afternoon off, so we decided to pay this place a visit! It's a small restaurant that can seat about 30 people at most. It was by no means upscale but the interior is clean, cozy, well lit and quite comfortable.
IMG_7306 copy We were brought two menus. One for food and one for drinks. To start, we chose a warm drink as the day was cold. Ying went for the Ribena lemon drink and I chose the lemon honey. (For those of you, such as my sister, that do not know what Ribena is, it is a popular concentrated blackcurrant flavour drink originally from the UK. It's extremely popular in HK as it is heavily advertised there. You can find Ribena at a Shoppers Drug Mart near you). They were for a dollar each. Not a bad deal and quite suitable for the bitter Vancouver winter (I know it's not that bad but I'm a summer person).  The taste of the drinks were sweet and pleasant. I kept stealing sips from Ying's because I liked hers better :)
butaya menu
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This is one thing of Butaya that sets it aside from other restaurant. You make your own dipping sauce for your crunchy fried food. A bowl of sesame is given along with a mortar. While you grind the sesame, a welcoming fragrance is released by the sesame. After reducing these little seeds to fine powder, you pour in the teriyaki sauce to complete the task (see picture above).  It's a novel idea that keeps your occupied while they diligently prepare your food. Ying and I actually had quite the fun making it :-D. The sauce had a little sweet and sour taste to it.
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Before the main course arrived, a plate of shared shredded cabbage salad was brought to us along with Japanese-style salad dressing (I think it was mayo and some other sauce). The cabbage salad was…raw…and bland…and bland… The salad dressing had a very mild sour taste to it and really didn’t save the cabbage from its ultimate fate – being left alone. Our waitress also came by to ask if we wanted any more…we declined.
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The main course here is the breaded pork rolls with asparagus ($10.99). Look at the gorgeous presentation~! Win! The rolls were filled with asparagus then wrapped around in pork chop and fried in batter. The white whirl thing in the middle is Japanese mayo for you to dip your fried things with. Quite the small portion for 6 pieces however. The outside of the rolls was crunchy and not overly fried. The inside was moist and the asparagus had a small crunch to it. In terms of taste, it was quite interesting. The strong taste of asparagus goes quite well with the fried pork chop. When dipped in the fatty mayo, the taste tickled my taste bud. Ying commented that she was glad there was asparagus in the middle as it made the oily fried pork more palatable. She still only finished four pieces though.
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Mine came shortly after Ying's. It was another one of their combos. There are three types of meat here -- prawns, fish fillet pieces and breaded pork loin pieces. It was the most expensive item on the menu at $12.99, but I figured it would give me the best sampling of what Butaya has to offer. It came with a bowl of tartar sauce. These guys at Butaya know how to deep fry their food. Unlike some restaurants, the inside of all their deep fried stuff is consistently moist. The jumbo prawn was my favourite. It has the dry fried crunchiness on the outside and the moist, slight crunchiness of the prawn on the inside. I love this texture! However, with so much fried stuff, it got old for both Ying and I quite fast. One thing we discovered from this food adventure is that we are not fried food people. Despite the well done cooking (in texture and taste), we cannot eat too much greasy things all at once... I felt quite bloated for half a day afterward. I personally feel that these would be great in smaller portions as appertizer. My mom used to say 小吃多滋味, 多吃坏肚皮 (smaller portion tastes good but overeating will upset the stomach) holds true in this case. Oh, the wisdom of the old.
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Each entree came as a set menu. There is a small bowl of rice and miso soup. Nothing special here. The miso soup was average and on the salty side (to be fair, all miso soups are on the salty side). Some seaweed in there would make it better I think.
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Before they bring you the bill, a scoop of ice cream was served! How thoughtful! It was the regular vanilla ice cream scooped up in an almost perfect circular shape. Do keep in mind that this place is cash only – not surprising on Alexandria Road.
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Meow meow meow! The Japanese maneki neko (or lucky cat).
Over all, this food experience was good. The food was appetizing, yummy, and not too expensive. The selection was unique. Parking was easy to find. The place is clean and comfortable. Aside from the excessive amount of fried food, there is nothing I can pick on here!

The Yummies:
  • Delicious deep fried pork loin (tonkatsu)
  • Innovative asparagus wrapped in deep fried pork loin roll
  • Do-it-yourself tonkatsu sauce – grinding up the sesame with a pestle and mortar (not unlike my day job!)
The Yuckies:
  • Parking can get tough during peak meal times – we had lunch ~2:30PM so it wasn’t too bad
  • Cash only
  • Excessive oil…cholesterol…maybe I’ll try the snacks or the udon soup next time instead

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Butaya 豚王 on Urbanspoon

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