Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Review: Tropika - Cambie (Vancouver, BC, Canada); Mom is Always Right.

I have to admit, Tropika does not have it good in my books. They were one of the premier "Malaysian" group of restaurants that opened in the Vancouver area and Calgary in the nineties. Unfortunately, I believe that my tastes, as well as many Vancouverites tastes, have evolved and become more knowledged, and Tropika just doesn't cut it for me anymore. Their dishes taste more Chinese than Malaysian or Thai as they bill themselves to be, and do not taste authentic.

However, it is also one of the "different" restaurants that my mother and grandfather really likes.

With my father out of town and my mother wanting to go out for dinner, she chose Tropika, and I obligingly agreed - they do somethings right, if not all. And secondly, as I'm sure many others will agree, mom is always right.

I would like to note that it was just my mother and myself dining that night, although she ordered enough food for another two people! Meh, who am I to argue though, mom is always right.

roti canai from Tropika (Cambie location), Vancouver, BC, Canada

First up, we have roti canai. One order includes one roti, and will set you back about $3. My mother ordered three. Yes, three. And we finished it all!!! (it was the one thing we finished.) Tropika *does* still do this right after all these years. Time after time, the rotis are fluffy, slightly buttery, and light, served with an appetizing sauce for dipping and dunking. I could probably eat an entire meals worth of roti canai, but you know...it'd be a little unhealthy. :) I have to say, for Vancouver, Tropika makes the best roti, hands down. The side of sauce makes it a great appetizer, although you could also use the roti for dunking into curry or whatever else you order.

The next dish the waiter brought was half a dozen of beef satays, and half a dozen of lamb satays. Sadly, neither were very good. The lamb was slightly gamey and the beef was not tender at all! I snickered softly as I tried to chew through a satay. My mother asked me (demanded to know) what I was laughing at.

I laughed and mentioned that good thing my grandpa "wasn't eating this, otherwise he'd be here all night!" She laughed and we ate some more.

It was right before they brought our next dish that my mother noticed that although we had ordered half a dozen of each satay, there were only eleven sticks on the table. booo!!! What was worse was that the waiter hesitated and questioned us on this when we brought it up. Geez Tropika, don't you know that mom is always right?!

Shame on them.

I had seconded my mothers decision of ordering a Pineapple Fried Rice - Tropika always had served them in pineapple halves, with chunks of pineapple. I did notice that the size of the dish had gotten larger (I spied it at another table first!). Even while we were eating, a neighbouring table remarked, "that pineapple fried rice is quite large." I liked the size, and the fact that the rice had large chunks of pineapple and smaller pieces of meat in it. However, mom thought it was average. She wasn't impressed by the size, and didn't think that there was much to it. Who am I to argue?

...mom is always right

Next up was the rest of the satays - that's right. Two people, two dozen satays. My mother doesn't do anything half way! We had the chicken and pork satays, which were much better than the first dish of satays. The chicken satay at Tropika is very tender and flavourful. You get a good taste of the grill, along with slight lemongrass and curry flavours. Yum! After having the pork satay that day, I'd order it again too. All satays were served with a meager helping of peanut satay sauce.

By the time the beef curry came along, we were so full we could only manage a couple bites. It was average for the price. But the pieces of meat were plentiful and braised until very tender.

Afterwards, I stopped by Cheesecakes Etc to pick up a cake and some strawberry sauce. It was so good! Although I didn't like what I saw in the restaurant. One of the employees was packaging the strawberries for take out, and a couple of lids fell onto the floor. At first, she just attempted to kick it under the shelf. When that didn't work, another employee picked the lids up off the ground and put it back on the lower shelf. Now, interpret that as you will - I didn't see them put the lids onto any containers for usage, but I didn't see them clean or throw them out, either!

It was good to see my mother and the company was definately better than the food, even though we packed about 75% of it to go. :)

Tropika (Cambie)

2975 Cambie Street [map]

Vancouver BC

Phone: 604-879-6002

Tropika (Cambie) on Urbanspoon


  1. Everything looks so delicious! If only I were closer..

  2. Wow, that is quite a feast :) All the dishes look really good!

  3. I really love pinapple fried rice! Looks like you and your mom had quite a feast!

  4. I've heard that their service isn't great and they are kinda snobby... never been there though...

  5. They can be a little pretentious, but have actually gotten a lot "friendlier". I just couldn't believe that the waiter questioned my mom and stopped to count the sticks on all of our plates before "granting us" another satay. I mean, come on, we had just ordered about $50 worth of food - like we would try to swindle a dinky skewer out of it!


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