Mon Thong Thai Restaurant in Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 4-5 star - exceptional

Terry, Hilarie and I had a Thai lunch at Mon Thong on Friday the 13th (of June), a remarkably lucky day in our eyes! We had a phenomenal meal. We met owners Joe and Sunee Karunyasopon who opened the first Thai restaurant in the Okanagan in 1990. Now with 3 locations in the city (including Orchard Plaza and Landmark 5), their newest restaurant opened May 2013 on Ellis Street.

Their nephew, Karun (aka “New”) Boonsrirode is manager/part owner. Each time I’ve dined there, I see New fully engaged in creating an absolutely perfect dining experience for every guest. With great coordination among his staff team, New ensures prompt attention and exemplary service.

Left to right: Joe, sunee, Annie, Hilarie, Terry, New

Joe and Sunee have also set up restaurants in Vernon and Penticton in the past, which have since been sold to other families. Very much a family-oriented business, Joe and Sunee oversee and train Mon Thong staff so that the same high quality recipes and ambience continue to provide authentic Thai cuisine and culture as part of the Okanagan experience.

I asked them what was their original inspiration. Without hesitation, Joe smiled: “My wife’s cooking!” Everything she made was so delicious, he wanted to share it with the community and provide a legacy for his extended family.

The name “Mon Thong” refers to the most prized Durian fruit, also called the ‘golden pillow’. It implies a rich and comfortable experience that the restaurant aims to provide. From the first time I walked into Mon Thong, I was very impressed by the décor.

It has 3 separate areas, including a full bar.

There is a large area with 2 big booths at the front of the restaurant.

There’s a series of more private booths and comfortable seating (including golden pillows) towards the back of the restaurant.

There are beautiful details everywhere that fuse traditional Thai imagery with modern elegance. The interior designer was a frequent Mon Thong customer! This is one of the best restaurant designs that I have ever seen.

There was a gentle poem on the cover of the menu which set a peaceful mood.

We started off the meal with Appetizer Combination B which includes Por Pia Tod (spring rolls with sweet plum sauce), Thai Chicken Satay (marinated chicken with Thai peanut sauce), Tod Mun (spicy deep-fried chicken patties), Shrimp Wraps (deep-fried shrimp wrapped in rice paper) and cucumber salad.

Hilarie announced that the peanut sauce was one of the best she had ever tasted. It was thick, creamy and wholesome-tasting. The chicken was soft and tender. Our spring rolls contained meat, but vegetarian and vegan options are available. The vinaigrette on the cucumber salad was sweet, light and refreshing. We were also brought a bowl of in-house recipe hot sauce which had a deep smoky flavour followed by a spicy-nice heat on the tongue. The chicken patty was peppery and Terry’s favourite. We all gave high marks for the shrimp wraps which were juicy and succulent inside, contrasting the crispy outside.

Next, we had the Yum Nuea, a Thai-style spicy beef salad. The presentation was visually exquisite with bright, fresh-garden colours.

The beef was abundant and tender, playing a melody of flavours that altered as I chewed. There was a slight spice-kick at the back of the throat. This dish raised the bar beyond standard salad greens by adding mint, cilantro, tomato, carrot, spring and red onions. The salad had a delectable range of texture and was such a surprising winning combination of ingredients. With excellent protein-carb balance, I could eat this guilt-free salad for lunch on a regular basis!

Now, for the main event.

We had Tom Kha Gai, a popular Thai coconut milk soup with chicken and lemongrass.

It was aromatic with full-bodied flavour. It wasn’t thick nor watery; yet it was both rich and light. I loved the mushrooms in it. Terry liked that the onions maintained a crispy texture. Hilarie was thrilled to discover slices of galangal (similar to ginger, but milder and considered upscale). She could really taste the kaffir lime/lemongrass, and said the soup was like dessert!

One of our main dishes was the Gaeng Mas-Sa-Man, with chicken, crushed peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes and coconut milk.

The unexpected chunks of potato and tomato provided intermittent reprieve from the 2-chili spice-rating of this delicious mixture of both yellow and red curry. With lots of thick slices of chicken and an assortment of vegetables accompanied by rice, the curry is made tame enough for someone like me who is easily scared off by chili symbols on a menu. We gave this dish high marks for unique curry flavour and ingredients.

Lastly, we had Pad Thai. It was easy to see why it’s the most popular of all Thai dishes.

With big chunks of tofu and plump shrimp, this dish was fun to eat and a gift for the sweet tooth. Bean sprouts and crushed peanuts added crunch to the otherwise soft and sticky noodles, light and fluffy tofu, and tender shrimp.

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

Everything at Mon Thong is prepared with fresh ingredients and cooked to order — even the soup and appetizers. They happily accommodate allergies and special diets, including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan. Thai is a unique cuisine and may be an acquired taste to some; but of all the Thai food I’ve had so far, I have to say that Mon Thong has the highest quality and best taste.


The gracious hosts made us feel special and valued with friendly and considerate attention from the moment we entered. The service was exemplary and our expectations were exceeded. Food was brought promptly. We were immediately provided with cutlery and chopsticks, water and tea. Any questions about the food were quickly answered, and we were given the right amount of attention exactly when needed.


Spacious, light and airy, the décor lends itself to a pleasant visual experience. The seating is very comfortable, and the lighting was perfect: bright enough to see your food, but soft enough to be gentle on the eyes. Artistic accents are a visual feast. Subtle details like textured vases and white elephants create a happy atmosphere. The 3 sections and varied seating arrangements offer plenty of options to suit any personality or occasion. The restaurant can accommodate large parties (reservations are recommended).


The restaurant was impeccably clean and tidy. I could not fault it. Every time I have been to Mon Thong, I’ve been impressed by the consistently high standard for cleanliness, unmatched by any other place I’ve ever been. The washrooms are among the cleanest I have ever seen at a restaurant.

Value for money

Our meal could have happily satisfied 4 people at a reasonable price. Mon Thong has special lunch menus starting at $8.50 and dinner entrées starting at $12.95. Combined with excellent service and high quality standards, we felt this was great value.


Hilarie and I have been to Mon Thong on several occasions and can confidently rely on having an excellent experience every time. The setting is adaptable for both casual and formal occasions, with culinary options to suit just about any palate. Mon Thong is a super-central, perfect downtown location gathering place for friends to enjoy a meal, drinks and conversation in a pleasant and comfortable environment with delicious food that is guaranteed to please.

Go to this award-winning restaurant once, and you’re bound to return again and again!

Los Jarros in West Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 3 star - yummy

On March 28, 2014, friends Sharon and Merv treated us GeriGeeks, Leslie and Annie to a meal in thanks for some computer tech help. None of us had been to Los Jarros before, but being fans of Mexican food, we decided to give it a try. We were given a couple of sharing plates of tortilla chips (topped with a very hot salsa!) to nibble on as we perused the menu.

I’m used to Tex Mex, and this was very different — ‘Authentic Mexican Cuisine’! Even the drinks were a bit unusual. We could not decide between the Tamarind Juice or the Hibiscus Iced Tea, so the server brought us all sample sizes to try out both. Our decisions were split down the middle. Two of us had the darker, sweeter Tamarind Juice, and two of us had the lighter, milder tasting pink Hibiscus Iced Tea.


I decided to try the most unique item I could find on the menu, the Chile Relleno. It’s a stuffed pepper that usually comes smothered in salsa. Having tasted the salsa with the tortillas (and finding it a bit too fiery) I opted to get the sauce on the side. The server told us that many people come to the restaurant specifically for this dish, and I understand why. I would certainly order it again myself.

Sharon had the Fish Taco.

Merv had the Ground Beef Taco.

Leslie had the Enchilada.

Tex Mex is often inundated with cheese and there was very little in these dishes, which surprised us. Nonetheless, it was a fun and enjoyable new authentic Mexican experience for all of us.

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The food was fresh tasting and served hot. We were pleased to receive complimentary tortilla chips to whet our appetites. The beverages were something unique that we’re unlikely to find elsewhere, and that is always an incentive to try them out.

The salsa was quite hot for my taste, and I would have liked there to be an option for a milder version.


The service was exemplary. The waitress was very attentive, informative and helpful. We had a lot of questions and she was always available to answer them fully and was very patient with us. The food was brought to us quickly.


We arrived at around 7:30pm, the later end of dinner time. There were only 2 or 3 other tables dining during the time that we were there, which was a bit surprising for a Friday evening. The restaurant is small, yet divided into 2 areas, both decorated brightly. Cacti sit on shelves, and tables are draped in traditional Mexican festive colours and patterns.


The restaurant was clean by average standards. The washroom had glass brick and more cacti decor.

Value for money

The average cost for an entrée was $10 which was a fair price for a meal that is extraordinary and not your typical Canadian fare.


In general, authentic Mexican cuisine can be something of an acquired taste, but I feel that Los Jarros is well worth trying if you’re a fan of Mexican food. Stay open-minded though, as it may not be quite what you’re used to!


Momo Sushi Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 4 star - superb

Thanks to Momo Sushi in Kelowna, I think I’m addicted to Japanese food.

I first tried sushi a few years ago and was very slow to warm up to it. Recently seeking a simple take-out, I risked popping into Momo Sushi. Unsure of what to try, the waitress was so friendly and helpful, offering suggestions and bringing a complimentary tea to make me feel right at home. I stuck with a safe bet, BBQ Chicken Donburi (which also came with miso soup). It was delicious.

A week later, 2 sushi connoisseur friends — 1 of which was already a well-established fan of Momo’s — suggested we go there for lunch.

We each selected different Maki Sushi Rolls so that we could swap and try off each other’s plates. Pam chose the Spicy Scallop Roll (below, bottom) and the Crispy Crispy Roll (below, top) which contains shrimp and yam tempura, crab meat and cucumber.

Hilarie picked the Spicy Tuna Roll (yes, the tuna is raw).

She also got the California Roll (which includes crab meat, avocado, cucumber and sesame seeds).

I went a bit safe with the Chicken Teriyaki Roll (below, bottom). It turned out that I was more keen on the raw tuna and raw scallop! I also ordered the Ebi Ebi Roll (below, top) which contains shrimp tempura. Now that was really a nice light crunch mixed in with perfect texture of rice and just the right amount of sauce for added flavour.

They were all absolutely fantastic. So yummy, in fact, that just a few days later Hilarie and I went back for more! We had the gyoza.

She got a repeat order of the Spicy Tuna Roll (below, top) because it was just that good. I asked for a half order of prawn tempura which was delightfully delicate. The Spicy Vege Roll (below, bottom) intrigued me with its description: yam tempura and deep fried tofu, fine cut vegetables and chunks of fresh avocado. It was surprisingly complete considering it was vege-based. I highly recommend it!

As I get more daring, I hope I’ll one day get up the nerve to try their Ogopogo Dragon Roll. It contains BBQ eel!

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The ingredients were all very fresh tasting. The tempura and gyoza were served hot. (The chocolate mint patties at the end were a nice touch, too!)


I was very impressed when I was treated with so much attention on my first newbie take-out visit. I was treated as honourably as any long-time, high-tipping customer. That wins huge points with me! On subsequent visits, even when they were busy, service was prompt and friendly. The staff seem to love their jobs and believe in their menu. The service is quick, friendly and beyond what I expected.


This place gets busy, but its layout is set up with subtle partitions and this seems to keep the volume down. It’s a small place, but it has enough space and is laid out efficiently.


The restaurant was clean and tidy.

Value for money

The price of Maki Sushi Rolls averaged between $5.25 and $5.75, and you’ll probably want 2 orders per person. Count on approximately $12 per person (without tax or tip). It seems that this is on par with middle-of-the-road sushi places, but I’d say that Momo Sushi could be of a higher standard than others.


After 3 tries (take-out, lunch and dinner) I can say that Momo Sushi satisifies beyond expectation on all counts. I am confident to recommend this restaurant because everything I tried tasted great, and the service was excellent. I’m sure I’ll go back many times, and take others with me.

Even if you’re not a fan of sushi, I’m pretty sure (like me) you could be, after trying Momo Sushi!


SS Korean Restaurant in Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 2-5 star - nice

For two years, I have walked past the SS Korean Restaurant many times. Very close to Okanagan Lake, it’s located at 280 Bernard Avenue. The food pictures plastered on the huge windows always attracted me; yet whenever I peered in, the place looked empty and intimidating to enter on my own.

Deciding on a lunch venue today, my friend Hilarie and I noticed a sign offering a wide choice of lunch deals for $6.95. Entering, we were hit by the vast emptiness for 12:15 p.m. on a Friday in downtown Kelowna.

We decided to give it a chance. I spotted a table with this fan and cute wooden ducks above it, so we sat there.

We admired the carved wooden chairs. They had a high back and were quite comfortable. Each table setting had chopsticks and a medium-sized spoon at the ready.

While helpful in the practical sense of describing the lunch dishes complete with laminated eight-by-tens, the young waitress was not particularly friendly or welcoming. However, the food did arrive promptly. We asked her to take our photo with the lovely wall ornaments.

The portions were large. Hilarie had the Bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish of rice topped with sautéed vegetables and a fried egg. The egg was very runny and she was not able to eat it. Used to having this dish spiced, the chilli sauce was provided on the side. I noticed Hilarie adding dollops of sauce frequently throughout the meal. It was otherwise too bland for her tastebuds. There was kimchee on the side: fermented vegetables spiced to expectation.

I tried the Pork Donburi which is actually a Japanese dish. (There were quite a few Japanese items on the full menu.) The meat and vegetables were simmered with soy sauce (and other sweet-tasting ingredients) poured over rice. There was a lot of thinly sliced meat that was succulent and tasty. I was impressed by the large portion for the lunch menu price.

Towards the end of our visit, 2 tables for 2 became occupied. Still, it was a very slow crowd considering its optimum location, time of day, and day of the week.

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The ingredients were of a good standard. We deemed it to be a healthier lunch than many other local options. The food was freshly cooked and served hot.


While we were served quickly, this would be expected as the only customers in a relatively large restaurant. It may have just been our particular waitress, or the type of day she was having, but let’s just say she didn’t appear to be enthusiastic about her job.

Ours was a leisurely, chat-over-lunch style of visit. In our experience, it is customary and cordial to ask if customers want dessert, coffee or anything else. If the answer is no, then to provide the bill and assure the patron that there is no rush to pay. With so few in the restaurant, we’d think they’d want to hang onto any and all customers for as long as possible, if only for appearance’s sake to the passersby.

But not so on this occasion. Almost immediately after I took my last bite, the waitress asked us only if we wanted the bill separate or together. She brought the credit card machine to our table long before we were ready to leave. She stood at our table waiting, making it imperative for us to dig through our purses immediately. Hilarie wanted to pay cash. Feeling awkward about requiring some change, she felt pressured to pay by card, too, to make it easier for the waitress. We both felt uncomfortable about this.


The wall decor was interestingly quirky, and we loved the chairs. There were gumball machines in the entrance-way. It was a throwback to childhood, but I was curious how long the gum may have been in there considering the slow traffic. The wide open plan emphasizes the emptiness and I suspect is intimidating to others who might otherwise be curious to dine there, too. Some booths or dividers, even floor plants, might diguise the empty echo, creating a more cosy, welcoming feel.


The restaurant was reasonably clean and tidy.

Value for money

We each paid $6.95 for our meals. This was excellent value for money considering it was a hot, sit-down meal for less than the price of a take-out deli sandwich. Healthier, too.


For a quick, cheap and filling, relatively healthy lunch, I recommend SS Korean Restaurant. Based on the food alone, I’d score my dish 3.5 stars. (Hilarie would have given her’s a lower score.) The overall score was brought down to 2.5 stars based on service and ambiance, which was fair but far from impressive.

It is also disappointing that this restaurant does not appear to have its own website (at least not one I could find through Google). I like to learn about a restaurant and see the menu choices and prices before I may be tempted to dine there again.

The main menu is quite large with many options averaging around $19.99 a dish. Although I am not qualified to comment on dinner here, based on my lunch experience I would not likely take the risk of those prices. While the food quality is fair, the ambience and service was lacking. I am open to changing my mind if invited as a guest — but I’m not willing to pay those prices for it. I’ll definitely go back for lunch, though.

Saigon Restaurant in Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 4-5 star - exceptional

From the outside, Saigon Restaurant on Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna seems modest and inconspicuous. However, this small restaurant can surprisingly accommodate many people. It has five beautifully decorated mother-of-pearl artworks gracing the walls with mesmerizing detail that is worth examining closely.

Manager Ching Li (pictured below, centre) has operated the restaurant for 20 years.

Saigon Restaurant boasts two cuisine menus: Vietnamese and Chinese totalling nearly 200 choices. It took Darius and I quite some time to decide because he has quite a few food allergies, but after chatting with Ching for advice, we narrowed it down.

We had the Vietnamese Salad Rolls as an appetizer. Normally, these come with shrimp and pork. Due to allergies, the shrimp was eliminated and made with extra pork. They were impressively light-tasting. The accompanying peanut sauce was homemade with a deliciously mysterious, almond-like secret ingredient that was practically drinkable.

Next was a piping hot dish of Shredded Pork and Tofu in Szechuan Style Fish Flavoured Spicy Sauce. It was love at first bite: an awesome, you-must-try-it dining experience. The spice was at first mild on the tongue, but then thrilled the back of the palate. The tender pork was in bite-sized morsels, and mushrooms were quartered, making it very practical to eat with chopsticks. The tofu had good texture that I’m certain even non-tofu lovers would enjoy. We gave this dish top marks. In fact, Darius said he would return to Kelowna, purely to eat that dish again.

The Sizzling Beef with Onion and Green Pepper was also a big hit with Darius. He’s not normally a fan of black bean sauce like I am. Unlike most, this homemade sauce was not salty or overpowering, but a light, savoury, smoky complement to the substantial slices of beef cooked to perfection. The ingredients were simple, yet it was effectively tasty. (The steamed rice was just right, too.)

Last but not least, we had to try the Buddhist Vegetables (without the corn, due to allergies). The highlight of this dish were the large, meaty Chinese mushrooms. The bean sprouts and sugar snap peas were timed perfectly, retaining their fresh, delicate crunch.

We were pleased with our fortune cookie messages at the end of our meal. Darius’s read: “Right now there’s an energy pushing you in a new direction” — just as he heads back to Vancouver this week. Mine was: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” — I’d had a rather emotional morning, and this meal was definitely turning around my day!

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The meats were cooked to just the right tenderness. All of the vegetables tasted garden fresh. The portions were ample and could have easily fed 4 people well. Unable to leave a morsel behind, we came away with a huge doggy-bag. Perhaps the key to the success of this dining experience lies in all of the homemade sauces they prepare. Saigon Restaurant has their own unique recipes for satay, black bean, peanut, and fish sauces.


We were greeted by the waitress as soon as we entered the door, and invited to choose any table that suited us. We barely sat down and already a large pot of fresh Jasmine Tea was brought to us. The food was served very quickly, piping hot. (You can see the steam still floating from them in my pictures.) We were asked how we wanted it served in terms of timing. This was a thoughtful consideration, as we wanted it all to arrive at the same time.


Lunch and dinner times are typically busy, so we arrived after 2:30 p.m. for a quiet meal. The restaurant is divided into two areas, one being more private. Somehow, the sound does not travel and even during busy times it is not as loud as many restaurants are. Mirrors on the upper part of the walls reflect the decor and give it a more spacious feeling. The lighting is mellow and there are ornamental plants which make the place feel cosy.


The restaurant was clean and tidy.

Value for money

The price of this meal was $48 (not including tax or tip). Considering this would have fed 4 people with a high quality cuisine, we found this was of exceedingly great value. Saigon Restaurant also has a popular lunch special on weekdays.


I regularly get my favourite Chinese take out from here, Singapore Style Fried Vermicelli, which is always reliably perfect. This was the first time I explored new dishes during a sit-down meal at the Saigon Restaurant. The biggest risk we took was the Shredded Pork and Tofu in Szechuan Style Fish Flavoured Spicy Sauce, uncertain of whether we’d like any of those ingredients. It turned out to be our very favourite, which we will now highly recommend to everyone. This dining experience taught me to trust that pretty much any menu choice at the Saigon Restaurant would be a good one.

If you’re in Kelowna, you must give Saigon Restaurant a try. I am certain you’ll be delighted!

Old Vines Restaurant at Quail’s Gate

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

CORR Star Ratings - 4-5 star - exceptional

On Friday February 21, 2014, Hilarie, Pam and I celebrated one-month-till-spring at the Old Vines Restaurant and Wine Bar. Located on the grounds of the family-owned Quail’s Gate Winery, it sits on the slopes of Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna. Being at a winery, we each thoroughly enjoyed a glass of wine. I rarely drink, so I asked the waitress to recommend a light white wine for me. She suggested the 2012 Chasselas-Pinot Blanc-Pinot Gris. Pam had the 2011 Pinot Noir and Hilarie had the 2011 Chardonnay.

Quail's Gate | Pam, Annie, Hilarie

We sat indoors with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the vineyard and Okanagan Lake.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

The views from the property were gorgeous.

Quail's Gate | Annie Zed

We perused the lunch menu and finally came to these decisions. Pam chose the Grilled Wild BC Salmon with Spanish style faro and chorizo, pea puree and creamy lemon chevre. The spice level was surprisingly modest and the portion was satisfying.

Quail's Gate | Grilled Wild BC Salmon | Photo: Annie Zed

Hilarie chose the Twice Baked Goat Cheese and Rosemary Souffle with lentils, apple, hazelnut, endive and lemon vinaigrette. Admittedly, the souffle was the least favourite among all the choices, but the accompaniments were interestingly delicious.

Quail's Gate | Twice Baked Goat Cheese and Rosemary Souffle | Photo: Annie Zed

I selected the Prosciutto Wrapped Maple Hills Chicken Breast with barley and wild mushroom risotto, sage and pan jus. The chicken was very tender and flavourful. We all loved the creamy yet robust texture of the risotto.

Quail's Gate | Prosciutto Wrapped Maple Hills Chicken Breast | Photo: Annie Zed

The food was amazing with delicate flavours. We all had samples from each other’s plates, of course!

Quail's Gate | Hilarie | Photo: Annie Zed

Afterward, when the waitress described the dessert special, Deconstructed Red Velvet Cake, we could not refuse it. It included a cream cheese parfait with a strawberry centre, chocolate cremaux, pieces of cake, roasted raspberry ice cream and a white chocolate garnish.

Quail's Gate | Deconstructed Red Velvet Cake | Photo: Annie Zed

The restaurant itself had pleasant decor.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

Afterward, we checked out the Wine and Gift Shop.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

In the centre of the shop was a beautiful fireplace. By the far window, some people were wine-tasting.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

As we left, the sky had a lovely light, ever-changing the view across the vineyard.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The ingredients were fresh, with unique combinations of local and regional ingredients that appeal to a fine palate. Wine pairings were suggested on the menus. While the portions were more akin to what is expected at gourmet restaurants, quantities were more than adequate for lunch.


We arrived early for our 1 p.m. reservation and were seated immediately. There were only a few guests at this time, but two waiting staff among all. Our waitress was very helpful and readily available at every moment we required attention.


Despite the fact that only four or five other tables were occupied, the noise volume was rather high. This was understandable being an open plan area with a long kitchen pass-through. I imagine the floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides also contributed to the sound bouncing. Voices at a table near us were often louder than the company at my own table.


The restaurant was impeccably clean everywhere, including the washroom.

Value for money

We paid $120 for the three of us. This included 3 lunch main courses, 3 single glasses of wine, 1 shared dessert and 1 coffee. This total included tax (but not tip). While this is quite high in terms of an every day lunchtime meal, it seems reasonable for the quality of fare and venue when there is a special celebratory occasion.


This is a great restaurant for local people to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or special event. Tourists are likely to appreciate the picturesque location, slightly off the beaten track but worthy of a detour, especially in summertime when the vineyards are in full swing. Best to make a reservation to avoid disappointment, and allow plenty of time to take in the views and tours. Have a designated driver if you intend to do some wine sampling!

The Chopped Leaf in Kelowna

The Chopped Leaf in Kelowna
CORR Star Ratings - 3 star - yummy

During the June long weekend, my friend Sylvea and I ate at a few places in the Okanagan, not the least of which was The Chopped Leaf on Bernard Avenue near the lake in Kelowna’s downtown. We wanted something quick, fresh, healthy and light for a summery lunch. The “design your own salads and wraps” was a perfect choice. We both chose wraps.

Sylvea and Annie at The Chopped Leaf

You get to choose one protein (I chose chicken), a green (I had spinach), a cheese (I picked cheddar), 3 choppings (mine were mushrooms, chick peas and avocado) and a dressing (caesar). The possibilities are endless!

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The food was freshly prepared while we waited. All the ingredients were fresh and of a high standard. The wrap was filled end-to-end.


There are only a few tables at this location and there were few other customers, so the service was very prompt. The staff were friendly and very helpful, telling us how their unique menu worked with the ‘design your own’ feature.


A bit dark for a lunch venue, but nonetheless, a natural feel.


The place was very clean, tidy and organized.

Value for money

You can get cheaper wraps elsewhere, but the choice and opportunity to select as you like it is worth the bit extra. I was also very confident about the freshness and cleanliness since everything is done where you can see it being made, with all the correct hygiene methods strictly in place. My bill came to $12.88 including a bottle of iced tea and tax.


We both thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and would highly recommend it. Therefore, we gave it 3 stars. I’ve been back since!

Sylvea at The Chopped Leaf in Kelowna

Gasthaus on the Lake in Peachland, BC

Gasthaus on the Lake, Peachland, BC

CORR Star Ratings - 5 star - outstanding!

My sister, nephew and I took a scenic drive to Peachland in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia last Saturday May 5th.

Photo credit: Annie Zalezsak, Peachland, BC

We were told that there was a good Chinese restaurant there. We couldn’t find it, and when we asked someone local, they said there wasn’t one! Fortunately, we’d already spotted an alternative: Gasthaus on the Lake. It’s a large building split into a pub on the left and a fine dining room on the right.

Gasthaus on the Lake (the pub side), Peachland, BC

The gated entrance was impressive. Directly through was the pub, and the entrance to the restaurant was on the right.

Entrance gate to Gasthaus on the Lake, Peachland, BC

Even though there was a pub menu, we wanted to choose from the wide variety of options that the restaurant menu offered. We started with an appetizer of Sea Scallops. They are fried in butter, but as my nephew has a butter allergy, we asked if they could be cooked in oil. This was no problem.

Csaba with scallops at the Gasthaus

The scallops were 5 of the biggest, most succulent scallops we all agreed that we had ever tasted! It came with triangles of a blended light and dark toast. We were also served a basket of pretzel bread, which was a pleasant alternative to usual dinner rolls. (As for drinks, no alcohol this time; Ella and I stuck with Coke, while Csaba had cranberry juice.)

Ella and Annie with cokes and pretzel rolls at the Gasthaus in Peachland, BC

For entrees, Csaba had the Hunter Schnitzel which was topped with a cognac mushroom sauce.

Hunter Schnitzel at Gasthaus

Ella had the Rinderroulade, also known as Beef Rouladen. It came with potato dumplings, and large portion of red cabbage that was served in a separate bowl. (My mother used to make rouladen and I never cared for it. But this rouladen was amazingly delicious with a tangy pickled filling. I would definitely consider ordering it on a future visit!)

Rinderroulade - Beef Rouladen at the Gasthaus

I ordered the Schnitzel France. It was topped with brie and had a side bowl of (whole cranberries) cranberry sauce. Schnitzels come with vegetables, and you get a choice of roasted potatoes, pan-fried potatoes, spaetzle noodles or french fries. I tried the spaetzle and it was a great complement to the schnitzel.

Schnitzel France at the Gasthaus

Before our meals even arrived, Ella spotted a few fancy desserts being delivered to a nearby table and had to ask the waitress if we could see the dessert menu (so we could ‘plan ahead’!). She brought us a 3D version – a platter of all that was on offer.

3D dessert menu at the Gasthaus

The entrees were so huge, so in order to accommodate dessert, too, we ate half of our dinners (taking the other half home to eat the following day!) and ordered desserts. We got the Mocha Ameretto, Bohemian Hazelnut, and the Chocolate Mousse. All were very light and fluffy, just the right amount of sweetness, and not too rich.

Bohemian Hazelnut, Mocha Ameretto and Chocolate Mousse at the Gasthaus

Inside the restaurant, the ambiance was terrific. The waitress was friendly and had character. She was very helpful and attentive despite how busy the restaurant was. The decor was as you might expect to find an alpine cottage, with lots of old world ornaments. The light fixtures were fascinating, too.

There were two very different old stoves.

There were several cabinets with old doll house furniture, which I was curious to examine in detail.

Every table had a view of the lake and mountains through huge picture windows. We were lucky to be there on the night of the big moon. This picture does not do it justice, but must be included, because it was a beautiful part of our evening.

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

All of the food was fresh and of a very high standard. All portions were large and gratifying. The meats were very tender. The food was delivered hot.


We did not have a reservation and the restaurant was crowded when we arrived. Despite this, our waitress was very quick to set a table, with every detail clean and perfect.


As you can see from the photos, the place had great character. The objects and ornaments of decor provided visual entertainment. However, the views from the restaurant were utterly flawless and makes the venue perfect for any kind of dining event. Considering the restaurant was very busy, we did not feel crowded, and the noise volume was fine.


The restaurant was very clean and tidy.

Value for money

Although a bit pricey, it was well worth it for the quality and the experience. Price should not be a deterrent, as there are plenty of options to choose from. We paid $121.35 for the three of us. This included 1 (shared) appetizer, 3 large entrees, 3 desserts, and 3 soft drinks. This included tax (but not tip).


When assessing this restaurant, there was no doubt it would get full marks from all of us, on all counts. There was absolutely nothing to find fault in! Ella even said she would want to give it a rating of 6 stars if she could! We’ll definitely go back again (and again!).

Yamas Greek Restaurant in Kelowna

Yamas Greek Restaurant
CORR Star Ratings - 3-5 star - delicious

When my sister Ella and nephew Csaba arrived in Kelowna last Friday night for a weekend stay, we felt like having Greek food for dinner.

Yamas Greek Restaurant (also known as Yamas Taverna) may not be a pretty building from the outside, but the inside decor is elegant with a beautiful mural, high ceilings, and tasteful designer pieces that complement the space without cluttering it.

Despite a fair number of people in the restaurant, the layout seemed to keep the noise volume low. We could hear ourselves talking and the background music suited the atmosphere without dominating it. The lighting was a bit dim for me (I like to see my food), but Csaba said this supposedly aids digestion — is that true?

Csaba and Ella happily peruse the Yamas menu

There were so many things to choose from on the menu. The start of the weekend was something to celebrate, so Ella and I started off with a couple of martinis. Ella had the Dark & Stormy Martini (Raspberry Stoli, Alize Red Passion, and Blackberry Nectar) which was delicious. I ordered my first ever Chocolate Martini and was surprised to see that it was clear. This is because it was made of Vanilla Stoli and White Crème de Cacao. It was oh-so-velvety smooth.

Annie and Ella with martinis at Yamas Greek Restaurant in Kelowna

We had to have appetizers. Ella and Csaba are big fans of Tarama, also known as Taramasalata (fish roe dip) and said it was one of the best they have ever tasted.

Tarama at Yamas Greek Restaurant in Kelowna

We all enjoy calamari, but were suprised to be offered a pan-fried version (rather than just the usual battered-and-deep fried that most restaurants offer). We chose pan-fried and were surprised that we really preferred it. It was very tender and tasty.

Pan-fried calamari at Yamas Greek Restaurant, Kelowna

Despite the varied menu, we all decided to stick with our favourite: Souvlaki. Ella and Csaba had lamb, while I had pork.

Souvlaki at Yamas Greek Restaurant, Kelowna

Ella remarked that the rice was especially flavourful. I really enjoyed the lemon potatoes (and that’s saying a lot, as I rarely will eat them at all). The Greek salad had plenty of feta. The olives were especially tangy, and the tzatziki was very fresh.

While there were elements that we rated 5 stars, this had to be reduced to a 3.5 because I felt my pork was undercooked (it looked pink-ish inside). I had to ask for it to be thrown back on the grill. While the waitress was pleasant and accommodating, I did feel that this should have been compensated in some way, as most restaurants would. So this was rather disappointing. However, it would not stop me from returning, as the food was really good and the ambiance was pleasant. Next time, I’ll just ask for “well done” when I place my order!

The total bill came to $95.54 including 2 martinis, 2 appetizers, 3 main meals and tax. (Tip was extra.)

By the way, it says on their website that they have live belly dancing every weekend!

Old Spaghetti Factory in Kelowna

Photo credit: Annie Zalezsak, Old Spaghetti Factory, Kelowna, BC

CORR Star Ratings - 3 star - yummy

Reservations for a Restaurant Chain?!

Yesterday, Leslie and I finally got in at the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant in Kelowna. Planning to go on a Saturday, and having heard how it’s been super busy ever since it opened on February 6, 2012 (in the former Kelsey’s location at 1755 Capri Street off Harvey Avenue), I jokingly said to Leslie, “maybe we should make reservations”.

I called on the Wednesday, and after a long pause, was told they had one slot for 8pm. I hesitated, then she said she also had one for 4pm. I grabbed that. I couldn’t help but gossip about this astonishing story: having to make reservations for a chain restaurant!


We got there on time and were seated straight away. I was miffed to see the restaurant half empty. (What’s this about being fully booked?!) There was a typical menu card, and an old-fashioned style large-sheet-of-paper menu with lots of choice.

Annie with the Old Spaghetti Factory menu

The Old Spaghetti Factory is one of Leslie’s favourite chain restaurants and she gets to the Winnipeg one a few times a year on her travels. Their pasta dishes come with soup or garden salad, sourdough bread with whipped garlic butter, and spumoni ice cream for dessert. Leslie ordered her favourite: Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese, a la Homer. (A bit messy with the breadcrumbs there, Leslie!)

Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese, a la Homer

I haven’t been to an Old Spaghetti Factory since I was a kid in Toronto; so I stuck to what I know and like: Lasagna – Mama Pulosi’s secret homemade recipe. I was able to substitute a caesar salad (you can also get a spinach salad) for an extra $1.75. Those who don’t like pasta, can get Baby Back Ribs! (I was surprised to see that option there.)

Annie with Lasagna - Mama Pulosi's secret homemade recipe

The Dining Experience

Quality of food

The starter salads were a fair size and fresh. The caesar salad was garlicky enough and had a good salad-to-dressing-to-crouton ratio. The pastas were piping hot, and large portions. We were both happy with the amount of cheese on both dishes.


The service was very quick and efficient. Not overly attentive, but there when needed.


The decor was generally rather old-fashioned European-style with textured wallpaper, light fixtures, patterned crockery and a family atmosphere. There are plenty of booths, but many of the tables are just in rows, making for quite a noisy space. There are old photographs and interesting objects which give the place a something-to-talk-about character.


No complaints there. The cleanliness was as you would expect.

Value for Money

Our dinner for two came to a total of $35. This included 2 pasta meals with salads, 2 spumoni ice creams, 2 iced teas, and tax. (Tip on top.)

Half of my lasagna portion filled me up. I took the rest home to eat for my lunch today (which was still just as tasty!). We noticed most people were taking home leftovers. That’s always a sign of good value.


Generally, we had a great experience. We were out before 5pm. By then, the parking lot had filled up and new arrivals were finding it a bit challenging to grab a space. Then I understood why the reservation was necessary.

My only low score was the washroom. For the size of restaurant, it was quite tiny and cramped; that is, the 2 regular stalls. (There was, of course, a wheelchair accessible stall, too.) Small mirrors above the washing basins were mounted so high, with my height being 5’4″, I could only see the top half of my head (certainly not appropriate for wheelchair users). Even on tiptoes, the low lighting made me resort to putting on lipstick with my own compact mirror. Also, I understand the use of a light room fragrance, but the scent was a strong chemical perfume which in my opinion was overkill for the small space. I’d warn those with fragrance sensitivity to avoid going in there.

But overall, our early dinner was a yummy experience at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Kelowna. We left feeling happily well-fed and already planning to try their “OSF to Go!” take out service sometime soon!

Annie in front of Old Spaghetti Factory in Kelowna April 28, 2012

How About You?

Have you been to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Kelowna? Or another Canadian city? What was your experience? Feel free to leave your comments below.