Personally, warehouse-style shopping isn't exactly my thing. However, factory stores are usually a great spot to find discontinued merchandise or re-discover limited edition items.
The commute was fairly quick, but the transfer period at Bridgeport station comprised of approximately half the travel time each way - not nearly as efficient as I would have liked. My destination of interest resided within an eight minute walking range from Templeton station, the first stop along the YVR Airport route.
Given its proximity to the airport, McArthur Glen Outlets would be a good way to pass time should you happen to have a few hours to spare until your next connecting flight. For locals, it makes for a leisurely afternoon stroll; but for intense shoppers, you'd be better off heading to Pacific Centre or Metrotown. Personally, I prefer the much larger Toronto Premium Outlets for the sake of variety (and since the availability of designated play areas isn't of primary concern to me).
The name itself is straightforward and self-explanatory: bubble tea is normally distinguished from other varieties of tea because of its shaken nature. On the other hand, the Chinese name is a more creative play on words: "棒棒糖" is the general term for "lollipop"; by utilizing similar sounding characters, "拌拌堂" was born. The homonym essentially refers to an establishment where things are mixed or blended.
Upon making my entry, I was attended to promptly and provided courteous service from the duo operating the cashier and bar area. Removing one element of customization, all drinks were only available in one size, though some could be served hot. Venturing forward on the side of caution, I ordered an Original Milk Tea with coconut jelly and one of their summer specials, a small Mango Slush.
However, given that the tea itself wasn't as fragrant as I would have liked, it's highly probably that I could re-create the beverage at home at a much lower expense.
Just before my departure, I took to the single stall bathroom to rid my hands of excess grime. The scene was a drastic contrast to the seating setting: the sink was lined with a thin layer of dust particles, while chipping paint was observed at various corners. The location exhibited signs of aging that even renovations could not remediate.
I should confess: these customers, while sometimes failing to make accurate claims, still remained correct in some aspects of the dining experience. Gyu King is not authentic Japanese teppanyaki; it's operated by Chinese-speaking management. This is not to rule out the quality of the items served, but rather to shed light on the presentation and customer interaction aspects of the meal as a whole.
Disposable chopsticks and paper napkins were used in place of proper cutlery and dark-toned cloth napkins. I should also add that the dipping sauces had been laid out prior instead of being poured after guests were seated, which can only mean that they were sitting out for an extensive period of time before we had the opportunity of consumption.
Throughout the meal, he was constantly filling our plates with the most scrumptious bites shellfish, superbly grilled seafood, and succulent flanks of meat. Each individual item was charred to perfection and seasoned well with a mixture of lemon, butter, and soy sauce.
The cod, in particular, was extremely flavourful. Enveloped within its charred, crunchy exterior were flaky white bits of flesh that were melt-in-your-mouth smooth.
The most fragrant dish of the night was undoubtedly the beef roll. A mixture of green onions and shallots was spooned onto the middle section of each strip of striking red beef, and then gently flipped and formed into rolls of approximately 1-inch diameter. The fact that such different dishes could be produced from the same animal was mindblowing: the degree of variance in flavour and texture was thoroughly enjoyed.
But the true issue lay with the management staff at Gyu King. Similar to the thoughts of many other reviewers, I too found the Chinese diner vibes too strong to bear. Authentic Japanese restaurants tend to emphasize operations in a customer-focused manner, yet not a single aspect of the restaurant was reminiscent of this theory. Sheer capitalism was all it seemed to revolve around.
None of us were even granted the opportunity to do so. Despite the camera-equipped individuals imperatively calling out "Hold on, hold on!", she marched forward with the cake and proceeded to set it down rapidly, completely dismissing our requests as customers.
We were customers, deserving of the same amount of respect as any other paying guest. We had purposely chosen the venue to celebrate a special occasion, yet the service we were provided was levels beneath unattentive, rude, and depreciative.