Plans: how often do they really work out? I suppose you have certain events that you look forward to months in advance because they’re tradition and pretty much have to happen, such as the inescapable, awkward multi-family dinner at some family’s random seafood restaurant of choice that just happens to be located in the Renfrew area away from everything else. However, now with the elevated role of social media affecting how we communicate with each other at every waking moment, there’s a plethora of new plans that could arise from just about anywhere, whether it’s a casual tweet from a restaurant inviting you down for happy hour or an invitation go to skimboarding. What’s skimboarding, you ask? To be honest, I still don’t really know; I’ve never been snowboarding, and I’ve only ever managed to skateboard for about a quarter of a block before giving up out of fear… of schooling the other kids…
On a day where the tide was supposed to somehow be favourable for skimboarding, Kevin suggested an early morning journey out to Spanish Banks for this… activity. Naturally, because I’m such a nature-loving and outdoorsy person, I consented to tagging along, and so I forced myself to arise at the early hour of 11am to start the long, gruelling drive out to that darned peninsula. When I got to Commercial Drive and Broadway, however, I get a tweet from a (hungover?) Kevin stating that he had just woken up. Awks. Not sure how that ended up with us at The Red Wagon, but it did. What did I do for about an hour? That will have to wait for a later post – and yes, it would be food-related.
Although I used to frequently drive down East Hastings (with my windows up and doors locked), I had actually never noticed this particular establishment before. I’ll just assume that’s because my eyes are fixated on the road ahead of me. You can find this on Nanaimo and East Hastings, which isn’t as dodgy as one might assume.
As you can tell, the interior has a very distinctive “diner” look, what with those brightly coloured surface, relatively sparse decor, totally retro hanging lights, and interesting clientele. In place of worn out middle-aged women, however, you do have
recent graduates from SFU Arts some charming hipsters serving you. A note on the service: while friendly, they will elect to talk amongst themselves and their “regulars” and ignore those empty glasses on the table. Flagging one down can also be somewhat difficult, despite those large frames. Nonetheless, after a glance at the menu, we placed our identical orders. I knew what I wanted, and that day, I was thinking, “Gimme something good; don’t wanna wait, I want it now,” albeit without a dub breakdown backing me.
This just happened to be the crisp pork belly sandwich ($10.50). Contained within a baguette was a mess of pickled vegetables, jalapeno, cilantro, mayo, and that crispy pork belly, the offering was served alongside a splatter of their housemade chips. Long had I waited for this, and I was eager to finally let my liver fulfill some of its other functions aside from the more blatantly obvious ones. The chips on the side an actually distinctive potato taste to them, something you wouldn’t find from that bag of Lays. Mass production does win out in the crunchiness department, though; these chips were somewhat oily and, as a result, strangely moist.
The pork belly delivered like I thought it would. Sinking my teeth through the swine, my type II sensory cells in my taste buds allowed me to savour their flavour as my contralateral somatosensory cortex processed first the crispy skin before encountering the tender, fatty meat. One thing that did come to mind was the thought that for a sandwich that’s advertised as crisp, the meat could be – unless, of course, that’s supposed to describe the entire thing. In terms of the sandwich as a whole, it was strangely reminiscent of a Vietnamese banh mi. The vegetables inside of it certainly did counter the saltiness of the meat to give it a nice balance; otherwise, the sodium ion influx might have been too much to handle. Whether this pseudo Asian fusion was intentional or not, I’m not quite sure; places like these generally avoid the Yellow Fever bandwagon, no?
I should forewarn you all that this sandwich does get quite messy. You’d think that would be the result of some sort of sauce, but no, it’s fat dripping out of the sandwich you’re ingesting into your body. Since I’m such a messy eater, you can observe the drippings that didn’t make it on to the plate above. My heart was, of course, crying, but at least the sER in my hepatocytes were finally getting a little bit of action. I’ll have to admit that I finished the meal feeling a bit slimy and gross, which wasn’t aided by the hot weather.
In the end, I enjoyed my experience here, even if it did only feature one item. Trying a restaurant’s signature dish can often be a good enough indicator, and, to some extent, that would be the case here. I’m not sure my arteries would enjoy going through this again, though; I would like to live for a few more years, although if the world does end sometime in the coming year, then I’d rather die of obesity first.
Conclusion: Andy ate a lot.
The Red Wagon
2296 East Hastings St.
DISCLAIMER: I am sure that the majority of SFU Arts Graduates do indeed go on to do greater things for humanity.