Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/West Coast/Fusion
Last visited: December 15, 2010
Location: Surrey, BC (South Surrey)
Address: 16051 24 Ave
Price Range: $10-20, $20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Posh atmosphere
- Fusion/West Coast cuisine
- Home made sauces
- Gluten-free options
- Reasonably priced
- Generous portions
- Sports Bar
- Late night
- Private room available
- Patio dining
- Free parking
- Nightly food & drink specials
- Free appetizer coupon
- Open daily 11am – late
**Recommendations: Avocado Roll, Prawn Pakora, Kobe Beef Carpaccio, Thai Noodle Stir-fry, Big E’s Baked Salmon
What?! Did I see that right? Location Surrey, BC? No Mijune, you must be mistaken. This must be a restaurant in Vegas right? Or at least something in downtown, Vancouver… right? Trust me I was as surprised as you are. U-Lounge is a restaurant located in the newer developments of South Surrey and it’s been around for at least a few years now. I’ve actually been here once when it first opened, but it was just for drinks. My revisit to U-Lounge was actually on behalf of Tourism Surrey (yeah that actually exists too) and Vancouver Coast and Mountains BC.
I know. U-Lounge really goes all out when it comes to restaurant design. They nail the concept of providing a sexy, high end, posh atmosphere and it totally reminds me of PURE night club in Las Vegas or even some of the Global Group restaurants in downtown. I spoke with the owner and it turns out that they used the same restaurant designer as the Glowbal Group, which totally makes sense to why it has a “Glowbal-esque” feel.
I have to admit, when I first heard that our dinner spot was U-Lounge I panicked a bit. I was well aware of it’s 30-40% “like it” votes on Urbanspoon even beforehand. However after dining here I have no idea why the numbers are so low. I thoroughly enjoyed the overall dining experience from the ambiance right down to the food.
After doing some research I realized that the low reviews and ratings are mainly because it used to have a poor rep. It was a place associated with fights and gangs. Okay, insert Surrey jokes now. An image like that is damaging and it will certainly keep customers away for a long time, which is really unfortunate because it’s quite the hidden gem.
Personally, I’m going to say it went through what I call “restaurant rehab”. I felt really comfortable there and I honestly don’t think Tourism Surrey would even consider bringing media anywhere “dangerous”. Yes, I could assume there were a few “gang-type customers” in the crowd, but it was as many as you would see at any Sammy J Peppers or Cactus Club in Metro Vancouver. I can also tell you that the owners are working hard to turn the image around and they won’t even play hip hop or R&B music… which I thought was funny, but I guess understandable. They stick to old rock classics or Michael Jackson hits and music from that era.
Along with cleaning up their image they’ve also changed chefs. In regards to the food, I thought it was great! I was really impressed with the creativity of the menu, generous portions, quality and flavour of food as well as the price of it. It’s very reasonably priced and the menu items speak of West Coast flavours and fusion food. I can’t judge them for being different and they make fusion food work and taste good. The owners are brothers and they’re Indo-Canadian so there’s some modern Indian dishes in there that I wouldn’t overlook.
From what I tried, I would certainly come back and recommend it to others and I really hope they can clean up and redeem themselves. Restaurants can go through makeovers just like people. I mean we took Robert Downey Jr., Drew Barrymore and Kate Moss back didn’t we?
On the table:
- Crispy wonton wrapper, avocado, sun dried tomato, red onion, cilantro, tamarind cashew dressing and avocado mousse $10 (Usually comes with 4, but due to nature of the visit we had 6 for the table)
- The rolls were gigantic! They were also ultra rich and delicious!
- It was a Chinese idea meets Mexican and Thai flavours and the fusion of ingredients worked incredibly well.
- I loved the crunchy “dressing” which was more like a nutty, syrupy, sweet and tangy sauce made with pieces of cashews. It was almost like a Thai salsa and it’s the little mound in between the rolls. I could have used that entire mound for one roll though, so more would have been nice.
- The avocado rolls were crispy on the outside and then stuffed with creamy chunks of ripe and warm avocado and tangy sun dried tomato. It was even better with the tamarind sauce which was a nice contrast to the indulgent filling.
- The avocado mousse was light, refreshing and creamy and it balanced out the sharp flavours of the cashew dressing which was great. I ended up using every bit of sauce on that plate.
- The watercress was a great addition to lighten up the richness of the overall dish too.
- The different levels of sweet and tang and the various textures of creaminess kept my palate excited!
- These avocado rolls were way better than the famous avocado rolls from BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery.
- Plump Jumbo prawn, traditional Indian chickpea batter & butter dipping sauce $12 (Again, I’m not sure about portion size)
- It doesn’t look good, but it’s good!
- The butter dipping sauce was pretty much a spicy butter chicken sauce. It was a creamy thick tomato based cream sauce and there was a generous amount for double dipping.
- The prawns were tender and the batter was a thin chickpea batter that was lightly spiced with tandoori spices. It wasn’t as crispy as I would have like though.
- Sesame crusted Albacore tuna, daikon, carrot and scallion slaw, sesame crisp, wasabi cream, garlic ginger glaze $12
- This is very messy to eat and the execution could have been better.
- There was an overwhelming amount of crunchy salad and the tuna was a bit overcooked or just masked by the salad. I couldn’t tell. I did however like the nutty sesame crust it had.
- The dish was nice and crunchy, however it was rather bland and there wasn’t enough sauce and I couldn’t taste the ginger or wasabi cream.
- I would much rather have the ahi tuna tacos from Joey’s.
- Thinly sliced beef, Dijon mayo, garlic oven roasted flatbread, red wine braised figs, fried capers & Grana Pandano Parmesan cheese $13
- This was very good, but the end product didn’t exactly match the menu description.
- The beef was tender and I loved the combination of sweet figs and salty bites of capers and Parmesan. However the capers didn’t seem fried and the figs were dried and chewy and didn’t seem braised in red wine. I also couldn’t taste any Dijon in the mayo and it tasted more like plain mayo. However, it was still very good as is and the flavours worked well.
- The flatbread was a bit unexpected because they were like savoury soft cookies with a slightly crispy exterior. I would have preferred a crostini, but this was a nice switch up and I did still enjoy it.
- Olive oil & fresh herbed seasoned lamb, grilled medium & served with our signature goat cheese salad $16
- Another entree sized appetizer and a job well done. This is how it’s normally served too.
- I only had a bite of this one, but the meat was tender and I only heard good things from the owner of this plate.
- Tuscan organic green mix with tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, mint, goat cheese, tossed with roasted garlic olive oil & fresh cracked pepper $11 Add chicken: $5 Jumbo prawn: $6
- Not my order, but I did try it and it was very fresh and lightly dressed. It was a bit bland and quite herby. I could have used a stronger salad dressing, but at least it had the goat’s cheese to give it a salty bite.
- Grilled chicken breast, bacon, tomato, lettuce, onions served on toasted Ciabatta with chipotle mayo $12
- All sandwiches serve with fries. Yam fries or garden salad $1, Caesar $2
- Not my order, but the Ciabatta looks too thick.
- Grilled chicken breast, Aged cheddar, lettuce, onion, tomato $12
- All sandwiches serve with fries. Yam fries or garden salad $1, Caesar $2
- Not my order. The sandwich looks a bit heavy on the bread again though.
- Chow mien, red peppers & onions, tossed in a sweet chili sauce & topped with grilled pineapple, toasted almonds & scallions, choice of jumbo prawn or chicken breast $15
- I would never consider ordering Thai food at a non-Thai restaurant, and although this was not my order I did try a good amount of it. The portion was HUGE!
- I was very surprised, but this was delicious! Just don’t expect a Pad Thai or anything authentic. It’s an American Chinese-Thai inspired chow mien, but it was still very good.
- It was generously sauced in a typical sweet chili sauce that had quite the kick and it was spicier than just the bottled sauce on its own.
- The noodles were a bit soft, but the veggies were fresh and the pineapple and almonds were a great touch. It reminded me of sweet and sour pork with the pineapples and sauce.
- I loved the citrus juicy tangy pineapple and nutty crunch of almonds. Technically it was a very simple dish, but I still enjoyed it.
- Baked Wild Sockeye Salmon marinated in Sake, garlic, soy & topped with pickled ginger pineapple salsa, served with wasabi roasted garlic mashed potatoes & seasonal vegetables $23
- Oops! They forgot the pineapple salsa.
- That’s better! This was a MASSIVE portion.. again! It’s enough for 2 people and it’s well worth $23.
- The salmon was a little overcooked and the sauce was a bit too salty. It tasted like a very sweet syrupy terriyaki sauce, but even stronger and more like an Oyster sauce in flavour. There was just so much of it that it was a bit overwhelming. It really needed the pineapple salsa to balance things out.
- The pineapple salsa added a freshness and it made the dish more creative and different which I liked. It made the sauce more tangy since it was so sweet and it reminded me of a Terriyaki burger when they grill a pineapple and use it as a topping.
- The bed of creamy wasabi mash was possibly one of the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. It was better than the salmon!
- It was a super buttery, creamy, rich and flavourful puree of potatoes and the texture was so smooth. There was a mild wasabi kick and I could have used more, but that’s because I really love wasabi. Either way it was still delicious and a great match with salmon.
- The veggies were also fresh and tender and overall I enjoyed the dish if only it wasn’t so salty, but again the pineapple salsa balances things out.
- Five layers of rich chocolate cake, chocolate filling & chocolate glaze $8
- This cake is not made in house, but it’s a very rich and moist chocolate cake with a hint of Rum. It was pretty huge and it reminded me of the cake from Matilda (the movie).
- It was quite decadent and way too rich, thick, and sweet for me, even though I love my sweets. I couldn’t really enjoy it past two bites because it’s that stick to your throat sweet where you need ice cream, milk or tea to wash it down.