Deutsches Haus at Vancouver Alpen Club: Good for a Hearty Meal

Let me ask you a question:

  1. Are you a carnivore?
  2. Do you want to try something new for a change?
  3. Are you curious about German cuisine?

If you answer yes to one of these questions, then Deutsches Haus is the place for you. Located on 4875 Victoria Dr. (Just a 5-10 min drive from my place), this restaurant serve up good food at a reasonable price.

I first notice this restaurant while cruising along Victoria Drive. Given that the neighbourhood is predominantly simple flat-top two-story buildings, the restaurant stood out with its charming European exterior. I also found their advertisement on a newspaper later on, which piqued my interest.

My family and I visited the restaurant on Wednesday a few weeks back. When we entered the door, I immediately noticed that the interior décor is just as charming, and very different in style from restaurants that I typically frequent. Another thing that I noticed is the amount of Chinese customers at the restaurant. (But then again, the advertisement is found on a Chinese newspaper and the fact that Victoria drive has become the second Chinatown. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising.)

At the time, they were promoting a Feast for 2 platter, so obviously we were getting that. I also ordered an Apple Roesti on the side.

When the food arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer proportion. For the Feast for 2 platter, it includes bratwurst, schnitzel, two types of sauerkraut, german noodles, hock and meatloaf. Meanwhile the Apple Roesti features 3 potato pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream.

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Normally, I tend to avoid mixing sweet and savory flavors in a dish. However, the Apple Roesti is one of the exception. First of all, while the pancakes look very similar to a hash brown, it is not at all greasy. When combined with the cream and the apple sauce, the flavor is very refreshing. The pancake also have good textures that you can feel the strips of potato every bite.

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Next is the Feast for 2 platter. Unlike the sausages that you buy at your groceries (which are very salty), the bratwurst served are much milder in flavor. Meanwhile, the schnitzel is essentially a nice thin crisp that gives a nice crunch without the guilt of eating something greasy. The schnitzel also goes extremely well with the apple sauce that I used for the pancakes. The German noodles have great texture. It is soft, but definitely not mushy. As for the two sauerkraut, one is very sour and the other sweet. While each sauerkraut is good on their own, the flavor is even better to mixed together.

However, the highlight of the platter is the meatloaf and the roast hock. The meatloaf is surprisingly soft and literally cuts like tofu!! That part is very interesting all on its own. Meanwhile, the hock is perfectly roasted so that the skin is nice and crispy (For those who have high cholesterol, just be sure to remove the thin layer of fat underneath the skin), whereas the meat is soft and juicy. In fact, I microwaved the leftover meat the very next day, and the meat is still soft!! The hock is served with a nice mustard to accentuate the flavor.

The entire dinner costs $40, and it’s just the right proportion for 3-4 people, so all in all the price is reasonable unless you are a huge eater.

So all in all, I would give this restaurant a solid A/A+, and I think the score in yelp should be a bit higher than 3.9. I would definitely go back again, and would recommend this restaurant to others.

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LIGHTROOM at Metrotown

So just a few days earlier, I went to Metrotown to do a little window shopping when I came across the LIGHTROOM exhibit at Grand Court (Didn’t know that was the name till I checked the website just now). However, unlike most of Metrotown’s previous exhibit, this one is fully enclosed that I couldn’t see what’s inside even when I was looking in from the second floor. Well that alone intrigues me enough to take a look.

According to Metrotown’s website:

“The LIGHTROOM is an exciting digital and visual installation, comprised of a 60 second walk-through experience tied to social media.  The concept was inspired by artist Yayoi Kusama’s mirrored infinity room and the Social Soul experience at the 2014 TED Conference. The Lightroom measures 20 feet by 35 feet and will immerse the customer in an illusion of thousands of twinkling lights.”

So apparently, this exhibit also have a social media aspect. If you take a picture in the LIGHTROOM and upload it to Twitter and Instagram, you entered for a chance to win $1000! Well, I don’t have a Twitter or Instagram account.

In terms of the lineup, it’s actually quite decent since the turnover is literally 60 seconds. So even though I was at the back of the line, I made it to the front in roughly 10-15 minutes, which is not bad. (But then again, I was there on a weekday, not sure how weekend would look)

As for the exhibit, well… it was nothing too special. Unfortunately, my expectation bar is set a bit too high (I was expecting some kind of laser light show and the likes). The room is simply a mirror room with different colored lights. (No music either) Having said that, it is still quite photogenic. Here’s my picture of the LIGHTROOM:

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So there you have it, the LIGHTROOM is still fairly interesting, and the short waiting time means you won’t waste too much time. I would recommend it as a “stop and smell the roses” moment.

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Masou Kishin 3: Good Graphics, “Pull-Your-Hair-Out” Fun

 

For people who might or might not know, I shifted my game console systems from home consoles such as PlayStation and X-box in favor for handheld console such as Vita and Android. In fact, my last home console generation is Wii (essentially for playing Fatal Frame 4).

For those who play the Vita, everyone would agree that the selection of Vita games are much more limited in North America (especially in Canada) than in Japan. Canada got the worst of it (I mean, US got PSP Black Rock Shooter and we don’t, so I have to use the region trick like everyone else in order to buy the game from the network store. But I digress)

So what I’m trying to do in this very post is to introduce a Japanese import game that you readers might enjoy: Masou Kishin 3: Pride of Justice.

Masou Kishin series is essentially a spin-off (aka, a “Gaiden”) of the Super Robot Wars that features Gundams, Macross and any other series with a giant mecha in it. The original Masou Kishin is on the SNES, which you can now play on an emulator, whereas the second installment can be found on the PSP.

Essentially, the storyline revolves around the main character Masaki, who got pulled from Earth into La Gias, which is a “subterranean world contained deep within the Earth.” (Which is impossible in terms of science, but conveniently solved by the fact that the realm has “Magic”) He eventually joins a team of pilots and defend his new homeland from numerous villains, but mostly Volkruss. (Just like every Gundam clichés, the main character, a teenager, somehow has a knack for piloting mecha, even though he had never touch one before in his life)

As you notice, my description of the storyline is pretty general. This is because the game actually provides several paths where the player will go up against different antagonist.

The reason why I really love this game is its graphics and music. If you just take a look at some game clip for the first game on YouTube, apparently THAT game is made in 1996 (roughly 20 years ago!!!) I mean, the graphics is way ahead of its time!!

As for Masou Kishin 3, the graphics and music department did not let me down either. Just check out these links and see for yourself:

Wellspinner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_1slM-40zQ

Din Flail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4meB_iNA3Q

Zamzeed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32fnRoDPs1s

Cybuster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS_GqLNkZyY

The first thing to grab are the attack scenes, it’s over the top that  the player wouldn’t mind watching their finisher again and again. The voice acting is certainly good and it brings the character’s emotions to life. Some famous seiyuus you may know include Midorikawa Hikaru, Takehito Koyasu, Inoue Kikuko, Okiayu Ryotaro, Kamiya Hiroshi, Ohara Sayaka, Sawashiro Miyuki, Nakai Kazuya, and more. The music is awesome and it links the gameplay together.

However like every other games, there is always some weak aspect. In this case, it’s the enemy AI. The greatest flaw of the game is the fact that the enemy AI is designed to gang up on your weakest unit. And because the game designers went overboard with the number of enemies present in the map at each stage, it’s very easy to lose a unit in this game. Certainly, the fact that late game units take out half of your HP in one go is not helping either. If you don’t want to lose a unit, you’ll have to restart your game. (Believe me, soft reset is your friend cause you can find yourself resetting the game at least 10 times for each stage on average) Hence the title: “Pull-Your-Hair-Out”. You are CERTAIN to be annoyed.

Another major problem with this game is its New Game+. For most games that encourages you to replay the game, the developers often include a New Game+ where you restart the game with certain advantages, whether it be retaining items, levels or otherwise. Unfortunately, you don’t get that luxury for Masou Kishin 3. You don’t retain your level or items that you worked so hard to obtain!! That just raise my frustration bar to a new level.

Finally as a side note, because this game is an RPG and a Japanese import, you will need to know Japanese in order to read the dialogues. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the beast. Having said that though, it’s not too difficult to understand the general “trend” of where the story is going. In other words, not knowing Japanese doesn’t directly mean you can’t play the game.

So here’s my 2 cents on Masou Kishin 3. Certainly a good game, but has one major turn-off.

 

Overall: A-/B+

Graphics: A+

Music: S

Gameplay: B-

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Roadmap to beating Dragon’s Crown without ripping your hair out

Back in 2014, I finish a Playstation Vita game called Dragon’s Crown. It’s an ATLUS game along the lines of Odin’s Sphere and Muramasa (actually I think they all come from the same creator… don’t quote me on that). In any case, it’s an interesting beat-em-up/RPG game where your adventurer would go through stages and beat the crap out of enemies and bosses while picking up bones, gold and weapons (aka “treasures”).

Like all games, this one also has its pros and cons. Let’s get to the pro part first:

  1. The game mechanics is not grindy (or at least up to lv99)
  2. It allows for ad hoc players or multiplayer options
  3. It’s always fun to beat up enemies like a boss

Then there are the cons:

  1. The game is not as sophisticated as Odin’s Sphere
  2. If you play all 6 characters to get the trophy, storyline is the same
  3. Storyline not as interesting as Odin’s Sphere
  4. Hate wizard’s and sorceress’ mechanics, so many unnecessary moves
  5. Limited number of stages
  6. Game can get very repetitive

Okay, so maybe it’s not the GREATEST GAME YOU’LL EVER PLAY. But it’s alright by my book. So without ado, here’s my road map to beating the game FAST.

First of all, there are 6 characters to choose from: Fighter, Amazon, Dwarf, Elf, Wizard and Sorceress. I would recommend you pick characters in this order:

Dwarf>>Amazon>>Fighter>>>>>>>>>>>>Elf, Wizard or Sorceress

If you are skeptic about this, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU4kjjkiZk8 (That’s 1:12 that I’ll never see again…)

In any case, Wizard and Sorceress have bad mechanics. How well they perform depend not only the levels, but also the wands that they are using. Also, they have limited amount of skills!! A wizard that cannot spam skills infinitely is simply bad. I mean what’s the fun of a wizard when you can’t blow up everything you see in the warpath? Sorceress is probably even worse!! They lack damage spells!! Now you’re playing a support character in a vita game, that while has multiplayer, focus on solos!!!

Elf is not great either, I think that they are more one vs one character. In other words, they are good for boss, not great for mobs. Fighters are decent, just like our regular knight, nothing more, nothing less.

Now we get to the good stuff. Amazon melts everything in this game. If you are looking for real damage-dealer, this is it. They are combo-liscious and deals heavy damage. But the problem is that they also melt pretty fast if you’re not careful.

This therefore brings me to the ultimate favorite character: Dwarf. This guy is one-man wrecking crew, which is what a beat-em-up ask for. It has high HP (goes all the way to 999 without batting an eye), high defence, invulnerability most of the time, big damage, crowd control and it practically can fly out of any sticky situation!! It’s the closest thing to a crazy cheat code.

Here’s the skill that I would max out:

  •  Power Bomb: Your crowd control technique, just grab something, throw it to the ground and watch everything die
  • Lethal Fist: Perfect for button mashing
  • Eagle Dive: For flying out of battles and dodging anything you can think of
  • Grand Smash: YOUR MEAT AND POTATO. It deals insane damage to bosses (make them look like wet tissues) and gets invulnerability while you’re doing it. So in other words, you can jump into a boss and let it rip. Not to mention if you have two hammers, you can do double slam (Slam, change weapon, slam again). That takes almost a third to a half of bosses life!!!
  • Frenzy: For button mashers out there
  • Powder Mastery: THIS SHOULD NOT BE A PERMANENT SKILL. But you do need to max it out to get one of the achievements
  • Rock Skin: Turn your dwarf into a tank
  • Toughness: Same as above
  • Vitality Boost: Same as above
  • Nutritionist: Eating food recovers health faster
  • Androit Hands: Lets you switch hammer faster
  • Wealth to Health: A just in case skill that makes you nearly impossible to kill

Fighting style is simple:

As soon as an enemy comes out, up+square to grab the enemy, then jump, then down+square to throw the enemy to the ground. This causes a shockwave that bounce enemies up and down. Lather, rinse, repeat, and watch your enemy jump themselves to death. For aerial enemies,, use up+square to throw enemies up across the screen. This will hit anything in the throw path. If necessary, grand smash would give invulnerability during the whole action sequence. Once the grand smash is done, switch item and grab a second set of axes. Androit hands will speed up the cooldown so you can switch weapons faster. Double smash works wonders on bosses, who will definitely appear near you and take the subsequent smashes.

With these skills (except powder mastery) maxed out, you are ready to take out everything. Here’s my roadmap to beat the game and get all trophy in point form:

  1. In town, beat the crap out of townspeople and get arrested 10 times (Crime and Punishment obtained)
  2. Grind your Dwarf in the very first stage to get to level 10.
  3. When you are in Old Capital, power bomb a sabertooth tiger and ride the tiger to the end of the stage and beat the boss. Focus on flying through the stage rather than picking up every treasure. Chances are if you’re riding that cat to the end, you did not take any damage at all. (Unsullied obtained)
  4. Let your allies die and then pay to revive them (Savior)
  5. Beat normal mode (Get all the story trophies and Dazzling Dwarf)
  6. Grind some more and simply beat Hard mode (Hardcore Hero)
  7. Grind to level 99 and beat infernal mode (Paragon and Blazing hero)
  8. Now as level 99, when your character pick up skeletons, they will be roughly around level 99 to 100-ish. Resurrect these skeletons.
  9. Create all the other characters (Amazon, Fighter, etc), use your resurrected allies as your bodyguard to beat the game in normal mode for each. (If you got 3 amazons, this should be real quick) (Fantastic Fighter, Amazing Amazon, Epic Elf, Wonderous Wizard and Scintillating Sorceress obtained)
  10. As a Dwarf again in Infernal mode, get 3 other allies and run through 11-13 straight stages without returning to town, I usually start with the Ancient Temple Ruins and work my way around. This should net you 5,000,000 points as well. (Insatiable traveller and Best of the Best obtained)
  11. Pick up skeletons and revive them, and throw out any low-level allies to make space. (Merciful Fossor obtained)
  12. Obtain and complete all quests from adventurers guild. One secret to note here is that most quests require you to access secret areas to get a treasure. Usually these secret areas will almost always give higher quality treasure. So be sure to access these rooms. (Obtain most of the art trophies)
  13. To make money, run consecutive stages. This actually boosts item quality over time. Having said that, money is pretty useless in this game. There is nothing really epic that you would want to buy except different character voices.
  14. Give 100,000 to goddess by praying. At this point, 100,000 should be chump change since you’ll be beating tons of bosses quickly to get good equips (Devout Follower)
  15. Go to Morgan’s Item shop and buy everything (Oniomaniac obtained)
  16. Get one of your lower level character and pick up a low-level bone to resurrect.
  17. Get that low-level ally and go to Coliseum and set the following conditions: Time Limit = 3min, Life point = 0, number of participants = 2, Add NPC = ON, Rules = No potions, Temporary equipment = None. Beat the ally 10 times. (King of Colosseum)
  18. When at camp, quality over quantity. Also meat dishes give better points than veggies. Add meat to pan or pot, add all seasoning, wait for the food to steam before you put the food on your plate to eat it. That will give  you the highest point. (Three-star chef)
  19. Go through all camps and cook all the food. Some ingredients require you to kill a certain boss. For one of it, you have to escape the stage in order to get the ingredient. Most FAQs will give you tips on this one. Here’s one for you: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/633261-dragons-crown/66880606 (Gourmand)
  20. Max out Powder Mastery, buy a damage potion, equip all items that gives damage boosts or damage to items boosts, beat ghost ship cove and enter camp, eat QUALITY dishes (fish dishes) to get a boost on attack. Once you get to Bilbaron Fortress, don’t destroy any crates, but power bomb any goblins who holds a bomb. Grab the bomb, drink your damage potion and let the bomb blow up the crate (Legendary strike)
  21. Finally, grab 3 high level amazon (preferably over level 100), drink damage boost potions and go to town with ancient dragons in all three levels. I personally use this strategy since I like to play solo in my games, and confirmed that 3 Amazon NPCs has a very high chance of helping you kill Infernal Ancient Dragon in under 4 minutes. (Mine is 3:30 minutes) For obvious reasons, use fresh amazons that are newly resurrected. Do not use Dwarf, they will just slow you down. The strategy is simple, let the amazon be the damage dealers the dragon. Meanwhile do double grand slam and jump attack. The dragon should die easily (all beat dragon within time trophies, as well as ultimate platinum trophy)

So here’s all I’ve come up with so far. If you follow this guide, you should beat the game within a week or so.

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Macau makes me miss Vancouver, “Environmental-wise”

Now before this blog gets any further, I just want everyone to be aware that I didn’t write this to offend anyone. It’s just a random rant from some guy who just went to Macau recently, so do treat it as such. Nothing more, nothing less.

Before my trip to Macau, I watched a few TV shows promoting the city as Las Vegas on steroids: Vibrant, lively, exotic and growing. The economy is rejuvenated with a massive inflow of tourists from the Mainland. Business was never better.

What the show neglect to reveal is the price the city pays to get there:  the lifestyle and the pollution. Before the revitalization, Macau was just a simple town with an even simpler life. People go to school from one side of the city to the other on foot, while enjoying street food along the way. However, some time between now and then, the economy of Macau has ground to a halt. So needless to say, the inflow of Mainland tourists was like a breath of fresh air.

One thing any readers should understand about China is that while the economy is growing exponentially, the standard of ethics and manners can still use quite a bit of improvement.

The end result: a bloody serious issue.

Imagine: The minute you step out of the airport, all you can smell is second-hand smoke and car exhaust. The sound of traffic is all you can hear as fleets and fleets of car flying through the roads, leaving behind a stream of exhaust as a welcoming gift. A friend of yours stopped to pick you up. A quick wave is all you can give cause you got not time for anything more: You have to load up the baggage before the car behind you gets irritated and starts honking. (What a douche)

Your friend dropped you off to a hotel to check-in. The minute you open the door, you are greeted with more second-hand smoke. You can also smell heavy musk of perfume in the lobby, as if the owners are desperate to mask the smell of smoke. You checked in and you got on the elevator. You see the “No smoking” sign right above the elevator buttons. But when you look down, there is a couple of cigarette butts in the corner. The irony…

After dropping off the luggage, you decided to take a quick stroll along the streets. (Though under this air quality, you’re not sure if the stroll is good for you or it’s going to kill you) As usual, you’re surrounded by smoke and car exhausts. The situation is made even worse when the air is clammy, humid and suffocating. You see cars cutting lanes like they are escaping an apocalypse. Motorbikes are even more reckless, zooming around like something coming out of an action movie. As you made your way through the busy streets, your shoulder gets repeatedly bumped by passers-by. You feel a shove from behind, then one from the sides. All the while, people’s conversations are getting so loud that it takes no effort to eavesdrop anyone. You can see the new Macau district within a block, but whole place is covered in a permanent haze. So much for a scenic view…

I could go on forever with the description, but I think the picture is quite clear: something needs to be done about this. I’ve heard that right now, Macau has a little below 200,000 vehicles on the roads. However, unlike most American cities, there really is no urban sprawl. Most shops can be found within a 15-30 minute walk. Meanwhile, one of the taxicab franchises just recently got close down due to lack of profits. Meanwhile, urban heat islands create unbearable temperatures during the summers that is enough to cause heat strokes.

The point is that while the financial aspect is important, one must not neglect the social and environmental part of the equation. Growth is essential, but it’s more important to grow responsibly. Air care is definitely essential there and inspection should be more frequent.

Unfortunately, these changes will not occur overnight. The locals will still have to struggle with the results of the revitalization, all the while reminiscing on how peaceful Macau used to be. This, my readers, is also why I miss Vancouver.

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Cute Kitty, Nothing More to Say

So I recently went to Metrotown with my mom when I come across this cute little critter while passing by the pet shop:

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I will never know how she get to that sleeping position. My guess is that she drank too much (milk) last night. The good news is that looking at this might probably cure Monday blues, but I would need to run a few test to find out.

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Hi Genki: “Well-Hidden Achievement” Unlocked

If anyone needs to know something about me, it’s that I really love Japanese food. But then again, my blogs on the anime, the j-horror and the Japanese games probably gave more than enough clues on this matter….

Having said that, I am pretty confident that I know quite a bit of Japanese restaurant in the Vancouver/Burnaby/Richmond area. Just to show my passion for Japanese food, I can tell you that I once went to a Japanese restaurant for 9 months straight. So, when my friend told me about this restaurant that is so well hidden it’s guaranteed that I wouldn’t know about it, I’m definitely intrigued. With that, he drove me to the restaurant.  Here’s my reaction during the trip:

– Okay, we’re heading along Kingsway, there’s a lot of decent Japanese restaurant here.

– Oh, we’ve past Metrotown, we’re heading towards the Balkan House…

– Near Kingsway and Imperial, all I know is a really cheap Pho place near Mitsubishi

– Okay, now we’re in residential zone…

– Wait why are we pulling up here…

– Holy crap, the restaurant is in an elderly home! Who on earth would thought about going to a care home for Japanese food?!

Now to be fair, I went there before the Nikkei Matsuri. Otherwise, I would have found it. Another thing, that place is not a home, it’s assisted living. The difference is that in assisted living establishments, the elderly are capable of taking care of themselves. Just that for safety reasons, they need to be checked up on by staff members. But now, I digress…

So once I enter the premise, the restaurant is right in front of me in the lobby. The décor is simple and it more or less looked like a cafeteria. Having said that, the food is pretty good. I ordered a deluxe Genki box, while my friend ordered a Gyudon. I noticed that for the Gyudon, the portion is surprisingly large. For my Deluxe Genki Box, the box comes with salmon sashimi, chicken teriyaki, and an assorted tempura with miso soup. One thing’s for sure, this box spells “Japanese home cooking.” It’s not especially elegant, but definitely flavorful.

So after we finished our meal, my friend ordered dessert to share. Given that it’s a Japanese restaurant, I expected Japanese confection or green tea ice cream, and not… Ice Cream Tempura?! Seriously?! I’ve heard of deep-fried ice cream in carnivals. I didn’t expect having it in a Japanese restaurant, especially in an elderly assisted living center. I mean it’s not healthy for elderly to eat this… right?

But I’m certainly glad they have this on the menu. There’s nothing like cool vanilla ice cream encased in crunchy deep-fried cereal batter (At least I think the batter is made of cereal). Just writing this blog makes me want to have an ice cream tempura tomorrow.

So there you have it: An real authentic restaurant that is well hidden from the rest of the public and have some interesting items. Note that the restaurant also serve unique daily specials. All I can say is: “Definitely worth a go!”

BTW, I noticed that any website talking about this restaurant doesn’t have its opening hours. So I’ll post the opening hours along with several photos, just to whet your appetite.

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Here’s the opening hours, the address and the phone number.

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This is the Genki Box

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This is the Deluxe Box that I had

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Did I mentioned that also serve crème brulee?

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Ice Cream Tempura… in all its glory!!

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Who would not want to eat THAT?

 

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