*Very photo heavy post on food*
I had the opportunity to live in Vancouver for a month in 2014 with my friend Yolande. I spent a lot of time getting to know extended family, meeting new people from all walks of life and just enjoying the West Coast lifestyle with my “Toronto Crew that now reside in Vancity”. Instead of detailing the day-to-day of my time out west, this post will showcase what I ate and what I wanted to eat during my time in Vancouver.
EAT SUSHI! I cannot get over how cheap it is to dine on sushi here – a maki roll is around $3-4 but back home its like $8-14. Even with the cheaper price, the quality is superb in Vancouver- absolutely fresh.
The original Guu is located on Thurlow and it is the not only the original Guu but also the first Izakaya in Vancouver. As you enter, you will receive a very warm and loud welcome and same as you leave. Izakaya is similar to tapas and are all rather small sharing dishes to go along with drinks. The menu is quite diverse with food that is grilled or fried but they also have Udon noodle soups to beef sashimi to salads. The Original Guu is a small cozy establishment but you will be satisfied with all the flavours and atmosphere. There are multiple locations in Vancouver and also in Toronto.
Hubbub is the place to go if you want a fresh sandwich served on a toasty baguette. All you need to is to choose your protein and each sandwich comes with a base of pickled jalapenos, creamy garlic sauce, romaine lettuce, cilantro, and crunchy caramelized onions. I chose the pulled pork and it was absolutely delicious and with a sweet heat kicking.
Japadog offers gourmet hot dogs that are served Japanese-style. The location on Robson St is the only sit-down location. If you can’t make it to the actual sit down joint, you can find a few carts located around town such as the corner of Smithe & Burrard, Burrard & Pender. There is also a Japadog truck so keep an eye out. The Japadog truck and the restaurant location are the only ones that have the full extensive menus and offer their shaken fries. On one particular visit, We had the croquette (Fried mashed potato) dog and their Shichimi & Garlic tossed fries.
If you are hankering for a good burrito go no further than Steamrollers. The burritos here are fresh, tasty and made quickly. As their namesake tells you – they don’t deep fry or use grease but rather cook with steam. A traditional burrito starts around $7.25CAD and also have vegetarian options. You can also get gluten free options.
Breka Bakery smells heavenly with in-house baking of fresh breads. Not only does this bakery serve up some scrumptious breads, it also offers pastries to suit anyone’s tastes. Muffins, pretzels, cookies, donuts, pies and so much more. I ended up leaving this establishment with a cheesecake brownie which was large enough for 2 people. There is also a large selection for drink and meal options.
A spacious spot with welcoming vibes brings you to Greenhorn Café. Coffee, tea and espresso as well as breakfast and lunch are available. On weekends, the brunch selection is opened to include baked eggs and eggs benedict. I met a good friend here and grabbed a crimson berry (house blend) tea and a croissant.
The always-busy Twisted Fork Bistro serves up brunch the right way. Be sure to make a reservation because this place is always packed for the brunch run. It is a rather cozy spot but very comfy. I got the Gruyere baked eggs with sourdough toast, bacon, tomato, rosti and baked beans. Very flavourful and rich. Not sure why but we had decided to workout after this meal. Perfect meal on a cold day.
Sejuiced, is a vegetarian / vegan joint located in Kitsilano. It is the west coast version of Toronto’s Fresh – http://freshrestaurants.ca/ . There is an array of items on their menu such as soups, yogi bowls (bowl with rice or quinoa), sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas, salads and even veggie burgers. They also have an extensive shakes and juices menu. For my visit, I had the mega protein salad with tofu ($12CAD).
This café is very quaint with French-inspired pastries. I went the sweet tooth root and had to get myself a peanut butter cookie sandwich and a croissant that almost rivals Thomas Haas’ double backed croissant. They also get very inventive with their pastries here.
A small yet cozy place with a patio to boot. The double baked almond croissants are amazing and go fast. It is a must stop if in the area. If a croissant isn’t up to your flavour, they offer a wide selection of chocolates, macarons, sandwiches, cakes and so much more. It is very difficult to choose just one item but don’t worry, you can purchase to take away with you for later. There is even a chance you might actually see Thomas Haas working while you visit.
The Naam is a vegetarian institution and is open 24 hours. They have award winning food such as their popular Naam Dragon Bowl, to their selection of veggie burgers and hand cut fries with miso gravy.
49th Parallel is a coffee shop that locally roasts their own beans and serves pastries as well as Lucky’s Doughnuts. It is a great place to people watch through their glass walls and also get work done. I grabbed a salted caramel & a Mango /Passionfruit Bismarck donut from Lucky’s Donut. They were both delicious!
Fairview / Mount Pleasant
For fresh in-house handmade noodles, Shaolin Noodle House has a small selection but make that selection really well. You have the option to get the noodles dry or in soup and also different options for the type of noodles you want. Dragging noodles are hand-pulled and very long. Pushing is noodles that are flattened with a rolling pin then cut. Round is similar to pasta and udon shaped. And Cutting are pieces that are literally cut off from a ball of dough directly into the soup while it is cooking. I had the seafood and vegetables cutting noodle in soup and we shared lamb skewers and steamed dumplings – all so tasty and good.
Close-by to Shaolin Noodle is Peaceful Restaurant. Peaceful Restaurant was featured on Guy Fierti’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives but even without that, this place deserves to be known – they do Chinese food well. They have hand pulled noodles but also amazing selection of dumplings. We got the Peaceful House Noodles, Spicy & Tangy Dumplings and Green onion beef (tender beef rapidly stir-fried with green onions & ginger). The green onion beef rolls were hands down the best thing ever and the noodles tasted so fresh.
Suika is a Japanese Izakaya – very animated decor with a sake bottle chandelier. Suika serves up creative and intricate mixes to provide a strong menu to make you come back for more. We (3 of us) shared the Tuna Avocado, Beef short rib, the Chicken Kara-age & the Kakuni Bibimbap – stewed pork belly, sweet dried shrimp & scallions on rice served in a hot stone bowl.
California Sushi – 388 W Broadway
I absolutely love sushi and Vancouver seems to be the place for quality sushi for decent prices. A popular place for Sushi is California Sushi. I got the Energy Roll (unagi, asparagus etc) and it was of generous portions for being only $4CAD which is half the price than Toronto standards.
Congee Noodle – 141 E Broadway
For family style chinese food – Congee Noodle is the place to go. Its more spacious than some other restaurants in the area. Between four people, we ordered the Giant fish congee, Gai lan (chinese broccoli), Dough fritter with rice roll around it, Scallop rice roll, Seafood chow mein, and half a chicken.
Go Fish – 1505 W 1st Ave
Located by the docks, this little shack serves up some fresh fish & chips options. We had cod fish and chips and the portions were large and a steal for it’s price. The island has little shops similar to Stevenson and a market place like Toronto’s St Lawrence Market
There are tons of local eats in Granville Island as well as great local coffee choices. Closed on Mondays.
You cannot leave Chinatown without visiting New Town Bakery. It feels like home when you are in there. An assortment of pastries & steamed buns are the main draw. The BBQ pork buns are to die for. It gets busy so grab a number once you enter. Cash Only.
Pizzeria Farina makes the dough fresh every morning and when they run out, they are done for the day. The freshest of ingredients. We were lucky enough to get the last 3 pizza doughs. We got the Funghi, The Speciale and the Finocchiona – they were all amazing but the funghi stole the show for me. The pizza’s range from $10-17CAD in price. They also make their own oregano and chili infused olive oils which you could also purchase.
Phnom Penh – 244 E Georgia St
Phnom Penh is probably one of the most talked about musts for places to eat in Chinatown. It is hard to get a spot in this restaurant so make reservations. Serving up Vietnamese – Cambodian dishes, this institution is always busy and the food always worth the wait. I ate with a group of 8. We got individual items but shared a plate of fried chicken wings to share and the spice that put in it were so good that it made up for the fact there wasn’t actually too much meat on the bones. I got the beef stew with egg noodles, a dry egg noodle dish with organ meat like liver and other meats and a rice dish with meat, a over easy egg and cabbage.
Gastown / Rail Town
Wildebeest is a meat centric offering in Gastown prepared and served family-style. They also source ingredients from local sources to create a fun and intricate menu. It is also a secret spot for brunch.
Save on Meats – http://saveonmeats.ca/diner/ – 43 West Hastings St
This building was built in 1891 and you can’t miss the neon pig sign on Hastings. This place is serving up the classic diner foods and all day breakfast. Sheppard pie, Salisbury steak and burgers make this place what it is.
M&B offers a Porchetta, Meatball, Grilled Cheese and a daily special sandwich everyday and if they run out of ingredients, they are done for the day.
Revolver Coffee is all about the simplicity and quality of their coffee and the experience around it. There is very intricate selection of coffees and also methods of brewing. The décor is an add plus.
Alibi Room is cool looking pub with local beers and locally sourced food. It is also a great place for brunch and the view is beautiful.
In the heart of Gastown, this establishment is a slightly pricier restaurant with a good selection of alcohol but also delicately put together menu. I went with a group of 6 and we came with an appetite. We ordered pretty much 75% of the menu to share. Everything was delicious.
Our Appetizers to share:
-Brusselsprouts and bacon
-Mac & Cheese
-Albacore Tuna with Artichoke
-Butter Lettuce & Citrus
-Beet and endive salad
-Oysters with mignonette sauce
-French Onion Soup with Gruyere & Croutons
-Grilled Cheese with Spicy Tomato & Fennel Soup
-Roasted Bone Marrow with Sea Salt, Pickled Radish, Parsley, Grilled Bread
-Smoked Salmon with Potato Salad, Dill, Crispy Capers, Beet & Endive Salad with Apple, Walnuts, Blue Cheese Dressing as starters.
The main course meals we ordered:
-3 Cornish Game Hen with Grilled Romaine (romaine that is dressed in Caesar dressing then bbq/charred – need to try this out at home!)
-Cauliflower Puree & Schinckenspeck
-Seared Ling Cod
-Braised Short Rib with Potato & Brussel Sprouts
-Pork Chop with Braised Red Cabbage
-Apples & Mustard
-Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Meatballs, Basil.
If you want to enjoy nouveau style Canadian fare, this is the place to go.
The main chef at Red Wagon uses french inspiration in his cooking which turned this place from a hole in the wall into a cozy diner for good eats. Guy Fieri left his seal of approvable from Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. This place has line-ups out the door but luckily it wasn’t too busy and we only had to wait 15-20 minutes. I had the Pulled Pork Pancakes (3 buttermilk pancakes layered with pulled pork with Jack Daniels -spiked maple syrup) and let me tell you it was so filling and so unbelievably good. Usually I crave pancakes because of the smell but the taste is usually not as satisfying and only a few bites in I no longer desire to eat it but I cleaned my plate (took some time because it was so filling). The chef also opened up le wagon rouge, which is their bistro restaurant.
If you are craving matcha then Basho Cafe is the spot for you. Basho is a family run Japanese café that will feel like home. You can choose to indulge with a matcha latte or the wide array of pastries that feature matcha.The pastries are baked daily and the menu changes daily. They also serve up a special set menu that includes a small cup of soup, veggies as well as mini sweets in addition to your main.
Merchants is owned by Doug Stephen and one of the chefs was my cousin’s friend. They use locally sourced, organic ingredients. We started off with drinks – an old fashioned and myself a Gin Digger (did you know a digger is what a Caesar’s real name and it originated in Calgary). We decided to order we would order our own 4 course meals $40 (sharing as well). For our snacks, we both grabbed baked oysters with truffle cream. Before we got our 1sts, they brought out a special plate for us for an event they had prepped and had extras to spare. It was parsley served 20 different ways with a little help with panna cotta. My favourite item was the parsley chip; so tasty yet so delicate. For the first dish, we grabbed the beef tartare served on crostini with Sriracha and pickled shallots and Gnocchi with black garlic (this is expensive so not used in many places) & pickled garlic. We both got the Ling Cod with kimchi, smoked egg yolk and swiss chard. Finished off with chocolate ganache with cumin, caramel & pistachio as well as a Blood orange tart with browned butter and marshmallows. The food was phenomenal and the service was great.
This place is a cozy spot on Commercial Dr with live music courtesy of La Santisima – traditional Mexican songs – every Sunday. Their selection of mezcal spans the wall with an open concept kitchen and bar so you can see what they are doing and making. La Mezcaleria is such a cute little place. We took a sit up at the bar in front of the chefs working away at making all the dishes.
We had the Campechano Flight (a flight of both the red snapper and tuna ceviche’s, guacamole and pico de gallo served with chips), We also grabbed Tostadas de Pato (Fraser Valley duck confit, guava, fruit mole sauce (manchamanteles), chayote squash and radish), Tinga de pollo (free range chicken with chorizo in a chipotle tomato sauce, topped with Mexican cheese and sour cream) & Al Pastor (pork marinated in achiote chilli and pineapple) tacos and ended off with flan for dessert. I also ordered take-away for a friend. I ordered Tinga de Pollo and De Cachet (braised beef cheeks) tacos. Great vibe, great people and great food.