Big news: I’m no longer a tourist in Vancouver. I actually live here. Since relocating with my husband and youngest son to the west coast in March, I still feel like I’m on holidays. I’m madly in love with this place, and my eating honeymoon is not over yet.
One of my favourite things about Vancouver is this: I can pick any country in the whole world, and then I can find that country’s restaurant here. Any kind of food you can think of, Vancouver has it. I’ve been getting my recommendations off Yelp and following foodies on Instagram. Also, folks at my new job have been generous with their food recommendations. And my brother in East Vancouver is an amazing cook, and a walking encyclopedia of information about where to source local food. Lucky me.
How do I start sharing all the fantastic bowls of ramen, plates of sushi, and mouthfuls of ice cream sandwiches that I’ve been privy to? Here is my Vancouver eating portfolio from the past four months, broken into themes.
1. I Scream, You Scream… I’m always on a quest for non-chain ice cream. While BDI in Winnipeg remains my all-time favourite ice cream joint, Vancouver steps up with so many options. My favourite is a mix of two places – the ice cream from Rocky Point Ice Cream (salted caramel is so creamy and kicky – why would I even try another flavour) and the light sugary waffle cones from Rain or Shine Ice Cream. A bronze medal in ice cream goes to Earnest Ice Cream. Glenburn Soda Fountain is fun for an old-fashioned experience – try their special ice cream concoctions. Oh wait, then there’s Soft Peaks in now trendy Gastown – organic soft ice cream with luxurious toppings. And then Beta5’s generously delicious ice cream sandwiches. Screw it – just try ’em all.
2. Ramen is my New Pho Edmonton has a bounty of Vietnamese restaurants, so I have been hooked on pho for many years. But Vancouver boasts so many varieties of ramen, which is my new favourite noodle-based soup. Kamamarui Ramen delivers deeply-flavoured miso based soup with chewy noodles and funky seasoned rice with seaweed Bombs on the side.
3. Yo Sushi There is sushi everywhere. More sushi restaurants than any other type of restaurant in Vancouver. More sushi restaurants than Starbucks. Even more sushi restaurants than pot shops. I’ve done fancy sushi to hole in the wall sushi. I eat more take-away sushi than I should, but it is SO CHEAP. A dinner sized entree at a regular sushi place will not set you back more than $12. I do not yet have a chosen sushi place because I’m still judging sushi places. Expect this to be an ongoing saga.
4. Discovering Beverages I stumbled upon a lovely little French coffee shop on Main Street called Coco et Olive. On the menu, they listed a Dirty Chai. What is that, I inquired. Chai latte with a shot of espresso, the gentleman answered. BOOM. My new favourite coffee drink. And bonus, you can order it anywhere, even if it isn’t listed on the menu. So I’ve had it at Platform 7, Caffe Artigiano, even Starbucks. I’m scared to order it at more purist coffee shops like 49th Parallel or Matchstick, so I stick with a latte with an extra shot at those spots.
5. Must Have Fish and Chips This falls in the category of ‘When in Rome.’ Like, duh, we live near the ocean. Eat fish. Lots of it. While deep fried fish does not fall into the healthy category, it does fall into the ‘best food to eat outdoors by the ocean’ category. My choice for the best is Go Fish on beautiful Fisherman’s Wharf, followed by Pajo’s, the Crab Shop in North Vancouver and Cockney King’s. Have visitors in town? Take them for fish and chips and sit on the dock while you slowly munch your way through a day’s worth of calories.
6. Special Finds
Burmese – when my lovely daughter and her man came to town, I promised them a visit to a Burmese restaurant. The first place we located was freshly shut down (!) but thankfully there was an even better option nearby: Amay’s House. I ate a tea leaf salad and crunchy noodles, and enjoyed flavours I had never encountered before. It was awesome.
Meat Pies – can you say Aussie Pie Guy? Look for the dude’s food truck around town, or make the gorgeous drive up to Peaked Pies in Whistler to tuck in a meal contained in a pie. Add a dollop of mashed potatoes and mushy green peas for good measure.
Tacos – Tacofino migrated from Tofino and that’s a grand thing. I’ve been to the location on Hastings, and it is funky and fun. Kid friendly too. I also consumed an exceptional sweet potato and spinach taco at Cafe Deux Soleils. And Originals Cafe Mexicano is a little Mexican house in Port Moody that is worth the drive. Oh, wait, El Comal in a industrial district in Burnaby is a special not-fancy spot – join the line-up of film crews from the nearby studios to chow down on huge burritos. This is the real thing.
OH MY I’ve just scratched the surface. As my husband gently reminds me, we don’t have to cram in every Vancouver activity – we are here for the long haul, and have many years to nosh at the many eating establishments on my ever growing list. I haven’t even been to classics Vij’s or Tojo’s, and I’m dying to try Ask for Luigi and the Pear Tree. So many restaurants to eat up. Yum, yum, Vancouver.