Vancouver has a pretty vivid food scene which despite popular belief (and this cover photo) is not dominated by Asian food. During my last visit I was determined to try as many different places as possible based on people’s recommendations and research. Six days later after being disappointed by the infamous Medina Cafe, realizing Lavender Milk Tea is not my type of culinary adventure and enduring several food comas I’m ready to share my favourites with you so let’s get right to it.
Day one dinner started on a high note at Homer St. Cafe and Bar, a lovely multilevel place with a small kitchen that powerfully pumps out some pretty delicate meals and a variety of chicken dishes straight from an in-house rotisserie. The menu has a great selection for both starters and mains but in order to try more things we opted in for a handful of starters such as Chicken & Duck Liver Brulee, Green Leaf Salad, Salmon Tartare, and the most fantastic Side Mushrooms.
If you happen to have visited Gastown on a weekend, or any day really, you know it’s hard to get a good table, the area is the ‘most happening’ in the city and therefore a place where many college students end up at various levels of inebriation flooding pubs and creating lineups. All things considered, however, there are nice restaurants in the area. This time around my sister took me to a timid new place called Notturno that takes no bullshit and serves decadent food and cocktails. My favourites for a late evening snack are fresh burrata (served out of the pouch) and warm olives.
When visiting Vancouver one must always have ramen. A new place caught my attention on Scout Magazine, Ramen Gojiro, the first jiro-style ramen in Canada. The menu is very minimal: 3 appetizers and two types of soup: Karaage or Chashu with fried chicken or pork slices. From there the soup can be made spicy or you can step it up Bakamori style (more meat and more toppings added as a tower on top). You also get to choose how fatty the soup is which is always a plus. The soup itself is flavourful with delicious thick noodles and to no surprise creates a lengthy lineup for both lunch and dinner.
Gojiro is located downtown, quite far from West End Vancouver often known as the home of the ramen and the neighborhood for best Rame houses in Van city. Wandering around the near by beach we opted in to give a try to one of the local favourites, Marutama Ramen, a small little joint with a consistent lineup throughout the day. You write your name on a clipboard and when the table is ready you get invited in for a quick meal. The noodles are made in house, the broth is juicy fatty and delicious. The menu also has some less traditional options like Aka Ramen (left image) with grounded nuts and chilli, definitely worth a try.
Coffee & Sweets: a friend took me to West 4th for a stroll diving in and out of various shops and tasting sweets with hot drinks. The top two finds in the area are 49th Parallel Roasters and Thomas Haas. 49th is a beautiful place with vintage decor and a sunny glass patio, the coffee is fantastic and next to all the coffee options you will also find Lucky’s Doughnuts, definitely a must-try. Thomas Hass, on the other hand, is French fine chocolates shop that also serves up some killer sandwiches, pastries and hot/cold drinks. We tried a Hazelnut Sour Cheery cake with soft vanilla mouse and it was absolutely decadent. A little bit more central in Yaletown there is also a lovely new spot called Small Victory Coffee that serves up amazing freshly baked sweets and breads. The cafe itself is very well designed with a modern twist on both decor and food delivery (everything on wooden boards).
For a quick in-and-out lunch there is Finch’s Tea & Coffee House. When looking for sandwiches people will most likely send you to Meat & Bread which I have never been patient enough to stand in line for but I did wait my turn for a Pear Sandwich at Finch’s and it was absolutely worth it. Finch’s doesn’t look like much from the outside (a common thing in Vancouver) but the interior decor has a roughed up vintage feel, big windows, and big flavours on the menu. Finch’s are famous for their original sandwich combinations from blue brie, pair and prosciutto to gypsy salami and walnuts. My only wish is for the baguettes to be fresher, a warm crisp bun turns any sandwich into a heavenly delight.
Strolling around West Hastings area you will also come across a tiny window for Vegan Pudding & Co. It is easy to miss but worth looking for even if you are completely fine with all animal byproducts, these custard puddings are full of rich flavour and are unlike anything else you might try.
Lastly, Traditional Vancouver must-tries: Belgian waffles are huge here and can be found in many places, my favourite is Waffle Bant on Robson. On the savoury side the local must-tries are Japadogs. There are a few food trucks roaming around and a permanent location at 530 Robson. Just as it sounds Japadog is a Japanese hot dog: your choice of meat with a variety of Japanese toping combinations such as Japanese mayo, seaweed, bonito flakes, noodles, rice, and many more.
More photos from this trip can be found on Instagram under the hashtag #XOVan