Vancouver Bites

In the spirit of my previous post, no recipe, not much blabbering- a few thoughts to share on the food that is making me think of hiring a personal trainer swiftly upon returning to Denver. I have been eating- a lot. And I am not guilty or sorry- I’m just saying- there has been a lot of eating.

Vancouver is a treat in August, but bear in mind that if you arrive in August in what happens to be the hottest day in 20 years, no air conditioning will be awaiting to cool your room. But there will be blackberries to pick on the side of the road, outstanding garden heirloom tomatoes, and sockeye season.

Vancouver, as it turns out, is not a food town. It is at its core a British colony. No matter how amazing River Cafe, Moro, or the London L’Atelier de Robuchon are, London, for instance, is also not a food town. Vancouver is reminiscent of that British food-sense. You can’t just walk into a place as you could in some food cities (not naming names for the sake of focusing on the city at hand) and expect above-average food.

But undoubtedly there is amazing food in Vancouver: I’ll venture to say the best sushi you will have outside of Japan, amazing Indian, and incredible local ingredients to create any dreamt-up meal.

We were sent to try sushi at Zipang- a small and cozy place on Main Street (great shopping up on the same street). Zipang is not crazy crowded at lunch on a weekday, but I hear the wait gets a bit out of hand on a weekend dinner. Sockeye sashimi in Vancouver during sockeye season is hard to get wrong.

Traditional rolls with the ocean basically outside your door are also hard to get wrong. I’d venture to say you are guaranteed a great meal no matter what you order.

The one thing we had, however, that was interesting and new was the Zipang Crazy Roll- imagine the shell of a California roll with only the avocado inside.

Add tempura bits – just the fried tempura batter and fresh wasabi paste. So good. Is Zipang the best sushi in Vancouver? Probably not, but it is a very safe bet with a great menu, reasonably priced selection, in a funky shopping district.

Vij’s was our Indian outing. It has been a long time coming and we were finally making the pilgrimage to this food mecca.

I knew a few things about Vij’s – there are only women working in the kitchen- I can’t remember why but it is intriguing. The owner, Vij, is thoroughly annoyed with people bringing in their young children to dinner- this irked me since we at times bring the toddler with us. I also knew that everyone said we should go there, Mr. Pastamaker has been dying to go, and we had a decent gift certificate to spend.

An institution in Vancouver, Vij’s doesn’t take reservations. That meant that when we walked in at 7:20 on a Tuesday night, the wait was two to two and a half hours. Naturally, we stayed. Indian-inspired cocktails including an Indian Mojito and small passed snacks made what turned out to be less than two hour wait enjoyable.

The light for taking pictures of the actual dishes was awful. I tried and tried to no avail then gave up and allowed myself to bathe in the various curry sauces that accompanied our dinner without the worry of the camera. A highlight of the meal: lamb popsicles, amazing chops marinated in wine dancing over a fenugreek cream curry on top of turmeric and spinach potatoes.

While the toddler was sleeping one day, I had a quieter lunch at Medina.

Sister restaurant to the fancied and well-reviewed Chambar and the swanky and fun Dirty Apron Cooking School,Medina seems to have fallen out a Parisian-New York alliance that couldn’t agree on where to live and had to move to Vancouver. The pace is mellow, the coffee flawless, the cassoulet well balanced. A good attitude from the staff completes very tasty bites and a fun scene makes waiting for your check with an 8 month old (my niece) tolerable.

Granville Island Market is one of those things you have to visit if you are into food. I, for one, must go to the farmers market wherever I am. This was not my first time at Granville and it will sure not be the last. The gooseberries, served on the salmon in my Seattle picture here, were irresistible.

Reminiscent of Barcelona’s La Boqueria or London’s Borough Market, Granville has a bit of everything – not the largest selection of produce – a few stands with flawless, nicely packaged, and a bit overpriced fruits and veggies- but certainly a beautiful selection of specialty ingredients, artisan breads, seasonal sweet treats…

Handmade chocolates…

House cured meats….

And a fantastic added perk- just down the street on the docks- fresh fish likely caught that day from local fishermen straight from the boat. If it is sockeye season, I’ll let you guess what we bought. Nearly 5 pounds, this baby made my trip.

The sockeye got decapitated, lavished with dill from the back yard, salt, and lemon and thrown on the grill whole for 35 minutes. It was a fitting simple and delicious end to our stay.

A couple more days in Seattle- let the eating continue and if you know of a place there that I shouldn’t miss, don’t be shy!

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  • Pierce

    Great post – I feel like I am traveling via the computer. Love the photos. That California roll looks scrumptious.

  • Jean

    Glad to hear you're having fun! Had a fabulous time in Vancouver when I visited last year.

    Happy eating! :-)

  • Lawyer Loves Lunch

    This post totally made me miss Vancouver! Glad you had a great time :)

  • alison

    this post is amazing!

  • Monet

    Lovely pictures of some great eats! I felt like I was walking the streets with you, taking bite after delicious bite. I hope you have safe journeys home!

  • A Plum By Any Other Name

    Sounds like you are doing quite well with your food adventures. 5 pounds of *fresh* sockeye salmon is not messing around. Buy some pants with an expandable waist and enjoy Seattle!

  • alexia

    Your blog is delicious!Exquisite! :) Love it!

  • Baking Barrister

    How come everyone else gets to eat their way through awesome food towns and I'm stuck here wishing I could?

  • Carolyn

    I used to live in Vancouver, but it's become much more of a "food" town since my day. Love that place! Granville Island is one of its true treasures. Great reviews, I will keep this in mind the next time I go out to visit my sister.

  • ravienomnoms

    Great photos!! Vancouver is an awesome place in my book

  • the constant hunger

    Love this post. I've jotted down the names of the restaurants 'cause I haven't been to Vancouver in years. Thanks for the tips!

  • Speakeasy Kitchen

    My sisters were just in Vancouver for a sister reunion. I could not go :( I got out Vij's cookbook and made my own lamb popsicles instead. Looks like you had a fun trip!

  • Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron

    It;s not a food town really? Well, I only know for Asian food and Vancouver offers kick-ass menus and food there. Have you fun there. I love Vancouver :D

  • gigabiting

    It is a vastly under-rated food city. Beautiful pictures.

  • Island Vittles

    I'm with gigabiting…Vancouver is vastly underrated as a food city…and the locals will always steer you in the right direction…all you have to do is ask.

    Glad you enjoyed Vijs!

  • lisasfoods

    I have got to visit Vancouver one day, and you've given me countless more reasons why I need to check it out. That sushi looks incredible, and so do the baked goods.

  • The Mom Chef

    ::sigh:: gooseberries. I'm up visiting my parents and just found out that my mom "got tired" of her gooseberry bush and so had my dad dig it out. I loved that thing. I love gooseberry jam.

  • Ed (weekend food projects)

    I live in Seattle and find that Vancouver has some of the best restaurants in the world. Global is one of the best!

  • Kath

    I love visiting Vancouver! I'm so glad you got to try Vij's. I think it's my favorite restaurant in the entire world. It took me years to convince my husband to try it because he doesn't "do" restaurants that make you wait, but one visit and he was hooked, too. We have found the wait to be like a friendly cocktail party, visiting with the other people who are waiting while we all sip drinks and taste the yummy (and free) tidbits that are passed around.

  • Sweetums

    Thanks for sharing such a fabulous post. Your pictures are fantastic!