25 Vancouver treats to try this year

We surveyed a selection of insatiable gourmands to find 25 local treats they reach for when temptation calls

August 18, 2015

/ Photo: Miloš Tošić

1Rajio-Public-House---Bar-skewers-5

1. RAJIO BAR SKEWERS
$1.50 TO $1.90
The Kingyo restaurant group’s homage to all things Osaka focuses on kushikatsu: the skewering of seemingly anything edible (from octopus balls to Camembert) and deep-frying it. Here skewers are served with a communal dipping jug full of umami-heavy tonkatsu sauce (and an admonition never to double-dip). Go for the Kurobuta pork sausage.

Rajio Public House
3763 W. 10th Ave.
604-558-1679
Rajiopublichouse.com

 

Cuchillo---Steelhead-ceviche-5

2. LOIS LAKE STEELHEAD CEVICHE
$13
The delicate flesh of the sea-run trout isn’t an obvious choice for a near-raw dish, but the preparation—little fillets, not cubes—and the addition of crunchy chayote, sweet lychee, bracing mint, and jalapeño turn this into a wonderfully complex take on a classic starter.

Cuchillo
261 Powell St.
604-559-7585
Cuchillo.ca

3Shishinori---Matcha-parfait-1



3. MATCHA PARFAIT
$6.70
We’ve long been at a loss as to how we might describe the diminutive Shishinori, tucked beneath the Home Depot near the bustling Cambie/Broadway intersection. Its wildly inventive pan-Asian menu reaches its peak with this hilariously overappointed confection of matcha soft-serve, mochi balls, fruit, Pocky, and oh-so-much more.

Shishinori
2328 Cambie St.
778-737-1981

4Maenam---Thai-sausage-salad-5

4. GRILLED THAI SAUSAGE AND CRISPY RICE SALAD
$12
Chef Angus An’s signature riff on traditional Thai yam naem khao tod. The house-fermented sausage, redolent of garlic and chilies, is tossed with cilantro, lemongrass, fried shallots, and crunchy curried rice puffs, delivering incredible depth of flavour and off-the-charts umami.

Maenam
1938 W. Fourth Ave.
604-730-5579
Maenam.ca

5Fish-Counter---Dungeness-crab-6

5. DUNGENESS CRAB
price varies
It’s hard to think of a more iconic West Coast summertime scenario than digging into sweet, cold Dungeness crab. Call ahead and the Fish Counter team will do the full prep for you. (Tip: the house saffron aioli or classic red-wine mignonette makes a perfect dipping sauce.)

The Fish Counter
3825 Main St.
604-876-3474
Thefishcounter.com

6Revolver---Cold-Brew-Coffee-3

6. REVOLVER COLD BREW
$3.50
Vancouver’s most endearingly obsessive coffee dorks devote as much attention to their seasonal cold-brew concentrate as they do to their made-to-order espresso drinks. The result of 12 hours of brewing, the heady, complex elixir is bottled immediately. Enjoy it neat over ice or lightly diluted with milk.

Revolver Coffee
325 Cambie St.
604-558-4444
Revolvercoffee.ca

7Mr-Red-CafÇ---Bun-cha-noodle-soup-2

7. BUN CHA NOODLE SOUP
$8
Light and refreshing, this North Vietnamese soup comes with vermicelli bundled in a basket stuffed with fresh lemon, mint, and cilantro—just help yourself. Ladle out the clear sweet-and-sour fish broth, bobbing with tender pork balls and smoky grilled belly. Season with salty nuoc cham and chili-infused rice vinegar. Bliss.

Mr. Red Café
2234 E. Hastings St.
604-710-9515

8El Camino's - Fried Baja sandwich-2

8. FRIED BAJA COD BOCADILLO
$8.50
The banh mi has long proven that North America has failed miserably in terms of its submarine-sandwich ingenuity. Latin America’s variation, the bocadillo, is another pin in our balloon. At El Camino’s, beautifully fried cod is piled onto crusty bread with pickled cabbage, fresh lettuce and tomato, and a slick of smoked-chili tartar sauce. Eat this, Jared.

El Camino’s
3250 Main St.
604-875-6246
Elcaminos.ca

9Bao-Down---YVR-bao-1

9. JAWS BAO
$5
Thanks to Gastown’s newest dispenser of hifalutin fast food, our current addiction is the bao, described elsewhere in this issue as the Asian equivalent of the soft taco (see pg. 36). Especially good (and especially summer-appropriate) is this iteration, with coconut-crusted catfish, cabbage, microgreens, and the acidic kick of kimchi tartar sauce.

Bao Down
12 Powell St.
778-379-3611
Baodown.ninja



10. COLD NOODLE SALAD
$11.95
When the weather’s hot enough to make hipsters doff their toques, Harvest’s specials board invariably features a refreshing cold noodle salad. Whether with soba, rice, or glass noodles, each slurp-tastic bowl includes a rotating selection of local ingredients accented by Japanese-inspired elements such as shiso, smoked tofu, and umeboshi vinaigrette.

Harvest Community Foods
243 Union St.
604-682-8851
Harvestunion.ca

11Guanaco-Truck---Pupusa-Platter---7

11. PUPUSA PLATTER
$10
Locally, the addictive cuisine of El Salvador could rarely be found beyond the Drive until the Guanaco truck began roaming our streets. Yes, that is an actual Salvadoran matriarch tending the mobile kitchen; watch her make your pupusa—a thick corn tortilla stuffed with your choice of fillings (one word: chorizo)—and serve it alongside revelatory cassava fries and a palate-cleansing slaw.

Guanaco
Location via @guanacotruck

12Par-baked-potato-rolls-4

12. POTATO BUNS
$5.69/12-pack
Summertime grilling calls for a superior sandwich bun. Earthy-tasting and pillowy-soft, these mini buns (from local company La Baguette et L’Échalote) come parbaked, which allows you to pop them into an oven or onto a barbecue and customize the texture: springy (to soak up the juices of pulled pork) or crusty (for, say, a burger with grilled tomatillo slices).

At specialty grocers, including Whole Foods (Wholefoodsmarket.com)
13Culmina---1

13. CULMINA UNICUS
$25
As the Okanagan struggles to find its signature grape, Don Triggs’s new Culmina winery makes a forceful case for grüner veltliner. The Austrian grape may be little-known here, but this bottle, with its explosion of white pepper and lime peel, may just turn gru-vee (the grape’s terrible nickname) into the next big thing.

Culmina winery
Culmina.ca

14Liberty-Bakery---Chocolate-chip-cookie-3

14. MS. MARY’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE
$3.50
The texture is a fistful of childhood, but the flavour is grown-up decadence, thanks to brown butter infused with generous cinnamon and cardamom. All together, this sweet dazzler—named for the owner of the kitchen where it was developed—puts your standard Toll House in the shade. Match it with a Finnish pulla made from the same sweet base.

Liberty Bakery
3699 Main St.
604-709-9999
Facebook.com/Libertyyvr

15Royal-Seoul-House---Korean--Chilled-Noodles---4

15. MUL NAENGMYUN
$9
A classic Korean
dish: delicate buckwheat noodles served in an icy, clear beef broth sweetened with Asian pear and topped with cucumber, pickled radish, a thin slice of brisket, and a hard-boiled egg. Add a dab of hot mustard for a refreshing yet nourishing meal.

Royal Seoul House
1215 W. Broadway
604-739-9001
Royalseoulhouse.com

16Nuba---Hloumi-Plate---3

16. HALLOUMI MEZZE
$10
Halloumi is, without exaggeration, a miracle: nicely yielding to the bite, mild but not meek, the Cypriot cheese can be applied directly to a grill and emerges firm, golden, and gloriously crusted. Nuba serves it (at dinner only) with tomato, mint, and a pomegranate-nut dressing, providing a perfect acidic contrast.

Nuba
Various locations
Nuba.ca

17Tableau-Bar-Bistro---De-La-Louisiane-Cocktail---2

17. DE LA LOUISIANE
$12
There are few places we would select to escape summer’s unforgiving heat over the civilized environs of Coal Harbour’s Tableau. And our preferred order is this under-recognized cocktail from New Orleans: rye, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters. Like a herbaceous Manhattan—very adult, very strong, very delicious.

Tableau Bar Bistro
1181 Melville St.
604-639-8692
Tableaubarbistro.com

18Calabash---Jerk-Fish-Duo---1

18. JERK FISH DUO
$20
Hot weather compels some of us to playfully challenge our tolerance for spice, and this dish was created for such creatures. The clean, sweet flavour of snapper and prawns is made to do battle with Caribbean jerk seasoning whose aggressiveness is, to our taste buds, blissful. Amp it up even more with some pepper sauce, then douse the flames with a house daiquiri.

Calabash Bistro
428 Carrall St.
604-568-5882
Calabashbistro.com

19Ovaltine-CafÇ---Ovaltine-milkshake-w--bourbon-2

19. “BOOZE IT UP” OVALTINE MILKSHAKE
$7.75
This ain’t your grandma’s malted milk. Chocolate Malt-flavoured Ovaltine is teamed with vanilla ice cream and Jim Beam for a thick, creamy shake that will curl your sandals. The malt-on-malt combination pops the bourbon’s spicy vanilla and sweet caramel notes for a surprisingly strong kick.

Ovaltine Café
251 E. Hastings St.
604-685-7021
Ovaltinecafe.com

20Cannibal-CafÇ---American-Classic-burger-1

20. AMERICAN CLASSIC BURGER
$9.95
You can have too much of a good thing—to wit, the “extreme” burgers with which the likes of Guy Fieri have been having an indelicate (and potentially fatal) bromance for the past several years. This is a model of less-is-more virtue: two patties (organic), American cheese, and the basic condiments tradition prescribes.

The Cannibal Café
1818 Commercial Dr.
604-558-4199
Cannibalcafe.ca

21Long-Table---Cucumber-Gin---6

21. LONG TABLE DISTILLERY CUCUMBER GIN
$49.99
Cucumber doesn’t come cooler than as a mellow botanical in this award-winning gin from the local micro-distillery. Spiced with juniper and crisply herbal, it’s best neat over ice, or in a G&T with lime and a slice or two of cuke.

Long Table Distillery
1451 Hornby St.
604-266-0177
Longtabledistillery.com

22Score-on-Davie---Bucket-O'-Chicken--4

22. BUCKET O’ CHICKEN
$25 to $40
Fried chicken is deeply nostalgic, no matter where you grew up. (Ah, those nights when your parents parked you in front of the TV with a box of KFC.) Thanks to Score for upping the ante with its Bucket o’ Chicken. Pieces of free-range bird are marinated in “mango fire” hot sauce, crisped to perfection, and served on a wooden platter crowded with kale-and-cabbage coleslaw, fries, mac ’n’ cheese, warm jalapeño corn–bread, and spicy dipping sauce.

Score on Davie
1262 Davie St.
604-632-1646
Scoreondavie.com

23Angkor-Restaurant---Rare-beef-salad-2

23. RARE BEEF SALAD
$14.95
Thin slices of flank are massaged with freshly squeezed lime for this tender Cambodian rarity. A riot of fragrant herbs—mint, Thai basil, sawtooth, coriander, and shiso—mingle with lemongrass, bell peppers, red onion, and peanuts in a funky citrus fish sauce. Arrive early, though—it sells out quickly.

Angkor Restaurant
4884 Victoria Dr.
604-568-0770

24Black-Forest-Cake-2

24. BLACK FOREST CAKE
from $34
Thomas Haas is a native of Germany’s Black Forest region—and it shows. His version of the eponymous confection is a sublime maelstrom of chocolate, sachertote, kirsch, Bavarian cream, and ripe Okanagan cherries. Only available during local cherry season (July to October), but its fleeting availability only adds to its irresistible allure.

Thomas Haas
Various locations
Thomashaas.com

25Jarritos-tamarind-soda-2

25. JARRITOS TAMARIND SODA
$1.79
Mexico’s most popular domestic soft-drink brand was the first in its homeland to create a soda from the pulp of tamarind pods. Its ingredient profile is impressively brief (including cane sugar and natural flavour) and its taste neither too sweet nor too tart. A home experiment revealed it plays very well with vodka or London dry gin, too.

At specialty grocers, including Dollar Grocers
(2210 Commercial Dr., 604-255-9933)

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