Around The World In 25 Plates
October 1, 2013
From the Philippines to Morocco Around the World In 25 Plates is a detailed guide to incredible variety of food available in Vancouver
Photos: Christine McAvoy
Filipinos are fanatical about lechon: suckling pig stuffed with aromatics and slow-cooked over open coals. This East Van joint also debones and serves it porchetta-style. Crackling crisp skin and tender meat for the win.
Causa With Tuna
Over 4,000 varieties of potato grow in the Andes, and this classic coastal appetizer pays homage.
Slices of raw albacore top softly whipped cilantro potatoes with unfathomable accents of wasabi cream,passion fruit, and ponzu.
Chicha, 136 E. Broadway, 604-620-3963.
A thick tomato-chicken curry gets welcome crunch from sautéed bell pepper and onion. The Urdu/Muslim-originated "leftover" dish is typically served red-hot (although the milder form still does the trick). A huge hit among curry-crazy Brits.
7215 Main St., 604-327-8900
From the northeastern state of Bahia, fresh shellfish bathe in a coconut milk-laced cassava root purée. Ubiquitous
bar snack in state capital Salvador, it's
a treasure for homesick Brazilians and samba fans everywhere.
2545 Nanaimo St., 604-566-9028
Bite-size steamed dumplings stuffed with pork (veg version available too) seem nondescript until dipped in flavourful chutneys like tomato, cilantro, and tamarind. A wallet-friendly neighbourhood addiction.
2779 Commercial Dr., 604-879-9909
Tajine d'Aziz à l'Agneau
Chef Nico Schuermans's take on North Africa's flagship earthenware stew boasts a healthy lamb shank in a fragrant braise of honey, figs, cinnamon, and cilantro. Served with couscous and zalouk (cooked tomato and eggplant salad).
Chambar, 562 Beatty St.,604-879-7119
Fermented young tea leaves are salt-cured for months underground in clay jars, then hand-blended (in typical thoke salad style) with cabbage, fried soybeans, hot pepper, lime juice, tomato, dried shrimp, turmeric oil, and fish sauce. Bitter, salty, fantastically funky.
4910 Joyce St., 604-568-0137
A crisp, grassy, tea-like infusion of cardamom and lightly roasted coffee beans, poured from a long-necked pot called a dallah into tiny cups, forms the quintessential home welcome when served with dates dipped in tahini.
724 Kingsway, 604-568-7292
Thit Bo Nuong La Lot
Rolls of seasoned beef sausage wrapped in glossy betel (la lot) leaves and char-grilled. The greens-chewed across Asia
as a popular stimulant-release a scrumptious, incense-like fragrance as they cook.
Mui Ngo Gai, 2052 Kingsway
Slow-cooked bone-in meat is married with house-blended spices that trumpet the region's copious global influences. Served tiffin-style with rice and peas or wrapped in a roti.
Calabash Bistro, 428 Carrall St., 604-568-5882
Marinated White Anchovies on Toast
A bar staple in the south, anchovies (normally brown), whitened in a vinegar bath, are seasoned simply with garlic, lemon, and oil. Savour these fishies-a charming rarity on local tapas menus-with beer, not wine.
España, 1118 Denman St.,
Banana Blossom Salad
Roasted and rice-batter-fried blossoms give a hearty, sweet crunch to this otherwise classic Thai salad bursting with fresh mint, earthy cilantro, and fried shallots
in a tamarind and palm sugar dressing.
Maenam, 1938 W. Fourth Ave., 604-730-5579
Metre-long sheets of rippled, chewy sourdough flatbread emerge from a traditional hot-pebble oven in an overlooked North Van industrial 'hood to partner with grilled tomatoes
Market and Bakery, 1521 Pemberton
Ave., North Van, 604-987-7454
Thick, lightly fried tortilla rounds buttress fresh, regional taco-like toppings (beans in the south, chorizo or chicken in the north). At this hole-in-the-wall, the simmered pork rind version (chicarrón en salsa roja) takes the crown.
The Mexican, Antojitos y Cantina,
1049 Granville St., 604-569-0955
Of the many traditional stone-pot
stews (jjigae), this blend of peppery shrimp broth and silken tofu is a family fave. Served bubbling hot right in the cooking vessel, it embodies rainy-day comfort.
The common Japanese starter (literally, "vinegared things") generally floats ingredients in a thin sweet/tart dressing. This new, quirkily appointed sushi joint trades the bowl for a much more refined cucumber-wrapped "salad." Tokyo Thyme,
5405 West Blvd.,