Food Carts of Vancouver
October 1, 2012
It's not just that Vancouver's street food scene offers excellent value for money (which it does) or that it gives us the chance to sample food from all corners of the globe right in the downtown core (which we can), but it gives those with talent in the kitchen and an entrepreneurial drive the chance to put it all on the line and show us what they've got. Which is all rather romantic, when you think about it. Here, the newcomers we're crushing on.
Vancouver Public Library. Twitter: @HolyPerogy
Eleni Burton went to school to become a holistic nutritionist, but the restaurant business was in her DNA. (Her father owned two restaurants when she was growing up.) She serves six varieties of perogies (and accompanying flavoured sour creams) out of her truck, and loves to experiment. "Perogies give you such a great, simple base to work from; I've yet to find a combo that doesn't work. Babas sometimes come by and give me dirty looks-they don't like messing with tradition-but I'm happy to play around. Maybe with desserts next. Maybe spiced apple, or chocolate sauce…" Favourite cheap eat? "The Union. I love their blistered green beans and green papaya salad."
Robson at Seymour. Twitter: @guanacotruck
"My recipes are simple and authentic, the kind of food you'd find on the streets or in the restaurants of El Salvador," says Ana Manzano. "Everything is naturally gluten-free, and there are vegetarian options, which is great for Vancouver. I wanted to introduce people to the beautiful place I come from." She worked for many years cleaning corporate offices but dreamed of running her own restaurant; partnering with her son and daughter-in-law to open Guanaco helped realize that dream. To be clear though, "No one besides me is allowed to cook in my truck!" Favourite cheap eat: "I like Japanese food, and there's a great place in New West called Ki Sushi."
Georgia and Granville. Twitter: @SohoRoad
Sarb Mund, an accountant in his former life, is the owner/operator of this seekh kebab truck, but the day-to-day cooking is handled by the man known simply as Uncle. “He took our cooking to the next level. We shopped together in the little Indian grocers on Fraser Street, and he knew to pick out black cardamom, which smelled like Vicks VapoRub to me but added incredible flavour to our tandoori-fired chicken.” Up next: two more trucks including Chawalla, a breakfast spot serving aloo parantha—roti stuffed with savory potatoes, served with yogurt and mango pickle—and tea. Favourite cheap eat “Gotta be food carts! The fish tacos at Tacofino are unbeatable, as is a grilled cheese from Mom’s.”
Pig On The Street
Vancouver Art Gallery. Twitter: @Pigonthestreet
Coming from Cornwall, England, Krissy Seymour was used to being able to grab a bacon butty (that’s a bacon sandwich) any time and anywhere she pleased. When she and partner Mark came to Vancouver, they realized, to their horror, that finding a decent version was nearly impossible. Seymour, a former teacher, enrolled in a culinary arts course at VCC, spent time in local kitchens, and set to work planning her pork truck. “I’ve wanted my own business since I was 16 years old, and owning a food cart is more feasible right now, budgetwise, than owning a restaurant.” Favourite cheap eat “Pizzeria Barbarella—they smoke their own pancetta in house!”
Robson at Hamilton. Twitter: @RimFoodBaht
Moving from Bangkok to Vancouver just over a year ago, Vorrayut Jiranuntiporn was pleased to find a mobile food scene, but knew something was missing. He and his partner opened Rimfoodbaht (“street food” in Thai) to offer the kind of spicy/sour/sweet/salty dishes brightened with “hot’n’healthy herbs” he loved from home. Jiranuntiporn worked as a process engineer in Bangkok but always loved cooking. “I decided to follow my heart.” Favourite cheap eat: “Boat noodle, traditional Thai spicy beef noodles in soup. There’s a place at the back of my home in Bangkok where I’ve been eating for over 20 years that makes the best version…but I’ve haven’t found it here yet.”