March 26, 2010

Vancouver eats

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A real, live diner, right down the street from our hotel. The Templeton serves burgers, breakfast and deep-fried Mars Bars in a retro 50s room lined with booths and swivelly counter schools. Complete with jukeboxes on every table and an old-fashioned milk machine.

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Bandidas Taquiera is an adorably funky/grimy taco shop on Commercial Drive. I ate fresh corn tortillas topped with a fabulous mix of guacamole, sweet potato, red cabbage and pumpkinseeds. J had a butternut squash enchilada with soy cheese that actually looked and tasted like cheese. Cheap and delicious.

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Late-night tapas at a dark, cozy Spanish cafe. The comfort of talking with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in far too long. The fabulous combination pictured above: manchego cheese with quince paste. Stingy on the walnuts though.

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Nuba Cafe, Another find near the hotel. (Despite my extensive restaurant searches, many of them were pretty far from where we were staying and not worth the effort). This cute, casual Lebanese cafe had excellent food at a good price. Here are my remnants of a falafel sandwich and tabbouleh. I also had a shortbread cookie stuffed with ground pistachios: like baklava in cookie form. We came back a few days later for amazing hummus and crispy caulifower with tahini sauce.

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Late-night eats at The Naam in Kitsilano. This 24-hour vegan hotspot was recommended by my sister and a fave of our newly-transplanted Vancouver friends Elliott and Eva. They took us here to dine on ginormous servings of rice bowls, sesame fries, and veggie burgers, all topped with a large amount of sprouts and julienned vegetables.  The evening passed in a fabulous blur of wine-induced eating and talking.

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Granville Island Public Market, full of produce stands, food stalls, and interesting shops. Not quite as large or diverse as the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (which I realize I never wrote about here), but still lots of fun. I bought Thai red rice at a wonderful Asian foods shop, and we went a little overboard with homemade donuts at Lee’s Donuts. Chocolate donut with thick mint icing = sugar overload. Especially at 11 o’clock in the morning.

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Guu, one of Vancouver’s many Izakaya restaurants. Izakaya are Japanese bar-restaurants that basically serve Japanese fast food. Traditionally, they’re a place to go drink after work and enjoy some good food while you’re at it. It’s a fun, loud atmosphere, with the cooks and servers shouting hello and goodbye to you in Japanese as you enter and exit. They also yell out every dish as the order comes in and goes out. We went here for supper and sat at the bar. It was fascinating watching the chef in front of me cooking. She moved from the cutting board to the deep-fryer to the broiler to the sink in smooth motions. Spreading thin pieces of beef across what looked like a cookie-cooling rack to stick under the broiler, then pulling dumplings from the deep-fryer to plate with a squeeze of mustard sauce. The chef next to her swirled sauce in a flaming wok, then turned around and picked up two heavy wooden lids resting over a rectangular basin, dipping into the vat of broth to fish out large pieces of meat, vegetables and fish bobbing there. I could have sat there watching for hours. Despite an unfortunate incident with some bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms (the texture just wasn’t doing it for me), the food was great. We came back a few days later for lunch, and the atmosphere was definitely more subdued. The chicken and rice bowl, however, was delicious.

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So there you have it. Five days of Vancouver eats. There were many places I wanted to go but couldn’t, and you may notice a conspicuous lack of sushi. We did have sushi once, and it was good, but nothing remarkable. Next time there will be more. We both agreed: this definitely wasn’t our last trip to Vancouver.

3 comments:

Marianne and Charles said...

Great photos, Isabelle! That wooden cutlery set is so beautiful!

Sometimes it's better when you just stumble on some spots to eat, although I'm always on Chowhound before vacations tying to plan out our dining schedule. This all looks really good, and it sounds like you guys had a good break from Edmonton.

lilliebabie said...

Great ideas for places to go in Van. I'll be heading to Vancouver end of the month, so lots of great ideas to try out! Thanks!

Chris said...

Thanks for the update, I was waiting to hear (and hopefully see) a little from your trip. I've often found myself in donut heaven when I go to Lee's!

It's always so nice to be on the coast.