My fair share of firsts have happened in British Columbia. There was that one time I tried bungee jumping for the first and last time, then the time I went underground caving (spelunking) and nearly hyperventilated from the absolute darkness. And then there were the less extreme activities of having my first North American Couchsurfing experience in Vancouver, and first really bizarre night of clubbing gone wrong. However, I had never taken a road trip up north for the sole purpose of eating. That was what Sunday, January 30 was for. Photos below, with more on Flickr.
Late last year, I found my foodie soul mate–an Asian of comparable height-weight proportion with the ability to eat way more than one would imagine is possible. Unfortunately, she moved out of the country in December, but not before introducing me to some of the city’s yummiest destinations, including Din Tai Fung, Macrina Bakery, Bakery Nouveau, Cheeky Cafe, and more. She also put me in touch with two other foodie friends, who were my companions on this Vancouver trip. Bright and early Sunday morning, the three of us crammed into a Honda Civic and made the relatively quick drive up north, where we were lucky to cross the border with zero lines. We had one agenda, based around several restaurants we knew we wanted to try. To our luck, our trip coincided with Dine Out Vancouver weekend, but unfortunately, our ultimate selections didn’t have any benefit. The rest of this will read similar to back-to-back Yelp reviews, which reminds me, I’m a Yelper too, albeit very inconsistent.
We started off at a Dine Out Vancouver recommendation: 100 Days. The restaurant is very chic, located on Davie Street right next to the luxurious Opus Hotel. While the menu did seem intriguing, the real draw was in the decor. From the outside in, the walls and windows were splashed with bright urban graffiti portraits; some were recognizable (Christopher Walken, Marilyn Monroe), and others were not, but all were eye-catching and original. Old spray paint cans also lined the window panes as an added visual effect. The visual splendor of the restaurant was more than enough to satisfy, which was fortunate since the food was pretty and tasty enough, but not stunningly superb. A mention must also be given to the eggs containing a mysteriously bright orange yolk, and the small glasses of orange juice that went for $5 CAD a pop.
According to further research, 100 Days is an experimental pop-up restaurant that is open for a limited amount of time; nothing known on when it might possibly shut down. Also, the restaurant’s art is by Vancouver graffiti artist Vince Dumoulin.
After a hearty breakfast, we took an extended stroll around town, crossing the Granville Street Bridge on foot, and walking beneath it to the Granville Island floating market, an area previously unexplored by everyone in our party. Although very touristy, the market was highly reminiscent of Pike Place Market, with a heavier emphasis on foods rather than crafts. We stopped to sample a chicken pot pie with a delicately flaky crust and very soupy filling before paying $3.25 CAD to catch a 3 minute Aqua Taxi ride back to the main land. Pro tip: if you can, save yourself the cash and just walk back to the other side.
Our next stop was the famed Japa Dog hot dog stand in downtown Vancouver. If you haven’t heard of this new Asian fusion idea, it’s basically a hot dog (or other sausage meat) in a regular bun with Japanese toppings. The most stand out selections include the Teriyaki dog, Tonkatsu dog, and the one we all went for–Oroshi dog, a bratwurst topped with daikon radish and seaweed flakes. Just add some wasabi-mayo to it, and it tastes…rather bland, in my opinion, although Japanese food is known for being rather subtle in flavor. Personally, it’s an interesting idea that has certainly gained in popularity, given how crowded the stand was at lunch hour, but I still go for the traditional hot dog with sauerkraut, or Seattle’s late night favorite of hot dog with cream cheese. In this case, if we’re gonna go Asian fusion with hot dogs, I’m proposing Korea Dog, with some pungent kimchi thrown on there instead. That will jump start your taste buds!
For dessert, we hopped over to Beard Papa’s next door to sample their much raved about cream puffs. Although fresh and tasty, these were very bland in my opinion, especially since my gold standard for cream puffs come from Liliha Bakery in Oahu, Hawaii (if you ever visit, you MUST go there!).
We ended the day out in Coquitlam at Honey’s Bistro, a place that we nearly gave up on as it opened 30 minutes late. According to my foodie soul mate, this place is a must-try for Korean fried chicken and yogurt soju. While Korean fried chicken is self-explanatory, soju may not be. Soju is a Korean distilled alcoholic beverage that tastes like a sweeter, watered down version of vodka. It is smooth and almost too easy to consume alone, which is made easier in “yogurt form.” Honey’s version of yogurt soju tasted like sparkling lemonade, meaning it was lucky the $13 CAD carafe was being shared by us all. The chicken was tender and juicy, coated with a light, crisp batter. Basically, taste buds were doing a happy dance the entire meal. The only other comparison for Korean fried chicken is that served at Boka in East Village, New York. I was so consumed by the chicken and soju that I forgot to take a photo, so this interesting image of the bottom of my soju glass and photo of my friend tagging a bear will have to suffice.
Here’s a quick recap:
– 100 Days – go for aesthetics and a drink.
– Japa Dog / Beard Papas – try it, but the tried and true versions reign supreme
– Granville Island market – a fun touristy experience; walk, don’t water cab it.
– Honey’s Bistro – one of the better places on the west coast for Korean fried chicken and yogurt soju; worth the drive outside of downtown Vancouver.