By Alexis Baran
Coastal and multicultural are the flavours of Vancouver’s most recognized specialties. To get to know the unique bites (and sips) Vancouverites love to munch, start with these eleven favorites:
Vancouver’s original most-talked-about food cart serves Japanese-inspired hotdogs. Bask in the salty, sweet, and spicy tastes of seaweed flakes, teriyaki sauce, miso, wasabi and kimchi. There are multiple locations in downtown Vancouver, including an indoor location at 530 Robson.
British Columbia’s signature sushi roll is done in many ways, but the one consistent ingredient is grilled savoury and chewy salmon skin. Get them at just about any sushi joint in Vancouver.
Busy Vancouverites are often particular about their favorite liquid pick-me-up, and love their pour-overs and flavoured espresso drinks. Some local chains to try are Milano Coffee, 49th Parallel, and JJ Bean. But don’t forget the many cozy independent shops to be found who take their coffee very seriously. Try soy or almond milk to replace traditional milk and cream at almost any place you find – dairy-free options are standard here!
B.C. smoked salmon glazed with maple syrup or local honey is smokey, salty, sweet, and impossible to stop eating once you’ve started. If you want to save some as a gift for family back home, make sure you get a little extra for yourself – more than you thought you needed even, It is seriously addictive! You can find it at Granville Island Public Market and Fish Counter on Main Street.
These beautiful pink creatures are large, sweet shrimp fished in the waters surrounding Vancouver in the month of May. Most fine restaurants in Vancouver serve fresh prawns when available, such as Yew at the Four Seasons Hotel, and the annual Spot Prawn Festival is held every year on Granville Island.
West Coast Oysters
West coast oysters are a taste of the freshness of the ocean itself. Kumamoto, Kusshi, and Fanny Bay are some of our local varieties, and oyster houses will have a variety to try, along with knowledgeable servers who can recommend a type for every taste. Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, and Merchants Oyster Bar are excellent places to start.
Large meaty crabs are harvested along the west coast, and trapping them yourself for dinner is a local pastime, but you don’t need to get in the water to enjoy them in many local restaurants. Some great places to try Dungeness Crab are Blue Water Café & Raw Bar or Hawksworth.
Salmon, fiddleheads, elk, and other native west coast foods make for a warm and hearty meal. Indigenous foods are proof that the land was rich with delicious ingredients and diverse flavours long before we called it “Vancouver.” One place to try it is Salmon n’Bannock Bistro.
Chinese Cuisine and Dim Sum
Richmond, where the native Chinese languages-speaking population is over 40%, is considered to have some of the best Chinese food outside of China. In Vancouver, you can get a taste in Chinatown. Places such as Floata Seafood Restaurant serve excellent dim sum as well as a variety of traditional and modern dishes.
Japanese Ramen and Izakaya
There are few things cozier than tucking into a steaming bowl of ramen, or gathering with friends and sharing hot sake and a table full of various izakaya dishes. Izakaya is a tradition originating from sake shops in the Edo period (1603-1867) where customers could sit down for drinks and bites. Today in Vancouver, izakaya is a range of diverse Japanese bites with a flourish of Japanese spirit -infused beverages. You can find it all over Vancouver, but particularly in the West End neighbourhood, at places such as Kingyo on Denman.
Famous Cuisine: Vij’s Curry and Tojo’s Sushi
Vikram Vij and Hidekazu Tojo are two of Vancouver’s most iconic chefs, lauded by everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Martha Stewart. Vikram Vij has restaurants in Vancouver and Surrey. Tojo’s is located in West Broadway in Vancouver.