By Catherine Dunwoody
Visitors and locals alike love Vancouver’s Granville Island.
Last summer Popina literally popped up as a brightly-hued shipping container turned food “truck”, right near Granville Island Ferry Dock and outside the Public Market doors. A covered, heated patio with seating for 20 makes it comfy to eat outdoors rain or shine, but it is the food, ohhh the food, that really make this special.
A collaboration of four of Vancouver’s rockstar chefs, including Angus An (Maenam, Long Tail Kitchen, Freebird Chicken Shack and more), Robert Belcham (Campagnolo, Campagnolo Roma and Monarch Burger), Joël Watanabe (Bao Bei, Kissa Tanto) and Hamid Salimian (Diva at the Met, Bocuse D’Or, Earls), have created a menu including lobster rolls, fried chicken, burgers, salads and more – including a signature dessert called the Puffcream, which is soft serve ice cream in choux pastry and a choice of 9 flavours.
How did 4 such prominent chefs even make this plan happen? They are all buddies, super supportive of each others’ talents and strengths in the industry, and have been throwing ideas around regarding casual, fast food for a few years now. When we spoke with chef Angus An about how that all went down, he said, “we wanted to do something as a team, cut down on rent, overhead, sharing staff, and eventually we decided on one concept.”. The name? “ I really wanted to emphasize feeding the masses, canteen style; Popina is a Roman word for canteen, a place everyone could go.”
How did they come up with the menu, that they could all really get behind? “We wanted people to leave Granville Island with a signature experience. People leave Fisherman’s Wharf with the memory of having fresh crab. Or chowder in a bread bowl. Our puff cream is kind of our version of that,” says An.
With more and more restaurants offering gluten-free options, that is where Chef Hamid Salimian’s knowledge goes a long way. His wife, also a chef, has her own line of delicious NetxJen flours and batters plus Popina has a dedicated fryer to avoid cross contamination.
Noshing while overlooking False Creek, rain or shine, has never been more fun. Bonus? Those thieving seagulls can’t snatch your meal right from under you in your protected Popina bubble.
Extra bonus? A drink list of beer, bottled cocktails, wine and sodas make sipping while you sup even more pleasurable. For summer the new patio bar is officially open with seasonal cocktails like the Salty Dog, boozy lemonades, and happy hour from 6-10pm every day. Deals on food include fries for 2 bucks and freshly shucked oysters are 6 for $15.
Next visit to Granville Island, you’ll know where you’ll find us – rain or shine.