This year, we’re looking forward to multi-course, Asian-inspired tasting menus, modern Latin fare, crispy fried chicken and more as we explore the recent crop of restaurants to open in Vancouver. If your upcoming travel plans include Canada’s largest West Coast city, you’ll want to dig into this preview of new eateries.
Mak N Ming
Chef Makoto Ono previously ran the kitchen at PiDGin, a Gastown spot specializing in small plates. Now, he and his pastry chef/partner Amanda Cheng have opened their own 28-seat dining destination in Kitsilano. The duo is serving Asian-accented tasting menus that might take you from kombu-cured snapper and mushroom chawanmushi (egg custard) to Dungeness crab noodle soup and on to hibiscus pear pavlova. Vegetarians: give them 48 hours’ notice, and they’ll customize the menu for you.
Cacao Progressive Latin
Born in Venezuela, chef Jefferson Alvarez draws on the flavors of Latin America and his own creative sensibilities in the kitchen at this Kitsilano newcomer. His “progressive Latin” meals might start with chayote salad or an albacore ceviche cured in a citrus marinade known as “leche de tigre.” Up next may be seared branzino paired with pico de gallo and green plantains, bison asado with a red chimichurri sauce, or an elevated pabellon (the Venezuelan classic of rice, beans and shredded beef). If you can’t decide, the chef also offers a seven-course tasting menu.
Juke Fried Chicken
If you think that the hipster fried-chicken trend has flown the coop, you haven’t sampled the deliciously juicy birds from this fun Chinatown poultry shack. The choices here are simple: How many crispy-skinned, free-range pieces do you want? Would you prefer the nutty pork and peanut slaw or the fried Brussels sprouts (hint: the correct answer is “both”). And to drink, would you rather a local craft beer or a cocktail like the Liquid Swords (shochu, yuzu, orgeat, and ginger beer)? Don’t you wish all dining decisions were this effortless?
Chi Modern Vietnamese Kitchen
After earning a runner-up spot on Masterchef Vietnam, chef Chi Le rose to fame in her native land. With her first Canadian venture, she’s advancing the Vietnamese dining experience in this smartly designed Kitsilano restaurant. Contemporary cocktails — like the Saigon Gin, flavored with jasmine green tea, lemon grass, black pepper and basil — pair well with options like the crispy fresh duck rolls, one of chef Le’s signature starters.
She also makes a classic bo luc lac (shaken beef), chargrilled eggplant topped with shallots and peanuts, and a savory sablefish claypot. Order 24 hours in advance to score the tamarind-glazed whole Dungeness crab which, just like the chef, reflects the best of both Canada and Vietnam.
Heritage Asian Eatery
Surprisingly, Vancouver has few choices for an interesting bite near the convention center or the downtown waterfront, so this modern Asian quick-serve spot is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. With a long communal table and rustic wood finishes, it could be a cool kids’ coffee shop, but instead of sipping a cup of joe, you can dig into rice bowls, bao, chicken wings and dumplings.
If you’re out and about early, stop in for a breakfast bowl or a pork jowl crèpe. Bonus: It’s just a short stroll from some of the city’s top hotels, including two Forbes Travel Guide Four-Stars: Fairmont Pacific Rim and Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver.
This week, we revealed our 2017 Forbes Travel Guide Star Ratings. Click here to see the complete list of winners.