Downtown Vancouver is home to a plethora of restaurants that showcase every type of ethnic cuisine. But with so many side streets how do you discover them all?
Vancouver Foodster highlighted two handfuls of them during his Tasting Plates event last week. Foodies congregated at Vancouver FanClub as early as 5:30PM to beat the rush, register, grab a bite to eat and enjoy a bit of live music performed by Gio Levy. With eight participating restaurants it was crucial not to dilly dally (like I did), in order to get a taste of all of the restaurants and food trucks.
You could tell the regulars from the first-timers, with the regulars moving smoothly through the routine of eating, chatting and moving, and some even holding a printed map with their route. I, on the other hand, strolled from place to place wherever my feet led me, knowing that it worked for me in the past.
Each restaurant served up multiple items of food, with vegetarian options available at most of them. At some of the restaurants, including Lolita’s and Vancouver FanClub, the Chef was available to say hello, and watch their food be gobbled up.
Check out my evening of eating…
1) Alberni mango wrap (Vegetarian)
2) Shrimp ball
3) Green curry chicken with noodles
4) Larb pork with crispy wontons
The service at Pink Elephant Thai was great, with quick food and smiling staff. I enjoyed everything that was served, except for the shrimp ball which didn’t do it for me texturally and had me actually questioning what it was. The larb pork was both visually and gastronomically delightful and the mango wrap was a refreshing palate cleanser after the slightly spicy green curry chicken.
1) Slow roasted beer braised Beef Taquitos.
2) Pulled achiote Chicken and Spinach Flautists wrapped in blue corn tortillas.
3) Crispy Quinoa and Corn Fritters with charred cherry tomato and zucchini mojo (Vegetarian)
Lolita’s was another restaurant that offered fantastic service, happily serving up food despite standing outside, under a tent, in the cold. My favorite of the three was the pulled achiote chicken and spinach flautist that was accompanied by some delicious salsa.
Cuisine: West Coast
1) Potato Bite – cajun dusted potato ball infused with maple smoked bacon, red onion, cheddar cheese & fresh dill with ranch sauce to dip.
2) Mighty Meatball – citrus tinged meatball dipped in an unforgettable Moroccan BBQ sauce
3) Scallops Poutine – chips topped with scallop simmered in a tomato sauce and garnished with herbs and gravy.
This stop may have been unforgettable like they claim the Moroccan BBQ sauce to be, but probably not the way that they want it to be. The service was slow and the food was only okay. I liked the attempt at a creative poutine however the two ingredients weren’t easy to eat together and the scallop was over-cooked. My favorite of the three was the potato bite.
Cuisine: Café and Dessert
1) Erin Ireland’s To Die For Banana Bread (Vegetarian) OR
2) Delish Gluten Free Oreo Cookie (Vegetarian, Gluten Free & Dairy Free)
Guests chose their liquor (whiskey, Kahlua, Bailey’s) to spike their coffees or could have a glass of Black Sage Port or red wine.
I loved the gluten free oreo cookie, especially when paired with a coffee and Bailey’s. It’s rare that restaurants offer a boozy beverage as part of the tasting plate so this was a nice treat. I also coerced them in to them giving me some port, which was equally as delightful.
1) Poutine Italiano (Gluten Free)
2) Margherita Flatbread (Vegetarian)
3) Italian Sausage Flatbread
The poutine tasted to me like tomato sauce on fries, with the meat and cheese hardly noticeable. I’m not sure how you can call it poutine without gravy anyway. The Italian sausage flatbread was easily my favorite of the three but nothing was remarkable other than the great venue to watch a game and have a beer.
The line was so long at Soho Road Food Truck that we decided to bypass it, even if done so reluctantly. I was later told that it was tasty but such a small portion that it wasn’t worth the wait anyway. I love Indian food so it just means that I’ll have to return another day!
This is what they were serving:
1) Butter Chicken Naan Kebab
2) Mixed Vegetable Subji (Vegetarian)
3) Tandoori Chicken
4) Hariali Chicken
Cuisine: Tea and Dessert
1) Coconut and Braised Pear Mousse Macaron dessert
2) Pink Grapefruit & Jasmine Tea Pâte de Fruit
3) Thyme Sablé
I loved the macaron, because of it’s untraditional nature. It still had that firm but chewy top and bottom but the inside was chilled and squished out when bitten in to, creating a sweet mess on peoples’ hands…or laps.
Cuisine: New Orleans Inspired Gastropub
The mac and cheese was bland on its own and slightly overcooked, but paired well with the pulled pork. I preferred the barbeque wing over the honey garlic sauce wing (personal preference) but found them both to be pretty fatty. I loved the warm mini donuts which were just as sweet but less greasy as those served at the PNE.
Cuisine: Modern Chinese
1) Beet Fries (Vegetarian and gluten free)
2) Brussel Sprout Cauliflower Salad (Vegetarian and gluten free)
3) Miso Chowder
This food truck was a big hit for many people that I spoke to, and I understand why. Not only were the guys serving up the tasty treats with Hello Kitty-esque sunglasses but they were speedy and made vegetables taste delicious. I’m not a chowder girl but it was a crowd favorite, while I loved the well-seasoned, cooked to perfection beets, brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
I noticed that this event had less restaurants then previous Tasting Plates, some of which had twelve restaurants involved! Maybe Richard realized that eight was plenty enough and that in that amount of time it was nice to have a break and enjoy the food, rather than “dining and dashing”. All in all, a fun night of catching up with foodie friends, meeting new ones, running around town and filling up my belly.
Tickets were $35 in advance and $45 at the door, with $3 of each ticket sale supporting Project Limelight Society.
For more information check out tastingplatesyvr.com
Check out more photos from this event and past events: