When I tell people I’ve lived in Vancouver for most of my life, they usually ask for restaurant recommendations. Unfortunately, I’m pretty useless in this department. I have a good memory but I certainly didn’t go around critiquing restaurants as a kid, and definitely had no idea what the Vancouver bar scene was like! This trip sought to rectify this.
In the span of four days and three nights, I ate the whole city. I dragged, er, convinced, my cousins Angela and Alice to revisit two of my family’s favourite restaurants in Burnaby with me: Hanwoori for Korean barbeque, and Sushi Garden for sushi. I’m happy to report that both are still as good as I remember, though Hanwoori has certainly hiked up their prices quite a bit. I also met up with my undergrad friend Nelson for some good ol’ bubble tea from Pearl Castle Cafe. Burnaby hasn’t changed one bit.
Other than those gastronomic trips down memory lane, I saw Vancouver through a new set of tourist eyes. Upon arrival, my friend Bonnie showed me around Steveston (and the set of Once Upon a Time) where we enjoyed a light crabcake lunch at Kove Kitchen. An hour later, I made my way to Coal Harbour, where I had a few drinks over Happy Hour with my friend Jessica at Blackbird. I ended that night catching up with two of my former Torontonian friends Katie and Liam over more drinks and “South East Asian inspired” fare at the newly opened The Union in Strathcona. The food is not remotely authentic to any region of South East Asia that I know of, but the drinks and vibe here are pretty good.
On my third day, I had brunch with two of my high school friends Helen and Kitty at Oakwood in Kitslano. This is the new kind of contemporary Canadian joint that has been flourishing in Vancouver and I’m glad I finally experienced it. The eggs benedict was definitely a standout. These two also indulged me on a trip to Cartem’s Donuterie. Not for the doughnuts…but for the ice cream. When I took that first bite of the greatly hyped, salted caramel, artisanal, small-batch, served in a jar, Earnest Ice Cream, I knew why it had become so famous. This is the stuff happy childhood memories are made of.
That afternoon, I met up with my friends Clemens and Brittany visiting from Germany and we had nice time exploring Stanley Park (the Stanley Park Pavillon had probably the weirdest poutine I’ve ever tried though) followed by a nice walk through Gastown at night and dessert at Cork & Fin (cute restaurant, mediocre food).
On my last day, I went back to Kitslano for brunch with an Instagram friend of mine (“Oh my God Annie, you’re going to meet a stranger for brunch? What’s wrong with you? –Cousin Angela”), Leila of Leila Likes. After comparing food photos for almost a year, it was nice to finally share a meal with her at Farmer’s Apprentice followed by post-brunch dessert at Beaucoup Bakery. I would highly recommend both, as well as any restaurant Leila might recommend in the future!
This trip brought back many nostalgic memories, and definitely created many new ones. I left with a full heart and a full stomach.