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Restaurants Vancouver

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Chef Angus An

Angus An reflects on a career spent in the kitchen

By SHERI RADFORD
Jun. 2018

Angus An takes a rare break from running five restaurants, including Maenam (pictured), and planning the opening of a sixth (Photo by KK Law)

“I know I won’t be rich from running a restaurant, but I think it’ll be a pretty fulfilling life.”

It’s a perfect spring day in Vancouver, and Angus An is reflecting on his career path. Between running five restaurants (and preparing to open another), writing a cookbook, and being a husband and father, the busy chef rarely has time to pause. But on this day, he sits at a sunny table in his flagship Maenam, overlooking bustling 4th Avenue, and reminisces. “I’ve always loved food,” he says. “I’ve always cooked in restaurants. I’ve never actually had a job that’s not restaurant-related.”

After a brief detour to study architecture, and stints cooking and learning in New York, Montreal and England (where An met the woman who is now his wife), An felt it was time to return to Vancouver: “I always wanted to come back, because this is home.” Most audaciously, he decided to open his own restaurant. An now calls his 27-year-old self “very very young.”

Gastropod opened in 2006 and quickly garnered awards and rave reviews. For a couple of years, everything ran smoothly, though An admits now he was burning the candle at both ends: “It was work work work. Before I’d go to bed, I’d read cookbooks. It was everything for food and work.”

Things changed when the recession hit, and diners could no longer afford Gastropod’s fine-dining experience. Five months in a row, the restaurant lost huge sums of money. An made a tough decision: he shuttered Gastropod in 2009 and in its place opened Maenam, a casual Thai restaurant. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the diners came back and the accolades rolled in once again. Vancouver Magazine named Maenam Restaurant of the Year 2016.

If An could go back in time, he knows his younger self would ignore any advice offered. “As a proud chef, a young chef, you have to have a certain amount of confidence to open a restaurant in an established city like Vancouver,” he says, adding, “Gastropod was the right restaurant to open first. I needed to learn through those failures.”

Now that An is a bit older, he’s trying to work fewer hours so he can spend more time with his wife and 10-year-old son and pursue hobbies such as photography. The family eats at his restaurants a lot—partly for quality control but mainly for enjoyment—and makes time to dine at favourites around the city, including Cinara, Cioppino’s, Masayoshi, Au Petit Café, Linh Café, Marutama, Fayuca, Monarch Burger, Kissa Tanto and Campagnolo. “I also enjoy cooking at home for the family,” he says.

Next up for An is a new venture on Granville Island: Popina Canteen. He’s partnered with three other celebrated local chefs—Robert Belcham, Hamid Salimian and Joël Watanabe—to launch this gourmet counter-service restaurant housed in repurposed shipping containers.

Because even when Angus An slows down, he still can’t stop opening up innovative new restaurants.

Angus An’s endeavours include Thai restaurants Maenam, Longtail Kitchen and Sen Pad Thai, as well as Fat Mao Noodles, specializing in comfort food from Thailand, Malaysia and China, and Freebird Chicken Shack, which serves all things chicken. Popina Canteen is scheduled to open this summer.

 

Dining Destinations South of Main Street

By TIM PAWSEY
Jun. 2018

Verduras causa with chili-dusted yam chips, at Chicha (Photo by KK Law)

The Mount Pleasant neighbourhood sometimes called South of Main (SOMA) is home to myriad flavours. At Peruvian-inspired Chicha, chef Shelome Bouvette delights with chulpe de mariscos (a riff on bouillabaisse), empanadas stuffed with butternut squash or smoked chicken with chilli, and lomo saltado (beef steak). Pisco sours and other cocktails are de rigueur. Nearby, The Cascade Room proffers cut-above pub fare—think Southern-style ribs, roasted Arctic char, pot pies and burgers, with local Main Street pints. Looking for sustainable fare and lots of vegetarian options? Head to organically driven Burdock & Co., where past favourites include charred savoy cabbage, braised leeks with aged pecorino, or lamb ribs. Sea-foodies favour The Fish Counter for superior Ocean Wise fish ’n’ chips and po’boys, while locals seek out the changing plates at Dock Lunch, a diminutive 22-seater tucked away in a charming Victorian-era home.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com.

It’s Patio Season at Bells and Whistles

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Bells and Whistles photo by Jonathan Norton

For Fraserhood fixture Bells and Whistles, spring marked an important milestone: patio season. It’s the venue’s first since opening last fall, and excitement is brewing. Known for a line-up of local beer and a menu to match—we’re talking elevated burgers, fries and ballpark chilli—this hoppy venue has also added patio-friendly sips and snacks to the roster. Try the rosé-spiked pink sangria or the refreshing citrus-forward Thug Passion Slushy alongside warm-weather menu additions like lamb-curry-smothered fries and seasonal ice cream sundaes. Summer has arrived.

8 Eateries With Exceptional Views

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
May 2018

Glass walls at Cactus Club’s Coal Harbour location look out over Stanley Park (Photo by KK Law)

In Vancouver, stunning scenery is just part of the package. The city’s supermodel good looks run the gamut: sparkling skyline, Coast Mountains, urban forests. (We could go on.)

To satisfy both hunger and a thirst for views, take it to the top—of Grouse Mountain, that is. Perched 1,127 m (3,700 ft) up the mountainside, The Observatory offers vertiginous views of Vancouver from the cantilevered dining room.

Water views and sustainable seafood are the specialty at The Boathouse, with beach-side locations on both Kits Beach and English Bay. Seawall-situated Ancora features a menu of Japanese-Peruvian fusion, accompanied by stellar views of Granville Island and beyond. Similarly situated along the water, pub-fare specialist Tap & Barrel serves favourites like the PB&J Burger with a side of spectacular scenery.

At Lift, serene Stanley Park and the marina are the backdrop for sublime Pacific Northwest fare like crispy fried Humboldt squid and sashimi. The 405-hectare (1,000-acre) park—plus ocean and mountain views—can also be enjoyed from Cactus Club’s Coal Harbour location, where sliding glass walls let the outside in.

The city steals the show at Joe Fortes’ rooftop patio, where bustling Robson Street below is a people-watcher’s delight. Fronted by Yaletown’s glittering glass-walled towers, Dockside with its yacht-side terrace is perfect for savouring local specialties like grilled halibut or roasted salmon.

Consider your eyes, and appetite, satiated.

Where to Dine Awards 2018: Les Dames d’Escoffier Trailblazer

Mary Mackay with some of the tempting treats at Terra Breads (Photo by KK Law)

 

Les Dames d’Escoffier Trailblazer Award 2018
Mary Mackay
Co-Owner & Director of Product Innovation & Quality Assurance
Terra Breads

Les Dames d’Escoffier is an organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education, scholarship and philanthropy. Here’s why Les Dames recommended Mary Mackay of Terra Breads for this award: (more…)

A Frank Discussion: Interview with Chef Frank Pabst

Blue Water Cafe’s executive chef, Frank Pabst, is dedicated to the ocean’s unsung heroes

The local, sustainable food movement has come of age, but it wasn’t always thus. Few have been as instrumental in its success as Frank Pabst

By TIM PAWSEY (more…)

2018 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver

At Five Sails, enjoy pan-seared bass piccata, vegetables and golden fingerling potatoes in a lemon-and-caper butter sauce—and, of course, the incredible view of Coal Harbour

Our annual Where to Dine Awards pay tribute to the hardworking folks who make Vancouver such a food-lover’s paradise

By TIM PAWSEY, SHERI RADFORD & JILL VON SPRECKEN
Photos by KK LAW

Critics’ Choice

LES CLEFS D’OR CANADA SILVER SERVICE 
Five Sails Restaurant

Vancouver’s abundant dining options can overwhelm a hungry traveller, but Les Clefs d’Or always know the newest hotspots, the tried-and-true stalwarts and the hidden gems. These dedicated concierges won’t steer you wrong, and this year their top pick is Five Sails. Perched right on the waterfront, this perennial favourite expertly combines stellar West Coast cuisine with warm service and stunning views of the mountains, inner harbour and Stanley Park. Linger over poached lobster, roasted sablefish or smoked duck breast while watching floatplanes land and cruise ships depart. And make sure to peruse the wine list, which showcases selections from BC’s Okanagan region.—SR (more…)

Gotham Steakhouse: A Cut Above

By TIM PAWSEY
Apr. 2018

Photo of Gotham Steakhouse by KK Law

Power lunches are the norm at plush and polished Gotham, where it’s hard not to linger over the likes of beef forestiere medallions, chicken paillard, a cornucopian lobster Cobb salad, and tuna poke. Service is prompt, personal—and speedy, if needed—while the dinner menu features the ultimate in 60-day dry-aged Canada prime cuts, grilled to perfection. Wicked cocktails are a bonus.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit www.hiredbelly.com 

Viva Las Vegans: Touring Vancouver’s Plant-Based Eateries

By CHLOË LAI
Apr. 2018

The organic, dairy-free gelato at Umaluma is deliciously creamy. (Photo courtesy Umaluma)

Vancouver Food Tour gets the palate party started with a walking tour of some of the city’s most popular plant-based eateries. Cozy comfort fare, vegan pizzas, acai bowls and unbelievably creamy dairy-free gelato (pictured) await eager appetites in Gastown and Chinatown, while a visit to nearby Vegan Supply Co. offers a chance to stock your suitcase with healthy snacks for herbivores. Remember, what happens in Vancouver’s vegan scene doesn’t have to stay in Vancouver’s vegan scene.

VIP Dining at No. 1 Gaoler’s Mews

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

L’Abattoir exterior by Hamid Attie Photography

Mar. 23 and Apr. 27, 2018 History and haute cuisine collide at No. 1 Gaoler’s Mews. Tucked into a 19th-century heritage building, behind local favourite L’Abattoir, the space hosts exclusive evenings once a month, sharing its neighbour’s celebrated chefs and sommelier. These intimate chef’s-table dinners host just eight patrons, who are seated bar-style for front-row seats to the open kitchen and all the delectable drama within. The 10-course menu comes with all the trimmings, including wine pairings and keepsake gifts. It routinely sells out, so act quickly if you want to savour this culinary spectacle.

Singin’ in the Rain: Springtime Activities

Put up your hood and open your umbrella for 20 activities that can be enjoyed rain or shine

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Mar. 2018

The seawall is scenic in every weather. (Photo by KK Law)

1. Stroll through Stanley Park. The city’s 400-hectare (1,000-acre) forested oasis is a can’t-miss activity. On a drizzly day, skip the seawall and head into the park’s interior for extra protection from the green canopy above. (more…)

Hooked on Oddfish

By TIM PAWSEY
Feb. 2018

Hamachi crudo at Oddfish (Photo by KK Law)

Just across Burrard Bridge, lively Oddfish lures with a variety of simple but well-prepared fresh and finny fare. Starters range from lime- and jalapeño-teased hamachi to ahi tuna poke or side stripe shrimp ceviche. Mains yield a wealth of seasonally changing tastes such as ling cod with caponata, seared seabass topped with chermoula, or bowls of nicely spiced mussels or clams, all paired with smartly chosen, eclectic wines. Don’t miss the Hot Mess: a cornucopian romp of a platter piled high with fish and shellfish, topped with a robust salsa verde.