First off, hats off to anyone who has the stones to open a restaurant in the teeth of a pandemic. It's a tough game at the best of times—but these days it seems all uphill, all the time. And on top of the timing, to open on the Granville Strip? Well, that's an entirely different category of optimism.
I'll admit to being very skeptical of the location when I got the email for a media preview. My days of hitting the Granville S*** Show are well behind me, as evidenced by using the asterisks above like noted club kid Wilford Brimley would. But to be truthful, I never liked the strip, which in recent memory has been a depressing melange of bro culture, violence, overconsumption and dire living conditions. But what I do like, is to go to the Orpheum, the Vogue or the Commodore and each time I do, I moan about there being no place decent for dinner nearby.
Enter Street Auntie Apertivo House, which I'm shortening to Street Auntie (and I hope they follow my lead lest they become the new Corner Suite Bistro Deluxe). It's the passion project of chef/owner Yuyina Zhang, who wanted to bring Vancouver the flavours she recalls from the street food in her native Yunan. And while she may be inspired by street food, she's taken the concept and ratcheted up the ingredients and presentation several degrees. The result is dishes like dumplings spiked with a generous marbling of uni, an elevated har gow with avocado and large fresh pieces of scallop or a hulking sui mai topped with a morel. The sample food is excellent—although it always is at a media preview—but there's good signs here. The emphasis on high end ingredients recalls some of the ambition of the now-closed Mott 32, and looking at Zhang's massive kitchen (it's what drew her to the Granville Street location) and her kitchen brigade all decked out in smart new uniforms, my guess is that the Mott 32 culinary mantle is one she'd be happy to inherit.
Thankfully the prices skew much lower than Mott. The current set-up is to have set menus (there's a sample here) that will be $58 and will rotate weekly. There'll also be brunch and a takeout option—3 dishes and dessert in a beautiful to-go packaging for $28, which seems to be a smoking deal. We'll check back as they get into the flow of things. There's no liquor license yet (which makes the Apertivo part of the name a bit of a trick), but we're assured it's coming.
1039 Granville St
Monday, Wednesday-Saturday 11:30am-3pm 5:30pm-10pm
Sunday Brunch 10am-3pm 5:30pm-10pm