Taste in Vancouver 2014

Our resident gluttons are always seeking the next bite or sip that will change their lives. Here our sixth annual selection of the most exciting things to taste in the city right nowAnchovies and EggsA duo of perfectly boiled eggs, their yolks still blissfully creamy, each one halved and topped with a single white anchovy. The delicate, briny pop of trout roe is a counterpoint to rich, spicy mayo. Ethereal in its simplicity. Ask for Luigi 305 Alexander St., 604-428- 2544. Askforluigi.comPretzel BoardAuthentic freshbaked pretzels — densely chewy, their shiny golden crusts rolled in sea salt — served warm with house pickles, cured sausage, chili onion jam, and chutneys. Dip them in the accompanying pungent and sweet mustards or “stinky” cheese sauce for extra oom-pah-pah. Bestie 105 E. Pender St., 604-620-1175. Bestie.caTonkotsu Black RamenYour next ramen craving has met its match. Rich pork broth, nori, a seasoned egg, garlic chips, black garlic oil, shiitake, and fried onions combine to warm the soul — even when the rain is falling sideways. Jinya Ramen Bar 270 Robson St., 604-568-9711. Jinya-ramenbar.comEuropean WienersFrom one of the last German delis in the area that handcrafts an exhilarating array of smoked meats, wursts, and cold cuts. These are the real standout: full of snap and succulence, and a far cry from salty, rubbery industrial hot dogs. Black Forest Delicatessen Park Royal S., West Vancouver, 604-281-2697Smoked Sicilian Castelvetrano OlivesSmoked over alder, these decadent bright-green morsels (from our 2014 Restaurant of the Year) have swayed even the most fervent olive hater with their meaty deliciousness. the Farmer’s apprentice 1535 W. Sixth Ave., 604-620-2070. Farmersapprentice.caGrab-and-Go Deep-Fried OystersOf course they can’t compare to raw, fresh-shucked bivalves — nor are they meant to. But in terms of a snack that costs under a fi ve-note and takes less time to acquire than a fast-food value meal, these golden-brown lumps of saline joy are uncommonly sophisticated. Bring some home, open a beer: happy times. Ebi-ten 388 Robson St., 604-689-9938Pork and Crab DumplingsDelicate in texture as well as flavour, these will test your chopstick skills. But you’ll be rewarded with the clean brininess of crab and the rounded sweetness of pork. This dim sum is served at the start of lunch so that your palate is best able to appreciate their superbly subtle flavours. Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant 8071 Park Rd., Richmond, 604-278-0873Lime and Saffron PistachiosBe it unexpected company or a quest to elevate that apéritif from ho-hum to fantastic, make sure you have this uniquely fragrant snack at the ready. Hand-roasted and seasoned in small batches, it’s highly addictive, so be sure to add a few extra scoops when you’re loading up your bulk bag. Ayoub’s Dried Fruits and nuts Various locations. Ayoubs.caGerard CocktailThose who love heavily peated whisky have few cocktails to choose from that do the spirit justice. This exclusive concoction marries it with Fernet-Branca, maraschino, lemon oil, and cherry bitters — all of which beautifully complement the star ingredient’s lawn-evoking headiness. Boulevard 845 Burrard St., 604-642-2900. Boulevardvancouver. caKorean Rice BurgersThey aren’t yet a K-pop-level threat to the Golden Arches, but the main attraction at this cool family-run hole-in-the-wall — a choice of meat (our favourite is spicy pork, but do try chicken or Spam!) and veggies sandwiched between seaweed-studded rice “buns” — is substantial and, at $6 or less, addictive. Add kimchi, cheese, avocado, or a fried egg for just 50 cents each. Kobob Burger 1019 Main St., 604-569- 3939. Facebook.com/kobob.burgerAvocado FriesWho would have thought? Deepfried avocado wedges, fi rm yet creamy, with a crispy coating and served with zesty made-fromscratch ketchup. A healthy (we like to think) taste sensation that easily trumps French fries by a country mile. heirloom Vegetarian 1509 W. 12th Ave., 604-733-2231. Heirloomrestaurant.caDirty BurgerAt last: the iconic burger from Kitsilano’s defunct Refuel is resurrected. A 40-day-aged beef patty is topped with melted cheese and bookended by a Scottish “bap” bun fried in butter and lard. Carnivores in the know request an extra patty or deep-fried chicken skin. Upstairs at Campagnolo 1020 Main St., 604-484-6018. Facebook.com/campupstairsAlmond and Pistachio BarfiIn the canon of Indian cuisine, the sickly-sweet dessert known as barfi (condensed milk and sugar, cooked until solid) is among the hardest to love. But this elevated spin — silky, studded with blueberries, and floating in a thick pool of coconut cream — is so divine, it deserves to go by some other name. My Shanti 15869 Croydon Dr., Surrey, 604-560-4416. Myshanti.comVenezuelan CoffeeMocha? Oh, come on — you can do better. Plump instead for this decadent confection with a base of house-made caramel sauce, and watch as you rise in the sophistication stakes. 49th Parallel Various locations. 49thparallelroasters. comLamb with pickled Cabbage in hot potSlices of lamb and fi rm tofu sit in a bubbling cauldron of broth on top of Napa cabbage that’s only partly fermented, resulting in a pure umami hit that’s similar to sauerkraut, but not. Silkway Halal Chinese Cuisine 8188 Saba Rd., Richmond, 604-278-6788Crispy Bacon and EggWhether on a salad or as a bar snack, these tempura-dipped flavour bombs have acquired signature dish status, and are so crave-worthy that they should be on the menu at all times of day. TUC Craft Kitchen 60 W. Cordova St., 604-559-8999. Tucrestaurant.comKFC (Korean Fried Chicken) WingsIf ever there were a reason to make the trek to Horseshoe Bay, this is it. With the kick of Korean chili paste, the sweetness of honey, and the crunch of crushed cashews — just get in the car now! Olive & Anchor 6418 Bay St., West Vancouver, 604-921-8848. Oliveandanchor.comRicotta CannoliMade according to a Sicilian family recipe, the fi lling in these cannoli proves that simple dairy lushness — lifted by just the right amount of bright citrus and shaved chocolate — can be as indulgent as any modern pastry. Better still, they’re fi lled to order. italiabakery 2828 E. Hastings St., 604-251-6800. Italiabakery.caImperial Duck RollFrom the open kitchen of one of downtown’s better western-style Chinese restos comes this unassuming appetizer: barbecue duck, avocado, and scallion wrapped in sweet, roti-like flatbread and drizzled with hoisin. More than the sum of its parts. Next Noodle Bar 560 Robson St., 604-681-6398. Nextnoodlebar.comTofu and Celery SaladOn a Northern Chinese menu resplendent with Sichuan peppers, this palate-soothing dish — pressed tofu, celery and red peppers sliced into batons, with a garlicky soy-based dressing — proves the perfect foil to all that mala heat. Peaceful Restaurant Various locations. Peacefulrestaurant. comChinese Honey BBQ PorkThe lineups out the door are a testament that the char siu here is widely considered the best in Metro Vancouver. The perfect marriage of chin-dripping juiciness, savouriness, and sweetness. Insiders ask for half fat/half lean, with extra roasted burnt ends. HK Master BBQ 4651 No. 3 Rd., Richmond, 604-272-6568Fricassee ChampignonThe short-rib fricassee has been a favourite since day one at perennially slammed Café Medina. Now, as part of the brunch mecca’s expanded menu at its new, larger location, they’ve added a vegetarian version that substitutes meat with deeply flavourful sherryroasted mushrooms. Some committed carnivores have already judged it superior. Café Medina 780 Richards St., 604-879-3114. Medinacafe.comBitter Melon OmeletteChef Yiutong Leung is a master of elevating home-style cooking with the Cantonese ideals of understatement and elegance. His deceptively simple omelette highlights the bright greenfreshness of bitter melon while tempering its sharp bass notes with creamy egginess and slivers of Yunnan ham. Hoi Tong Chinese Seafood Restaurant 8191 Westminster Hwy., Richmond, 604-276-9229Beef TartarePrepare to wait in line for the city’s most sophisticated version of this bistro classic. The meat is chopped and garnished with restraint, allowing its beefy flavour to shine. Add a side of frites and a glass of Côtes du Rhône for a superb light meal. Bistro Wagon Rouge 1869 Powell St., 604-251-4070. Bistrowagonrouge. comBlueberry Balsamic Ice CreamAmong the city’s talented purveyors of frozen treats, Rain or Shine makes Philadelphia-style (no egg) magic from a rich cream base and eclectic flavours. Four-hourreduced vinegar plus organic blueberries and sugar (16 percent fat allows for less sweetening in the churning) yield fruity, tannic perfection. Rain or Shine, 1926 W. Fourth Ave., 604-428-7246. Rainorshineicecream. comFiled Under Things to Taste, Award Winner, Awards, Best of Vancouver, Food & Wine, Restaurants, Wine, Downtown, East Side, Gastown, West Side