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Ex-pats share the best places to find a taste of home.
One of the perks of living in a multicultural city is the delicious food that you can find from every corner of the globe. Vancouver is, of course, home to a sea of immigrants and expats, many of whom love poutine and maple syrup as much (if not more) than the next Canuck. But that doesn’t mean that a hankering for home delicacies will disappear overnight.We asked immigrants where they find their favourite ingredients, snacks and dishes in YVR. And for all Vancouverites, the proliferation of international cuisine means one thing—more delicious food to try, ASAP.Dig in.
Where: The Mexican Antojitos y Cantina, Granville StreetWhat to buy: The cosy Granville Street restaurant has excellent pastel de tres leches, according to Bolivia Perez-Ramirez, a Mexico City local and Spanish teacher in Vancouver. Although she likes the restaurant, she was sad to learn that her other favourite haunt, Molli Cafe, had recently closed. “I loved their cochinita pibil tacos, they were delicious and very authentic.” —Bolivia Perez-Ramirez, Spanish teacher, West End
Where: Konbiniya Japan Centre, Robson StreetWhat to buy: Got a sweet tooth? Satisfy your cravings with an array of delicious treats at several Japanese stores downtown. Vancouver-based, Tokyo-born comedian and actress Yumi Nagashimi recommends Konbiniya Japan for the best assortment: “Not only the famous Pocky, but I also buy all sorts of traditional Japanese treats there. Senbei, dorayaki and daifuku: it’s red bean paste covered with mochi. It’s really good!”
Where: African Breese Specialty Foods, West 4th Ave and Marine Drive, North VancouverWhat to buy: Chili biltong bites, museli rusks, Tempo chocolate bars and Mrs Balls chutney are among the most loved items in this small speciality South African stall. “It depends what you like. But I usually get Mrs Balls chutney. It’s what I miss most from home!” says Keegan Woodcock, an occupational therapist from Kitsilano.
Where: Long’s Noodle House, Main StreetWhat to buy: Sometimes, you just need comfort food to remind you of childhood. Heritage Asian Eatery owner Felix Zhou hails originally from Hunan Province, Hang Yang City in China, and appreciates a traditional meal. “When I’m looking to satisfy my own Asian food cravings, I visit Long’s Noodle House—a little hole-in the-wall spot on Main Street,” he says. “I like to order the Wine Chicken (or “Drunken Chicken”) as it reminds me of a similar dish from my hometown. It’s a very simple and traditional Shanghainese dish, but I always appreciate when it’s done right.”
Where: London Drugs, Nesters (downtown locations)What to buy: Surprisingly, quite a lot. The downtown outlets of London Drugs and Nesters include an array of speciality biscuits (cookies), candy and other items from Australia and New Zealand, including Tim Tams, Vegemite and Whittaker’s chocolate. And you can often find a tin of Milo—just don’t expect it to taste the same as the Aussie stuff, warns expat Danyal Saleh. While still delicious, the malty powder used to make chocolate beverages is imported from Malaysia and has a different texture to the Aussie kind. “It’s just not the same.”
Where: New Town Bakery and Restaurant, Saint Germain, and Kam Do BakeryWhat to buy: Traditional Chinese pastries are easy enough to find in Vancouver, but people hold strong opinions on which outlet offers the best. Thankfully, Hong Kong born Vancouverite Ada Fu has a list. She recommends New Town Bakery and Restaurant on East Pender for steamed buns, and Saint Germain Bakery in Metrotown, Oakridge and Coquitlam for coconut tarts and egg tarts. Kam Do Bakery is best for traditional Chinese pastries, such as century egg pastries, salted duck egg cakes and “Wife Cake.” “It has a chewy, mochi-like centre with a flaky, puff pastry-like exterior. You have to try it if you haven’t.”
Where: Safeway, Whole Foods and CostcoWhat to buy: If you look around enough, you can find genuine Irish items at your local grocery store. Dublin expat Danielle Martin suggests Dubliner cheese, Kerrygold butter and Barry’s tea for a true taste of the Emerald isle. But her real favourites are harder to come by. “I crave brown bread and stew, but that’s got to be homemade.”