Archive | November, 2010

Fresh Local Wild

29 Nov

We finally made it to another one of Vancouver’s new food carts called, Fresh Local Wild.

As I mentioned in my post about Roaming Dragon, the City of Vancouver is allowing new food carts to set up around the city.  Rather than just providing licenses for hot dogs, vendors can now branch out and sell a wide variety of foods, thus greatly enhancing curbside food options.  Since I don’t work downtown, and most of these carts are located downtown, I haven’t been able to sample as many of them as I’d like.

As the name implies, Fresh Local Wild, specializes in fresh and sustainable BC produce and ingredients.  This is a great concept as consumers are increasingly concerned about where food comes from and what impact they are making on the environment (they even use compostable and biodegradable packaging).  Fresh Local Wild is capitalizing on this green trend and serving up some really good food in the process.

Former Executive Chef Josh Wolfe (who previously worked at Coast Restaurant) has teamed up with food cart veteran Andy Fielding.  These guys really seem like they’re having fun, they’re friendly and they definitely know how to cook gourmet street food.

The Fresh Local Wild cart can be found on Granville street, between Robson and Georgia. We went this past weekend and are really impressed.

Everything on the menu really is fresh, wild and local.  The featured sandwiches are hot smoked sockeye salmon and fried oyster po boy as well as a venison burger.  They also have fish and chips and Quadra Island mushroom poutine.

I tried the hot, smoked sockeye sandwich ($8).  They actually have a smoker in the truck (I’m very impressed by this); they literally take the hot salmon out of the smoker and place it directly onto a toasted bun with coleslaw.  It tasted wonderful.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good salmon sandwich in my life!  Anytime I’ve ever had a salmon burger from one of the concession stands at the beach, it’s always those gross pre-made patties that don’t resemble salmon at all (which is crazy when you are standing next to the Pacific Ocean).  This was a beautiful sockeye salmon fillet and the smoky flavor was just delicious, I can’t stop thinking about how good it was.

Sam had the venison burger ($9), which he thoroughly enjoyed, stating it was not too gamey and really nicely seasoned.  We shared an order of the fries ($3).  They’re the really crispy kind that are fried more than once,  so tasty.  I’m not a fan of poutine, but was assured by my eating companions that it was extremely good, not bad for $5.

Fresh Local Wild operates at the same location, Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30am – 5pm.  They are definitely the best food cart I’ve tried to date.

For more information check out their website at www.freshlocalwild.com and stay tuned for more food cart reviews!

Fresh Local Wild on Urbanspoon

Meat & Bread

22 Nov

Meat and bread is one of my favorite combinations (I’ve never been a fan of salad on my sandwiches).  My ideal sandwich is a French baguette with butter and ham or slow roasted meat on a bun with BBQ sauce, simple, yet delicious.  When I discovered that a specialty café had opened in Gastown, called ‘Meat and Bread’ all I could think is finally…!

Meat and Bread is located at 320 Cambie Street, at the corner of Hastings Street (next door to ‘Bean Around the World Coffee’).  Co-owners, Cord Jarvie and Frankie Harrington, are veterans to Vancouver’s restaurant scene, having worked at La Brasserie and Chambar restaurant’s respectively.  They met in Dublin ten years ago and were inspired by a restaurant called ‘Gruel’ where they enjoyed pre-work roasted sandwiches.

The space is fantastic. High ceilings, a 30ft long open kitchen and service bar, the décor is sharp and fresh, it looks like an old fashioned butcher shop.  I love it.  The walls are covered in white subway tile and there’s a huge communal table that seats about 20.  The style is similar to other Gastown food establishments like ‘Salt’ and ‘L’abattoir’.

The concept is really simple.  They offer 4 types of sandwiches: meatball ($7), grilled cheese ($7), BBQ beef brisket ($8) and the Porcetta ($8).  The Porcetta is roasted pork with crackling and a tangy salsa verde.   This was the one I sampled (Sam had the brisket).  The meat is carved to order, it‘s juicy and mouthwatering.  All the sandwiches are served on a ciabatta style bun.  At first glance I thought they looked a little on the small side, but the filling is rich, so you don’t need too much bread.

As well as sandwiches they offer  a daily soup and salad.   For dessert there’s a bacon ice cream sandwich ($3), yes bacon!  I know it sounds very odd, but it actually works.  Its vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two wafers with a slice of bacon inside.  The sweet and salty flavors really complement each other.

What I like about Meat and Bread is the simplicity of it.  We walked in and immediately our order was taken (it’s self-serve) and within minutes we sat scoffing back our sandwiches.  The menu is basic, by offering only four choices of sandwiches and serving them with very little extra crap (i.e. salad), there’s hardly anything that needs to be prepared in advance.  They take your order, slice the bun and stuff it with meat.  Done with no fussing around.

Meat and Bread is my idea of heaven, I can’t help thinking why didn’t we open a place like this!  If you are lucky enough to work close to Gastown I’d recommend you get yourself to Meat and Bread for lunch ASAP.   They are open Monday to Saturday from 11am – 5pm. Check out their website www.meatandbread.ca

Meat & Bread on Urbanspoon

The Tomahawk BBQ

19 Nov

Vancouver was incorporated into a city in 1886, so in the grand scale of things this is a relatively new place.  I believe that for such a new city Vancouver is often really bad at preserving its history.  Old buildings are constantly being knocked down (when I think they should be given heritage status) and replaced with ugly glass condos that lack character and space.  As local author and artist Douglas Coupland aptly coined, “Vancouver city of glass”.

However, in amongst this land of new, there is a kitschy diner in North Vancouver called the Tomahawk BBQ that has been in operation since 1926.  In my mind this place is an authentic part of Vancouver’s past that remains alive and well today.

Walking into the Tomahawk is like walking back in history.  Two large totem poles tower outside the exterior of the building and the interior of the restaurant is like a museum.  The walls are lined with multiple First Nations artifacts, like masks, carvings, canoes and snow shoes, just to name a few!  (This restaurant should be given heritage status before some developer wants to knock it down and replace it with yet another unsightly condo)!  The owner started collecting these artifacts from the local Indians over 80 years ago. The Tomahawk BBQ can be considered a real slice of ‘Canadiana’!

As their website states, the Tomahawk was opened in 1926 by Chick Chamberlain.  Its original location was on Marine Drive and it was Vancouver’s first drive through.   Inside the restaurant Chick had 14 stools (all of which remain at the counter in the current location), customers would sit at the stools and watch him cook on the grill.  This was when a BBQ beef sandwich cost a mere 10 cents!

The Tomahawk is best described as a classic North American diner, serving diner staples like turkey sandwiches and grilled cheese sandwiches. The many hamburgers on the menu are named after local Native Chiefs like Skookum Chief and Chief Capilano.  All of the food is made from scratch and all the pies and desserts are baked daily on the premises.  My favorite part of the menu is breakfast; we often drive quite a distance from our place to enjoy their scrumptious breakfast.  The absolute highlight is the Yukon-style bacon!

The Yukon-style bacon is not the typical streaky-style bacon; it is more like European back bacon.  As a bacon lover I tell you that this bacon is well worth the drive, it’s delicious.  I always order the Yukon-style bacon, with hash browns and toast.  The portions are massive, it comes with 5 slices of bacon (I hate it when restaurants cheap out on the bacon), tons of homemade golden hash browns and thick-sliced toast!  Truly delicious!  The ‘Chuck Wagon’ breakfast is also really good; three griddled buttermilk pancakes, with eggs, bacon and maple syrup, yummy!

The Tomahawk is a great place to bring friends from out of town, its fun, authentic and tasty.  It’s a great tourist destination.

They are located at 1550 Philip Avenue, North Vancouver, BC (just look for the totem poles)!

Tomahawk Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Japanese Izakaya: Gyoza King

8 Nov

Vancouver is an extremely multicultural city.  Over the past twenty years there has been a major influx of immigrants from Asian countries like China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan.

This has resulted in Vancouver having an extensive and impressive selection of Asian-style restaurants.  Most Vancouverites can tell the difference between Indonesian, Taiwanese and Malaysian food and can distinguish between northern Chinese and southern Chinese dishes (Vancouver has the 2nd largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco).

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ve probably gathered that I am very fond of Asian-style cooking.   While I love food from China, Thailand and Korea, my favorite hands down is Japanese.

Walking around downtown Vancouver there is a sushi joint on almost every street.  In fact, buying sushi in Vancouver is often as cheap as buying McDonald’s!  I do love traditional Japanese cuisine (sushi rolls, tempura, ramen, teriyaki, etc) but my absolute favorite style of Japanese food is called Izakaya.

Izakaya is Japanese tapas/fusion.  Most of the plates are small and meant for sharing.  You’ll find lots of grilled meat/seafood, dumplings, noodles and all sorts of tasty treats (every time we go we always find a new dish to try).  My favourite place for Izakaya is a restaurant called Gyoza King (one of my top five restaurants to eat at), located at 1508 Robson Street, Vancouver.

I’ve been eating at Gyoza King for almost 10 years and it’s never let me down.  It was one of the first Izakaya style restaurants to open in Vancouver.  It’s small and cozy, the décor is wooden and it feels like you could be in Japan (the staff just barely speak English).  When you walk in the staff greet you by shouting out the warm sounding, “Irrashaimase”, which means ‘welcome’.  This restaurant is usually really busy, so expect to have to wait a bit (I assure you it’s definitely worth it).  We try to avoid this by arriving right at 5:30pm when they open.

As the name implies, Gyoza King specializes in gyoza dumplings and they make the best dumplings I’ve ever had.  A gyoza dumpling is a pan-fried flour based dumpling with a vegetable, meat or seafood filling (or a combination of all 3).  There is no other Japanese restaurant in Vancouver that makes dumplings as good as Gyoza King (if anyone knows of anywhere please let me know).  They are always crisp, golden and cooked fresh to order.

The prices are also totally reasonable.  We went this past weekend and spent $65; we had six dishes (and 2 miso soup), one large Asahi beer and a lychee liqueur cocktail.  Here is a photographic tour of our delicious meal (apologies that I don’t have a fancy camera, it’s just my iphone):

Japanese-style duck breast with sweet soy ($9.50)

Ebi Mayo – fresh tiger prawn with special mayo sauce ($6.50)

Ton Toro – Pork belly with mustard mayo ($7.95)

Tako Yaki – deep fried octopus balls ($6.50)


Nira – pork & chive gyoza dumplings ($8.95 for 10)

Beef Yakiudon   –  beef & udon noodles with shoyu sauce and shaved bonito flakes ($9)


Gyoza King on Urbanspoon

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