We ate up (pun intended) Vancouver Magazine’s "Best Things to Eat and Drink in Vancouver" feature, and stuff like “deluxe poutine” and “handmade pork gyozas” got us thinking about Vancouver cuisine. For locals, dining in Vancouver is an endless adventure. We’ve had years to dissect all the top shops and nag our hipster friends to find out where the hidden gems are, but virtual smackdown debates about the city’s best sushi joint are ongoing occurrences.
So, if we can’t decide what sets Vancouver’s dining scene apart from the rest of the world’s, how can visitors be expected to? Thankfully, there’s hope. As a visitor, you just need to know the essential elements - the heart and soul of Vancouver food culture. Earth, wind, air, water or a different animal entirely? Here are four elements of Vancouver cuisine that you won’t want to miss.
Disclaimer: Other locals are bound to have their own opinions, and debates among them are quite welcome on our Facebook page. Check it out and choose sides!
There's an exclamation point at the end to emphasize the awesomeness of said cuisine. Izakayas, or Japanese-style tapas, have taken Vancouver by storm in recent years for their hip atmosphere and unique dishes. These pub-type bars serve up pan-fried gyozas (dumplings) and bunson-burner-seared mackerel. They generally host a younger crowd, and the most famous ones on Robson Street are sleek and stylish (and always deliver meals worthy of exclamation points!).
Pacific Northwest Seafood
You are out of your mind if you're going to visit Vancouver without treating your taste buds to mussels, oysters, cedar-plank salmon, Dungeness crab, prawns or any other form of Pacific Northwest seafood. Vancouver's location puts it in prime position to reap the fruits of the sea, and seafood is very much a part of the city's food culture.
Black Gold (the Other Kind)
We are suckers for coffee, and we know it. It doesn't even matter if it's coming from über-chains like Starbucks or quaint, character-filled mom-and-pop shops. Both thrive in the city because, well, we're very much addicted to it. Make no mistake: Vancouver coffee is a highly regarded art form. For visitors, a quintessential Vancouver coffee experience is grabbing an immaculately created cappuccino at any of the city's zillions of shops and reading a book or people-watching.
In a city that prides itself on its multiculturalism, how does something as mundane as a New York-style hot-dog stand put its own spin on classic street food? Try getting seaweed and okonomiyaki sauce on your hot dog anywhere else. These Japanese-style hot dogs are a testament to Vancouver food culture - they're supremely Asian influenced, creative and insanely delicious. They are, essentially, a Vancouver culinary institution, even if they're the kind of institution doesn't stay in one place. Have wheels, will travel to hungry stomachs.