International Tasting Tour

InternationalTastingTour

Examples of Vancouver’s vast cultural influences are evident throughout the city, from its distinct neighborhoods to its visually stunning public artwork. But the cultural diversity becomes even more apparent with the city’s incredible array of international cuisines. Below are 10 suggestions for introducing your palate to authentic and delicious culinary styles from across the globe, without ever leaving Vancouver.

Nyala

African

Go: At Nyala African Cuisine, overachiever Assefa Kebede is owner, chef and artist (check out his pottery creations on display in the restaurant). The food itself is his true masterpiece, with spicy and savory meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes from African regions ranging from Ethiopia to Morocco. As one reviewer on Yelp.com put it, "This place is more like a travel adventure than just a meal."

Try: One of the menu's many watt dishes (with your choice of meat or veggies), a thick and fragrant stew served over flatbread.

Indian

Go: Check out Maurya Indian Cuisine, which is no hole-in-the-wall Indian joint. Maurya's interior is spacious and gorgeously appointed with warm colours and dramatic drapes, and their traditional cooking techniques (including the use of a charcoal-fired clay oven) produce rich, often smoky dishes that will have you singing their praises.

Try: The award-winning chaat tikki appetizer -- pan-toasted potato and pea cakes with chickpeas, mint, tamarind chutney and yogurt.

> Other Indian restaurants to consider

American

Go: Perhaps no American cuisine is as distinctive as the Southern styles of Cajun and Creole. And at Ouisi Bistro, you'll get a true taste of both, as if straight from the bayou. Ease into your seat and admire paintings of jazz greats lining the walls or choose the patio, which is perfect for relaxing and sipping mint juleps.

Try: A basket of cornbread, a bit of marinated alligator and the chicken and duck sausage gumbo.

Belgian

Go: Chambar Belgian Restaurant is one of those places that somehow manages to walk the line between elegance and coziness, where diners can enjoy the jovial atmosphere as much as the delicious Belgian food. You'll get a chance to practice your French while ordering creative dishes prepared by Chef Nico Schuermans, who was voted 2011 Chef of the Year by Vancouver Magazine. Along with your meal, choose a Belgian-style brew from the extensive beer list, or opt for the recently launched Chambar Ale, brewed in-house and available on tap exclusively at Chambar.

Try: The moule frites (mussels and fries) dishes are everybody's favorite; the choice of a rich white wine or tomato coconut cream sauce is up to you.

Thai

Go: Urban Thai Bistro is the place to go for great lunch specials and hearty portions of both traditional and contemporary Thai dishes. Its Yaletown location gives it a trendy vibe, and fresh ingredients make the food shine.

Try: The lettuce wrap with spicy ostrich filling followed by a saucy, peanut-y plate of Pad Thai Pe Ses noodles with chicken, beef or pork.

Spanish

Go: The red-and-white checkered tablecloths, brick walls and welcoming warmth at La Bodega Restaurante & Tapa Bar truly transport you to Spain. And the tapas are everything tapas should be -- small plates of traditional Spanish bites that are so satisfying, you'll find it hard to quit nibbling.

Try: The gambas al ajillo (prawns in sizzling garlic oil) and whatever the "cake of the day" is for dessert.

Japanese

Go: With a great sushi place on nearly every corner, you may be wondering where to start your exploration of Japanese cuisine in Vancouver. Tojo's is at the top of most Vancouverite's list for out-of-this-world sushi. Here, many diners are fans of the omakase, a tasting selection of special dishes customized for you by the chef.

Try: The Great Canadian Roll, a combination of Atlantic lobster, asparagus and smoked Pacific salmon.

> Other Japanese restaurants to consider

Cici

Italian

Go: A prime location on Robson Street, an interior that's reminiscent of a Tuscan villa and fresh, seasonal ingredients make CinCin Ristorante + Bar an absolutely delectable choice for a decadent Italian meal in Vancouver. Ask the wait staff for a wine recommendation, as the award-winning wine list of more than 800 labels could make it difficult to choose.

Try: House-made pastas such as the gnocchi with Peace River bison and butternut squash or any of the wood-fired pizzas.

> Other Italian restaurants to consider

Chinese

Go: Few places in Vancouver will satisfy your dim sum craving like Kirin Seafood Restaurant. Recently voted Best Dim-Sum by Vancouver Magazine, this restaurant's wonderfully fragrant and delicious dumplings and savory bites will have you coming back for more. The upscale ambiance and attentive service is reflected in the prices, but it's worth paying a bit more for the high-quality ingredients that make the dim sum and other Cantonese dishes so tasty here.

Try: Explore the unusual yet delicious steamed chicken and wolfberry on lotus leaf, as well as any of the rice rolls.

 Baru

South American

Go: For cuisine with that characteristic South American kick, Baru Latino Restaurante does not disappoint. The colourful combos of seafood, meats, rice, fruits and veggies -- sometimes all on one plate -- are adventurously seasoned to dance on your tongue.

Try: The ceviche trio, the coconut-seared tuna with mango mojo and a pitcher of white sangria.


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