Taste Asia in Vancouver
You're visiting Vancouver, British Columbia, and you're ravenous. Walking around downtown, smells of chilies and spices rock your senses and remind you of your favorite Thai or Korean restaurant from back home. But wait a second, aren't you in Canada?
Vancouver features an eclectic mix of cultures, with residents hailing from all parts of Asia and infusing their culture into the city's laid-back atmosphere. Walk a block downtown, and you'll likely find a Japanese izakaya next to a Korean market, around the corner from a take-out Indian hole in the wall. The bounty of flavors within city limits is endless.
Like most coastal cities in the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver is known for fresh seafood, and everyone in town has an opinion on the best place to get sushi. Walking along Robson Street, you will find a number of small sushi bars and restaurants serving delights including tuna sashimi and jumbo-sized dragon rolls. For a more "artistic" dining experience, try the Volcano Roll at Sakura on Granville St. in the entertainment district, where there's an actual volcano of sushi on your plate, with a fiery sauce creating the flowing lava.
Where to Go
Many of the best Asian restaurants in the city are located in the west-end neighborhood of downtown Vancouver, very close to Stanley Park. Demean St., between Davie and Georgia, is home to some of the best restaurants in the city, with everything from delicious dim sum to spicy Korean BBQ. If you're willing to hop on the bus or take a casual stroll, this neighborhood will leave your stomach happy and full. Of course, you'll find just about any kind of classic Chinese dish in Vancouver's Chinatown, the largest in Canada.
Hit the Streets
While most of the street carts in Vancouver serve up toasted nuts or hot dogs, there are a few carts that offer up some unique surprises. If you head down Burrand St. and walk past the Sutton Place Hotel, you'll find the famed JapaDog cart. If you think the only thing that could make a hot dog tastier is spicy brown mustard or meaty chili, think again.
JapaDog serves up hot dogs like you've never seen before. Try a Terimayo dog topped with Japanese mayo, fried onions and a healthy serving of nori. If you catch the cart at the right time, you may be lucky enough to try the special Okonomi dog, a special Japanese sausage covered with bento flakes.
Just because you're in a pub doesn't mean that your food can't have an Asian twist. Take the Irish Heather Pub in the heart of Gastown. At this local hot spot, you can enjoy your lager with a side of mussels drowning in a bath of green Thai curry sauce. Make sure you ask for extra fried bread on the side to sop up the leftovers.
With so much great food to try, grabbing quick snacks or small meals works as a great sampling strategy. Walk along Hastings Street in Chinatown, and you'll find a number of restaurants that offer up small take-out portions of a wide variety of dishes, from chili and garlic prawns to the more exotic chicken feet. The best spots have locals lined up around the corner at lunchtime, which is true of the cheap eats restaurant Kent's Kitchen.
Dim sum is a popular way to try many dishes, allowing diners to sample small bites at their own pace. Be sure to check restaurants' hours of dim sum service before arriving, as some restaurants will only serve dim sum at lunchtime.
Beware of the Sides
This is especially true if you're eating Korean BBQ, where the side dishes served before the main meal are filling enough themselves. A common staple in Korean restaurants, this tray of side dishes comes complimentary with main dishes. Along with a pitcher full of hot tea, kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage), potatoes in gravy, 2 kinds of Korean salads and a bowl of daikon may grace your table.