Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A weekend in Vancouver

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Vancouver, BC.  What an amazing city!  The weekend we were there was blessed with blinding sunshine.  I think that Vancouverites must be just as sun-starved as us Portlanders, because the streets and beaches were simply packed with sun-worshippers in skimpy costumes.  This allowed us to really indulge in our favorite activity -- people watching.

Another favorite activity that we indulged in was, of course, sampling the local eats.  Apart from an unfortunate falafel incident on the popular Denman Street, which left me questioning Vancouver's true food-cred, I have to say we had some pretty nice meals. 

The ice-creams around town were particularly yummy -- we especially liked the scoop of maple walnut at the end of our hike up to Prospect Point in Stanley Park.  Another meal at Adesso Bistro, a neighborhood Italian restaurant adjacent to our hotel boasting a small but excellent wine list, was also quite memorable -- and not just for the multiple digits on our final bill. 

There were also several excellent delicacies to gawk at and occassionally sample from at the Granville Island market, including unpasteurized cheeses (!!!), pains au chocolat at a French bakery, 'La bagueette et l'echallote', and juicy, plump lychees from the market.  These were all rendered especially tasty by the end of a 4 mile hike in the blazing sun to get from our hotel to the market itself.
Gawking at desserts at Granville Market

Granville Island Tea Company

Cheeses galore

Shiny steel cans holding infused oils

Juicy lychees

Cherries at the marketplace

But the most wonderful meal we had, hands-down, was at an unpretentious hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Broadway -- Peaceful Restaurant.  Granted, this may not really be a hole in the wall much longer, after it was recently featured on Food Network recently.  Indeed, while we were one of the first ones in this tiny restaurant, it quickly filled up and saw lines waiting for our table within a half hour of our arrival.  I first heard of this place while I was channel-surfing during a recent hotel stay and came across an interesting noodle-making video filmed at a local restaurant in Vancouver and featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-in's and Dives. As someone who has no cable TV at home, I wasn't very familiar with the show, but the panache and dexterity of the Chinese noodle-maker certainly left an impression.  In anticipation of a potential trip to Vancouver, I bookmarked the name of this restaurant in my head and located it once we go to Canada.

Vegetable dumplings
 The specialty of the place is their 'hand-dragged noodles'.  Since we got there just as it opened at 11 a.m., the smiley-faced chef was very indulgent when I asked to take photographs and even called me back to the kitchen to film him as he deftly converted a mass of dough into perfect strings of noodles, ready to be dropped into a vat of boiling water at the ready.   Part of the reason that we were there so early was that we had skipped breakfast in anticipation of our meal at  Peaceful Restaurant -- this turned out to be one of the few instances where it is in fact a great idea to skip breakfast. After perusing the extensive menu while sipping on hot oolong tea, we ordered Sichuan-style noodles featuring the hand-dragged noodles, as well as pan-fried vegetable dumplings.  The dumplings were by far the best I've ever had.  The slightly thick and chewy house-made wrappers were flecked with specks of scallion (I think) and filled with a piping hot flavorful mix of veggies served along side some vinegar with just a dash of soy.  Getting to the main course -- the noodles -- every mouthful was bursting with flavor and spice, quite reminiscent of 'Indian-Chinese' for those in the know, but far less greasy.  What set them apart, however, were the noodles that had just been prepared in front of our eyes.  The noodles were long and chewy, with just the right amount of bite to them -- in a word, amazing!  I would move to Vancouver just to be able to eat these noodles on a more regular basis!
Vegetarian Sichuan style noodles

Making the noodles

The proud chef

Since we only had two days in Vancouver, we didn't get a chance to see everything that we hoped to.  We will definitely return to this city to see the Sun Yat Sen Chinese classical gardens, stroll along English Bay beach again, and hopefully return to Peaceful Restaurant.


  1. I hope this restaurant is still in business the next time I go to Vancouver!

  2. I have no doubt that this restaurant will continue to flourish...definitely check it out!