EATING MY WAY THROUGH VANCOUVER

I was in Vancouver over the weekend, and the only objective I had was to eat as much as I can while I was there. Vancouver is known for a few things, which I’ll discuss below, but my main objective was to check off the remaining restaurants I had to eat on the List. The first place we tried out was West Restaurant, a small Granville Street restaurant, located about half a mile south of Granville Island. The book says to go during dinner times, but due to our schedule, the brunch slot was going to have to suffice. Like most nice restaurants, they started us off with bread and butter. I’d recommend dipping the bread with the olive oil instead of using the butter, it tastes better that way. And it’s actually one of the better olive oil’s I’ve tasted in awhile. I got the linguine (sawmill bay clams, calabrian chili, and parsley), while Dixon got the AAA Flat Iron Steak & Eggs. While the linguine looked simple, it tasted amazing! I didn’t try any of the steak & eggs (mostly because he wouldn’t share), but Dixon said he loved it.

The second restaurant on the List, Raincity Grill, actually closed down back in 2014 so obviously I couldn’t go. So, the only other restaurant after that was Tojo’s! This sushi restaurant, famous for creating the original California Roll, is also close by to West Restaurant and across from a big Toys R’ Us. The book recommended the $150+ Omakase meal; but after eating all day, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. So I opted for the main staples that Tojo’s is known for: the Assorted Tempura (beautifully presented and really delicious), the California Roll (which uses real crab meat), Great BC Roll (salmon roll with salmon skin on top; which is what Vancouver is known for, but tasted just OK), and Spicy Tuna Roll (it tasted the same to me as any other sushi joint). They’ll even throw in a little ice cream dessert (see picture) at the end of your meal if you don’t end up ordering dessert. Overall, I thought the meal was delicious. I would definitely come back to enjoy the Omakase meal when I have an emptier stomach to handle it. And although its a long-standing, internationally-recognized, award-winning restaurant, it wasn’t busy enough that you will have trouble getting a reservation.

Now, the main attraction (I think) for Vancouver is the Granville Island Public Market. I don’t think it is that big of a place you can spend all day in, but it’s a great place to just eat and people watch during the afternoon. As I mentioned above, there are a few iconic food items Vancouver is known for. However, it was kind of hard to find some of them. So it makes me a little suspicious about the information I received online, but here they are regardless (not in any particular order)! Luckily, you can find most of these items at the Granville Market.

#1 NANAIMO BAR - This one you can find inside the Granville Market at Stuart’s Baked Goods. It’s basically a three layer dessert bar with custard, coconut crumb base, and wafer. At first bite, I wasn’t sold on it. But as I kept eating it, it got to be more addicting to eat. It kind of gives you the flavor of eating fudge, vanilla custard, and macaroons all in one bite.

#2 SALMON CANDY - This one is also located inside Granville Market at Seafood City. It basically ends up being candied salmon jerky. There are two types of salmon candy that was available for purchase: maple nuggets and Straw Candy. The maple nuggets were softer and had the texture of smoked salmon. The straw candy (which I preferred over the maple nuggets) tasted more like sugared salmon jerky. It really tastes like Jwipo (Korean dried flatfish), but I know non-Koreans wouldn’t get that reference. You can buy them in pieces in case you wanted to try it out.

#3 JAPADOG - This hot dog that was recommended to me probably was the best item on this list. I went to the Robson location, but there are a few other ones in the city. There’s actually one in Los Angeles as well if you wanted to go try it and taste what I’m talking about. The original hot dog, the Kurobuta Terimayo, was delicious and I ate it up pretty fast. And since Vancouver is also known for their poutine, I decided to get the curry poutine as well. The curry poutine, in all honesty, was pretty basic Japanese curry on top of fries. But it still tasted good and I’d probably order it again as a side to my hot dog.

Lastly, I wanted to try a few coffee places in Vancouver (JJ Bean. Blenz Coffee, and Tim Horton’s). And, I kind of was disappointed with the city’s coffee game…with the only standout being JJ Bean. And if you’re at a JJ Bean, you should definitely get the chocolate zucchini muffin. You’ll thank me for it. Other than Tim Horton’s, which is pretty prevalent and famous in Canada, the coffee shops all felt and looked like mom and pop shops. I guess some will love that aspect and some won’t, depending on your preference of coffee shops. Tim Horton’s definitely is Canadian’s answer to Mcdonald’s/Dunkin’, and once you walk in you totally get that feeling. On the other hand, Blenz Coffee had the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf vibe. I’m not a coffee snob whatsoever, so I thought all of them tasted good. But if I had to choose, I would recommend a JJ Bean.

RAINY DAY AT THE MUSEUM

As I had mentioned in the Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden post (see here), it was a rainy day in Vancouver when I visited. With no traveling partner to hinder me, I tried to walk around the city as much as possible so that I can experience the city in the path of a local. I was at the Granville Market when I decided that it was a good time to go see the Museum of Anthropology. I mapped out my walking route from there to the museum and saw that it wasn't a bad trek, other than needing to use the bus for part of the leg. After reaching the museum, I realized how much of a pain it was to walk in the rain there! My legs were drenched from the rain and my hair was in disarray from the misty wind. The museum is not that convenient to the city, and so if it'sraining, I would recommend taking a cab. I think if it was sunny and cool when I went, I would have enjoyed the journey a lot more. When I arrived at the Museum of Anthropology, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the artifacts and artwork that were compacted into this building. There was so much to look at! They are known to have the largest collection of Northwest Coast First Nations Art, and you can tell they do from everything that was available. It was still raining outside when I contemplated going to the outside exhibits. So I just admired them from the inside, which wasn't as appealing from that perspective, but what can you do. I got through the entire museum in fairly decent time, and it helped me understand Vancouver's history a little more because of it. So if you have the urge to see a museum while you're in Vancouver, I'd recommend you checking it out.

CHINESE GARDEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY

It was a rainy day and I was all by myself in this new city called Vancouver. I was supposed to meet two of my friends here, but they both missed their flights and couldn't get on another flight without paying exorbitant fees. So I was on my own in discovering this place and I was determined to check off as many places on my list as I could. One of those places was the Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden. I've never been to a Chinese garden before so I wasn't sure what to expect. And it was conveniently located in the middle of the city, specifically Chinatown, so I didn't have an excuse not to go. Once I stepped in, I honestly felt I was in a different place in the world. It felt authentic even though I couldn't compare it to a real Chinese garden since I've never been to one. I think the rain actually may have made the garden look even more wonderful. You can see this sight in less than an hour for sure, since it's not a big garden. But there can be a temptation to just sit, take in the scenery, and contemplate about life. It was definitely an experience I went into thinking would be lame, but pleasantly surprised it wasn't. There's also a guided tour available every 30 minutes that comes with your admission fee. None of the guides were available the weekday I went so I had a different staff member show me around briefly; and since I was the only one on this impromptu tour, it was like I had a private guide with me explaining the history behind the garden.