2 weeks ago, I was invited to a “dishcrawl”, hosted by Dishcrawl, where the event begins at one venue and migrates to a few others as you dine and socialize with other attendees. This was a super neat way to meet people who were also interested in exploring the Vancouver food scene and especially a great way to try some restaurants that you might have otherwise passed on.
We began the tour around the Riley Park neighbourhood at Cottage Bistro, where everyone was served a 3 item tasting plate. The bistro features live music nearly every day of the week and has been around since ’98.
From left to right:
1. Spicy eggplant tartini with double cooked eggplant blended with artichoke, olives, and banana peppers. I really enjoyed this and love the addition of banana peppers (which I could practically eat on anything..), I just wish there was more of the chip at the bottom for maximum crunch.
2. Mao gua melon maki: melon wrapped with Chinese mushrooms and greens, seasoned with miso aioli. A refreshing item to go with the eggplant tartini. It reminded me of a Vietnamese salad I recently had…
3. Jazzy potatoes: herb flavored potatoes with bacon jam, mustard seeds and Jack Daniel’s, and sunflower seeds. This one had a lot of potential to be amazing..but it fell short for me. The mashed potatoes just wasn’t creamy enough and I think it was because the mustard seeds overpowered it. This was the first time I saw a bacon jam though, and it was pretty much what you’d expect.
We then made our way to the second spot, Spice Up, for some home-made style Indian cuisine. All the spices here are handpicked and ground in house to preserve the truest flavors, and boasts no uses of flavor enhancers or coloring powders.
Here is chef Prodeep introducing us to the menu for the night.
1. Eggplant bharta: flame roasted eggplants cooked with ginger garlic, tomatoes, green chili, and peas. This was my favourite item at Spice Up. It was smokey and not too hot for me. It would be great as a braised meat alternative in non-Indian dishes.
2. Vegetable samosa: stuffed fried pastry with vegetable filling. The samosa was crispy and the sauce to the right of it paired well.
3. Parantha: whole wheat unleavened multilayered flat bread that is pan baked with ghee (clarified butter). I ate this with the eggplant and found it quite nice, though I think I still prefer naan bread with my Indian meals.
4. 9 Bean salad: beans soaked and mixed together with tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and house spices. The beans were crunchy and very fresh with a light but complimenting coating of spices.
5. Butter chicken: marinated chicken breast, roasted, with creamy fresh tomato curry finish. Unlike most butter chicken dishes, this one is made from fresh tomatoes and offers a lighter but sweeter taste. I found the chicken to be pretty good, albeit a tad dry.
From here, we walked to Itadakimasu Izakaya where chef Andy greeted us with a beautiful plate of Japanese food.
Itadakimasu is commonly said before a meal, similar to how the French say, “bon appetit“. It translates to, “I humbly receive” and is meant to pay thanks and respect to the animals and plants that gave up their life for the meal.
1. Tuna tataki taco with yuzu pepper mayo and shichimi seasoning. I love tuna tataki and this one was no exception. If the yuzu was taken up to the next level, I think I would’ve loved it even more.
2. Pork belly bun with teriyaki sauce, kewpie mayo, pickled daikon and cilantro. The pork was very tender and melted in your mouth. However, aside from the teriyaki sauce, there wasn’t that much else going on with the meat. Because of the greens, it reminded me of a lazy-day Viet sub alternative I used to make on the weekend with my parents.
3. Ebi mayo in tapioca flakes with sweet chili sauce. The flakes were a unique addition to the batter and made the prawn have a different type of crunch.
There was also a special dishcrawl drink menu and I managed to snap the Umeshu plum wine and Hana white peach flavored saka.
So at this point, my belly is ready for dessert and with the suspense finally over, the location of our 4th and last venue is revealed: East is East. There was live music playing and it was still very busy even though it was getting late.
As our server described the different types of chai, I felt overwhelmed and ended up choosing their classic chai tea, brewed for 4 hours.
There were 3 desserts to try among my table of 3, but I got a bit carried away and didn’t take any pictures of the Gulab Jaman dessert or the infamous vegan chocolate pudding. The picture above is the Persian style rice pudding with pistachios. It was very smooth and creamy and probably the very best rice pudding I’ve ever tried.
So this concludes yet another long post by me, with now a sweet new experience to share with my friends when asked about what there is to do in Vancouver.
More : Sherman’s Food Adventures
To check out DishCrawl Vancouver: www.dishcrawl.com/vancouver/