Dining Out

Review of three of Vancouver's local gems: Miku, Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, Bob Likes Thai Food.

Miku

2–1055 W Hastings St. (604) 568–3900 Review by Nicola Humphrey

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Sablefish Saikyoyaki

It takes effort to stand out from the countless generic sushi restaurants in Vancouver. But Miku, with its thoughtful dishes and personable service, does just that. On the ground floor of Vancouver’s Guinness Tower, this fine dining restaurant has become a popular spot with the downtown business crowd. A frequent chorus of “Irashaimase!” welcomes the weekday lunchtime crowd as people pour into the restaurant. Floor-to-ceiling windows brighten the room, and soft, colourful lights create a mellow atmosphere. Diners at the bar watch as the chefs wield blowtorches, lightly searing sushi rolls for Miku’s modern take on the traditional Aburi-style. Flavour and presentation are true to Japanese style: clean, simple, and beautiful. Aburi tuna is wrapped around fresh bundles of crisp daikon and red onion. The tuna’s smoky flavour is nicely balanced with a sweet and salty masatake sauce made of soy sauce, onion, garlic and sesame oil. Like any good sushi restaurant, Miku offers a variety of innovative rolls. The Miku roll, filled with salmon, snow crab and cucumber, then rolled in tobiko, is rich and creamy. The popping tobiko has a pleasing, faint charcoal flavour. Sablefish Saikyoyaki, marinated in miso and oven-baked, has a meltingly silky texture and is capped with caramelized skin. Handmade cassis and bitter orange sorbet and a velvety chestnut rum ice cream ends the meal with a bright and flavourful flourish. The cool desserts are an unexpected highlight of the meal, and as good as authentic Italian gelato. Dishes arrive perfectly seasoned, so soy sauce is only available upon request. The menu also makes note of Ocean Wise options. An excellent choice for entertaining out-of-town guests or breaking out of your regular sushi routine, Miku stays true to its philosophy, providing diners with a warm and genuine sushi experience.

Bob Likes Thai Food

3755 Main St. (604) 568–8538 Review by Becky Jack

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Papaya salad

With its country-cottage interior, giant cutlery artwork, and rockin’ oldies playing in the background, Bob Likes Thai Food encompasses a casual, eclectic atmosphere. The service is attentive, and our dishes arrive all at once in the traditional manner of most Asian restaurants. The Pad Thai Lunchbox tastes exactly like the sweet and sticky dish sold on the streets of Bangkok. The crunchy peanuts, gooey noodles and fresh bean sprouts are authentic and comforting. The papaya salad perfectly displays the Thai cooking ideal of combining sweet, salty, sour and spicy. Shredded green papaya, green beans and cherry tomatoes dance in a concoction of fish sauce, lime juice and chilies, bursting with flavour as each bite hits the tongue. The Pork Pad Ka Pow does not disappoint. At first, I detect hints of fennel in this ground pork and vegetable dish, but then I am reminded of the delicious licorice undertones found in Thai basil. The Sai-Uaw is a dish unknown to me, but I am pleasantly surprised by the crispy pork sausage surrounded by a bright array of fresh, raw vegetables. The sausage ingredients are marinated in-house and sent to a local butcher for stuffing. The flavour of lemongrass is quite strong in the Sai-Uaw, but gives it a sharp edge. The Thai philosophy of balancing flavours is apparent in all the dishes, as in the restaurant itself; the sweet service and fresh décor compliment the friendly people and outstanding food.

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

169 Keefer St. (604) 688–0876 Review by Becky Jack

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Duck and Mushroom Wontons

Located in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie stands out from the surrounding establishments. The 80s music and kitschy-cute wall accents contribute to a cozy, funky ambience. A balance of casual and fine dining is reflected in the warm, relaxed service paired with the high quality of food. All dishes at Bao Bei are meant for sharing—similar to traditional Chinese dining, but with small, perfectly plated dishes, showcasing the talents of chef Joël Watanabe. Our service is friendly and knowledgeable and as we finish each plate, it is promptly cleared in preparation for the next delicate portion. Our first dish is the Duck and Mushroom Wontons in a duck consommé. The wontons are enveloped in a handmade wrapper holding a nutty and rich filling. The broth is perfectly seasoned, with a depth of flavour that evolves during its 72 hours of cooking. The side dish of spicy marinated cucumbers comes drizzled in sesame oil and spicy chili. It is fresh and prickly; the unexpected combination of the cool cucumber with the powerful, deep heat of the chilies is bright and unique. The Dan Dan Revolution noodle bowl is fairly spicy, but contains such a substantial range of flavours that isn’t overpowering. The flavour of peanuts is subtle and perfectly married with the chewy egg noodles and tangy pickled mustard greens. It feels like a dish that should be enjoyed on a bustling Chinese street corner amid beeping horns and bright lights. Bao Bei’s food—like its décor—sings with bold tastes, attention to detail, and elegance.