1833 West 4th Avenue
Review by April McIntyre
When you walk into this hidden alcove on 4th Ave., the chefs in the open kitchen yell out a cheerful “hello.” At 650 square feet, the restaurant has a maximum capacity of 37 guests, and at 10:30 pm on Saturday night it is overflowing. Once seated, I open the menu and read through the tapas that range in price from $2 to $6. I decide to start with something safe. Two skewers of garlic beef with teriyaki sauce and garlic chips arrive shortly after I place my order. Tangy teriyaki deliciously offsets the garlic, making these beef skewers a perfect little bite. Deciding it is time to venture out of my comfort range, I ask for beef tongue. It comes on two skewers, lightly seasoned, and thinly sliced. The texture is a little chewy, but the taste is divine—a mixture of sweet and savory.
Finally, I order chicken heart, a skewer of three pieces for $1.40. They are chewy, juicy, and seasoned to perfection. Paired with teriyaki sauce, the bites are small and packed full of flavour. This is one item I would order again and again. This tiny Japanese restaurant has something for everyone, with a menu filled with foods from land to sea, and an assortment of sake to wash it all down. Zakkushi is a delight in bustling Kitsilano. The friendly staff and mouth-watering tapas put this hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the map.
1938 West 4th Avenue
Review by Sarah Winton
Last year, Pacific Rim Magazine interviewed Angus An, owner and creator of the restaurants Maenam and Gastropod. We got the inside scoop on the making of these two popular Vancouver restaurants. An’s passion and enthusiasm for the culinary arts and his restaurants made us so curious, we just had to taste for ourselves the flavours he serves up.
If you weren’t looking for it, you might walk right by Maenam. It is tucked into a long, skinny building on 4th Ave. in Kitsilano. The cozy, warm interior and prompt, friendly service make it an inviting place to share some delicious wine and food with friends. To start, their Tom Yum King Crab Soup is a wonderful combination of flavours: spicy, citrusy, and fresh. The crab was sweet and tender and the flavours of the soup complemented it beautifully. To follow I would recommend the peanutty Pad Thai with perfectly cooked noodles and chicken. Their Geng Gari Gai (aromatic curry of roasted chicken), with a slight taste of fennel, is to-die-for. The curry is pleasantly spiced and has just the right consistency to be sopped up by the jasmine rice. I particularly enjoyed their crispy roti that comes with a made-in-house peanut sauce.
I finished off my meal with some tasty dessert. My life is now complete having enjoyed their Dark Chocolate Pot de Crème, a mousse paired with delightfully tart tamarind ice cream. This is a must-try dessert. The ice cream sits atop a crunchy, sweet wafer that, when broken, allows the ice cream to mingle with the chocolate mousse in the most harmonious way. The service was fantastic. Each dish was described in detail as it was brought to the table. The prices are on the steep side, but as a special treat the meal was well worth it. I left Maenam feeling full, happy, and with every intention of returning to sample more of its delicious fare.
871 Denman Street
Review by Christine Tseng
If you’re not instantly won over by Kingyo’s lively ambience, attentive service, and the cool bamboo stalks sticking out of the large community table, the food will do the trick. The Fresh Sashimi Salad comes with three kinds of bite-sized sashimi on a bed of greens, dressed with a soy-based vinaigrette and garlic oil. It’s a great dish to start with. Mine came with salmon, tuna, and shrimp. It’s flavourful and refreshing, and whets your appetite for what’s next. The Tako-Wasabi is for the adventurous. It is chopped octopus, marinated in a wasabi sauce. It can be ordered cooked or raw. To eat it, spoon a few bits onto a strip of seaweed, and fold it over like a mini, bite-sized taco. This dish isn’t coloured the expected wasabi green, but don’t let that fool you—it has an intense rush. The Yellowtail and Avocado Carpaccio is a balance of creamy and tangy flavours. It is topped with mayonnaise and a soy-based sesame dressing. The crisp garlic chips add mild crunch to the otherwise soft textures.
I couldn’t leave without trying at least one type of sushi. The Lightly Seared Tuna Toro Pressed Sushi comes pressed with avocado and plum seaweed and topped with sesame sauce. It is perfectly flavoured with no need for extra soy or wasabi. For dessert, the Famous Almond Tofu, with jasmine jam and a single goji berry garnish, was a surprising hit. The taste takes a few seconds to bloom, but then lingers until the last bite. With all the sushi places, ramen houses, and izakayas sprinkled through Vancouver, it’s hard for one to stand out. Kingyo does. Its flavours, service, and ambience will bring you back again and again.
117 West Pender Street
Review by Lila Smith
Located on the edge of old Chinatown, Wild Rice serves up a bit of stylish late-night ambience. Whether you’ve come to sample some of the best fusion plates Vancouver has to offer, or just to bask in the glow of your cocktail on their stylish blue resin bar, Wild Rice will impress. Large or small, each plate at Wild Rice is artfully arranged to be shared. The Mixed Vegetable and Glass Noodle Spring Rolls with ginger-infused dipping sauce are a classic choice. For a fish that’s less ordinary, I would recommend the Smoked Tofu and Shitake Mushroom Turnip Cakes, or the well-paired Yam and Rosemary Potstickers.
For those who appreciate enormous amounts of ginger, the Seared Albacore Tuna with daikon radish purée is daring, but delightful. Diners should keep in mind that portions are modest. Ordering several dishes may be necessary if you are extra hungry. You can always opt for a large plate—the Buddha’s Curry is a great choice, with just the right amount of spice. Chili salt tofu or organic, free-range chicken are available as additions. The Chicken Kung Po is an enduring favourite on their ever-changing menu. Wild Rice boasts a comprehensive list of cocktails with colourful infusions ranging from the Lotus (lychee-infused vodka, lychee nectar, ginger ale, and soda) to Buddha’s Caesar (horseradish-infused vodka, clamato, cilantro, lemon, soy, and sambal). For the perfect dessert and cocktail pairing try the Fan Tan Alley (cardamom and clove-infused brandy, passion fruit liqueur, charred orange, and cardamom syrup) with the decadent Flourless Cardamom and Chocolate Torte.
Wild Rice is committed to keeping their menu local and sustainable. On your way out, for a final flourish on the perfect late night, don’t forget to grab a metallic Wild Rice matchbox.