After Singapore, I headed to Vancouver, Canada, to attend my son Arturo’s high school graduation. On the plane, my wife Tessa and I were already planning the restaurants to visit in Vancouver.
Tamarind Hill was on her list, since it has the best Malaysian-Singaporean cuisine in Lonsdale of the North Shore. It’s Kirin Sushi in New Westminster for me, with its excellent sushi. And, of course, our favorite for Vietnamese food, Sung Huong in Nanaimo St., Vancouver.
On my first day, I drove to Kirin, where I had Gomae, a Japanese appetizer of spinach in peanut sauce. I also had grilled salmon skin with a nice teriyaki sauce, a rainbow roll made of California roll made with Japanese mayo and topped with a mix of tuna, sockeye salmon and mackerel. Light and satisfying.
The evening we arrived, we went to a Japanese noodle house called Santouka in Robson. Its soba broth, I was told, is boiled for three days. The noodles are cooked al dente. On the side are extremely tender, delicious and juicy slices of pork cheeks.
At Tamarind Grill, we had the usual Mi Goreng, Indian-style; Char Que Teow; and our favorite, crispy soft-shell crabs toasted in garlic and pepper. In the Vietnamese resto Sung Huong, we had pho of raw thin slices of sirloin beef over piping hot spicy broth, some fresh vegetable rolls with pork and prawns and rice noodles with spicy clams, shredded banana blossoms and Vietnamese bagoong, a version of our bagoong Balayan.
Among all the phos I have tried, this had to be the best. The place is always packed with Vietnamese nationals. This is what we miss about this beautiful city.
A few days afterward, we drove to Seattle to do a little shopping. We did most of this at South Center Mall in Tukwila, Washington. Here, I stopped at Ben & Jerry’s and asked the tindera the store’s most sellable chocolate. She said nothing, just got a tasting spoon, dipped it in dark chocolate and gave it to me. While I tasted it, she said, “Chocolate therapy.”
My gosh! The best-tasting chocolate ice cream I have ever had! It will make you hum, skip and hop with glee—dark chocolate with morsels of solid brownies. Yummy!
In the mall, too, there is a Pinoy area that has Jollibee, Chowking, Tokyo Tokyo and a grocery called Seafood City. It has one of the widest selections of Asian goods I’ve seen in North America. In the grocery is a bakery called Valerios which offers a variety of pan de sal with different fillings.
You should have seen Jollibee. It was packed the whole day. Palabok was $5 per order. Wow! But still, packed.
We also made it a point to visit a Thai restaurant that had been featured in Chef Guy Fieris’ “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives,” called Baitong Thai Restaurant, located in the Tukwila area. Its best dishes, for me, were crab fried rice, fish pancakes and duck curry. I could have settled for just the fried rice. I believe it was the egg that brought that dish to life.
Back in Vancouver, we got a call from Joanna, who had just graduated from University of British Columbia. Her celebration was in a restaurant called Blue Water Café in Yale town, which happens to be one of the best seafood restaurants in the city—and, may I say, in the world.
We had a variety of appetizers, but the five main courses we had were all to die for: Wagyu steak with Bordalaise sauce (bone marrow or bulalo sauce), Kobe-style short ribs that were fall-off-the-bone tender, West Coast Sable fish, White Sturgeon and Barley risotto with goat cheese. All were cooked to perfection.
On the side, we had a variety of fresh oysters, which I thought were kind of tiny but was told these are the more tasty ones. Dessert was also perfect. We were tempted to walk a few hundred meters to another restaurant in the area called Ciopinnos and feast on its Italian Canollis. But that didn’t happen since it was raining.
In between this food splurging, I was on whole wheat bread, turkey, kani, turkey sausages, a few games of badminton and brisk walking. I just pray I don’t encounter any bears in one of these walks. That’s a sure way of getting some sprint in my routine. I’ve seen a skunk and a few raccoons, though.
Vancouver these days is festive. Our Vancouver Canucks are playing the Stanley Cup finals, and my Miami Heat team is playing the NBA finals, too. No matter how full you are, after watching one of these games, you sure digest fast.
And, oh yeah, I’m here for my son’s graduation. Happy eating!