Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Americana Series Part V: CANADA ... Exploring the Pacific NW with Gringo G ... Vancouver, BC!

The Place: Vancouver, BC – Foodie North!

Gringo G’s Experience

Summary: Before arriving in Vancouver, British Columbia Gringo G entered the city with little knowledge of what to expect, in other words a clean palate. My oh my, was that palate taken on a wonderful ride of views, culture and above all sumptuous culinary delights of all kinds.

The Eats: The first stop on this foodie rollercoaster was The Oakwood Canadian Bistro, where the Gringo had the pleasure of eating a dinner after a long ride up from Seattle. The ambiance was very refined with pleasant lighting that mixed well with the Oakwood finish on the tables, bar and walls along with very nice music that was upbeat but not overwhelming.

The service was excellent, friendly (our server recommended a place for drinks afterwards) fast and professional. Then the food started coming and it was all exceptional and very fresh.

The Flying Pigs, which are pork meatballs elevated on very long skewers above a piece of oak wood, were exceptional. The mixture of the maple mustard sauce and the nice salty meatballs was a fine start to the meal. The main courses of Canadian Poutine and Halibut were amazingly fresh, perfectly executed and very creative. The brisquet on top of the Putín melted in your mouth and combined perfectly with the traditional gravy and curd fries below it. The Halibut portion was ample and perfectly blackened; leaving a nice crispy crust around the perfectly cooked fish inside, this was laid on top of a nice bed of lentils with bacon … fantastic.

To top it off came the fusion carrot ice on top of a nice pound cake for dessert. This is what LePigeon should have been in Portland, OR in the Gringo’s opinion.
Moose Horns ... Nice Ambiance!
Full on a Wednesday Night ... Good Sign!
Flying Porks!
Canadian Poutine
Funky Fusion Dessert!

The second place on the gastro-ride was Banana Leaf (West Broadway location) which we happened to see on a bus ride down Broadway to The Oakwood the night before. What a find. The setting is simple, but refined and is aimed towards the lunch and dinner crowds. The Malaysian food being served has been given awards by the Malaysian government and I can see why. For a very reasonable price we were regaled with a five-course lunch meal. First was a nice light salad with some nice Asian fruits mixed in accompanied by wonderful Pork Rolls. Then came the three main courses: Rendang Beef Curry, a nice Sambal Green Bean dish and a smashing Gulai Tiger Prawns and Scallops dish with a wonderful coconut curry broth. All of the dishes were a wonderful mix of curry, spicy, sweet and salty. What a scintillating experience it was.

PS: The fifth course was an enormous tempura banana plate … awesome as well, but almost overload!
Fresh Asian Salad
Tiger Beer
Pork Rolls with Curry
The Main Dishes!
Gulai Tiger Prawns and Scallops
Rendang Beef Curry
Tempura Banana

PS: The Gringo’s last stop before getting off the rollercoaster was a nice late night drop-in at Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ (Uptown Location) which was pleasant. The assortment of rather affordable meat cuts are sizzled and cooked by the customers themselves at every table. The Beef Tongue accompanied by the assortment of sauces on one side of the table was very nice and almost crispy.

The cold beers are very affordable and make this a very nice late night stop in Vancouver!
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
Beef Tongue
SIZZLING Beef Tongue ... mmmm!
Kobe Beef
Spicy Beef Udon

The Lodging: Gringo was pleasantly satisfied with his experience at the Best Western Plus Uptown Hotel which is located in Uptown away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Vancouver, but is close to public transit (the way to go in Vancouver in the Gringo’s opinion … it was fast, safe and cheap) and has complimentary parking and hot breakfast. The price was below average as well, the cherry on top of this hotel sundae.

Things To Do: 

Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium are a must. The Park is expansive and has meticulous gardens and humongous trees and makes for a nice walk. The recently renovated Aquarium was the best aquarium the Gringo has ever been to (he has been to the Monterrey Aquarium, Birch Aquarium and many others so he has something to compare it to!!). The exhibits are refined and well organized and the 4-D IMAX experience was exciting.

The campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the B.C. Museum of Anthropology (MOA) were both visibly beautiful and interesting. The MOA has extensive exhibits on First Nation Culture in B.C. and was an interesting look into Vancouver’s past. Towards the end of this time in Vancouver the Gringo strolled through Gastown and Chinatown which both form part of Downtown Vancouver. Gastown has nice old buildings but is overrun with tourist shops and tourists which the Gringo did not like much (although the Steam Clock was pretty cool).Chinatown was underwhelming.
Stanley Park
MOA Totem Pole!
Orca Carving!

Overall Vancouver was enjoyable both for its foods, culture and wonderful attractions!

Coming Next: Americana Series Part VI: Exploring the Pacific NW with Gringo G ... Bend, OR Beer Country!

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