The only City…(Vancouver)
Peruvians are very proud of their cultural achievements, especially in the cuisine and can be
very critical of other cuisines elsewhere in the world. So it happened some time ago that a
Peruvian friend told me quite humbly that Vancouver is the only city outside Peru where he
enjoys seafood. As his educated and knowledgeable statement required checking, I ventured to
Vancouver to find out what’s cooking there.
Vancouver, a bit like Lima, has a strong Asian influence. Between the Chinese, the Japanese,
the Indians and the Persians who live here in vast numbers, there is always something tasty on
the fire. But let’s start with the un-cooked. Sushi restaurants are in abundance, not only in
downtown Vancouver, but all over the suburbs too. Yaletown to the South of downtown V is the
most frequented place when going out for lunch. The Sushi Maro restaurant is one of my
favourites. Always packed, you better be there at 12 o’clock sharp, otherwise you wait in line for
a table. The signature dish is the Lobster Maki in either the regular or the spicy version. Either
one is out of this world.
The other outstanding restaurant in Yaletown is Rodney’s Oysters. This place features oysters
in all different sizes and shapes, from small and delicate to large and meaty, from raw to pan-
friend, apart from the illustrious crowd always present here.
Out for dinner and we might leave raw food behind. Italian, Alsatian or maybe a juicy steak
come to mind. Gastown is a very scenic area with lots of good restaurants. One stuck out for
me in the past and that was Al Porto (at the harbour). Actually it is behind the train station, but
the harbour isn’t so far either. Located sous terrain, it is wonderfully decorated to give you the
Italian appeal and the warmth of a room decorated with wood. With the outstanding variety of
dishes comes a lengthy and Italian dominated wine list. No hardship if you are a ringer for
Brunello and Amarone. The seared tuna is one of my favourite choices, so lightly seared it
almost resembles tuna sashimi. An excellent place for a romantic dinner!
Walk up Davie Street and you find a restaurant called “La Brasserie” (the brewery). The name
suggests French cuisine, but in fact it is a fusion of Alsatian, Swiss, German food and even
some Belgium dishes like Moules Frites appear on the menu. Hence the fare is rich, but with
the finesse of the Alsatian Haute Cuisine. To go with the rich food you have a choice of the
finest German beers (Radeberger Pilsner and Wartsteiner) or a bone-dry Alsatian Riesling. My
favourite dish so far have been the lamb cheeks, to die for!
Go back to Yaletown, but this time for dinner and venture to the Blue Water Café. It is quite a
large place but still maintains an ambience. Your eyes would venture straight to the Seafood
page of the rather extensive menu. Lobster tails come highly recommended, the specialty of the
house. The wine list is a Wine Spectator prize winner, where you do not have a problem to a
fine drop to your choice of a main course, surely.
Should you have made up your mind for a steak, the choice of restaurant will almost
automatically be Gotham Steakhouse in Seymour Street. Around the corner from the “The Bay”
department store you better have a reservation for a table. The place is extremely popular for
lunch and dinner. The interior is classic North-American steakhouse with the benches and
leather trimmings and the very courteous staff will help you to the table. Best choose a steak
with the bone still attached. The flavours of their Rip Eye and Strip Loin bone-in are hard to
beat, at least not in Vancouver. Take time to go there. Do not rush. You need at least 20min to
study the vastly expansive wine list with wines from all over the world, where you certainly find a
good drop to go with the delicious meat.
Vancouver also features a revolving restaurant high up in Harbour Centre Tower. The food is
not overwhelming, but the view is fantastic on a clear night. It overlooks the harbour, downtown
and as far as the skiing slopes to the north of North Vancouver on the northern shore of the
Burrard Inlet. It is tough living in Vancouver with all these choices to make, but most certainly it
is a wonderful place to eat seafood – outside Peru.