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jamiemaw

Tracing the Bloodlines of Dishes through Vancouver

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Some dishes shout Vancouver, sometimes announcing not just a local ingredient, but also the merged culinary DNA of where it came from (often Asia) and where it landed (here).

First they cross-over from Asian (perhaps) restaurants to mainstream rooms. And then they hit a tipping point and become ubiquitous--everybody wants a piece of them.

One such dish, it occured to me, is chili-spiked baby squid. If calamari was everywhere in the 80s and 90s, now it's this variation.

I think Ground Zero was likely Phnom Penh. At least it was the first time I became aware of it: crisped but still-gossamer rice flour coated, cross-hatched baby squid tubes, raised by chili and garlic, and a lemon-pepper dipping saice that smells like bleach but proves the perfect foil.

1. Where have you spotted themes and variations on this dish--maybe with a different sauce?

2. What other dishes arrived from elsewhere but have taken over the town? And is anything lost in translation? Do they morph?

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In terms of spotting a similar dish South Ocean Seafood down in Richmond has a good variation of it. The squid is lightly coated and fried quickly enough so that the squid is still tender and avoids the over rubberization of many preparations. It is stirred with some black pepper and then covered in green chiles. The dipping sauce is soy based - perhaps with a bit of garlic.

The lemon pepper dipping sauce you talk of is quite common in Vietnamese cuisine as well and probably can be found at many of the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsway. (Although I haven't tried to find it there.)

In terms of other dishes that arrived from elsewhere and have taken over this town the obvious one that pops to mind is the BC Roll. Miso marinated sablefish is another one.

For being lost in translation - certainly pizza. What has happened to pizza at these 99 cent pizza joints is just criminal.

Oh, and if you have enough influence perhaps the fish taco will be next? If you write about it and suggest that restaurants need to get on the fish taco bandwagon or risk missing the trend we may just get lucky! :wink:

Cheers!

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I've spotted a variation of the squid dish at Sandbar and Cardero's, but in those cases with more of a sweet and sour chili sauce. They were lacking the deep umami factor though, probably because of the removal of a primary--but still controversial--ingredient as seen in its Phnom Penh delivery.

Vancouver    In terms of other dishes that arrived from elsewhere and have taken over this town the obvious one that pops to mind is the BC Roll. Miso marinated sablefish is another one.

What was the Ground Zero of the BC roll? Tojo? And you're right: miso-marinated sable fish has also become ubiquitous. Where did it launch from? The first white chef exploiting it widely, as I recall, was Michael Noble at Diva at the Met. But it clearly had an earlier provenance.

Vancouver    For being lost in translation - certainly pizza. What has happened to pizza at these 99 cent pizza joints is just criminal.

That the savoury pie has been so badly injured in Vancouver (it amazes me what people will settle for) suggests it may never recover, especially now that new build wood-burning ovens are no longer permitted. Perhaps Mistral's version (they opened last night) of pissaladiere will help push it back where it belongs: it's virtually impossible to purchase a retail pizza in Vancouver worthy of oral gratification.

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especially now that new build wood-burning ovens are no longer permitted

Hi Jamie, im off-topic but i was just curious about this affirmation. Is there now a city bylaw that regulates the construction and use of wood-fire ovens?

Thank you,


Edited by edm (log)

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I'm thinking the octupus bacon wrapped scallops at "C". I've never seen octupus bacon anywhere else on my travels and friends visiting from the U.K., Australia, and Spain are always impressed when they try it and hav never seen or heard of it before.

Cheers,

Stephen


Edited by SBonner (log)

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The Red Door does a version of chili squid (please note the absence of the word acceptable in front of version). Actually, it's not that bad, just has batter issues. But then again who among us doesn't have issues of some sort.

The Belini as re-interpreted by the genuises at Milestones has become an embarrasing and ubiquitous addition to Vancouver casual joints. Frozen, with no real booze flavour, overly sweet and dispensed from every good bartenders most cherished implement, the Slurpee machine. Certainly better than the plain old prosecco version at Harry's in Venice, and doesn't go for twenty-five Euros a pop.

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What about lamb popsicles? I've seen them on menues online, and I bet a quick google would round them up. Did Vij originate these? Also, the stuffed chicken wing. You used to see them only on Thai menues, but now Nu has their version. Are there others?

One thing I also really like in B.C. is creative use of the Bento Box- i.e. Bin 942 Bento box "tv dinner" and Dock 503's vegetarian tasting Bento Box. Go go Bento!

Zuke

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Vancouver     For being lost in translation - certainly pizza. What has happened to pizza at these 99 cent pizza joints is just criminal.

That the savoury pie has been so badly injured in Vancouver (it amazes me what people will settle for) suggests it may never recover, especially now that new build wood-burning ovens are no longer permitted. Perhaps Mistral's version (they opened last night) of pissaladiere will help push it back where it belongs: it's virtually impossible to purchase a retail pizza in Vancouver worthy of oral gratification.

I had a wonderful pizza at Savory Coast the other night. I had to share it, unfortunately. It was called Speck Pizza - smoked proscuitto, tomato sauce, grana padano Thin crust, just the right amount of sauce and cheese. Those brick ovens do wonders.


Edited by Vancitygirl (log)

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A more intelligent member might be able to argue the birth of the "secondary cut steak" from the loins of our pride and joy, Neil Wyles at the HSG. (<--Worst imagery ever.) You can't swing a dead beaver in this town without hitting at least three patrons sitting on a patio eating a Flatiron. Is there a place in town that doesn't currently have it on its' menu? All because of the Hanger at Hamilton

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especially now that new build wood-burning ovens are no longer permitted

Hi Jamie, im off-topic but i was just curious about this affirmation. Is there now a city bylaw that regulates the construction and use of wood-fire ovens?

Thank you,

Yes. Wood burning fireplaces are bait-and-switch now too--after the inspector leaves the fake logs are pulled and the gas tap's converted to a jet that lights the real logs.

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The Red Door does a version of chili squid (please note the absence of the word acceptable in front of version). Actually, it's not that bad, just has batter issues. But then again who among us doesn't have issues of some sort.

The Belini as re-interpreted by the genuises at Milestones has become an embarrasing and ubiquitous addition to Vancouver casual joints. Frozen, with no real booze flavour, overly sweet and dispensed from every good bartenders most cherished implement, the Slurpee machine. Certainly better than the plain old prosecco version at Harry's in Venice, and doesn't go for twenty-five Euros a pop.

A salt and batter issue, clearly. First, they should find some rice flour and then recalibrate their fryer. Cross hatching the squid tubes is a must. But finally, and they will never do this, the dry (overnight) marinade is laced with MSG, as is the batter. It's that double whalloping that frags the umami baby.

Bring it on by the wheelbarrow. I can hardly wait for the first Chinese place to place a rider on their delivery menus: "MSG Proudly Served".


Edited by jamiemaw (log)

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What about lamb popsicles? I've seen them on menues online, and I bet a quick google would round them up. Did Vij originate these? Also, the stuffed chicken wing. You used to see them only on Thai menues, but now Nu has their version. Are there others?

One thing I also really like in B.C. is creative use of the Bento Box- i.e.  Bin 942 Bento box "tv dinner" and Dock 503's vegetarian tasting Bento Box. Go go Bento!

Zuke

Check. Vik on the fenugreek popsicles. And those Nu wings are well and deliciously hijacked and brought French. Gotta like the cooking outside of the bento box concept too.

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The bento box has even made it onto our new Vancouver based airline - Harmony Airways. Their dinner service in business class frequently includes what they call a bento box. The way they serve it is 4 separate small plates all served on top of a large plate. Some interesting items are included including ox tail cannelloni, various lobster incarnations, etc. All as part of the "bento box." As a total aside, I'd love to know where they get their croissants they serve for breakfast in business class. Those are the best croissants I've had in the Vancouver area!

Cheers!

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