There is something luxurious about enjoying a leisurely meal at a restaurant—taking your time, ordering a drink first, perhaps an appetizer to share, indulging in a main course, more drinks, dessert. It’s social opulence in the best way: long conversation, full bellies.
But there isn’t always time or patience for that. Sometimes we want our food fast and casual, but equally delicious.
In Vancouver‘s Chinatown, noodle bowls reign supreme at Fat Mao, owned by beloved Maenam chef Angus An. These noodles are made fresh daily in-house, and once they’re gone, that’s it until tomorrow. There are Braised Duck Noodles, Hot and Sour Pork Noodles, Coconut and Mushroom Noodles—cup after cup of slurping goodness.
A short walk along Main Street will find epicureans at Virtuous Pie, a vegan pizza joint (wait! Keep reading!). There might not be cheese or meat, but these pies are madly delicious, even to the carnivorous. The Stranger Wings pizza with buffalo cauliflower is a must-try, as is the Curry Mile with chickpea curry and mango chutney. There are healthy salads, too, and vegan ice cream pints to take home. The restaurant recently opened a location in Portland.
Down in Coal Harbour is chef Felix Zhao’s Heritage Asian Eatery, the perfect spot for a flavourful rice bowl with marinated eggplant, fried chicken leg, duck leg in pecking sauce, or pork belly. Order some fried cauliflower or five-spice chicken wings to share—you won’t be waiting long. Word on the street is that brunch rocks here, too.
When fine dining calls, be sure to answer. But when you need good food in a pinch, choose a place that doesn’t sacrifice atmosphere, flavour, or quality. Because you can have it all.
UPDATE, July 2018: Bao Down has closed all its locations except for Olympic Village.
Stay up-to-date on Vancouver’s dining scene here.