Rouse your palate from winter slumber with fresh spring tastes at these fine Vancouver restaurants and purveyors.
There’s an air of conviviality and welcoming ease at Dachi, a charming new spot in East Vancouver’s Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood. Owners Miki Ellis and Stephen Whiteside are front-of-house veterans who have expertly cultivated a cozy yet understated neighbourhood feel right out of the gate. Dachi’s food and beverage menus pay homage to the stories of passionate family-owned producers. Chef Tyson Viteychuk serves his country-fried steelhead trout with slow-baked beets, pickled candy-cane beets, and an irresistible horseradish gribiche that piques your tastebuds with its textural punch. Perogies filled with mushrooms and toasted seeds are a vegan option—tipping the hat to Viteychuk’s Ukranian-Canadian background—and come with velvety celeriac purée and a grilled king oyster mushroom. Whiteside crafts a regularly rotating slate of cocktails; currently on offer is Get Your Fix, a refreshing, well-balanced libation featuring chamomile tea-infused Cutty Sark that’ll convert any non-scotch drinker. Together, Ellis and Whiteside have built an intelligent and intriguing sake and wine list. Choice sips include ‘Tengumai’ Junmai Yamahai from Shata Shuzo Ishikawa, and Movia 2015 ‘Sivi’ Pinot Grigio from Brda, Slovenia.
One of the most coveted pieces of real estate on Commercial Drive is a patio seat at Livia. Husband-and-wife duo Claire Lassam and Jordan Pires opened the doors for business in January 2019, and their multifaceted concept blurs the lines between bakery café, restaurant, and bar. Choose from a cavalcade of Lassam’s pastries for breakfast: Danishes with cherry blossom-infused pastry cream; and poached pear and almond friands are popular seasonal picks. Flatbreads, grain bowls, and sandwiches offer more substantial lunchtime noshing, but Aperitivo is the name of the game, here. From 3-7pm, this gracious Italian afternoon tradition that pairs a glass of prosecco or an Aperol Spritz with tasty nibbles that whet your appetite for dinner. Boards laden with cured meats and cheeses might include smoked pork neck or Serbian garlic sausage from JN&Z Deli, or Pecorino Romano, black pepper salami, taleggio, or duck pâté from chef Darren Gee at neighbouring restaurant Ugly Dumpling.
Hānai is a Hawaiian word for friends so close that they’ve become adopted family. In launching Hānai Family Table, Oahu transplants Tess Bevernage and Thomas Robillard wanted to share the aloha spirit they grew up with by focusing on the food memories closest to their hearts. Best known for their Spam musubi and purple potato mochi, their homey Hawaiian treats have taken off since making their debut at the Vancouver Mural Festival. Hānai Family Table’s current hot ticket is the “plate lunch” that references back to the 1880s, when Hawaii’s ethnically diverse plantation workers would pack leftover meats atop rice for hearty fare that fuelled long days in the fields. Proteins change regularly and include garlic furikake chicken and kalua pork, with sides of macaroni salad, furikake onigiri rice, ginger-pickled cucumbers, sesame-garlic yu choy, and steamed ube or house kimchi rounding out the meal. Weekly offerings are posted regularly on their website, and orders are picked up at their East Vancouver commissary. Bevernage and Robillard also cater larger gatherings, the expanded catering menu including lomi lomi salmon, Kahuku-style garlic shrimp, and haupia ube macadamia nut squares for a sweet finish.
Tucked away on a quiet corner of the West Side, Yuwa Japanese Cuisine is a sophisticated space that’s home to chef/co-owner Masahiro Omori’s refined modern expressions of Japan’s regional delicacies. Veteran restaurateur Iori Kataoka is the consummate host, offering an award-winning artisan sake and wine list, and graciously presiding over the front of house to ensure seamless, knowledgeable service. Omori’s classical Japanese culinary training shines in Yuwa’s impeccable kaiseki menu and creative à la carte dishes, both showcasing premium seasonal ingredients with elegance and finesse. Anago imushi is sea water eel on steamed Domyoji glutinous rice from Osaka, highlighted by dashi soup thickened with uni, ikura, and a blanched dashi-marinated fiddlehead. Kataoka pairs this delicate spring dish with Sharaku Junmai Ginjo Aizu Wakamatsu Fukushima for its subtle aroma that complements the Domyoji rice. Yari ika is baby squid simmered in sweet soy, served with a 67-degree onsen poached egg, and topped with canola flower; the perfectly runny egg yolk blends beautifully with the sweet soy as a creamy accent. René Geoffroy Rosé de Saignée Brut, with its umami nuances and balanced minerality is Kataoka’s wine pairing of choice.
Explore the best of the season and let your taste buds be your guide.
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