Take a patio seat for sushi, noodles, and fun
Whether on a proper patio or sitting at a makeshift table in front of a street stall, dining outdoors is not just popular in Asia, but a way of life. However, finding an Asian restaurant with outdoor seating in Vancouver isn’t as easy. If you’re looking to experience a taste of Asia (bustling street noise included), try one of these not-so-typical restaurants that offer noodles and rice with a view.
Vancouver’s business crowd may be familiar with Miku Restaurant (1055 West Hastings Street), but the 42-seat patio, enclosed in Japanese maple and bamboo, isn’t just for those looking to escape the office. “It’s a very eclectic mix [of people], and it’s anything from business to families,” general manager Tony Albertson says in a phone interview. While the patio is busiest when the sun is out, heat lamps and large umbrellas keep diners warm and dry on cooler days. Miku’s specialty is aburi-style sushi, which is flame-seared fish paired with various sauces. “The aburi salmon oshi sushi [$14] is a must-have for anybody that comes into our restaurant,” Albertson says. He also recommends the crispy soy-marinated chicken nanban ($15), which is served with a Japanese-style tartar sauce and coleslaw. Albertson suggests pairing these dishes—which also appear on the tapas menu served from 2:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.—with a glass of Prosecco ($26 a bottle). “It’s actually an amazing combination with sushi,” he says. “The sparkling aspect really accentuates the taste.”
Walking distance from Miku is ShuRaku Sake Bar & Bistro (833 Granville Street). “We’re smack-dab downtown, so you get the buzz of people shopping during the day and you also get the buzz of nightlife,” bar manager Jason Penner says by phone. The restaurant’s year-round patio seats 12 comfortably and features a heated awning and clear plastic sheets for when it rains. The tapas-sized izakaya dishes and sushi rolls are perfect for grazing while people-watching. Penner recommends trying the Real Crab California Roll ($9.50) and cooling off with a drink from ShuRaku’s premium-sake list. For those who like something sweet, he points to the Koto Sen Nen Junmai Dai-gingo ($17 a glass), or for a dry sake, the Kazeyo Mizuyo Hitoyo Junmai ($8.50 a glass).
Owner Toby Tseung describes the 16-seat patio at the newly opened Kin Resto Bar (1500 Robson Street) as “lively but relaxed”. It offers diners a spot to unwind at the end of a shopping trip. “We just want it to be very laid-back, so people can sit comfortably and have a glass of wine if they want to,” he says in a phone interview. Kin’s modern take on traditional Vietnamese flavours includes five types of rice-paper rolls ($2.95 to $3.50), which Tseung says are very popular for summer. “I always recommend the lemongrass chicken or the black cod and mango,” he says. Another patio favourite is the beef la lot ($8), which is minced beef and jicama rolled in a Vietnamese la lot leaf and topped with peanuts. Tseung says that white wines such as New Zealand’s No. 8 Wire Sauvignon Blanc pair best with the flavours found in Vietnamese cuisine. Cocktail lovers will also want to try Kin’s signature litchi mojito ($9).
There’s nothing typically Chinese about Terracotta Modern Chinese (52 Alexander Street), including its Gastown location. “We have classic dishes and more modern dishes,” co-owner Trevor Lee says—but don’t call them fusion. “We’re not mixing cultures, so we don’t feel we’re close to the idea of fusion.” The restaurant, which is open only for dinner and turns into a lounge after 9 p.m., has a small, eight-seat patio. However, large front windows make the indoor-to-outdoor dining feel seamless, assures Lee. “There’s these two big windows that open up, and basically there’s a bar right at the front of the restaurant.” Whether you’re on the patio or at the bar, Lee recommends tasting the barbecue duck wraps ($9), a riff on traditional Peking duck wraps. Another popular dish is the short-rib sliders ($10), which have sweeter, lightly fried Chinese buns standing in for hamburger buns. To wash down the sliders, sip on one of Terracotta’s signature cocktails, which include the aloe vodka ($7.50), made with Grey Goose L’Orange, and the Chivas and green tea ($9), served in a teapot.
Three of the Thai House Restaurant Group’s eateries feature outdoor dining. The 22-seat patio at Urban Thai Bistro (1119 Hamilton Street) and the 24-seater at Charm Modern Thai (1269 Hamilton Street) offer all of the flavours of Bangkok in patio-friendly Yaletown. “We want to be able to attract everybody—people who want to sit in the dining room or patio,” owner Desmond Chen says. “Right now, people love sitting on the patios when the sun is out.” While appetizer dishes, such as chicken or beef satay skewers ($8 to $10), are popular on both patios, Chen recommends trying the seasonal som tum malagor ($10), a green-papaya salad with lime juice, peanuts, and Thai spices. Over at Chilli House Thai Bistro’s 22-seat beachfront patio (1018 Beach Avenue), Chen says, the spicy lettuce wrap ($11) filled with beef, chicken, or ostrich is popular among West End residents. To calm spicy Thai flavours, Chen suggests swishing back a fruity litchitini ($7.88).