It’s been a helluva year for Metro Vancouver’s food scene: new locally run restaurants opened to critical acclaim, overseas chains popped-up around town, and certain menu items reached cult-status.
There are many delicious eats that made their mark in the city this year, but a few stood out from the rest of the crowd (if you want evidence, just open Instagram and look through local food accounts).
From deep-fried chicken to Japanese sweets, here’s our non-exhaustive list of 2018’s biggest food trends around town.
Brown-Sugar Pearl Bubble Tea
It’s the latest craze in Vancouver, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. This year’s influx of Taiwanese bubble-tea chains has meant the introduction of new tapioca drinks, including ones that feature brown-sugar pearls. Known as brown-sugar pearl milk tea or brown-sugar pearl latte, this Asian beverage has amassed a dedicated fan base in the city. It’s hard to stay away once you’ve had a taste, because the milky tea-based drink paired with sweet, chewy tapioca balls is an excellent combo. Find it at bubble-tea outlets like Yifang Fruit Tea, Coco Fresh Tea and Juice, Xingfutang, and Mr. Mustache, among other places.
This classic grub is still gaining momentum around the city and we’re not complaining, because who doesn’t love that loud crunch (#asmr—Google it if you don’t know) when biting into a perfect piece of fried chicken? The Downlow Chicken Shack brought its Nashville hot chicken to the Drive, successfully securing a loyal clientele with its flavourful southern-style fried chicken. Chinatown’s Juke Fried Chicken opened up a second spot in Vancouver, bringing its gluten-free and free-range fried chicken to the West End.
International fried-chicken joints are also breaking into the local market: American fried-chicken chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen opened up its first store in Metro Vancouver this month, and Taiwanese fried-chicken business Hot Star will soon make its debut in the city with two locations. It’s safe to say that fried-chicken is very much in high demand in Vancouver.
Vancouverites have a deep-love for overseas establishments, even long after its novelty has worn off. For example, hundreds of people lined up for Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese cheesecake when it opened in Metrotown earlier this year. Its signature treat, a light and fluffy hand-baked dessert, still commands hour-long line-ups six months after its debut.
Japan’s Nana’s Green Tea became a local paradise for matcha-lovers when it opened in Kerrisdale, offering menu items like matcha parfaits, matcha roll cake, and various matcha drinks. Yaletown also gained a new dessert spot, which serves up Japanese-inspired treats. Bake49 makes small-batch sweets, including its fan-favourite Sapporo-style Japanese cheese tarts and double-fromage cheesecake that are consistently sold-out.
Yes, a good ol’ hearty brunch is still well-loved by many in our city, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the amount of breakfast-meets-lunch spots that exist in Vancouver. This year, a few more spots got added to that list, much to the delight of those who can’t live without a mimosa and eggs benny on Sunday morning. Hunnybee Bruncheonette opened up in Chinatown, the latest project from the team behind the Birds and the Beets. Healthy and tasty items like muesli, breakfast buns, and ricotta pancake are on its menu.
Chewie’s Steam and Oyster Bar’s proprietor sold off his stake in the restaurant, and went on to open Chewie’s Biscuit Co. in Kitsilano—an eatery that offers everything from buttermilk biscuits to inside-out cinnamon buns. Victoria’s popular brunch joint Jam Café opened its second Vancouver location in the same neighbourhood, which unsurprisingly, still sees line-ups out the door. But people don’t mind waiting, as long as they end up with plates like fried-chicken French toast, green eggs-and-ham, and red velvet pancakes on their table.More