New West End eats: La Catrina, Cora, Thai Away Home, Mein Mao, Donburiya

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      Here's another roundup of recent openings and closings of food establishments in downtown Vancouver.

      New tacos on Denman

      Amid a cluster of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food spots along Denman, a new taco joint will help to expand the culinary variety in the area.

      La Catrina Tacos is slated to open at 1187 Denman Street on March 14.

      With its bright pink awning and skeletal imagery, it's hard to miss it in its spot close to English Bay.

      La Catrina will offer a wide-ranging taco menu (somewhat reminiscent of La Taqueria's): carnitas (pork confit and red onion), tinga de pollo (chicken with chorizo and chipotle), pastor (pork marinated in achiote and pineapple), lengua (beef tongue), and mole (chicken chocolate mole sauce).

      There are even vegetarian and vegan options: rajas con crema (poblano pepper, cream, corn, Mexican cheese), champiñones al ajillo (mushrooms in garlic and chili sauce with Mexican cheese), and more.

      Quebec breakfast chain brightens Robson

      Take note, breakfast lovers: Quebec breakfast and lunch restaurant chain Cora opened up on March 3 at 1368 Robson Street.

      Cora Mussely Tsouflidou launched the restaurant in Montreal in 1987. It has since expanded nationally and now has 130 locations across the country and is probably best known in Quebec and Ontario.

      The Robson Street location is the eighth Cora to open in B.C.

      Cora

      Its menu is heaven for those who love breakfast, as it covers everything from French toast, waffles, and crepes to eggs "Ben et Dictine" and omelettes.

      The lunch menu offers such items as smoked salmon bagel sandwiches, chicken salad, burgers, and crepes.

      Thai returns home

      For West Enders who missed Thai Away Home and their popular pad Thai when it closed around 2010, there's great news. The restaurant has taken over Lemongrass Thai Bistro's location at 1081 Granville Street, not too far from the West End.

      Its menu covers everything from red, yellow, green, and Panang curries to entrees like Swimming Rama (chicken or tofu and spinach in spicy peanut sauce) and Thai basil seafood stir fry.

      Thai Away Home

      The restaurant still has its location at 3315 Cambie Street as well.

      One more noodle

      Among the row of Korean spots and ramen shops on Robson, a Chinese noodle house opened up at the end of last year. Mein Mao Noodle Bar (1578 Robson Street) is edging its way into the West End noodle market, with its menu of classic Chinese dishes.

      There's everything from Taiwanese-style deep-fried chicken nuggets to Thai-style mussels (with octopus and prawns in a tomato and lemon based soup)—with adventurous dishes such as pig skin and fish ball in curry sauce, marinated pig stomach, and honey garlic or spicy deep-fried chicken joints with chili salt as well.

      Mein Mao

      Since it is a noodle bar, there are a range of dishes such as Singapore-style fried rice vermicelli, fried flat noodles with beef in black bean sauce, and Shanghai-style fried thick noodles. You can also customize your noodle bowl order by choosing noodles, soup-base ingredients, and toppings.

      Bowl begone

      Sad news, donburi lovers.

      The extremely efficient and affordable Donburiya, with its array of donburi (rice bowls), ramen, curry, yakisoba, and more, has closed its doors after seven years at 1329 Robson Street.

      However, the company's other related eateries—Ebiten (which offers some of the items that were on Donburiya's menu), Rolls Kitchen, Jinya Ramen Bar—remain open.

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