The steady growth of the restaurant scene in Vancouver’s Chinatown can mean many things, but there’s one fact people can’t deny—you’ll find great food in the neighbourhood.
JUKE Fried Chicken (182 Keefer Street) is the latest eatery to join a string of other established food businesses (Phnom Penh, Fat Mao, Kissa Tanto, Juniper) in the historic community.
Opened by a trio of restaurant veterans that include Justin Tisdall (formerly Chambar), Bryan Satterford (former Hawksworth sous chef), and Cord Jarvie (Meat & Bread co-owner), the 1,420-square-foot space is definitely a cool spot to check out.
“I really wanted a room where people could come down and just have a lot of fun—listen to really great music but be lively, with really good food,” said Tisdall to the Straight.
The 38-seat restaurant also features a take-out counter, and the owners are working on obtaining a patio permit that will hopefully seat 12 to 16 guests.
Designed by Ply Architecture, the room features wood furnishings, a brick counter, eccentric lighting fixtures, and even a neon sign that was formerly used as an old movie prop.
“We wanted to be as organic and natural as possible, so it’s a lot of different woods,” explained Tisdall. “Not rustic but very polished rustic…I call it a modern farmhouse.”
As for the menu, fried chicken is obviously one of its specialities. When asked if the menu is Southern-inspired, the co-owner quickly denied this and instead emphasized that JUKE is a Vancouver-inspired eatery with lots of West Coast influence.
Guests can expect menu items that range from fried vegetables with sour-cream-and-onion dip and sticky pork ribs to skirt steak with radish salad and charred corn on the cob.
“We do a fried whole fish that is market price every week. A lot of our sides, like our Asian slaw, has a lot of Asian seasoning and flavours in it,” said Tisdall. “Being in Chinatown, we really wanted to make sure we cater to some of the local ingredients that are around us as well.”
Besides the fact that there’s more to the new Chinatown restaurant than fried chicken, the former Chambar general manager also elaborated on how he’s always wanted to open his own food business to serve comforting meals.
“I was an adventurous eater but I really love home-cooked food, and I think everyone can relate to that,” said Tisdall. “So we just wanted a place where people can come and in and just feel comfortable right off the bat.”
Scroll through the photos below for a look inside the new restaurant.