Breakfast Table offers West Coast brunch with an Asian Canadian twist

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      Chef George Koay's wife is a breakfast fanatic. She's been dragging him out to brunch across Vancouver for years.

      And what's wrong with that, beasties who brunch might ask? He found it was difficult to find brunch menus that diverged from the traditional bacon-and-eggs script.

      And his solution to his frustration was to open his own restaurant offering an inventive menu that brings fine dining down to am accessible price level.

      Koay opened Breakfast Table on September 26 at 1481 West Broadway, in a space formerly occupied by Kalamata Greek Taverna in the Fairview neighbourhood. The cozy 42-seater features unpretentious yet stylish décor and is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Tuesdays to Sundays (and open on holidays).

      Craig Takeuchi

      This is his chance to do brunch his way.

      Koay, who is Malaysian Chinese, moved to Vancouver from Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, in 1988 and grew up in Langley. What's more, he has extensive experience to draw upon: he's worked for 25 years in the industry, including two-and-a-half years as an executive chef for Lift Bar and Grill.

      Together with his Vancouver-born Korean Canadian wife, he tells the Georgia Straight in a chat at his new eatery that he wants to "bring something from our home to someone else's."

      It's one of the few spots in Vancouver that offers not only West Coast fare but also Asian-influenced brunch dishes (beyond dim sum).

      "For me, the philosophy of all good food, I just want people to come here and say, 'Your food just reminds me of how my grandma used to make it, or how my mom used to make it.' That's what we're trying to recreate."

      Beef bulgogi hash with two eggs, kimchi, green onion, king oyster mushroom, spinach, and Korean sweet chili sauce.
      Craig Takeuchi

      The thing is, for most of us, mom and grandma often didn't cook this well. And if they did, most likely they didn't serve these types of dishes for breakfast.

      Where else would you find beef bulgogi hash, with two eggs, kimchi, king oyster mushroom, spinach, and Korean sweet chili sauce ($16)? Or chicken karaage hash with two eggs ($15)?

      There's also their signature dish: coffee-crusted pork belly hash (made with Milano bourbon coffee) with two sunny-side-up eggs and seasonal vegetables ($15).

      The menu at George Koay's Breakfast Table features brunch items that include some familiar favourites along with some creative Asian-influenced plates.
      Craig Takeuchi

      But don't worry—for those who want more familiar fare, there are options a-plenty. There's the hangry (tree eggs, two maple sausages, four bacon strips, hash browns, and toast for $15) and breakfast poutine (with poached egg, shaved havarti cheese, and chicken gravy for $14).

      For vegans, there's a breakfast with nugget potatoes, seasonal vegetables, organic tofu, and cauliflower hollandaise ($13). For vegetarians, there's a benedict with two poached eggs, mushroom, creamed spinach, béarnaise sauce, and hash browns ($12).

      Seafood choices range from smoked peppered salmon cobb salad ($16) to lobster benedict ($22).

      Since Koay always found himself disappointed with seafood benedicts that only include small pieces of fish, he plans to be generous with his portions.

      "Being a fisherman, hunter, and an outdoorsman, I smoke my own trout," he says. "So, the whole principle was that when you get a benedict, you have something to bite into, a substantial piece of fish so it's not a thin slice of salmon."

      The menu, he says, will evolve with the seasons. On special at the moment is a pine-mushroom benedict with maple sausage and bacon bits béarnaise ($15).

      "The only time you'll get a matsutake mushroom is when you go to fine-dining restaurants and it costs you a fortune so people don't get to try great food and interesting food at a really good price point," he says. "So my philosophy was to bring fine-dining food down to earth."

      Stay tuned, too, for even better things to come as he also hopes to introduce some Malaysian breakfast items, which he's working on developing at the moment.

      Craig Takeuchi

      What's more, Koay strives to use only local food suppliers and keep things sustainable and ecofriendly.

      He uses free-range, local Berkshire heritage pork from Cache Creek, with custom-made sausages and bacon. And he also makes in-house cured and smoked back bacon. Right now, he's using local, free-range eggs from Manitoba but he's working to find local sources. He adds that he recycles everything, and also uses recycleable takeout containers. (They don't have plastic bags so bring your own bag if you intend to do takeout.)

      Dishes range in price from $8 (toad in a hole featuring two eggs, sourdough bread, and cheddar cheese) to $25 (lobster cobb with Nova Scotia lobster, boiled egg, avocado, tomato, Berkshire bacon bits, citrus dressing, and grapefruit).

      Most of all, Koay believes his wide-ranging menu will have something that all Vancouverites will be able to relate to.

      "It's common food for everyone because everyone when they're young, they remember going fishing for trout with their family but they never remember having it for breakfast as eggs benedict unless you're a fisherman or you're out camping," he says. "So that was the concept: just like camping, just like how you used to do it, just like how mom used to make it. So back to the same philosophy, right?"

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook