Deservedly, Metro Vancouver has garnered an international reputation for serving some of the best Chinese cuisine outside of China, and the pandemic hasn’t deterred new establishments from contributing to this renown.
With that noted, here’s a quick look at some of the most recent entries to the city’s stellar and ever-growing Chinese food and beverage scene.
China meets Italy
Historians have disputed the legend that pasta arose from Chinese noodles introduced to Italy by explorer Marco Polo. What is unarguable is that Chinese and Italian cuisines share this common culinary element, and a recently launched establishment in Vancouver celebrates the union of the twain.
Miantiao, named after the Mandarin word for noodle, had its grand opening on June 17 on the third floor of the Shangri-La Vancouver hotel (1115 Alberni Street).
With a kitchen led by Kitchen Table Restaurant Group culinary director Alex Tung, its menu spans breakfast to dinner and east to west, including pasta, risotto, congee, salads, sandwiches, snacks, entrées, and more. For instance, for breakfast, there’s either frittata (broccolini or porchetta) or house congee, the latter served with soft egg, XO sauce, crispy shallots, green onions, and youtiao (deep-fried doughnut sticks).
Other offerings include cold poached chicken with radicchio, ginger dressing, breadcrumb, and parmigiana; merluzzo nero, with sablefish, cured pork, olive, and borlotti bean; and a four-course aged whole duck. Meanwhile, the dessert list includes milk-tea tiramisu, with mascarpone, roasted tea, and cocoa; and coconut panna cotta, with mango sorbet, lychee, and sago.
Drinks include B.C. wines, cocktails, and zero-proof beverages reflecting European and Asian influences, such as Kun-Mi-To, made with Campari, sweet vermouth, carbonated white tea, and bitters; and Bamboolvardier, with bourbon, herbal bamboo liquor, white bitters, and fortified wine.
Head over to Chinatown to find Blnd Tger Dumplings, which launched on July 17 in the former Keefer Bakery space at 251 East Georgia Street. This cozy spot, which emulates food stands in longtangs (alleys) in Shanghai, offers a menu from chef Phong Vo of six house-made dumplings, with fillings from Chinatown businesses and local suppliers.
The pork used in the Single Malt Xiao Long Bao and Zhong Dumplings, for example, is from the neighbouring Carley BBQ & Hot Pot Supply. Eggplant, shiitake, cumin, Sichuan peppercorns, and more all come from nearby Ga Cheong Herbal Medicine Co. on Gore Avenue while premium teas are from Treasure Green Tea Company, only a few doors down.
Orders can be enjoyed on its patios, as takeout, or in another very special way, as the next entry reveals.
Order the Number 7 at Blnd Tger and you’ll gain access to a hidden art deco lounge. Behind a faux freezer door lies a Prohibition-era speakeasy, infused with 1920s glamour and influences from Shanghai and Hong Kong cocktail scenes. Laowai (or “old outsiders”) is a 60-seater space with an avian theme, emerald-green velvet walls, and semicircular leather banquettes.
Bar manager Alex Black curates a cocktail program with both classic and contemporary influences, including flavours and touches from Chinatown. Each of the 12 cocktails on the menu are linked to a historical figure, including the bold, smoky Behind Blue Eyes, from a legend of a foreign Buddhist monk who created the first tea bush; the adventurous Red Flag Fleet, inspired by a woman who was the world’s most powerful pirate; and the bitter but floral Snakes on a Crane, based upon a woman who invented a martial art to fend off unwanted male advances.
The bar boasts one of the largest lists of the Chinese liquor baijiu in Canada, comprised of 11 brands, as well as wine, single malts, and more.
Guests can order from Blnd Tger’s dumpling menu as well as sharing plates. Among the selections are Hong Kong–style pork belly bourbon char sui, featuring slow-roasted pork with an American whisky marinade; Guangdong-inspired sweet and sour ling cod, with fish from neighbourhood fishmonger Gar-lok; and the spicy Smoking Tofu Noodles, with biang biang noodles from Shaanxi.