Although all food and drink establishments faced challenges during pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, Asian eateries had to contend with operating at a time when anti-Asian sentiment—and in particular, Sinophobia—was at an all-time high in many decades in Vancouver.
Accordingly, patrons who supported Asian restaurants during this time period were not only supporting those specific businesses but also Asian Canadian people and culture.
A local awards organization is shining a light on some Chinese culinary establishments that forged ahead with opening up during this difficult time and made quite an impression with a stellar level of food and hospitality.
Vancouver’s Chinese Restaurant Awards have named four establishments as Game Changers for culinary excellence and perseverance during the pandemic.
The organization’s Critics’ Choice Awards judging chair Lee Man chose these restaurants as “the fiercest contenders in Vancouver’s highly competitive culinary scene” and “because they each have something unique to say”, according to a news release.
These special awards were launched as the Chinese Restaurant Awards mid-year accolades to honour newcomers that braved the challenges of opening during the pandemic, and to kick off the season for the 2021 Critics’ Choice Awards.
The winners are:
- Chef’s Choice Chinese Cuisine (955 West Broadway), which opened in January and is noted as serving a menu of classic dishes from Hong Kong and Guangdong, such as Gold Coin Roasted Chicken and Steamed Thousand Layer Cake;
- iDen and Quan Ju De (2808 Cambie Street), which opened its doors in February 2020 and is already “regarded by many as the absolute standard bearer of Peking Duck”;
- Old Bird (3950 Main Street), which launched in January 2020 with a menu featuring “an easygoing late-night flavour profile, but is still confidently focused and executed” and reflects “a distinctly Vancouver point of view while not losing its sense of self”;
- Uncle’s Snack Shop (8180 Westminster Highway, Richmond), which opened in March to provide “just the shot of exuberant joyfulness we need” and a “sense of youthful playfulness and energy…underscored with sharp cooking, well thought-out flavours, and a deep knowledge of traditional Asian techniques”.
The 2021 Critics' Choice Signature Dish Awards will be announced on November 16.