There’s been a lot of lousy news lately with the closure of restaurants due to COVID-19, but there’s good news, too. New places are popping up despite the pandemic, giving local food lovers reason to celebrate.
Potluck Hawker Eatery (3424 Cambie Street) is serving Southeast Asian street food in Cambie Village. (Look for the lineups around the corner for its afternoon Hawker Hour.) The colourful counter-service eatery is cofounded by Justin Cheung, former executive chef and general manager of Angus An’s Longtail Kitchen and Free Bird Chicken Shack, and Dominic Sai, a Myanmar native who grew up in Singapore and who also worked at both acclaimed New West restaurants.
“I took that leap of faith to open my own restaurant,” Cheung said in a release. “Eating together was a very important part of growing up for me. At Potluck, we are going to focus a lot of the cuisine on Malaysian-style cooking, which is my family’s heritage.”
On the menu are dishes like P.F.C. Wings with fish sauce caramel; Roti Canai, a pan-fried Malaysian flatbread served with curry dipping sauce; Nasi Goreng with wok-fried egg; Mama Cheung’s Laksa (a coconut curry noodle soup with fish cake, prawns, puff tofu, and boiled egg); and Potluck Palabok, a Pinoy favourite consisting of round noodles in orange-y smoked fish gravy with mixed seafood, chicharron, egg, and kalamansi.
Then there’s the limited-time Chicken Sando, the poultry fried in salted egg yolk and served on grilled milk bread from Fife Bakery with tamarind chili jam and green mango slaw. Get a side of Malaysian Shaker Fries to go with it.
Potluck Hawker Eatery is open Tuesday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. for dine-in and takeout. Hawker Hour runs from 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Meanwhile, meat is on the menu at Straight and Marrow, the new restaurant at 1869 Powell Street (in the former home of Bistro Wagon Rouge) being a dream come true for fourth-generation chef and restaurateur Christopher Lam.
After graduating from VCC, Lam gained experience at Provence Mediterranean Grill, where he was executive sous chef, and, more recently at Nuba, among other places.
Nose-to-tail cooking with a nod to Lam’s Asian heritage is the focus. You'll find items such as Lamb Sweet Breads with fried Brussel sprouts and daikon; Bone Marrow accompanied by chicken crackling and pickled shitake mushrooms; Beef Heart Tartare served with crispy sunchoke and cured egg yolk; Uni Gnocchi with uni miso cream, leek ash and sorrel; and Octopus Carpaccio. Charcuterie platters feature ingredients from Two Rivers Specialty Meats.
“My vision for Straight and Marrow is to provide a casual, affordable experience that doesn't sacrifice on quality," Lam said in a release. "When it comes to meat, many parts of the animal are often overlooked or seen as waste. I want to show Vancouver diners that these cuts - when treated with the proper care and respect - can be quite delicious.”
Bar manager Chad Rivard (formerly of the Acorn, Shameful Tiki Room, and Odd Society Spirits) makes syrups and infusions from scratch and has created a drinks list that includes the signature Straight and Marrow cocktail: marrow-infused white rye with Benedictine, lemon, orange and red wine.
Straight and Marrow is open Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., with weekend brunch in the works.