Anchored on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and separated from the rest of Canada by massive mountain ranges, Vancouver, in the province of British Columbia, owes its culinary traditions more to Asia than Europe. In fact, it is often cited as the most Asian city outside of Asia. A whopping 43 per cent of Metro Vancouverites (population around 2.5 million) have Asian ancestry; the lion’s share, 17 per cent, is ethnic Chinese. From upscale dining rooms to humble sidewalk vendors, visitors will taste the West Coast-meets-Far East flavours in such favourites as miso-glazed sablefish (so ubiquitous it makes locals yawn) and nori-topped hot dogs (the signature dish from street vendor Japadog – a veritable institution).
If it’s not Asian, it’s healthy – and often both. Organic, local and sustainable could easily define Vancouver’s three major food groups, and the city’s kale-munching lifestyle is a reflection of its spectacular geography. When not cleansing and detoxing, city slickers are running the Seawall around Stanley Park or hiking Grouse Mountain, which overlooks the city (a 2.9km trail up the face of the mountain is known locally as the ‘Grouse Grind’). Feel free to wear yoga pants out to dinner. Honestly, no one will mind.
Being a port town, seafood looms large in the local diet. From cedar-planked sockeye salmon to raw spot prawn sushi, you will be amazed by the diversity, freshness and affordability of the regional catch. But being a port city in the shadow of the mountains also means it rains here, a lot. One of the happier by-products of lousy weather is that people tend to escape the rain by eating out. In Vancouver, everyone is a food lover.