I live in Richmond and my only mode of transportation is transit, and I find that it’s so easy to get to the North Shore via a short Seabus ride. So I’m always too happy to say yes, yes, yes oh yes when the media invite to the North Van Tasting Plates arrives in my in box. And the restaurants on this taste adventure did not disappoint this fickle palate.
bean around the world
Bean around the World
123 Carrie Cates Ct, North Vancouver
Registration started at bean around the world (but I bet not as much as I have) and when it’s this late in the day I’m always going to order a decaf. And thank God that it seems to be the norm nowadays for coffee shops to have milk substitutions such as almond and coconut milk.
Decaf coconut milk cappuccino.
The decaf coconut milk cappuccino was full of body and flavour on par with any cafe I’ve been to in Europe. The cafe itself is very eclectic with paintings of fully clothed dogs standing upright, making this the perfect setting for creative ideas to formulate. There’s also a large selection of baked goods to please any appetite.
Seang-gool: shucked BC oyster with Yuzu foam, Tobas-co-Gochujang jello
Kim-Bugak: crisp nori puff with XO aioli, salmon roes, lime caviars
I don’t know whether to just gaze on the Tasting Plate from Maru or savour each bite for an hour as our food looked like they were poised for a photo shoot for the cover of Bon Appetite but every delicate flavour of each ingredient worked well together to create a fresh and flavourful bite. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that has its own particular sour flavour similar to lemons and the use of it as a foam to accentuate the oyster was not only clever but added a dimension of flavour that really elevated this otherwise simple raw oyster in the Seang-gool. As for the Kim-Bugak, it looks deceptively simple but was a delicious delicate menage of flavours with a crunchy layer with a few fish eggs. If you don’t like fish eggs, you might not like this particular item, but I found that it was a great chaser for the oyster.
Korean beef tartare on sea lettuce powder dusted crostini bed, Asian pear, sesame seed dust, garlic chips
The Korean Beef Tartare was a harmony of flavours with the finely diced beef serving as an easel which absorbed the delicate flavours of the other ingredients, with each ingredient blending flawlessly instead of having one flavour palate dominate the others. It’s the perfect combination of spices and textures that makes this the best tartare I have ever had to date. If you blindfolded me and asked me to guess who prepared this food I would probably say Blue Water Cafe as Maru has managed to execute their food at the same caliber as Blue Water Cafe.
There was also Yuzu cocktails offered for the mere price of $6 but I settled for Barley Tea which was a welcome change from Jsmine tea as it had a nice nutty soothing flavour.
101 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver
Cuisine: Comfort Food and Bakeshop
Smoked Trout Benedict, Kouign Amann
I’m a #pastrypornaddict so I’m willing to pay any price for excellent pastries. At the newly opened Lift Bakery, I shut my eyes for five minutes so that I could trick my body in believing that it was time for breakfast. It didn’t work but who am I kidding as I’ll eat anything at any given time.
The thing I could not even pronounce – Kouign Amann – when I’m sober was absolute delish as it was layers of bread dough with sugar and butter, butter and butter (which apparently is the premise of French cuisine) with a nice crunchy texture. The Smoked Trout Benedict was a nice change from the usual smoked salmon which every restaurant in BC has on in their brunch menu. Smoked trout has a much more delicate flavour which blends well with the rich hollandaise sauce. This place is definitely worth a trip to the North Shore to try one of their pastries. Apparently I heard it from a friend that their currant scones are wonderful. Oink oink.
Welcome Parlour Ice Cream
277 8th St E, North Vancouver
Cuisine: Ice cream
I scream, we all scream, but hell you can’t out scream me when it comes to ice cream. Here at Welcome Parlour we had the option to choose four scoops of ice cream from the 11 flavours such as Double Chocolate, Maple Bourbon and Birthday Cake, Someone please remove the hinges off the front door so I can squeeze out afterwards. My friend had four flavours but the Apple Pie she said was so outstanding that she can’t remember what the other three were.. Me, I had two scoops of each of the Lime Coconut and Chocolate Coconut which were the only two non-dairy choices. Both were creamy and rich just like real ice cream although I would have preferred to have more lime in the Lime Coconut as I didn’t really find it all that tart.
One of the partners of Welcome Parlour is Eleanor Chow Waterfall of Cadeaux Bakery so I wasn’t surprised at the caliber of the ice cream as her baked goods are as good as any I’ve had in pastry shops in France.
1015 Marine Drive, North Vancouver
Tel: (604) 984-1842
Cuisine: Brewery and restaurant focussing on Mediterranean/Spanish flavours
IPA with Panzanella: balsamic marinated tomato and watermelon. toasted pan bread,onion, fiore de latte, fresh herb vinnaigrette
I’m not much of a beer person, but I was at Hearthstone Brewery’s opening party where I sampled a variety of beer and food and really fell head over beer stein for the Raspberry Ale which really has a strong raspberry presence compared to other raspberry ales I’ve tried. Here we were led into the brewery which was next door to the restaurant where our choices of beer were the IPA, Ninjutsu, Pale Ale, or Rizzia Rice Lager. I chose the IPA as it had more of a citrusy flavour of the three beer choices. It had a lot of structure and was oozing with citrus notes and was refreshing and paired well with the Panzarella. You can also buy growlers of your favorite beer here which is a lot cheaper than buying them in individual cans.
I was kinda hoping for the Harissa Duck Wings braised in Pilsner beer which I had at the opening party and which I thought truly represented Hearthstone’s concept of a brewery with beer infused food. Along with great crispy flatbread with eclectic toppings, Hearthstone also offers entrees such as paella, vongolo and beef cheek tangine (although I heard they’re in the process of revamping their menu).
The Juicery Co
254 1st St E, North Vancouver
You don’t have to be a health nut to appreciate fresh, organic pressed juice. Here we tried what I think was the Original as it had a sweet and sour taste (Black Kale, Apple, Cucumber, Celery, Parsley, Ginger & Lemon) The Acai Bowl which is a decadent tasting, but nutritious mixture of oats, acai, nuts and chocolate nut yogurt or whipped cream what I assume was made from one of their organic nut mylks. This tastes more like a dessert than a nutritious breakfast. What I like about this place as it’s vegan, which means dairy sensitive people like me can enjoy anything here without cause for concern.
264 1st St E, North Vancouver
Cuisine: Chocolate shop and factory
Is there any chocolate shop in the Lower Mainland I haven’t been to (or in this world for that matter)? Nope and Coconama is no exception as I’m guilty of having bought their chocolate collections when I’ve seen them at the various markets and events at round town. Here we watched the cocoa beans being roasted and we’re even allowed to taste one. Then we were allowed to taste as many chocolate samples as we wanted. My favorites: Coffee, Salted Caramel, Lemon Basil, Mango and Passion fruit.
If you can’t decide buy a collection for $4.99 and up which features a Japanese selection of flavours of Yuzu, Red Bean and SakeKasu or for $40, enroll in a two hour workshop with take home chocolates for the ultimate chocolate experience.