My Review of Tasting Plates Vancouver 7th Anniversary
I remember meeting Richard Wolak aka Vancouver Foodster, more than seven years ago at a tasting event and when I asked him who he was and he said he was a blogger and was on Twitter, I had no idea what a blogger or a twitter was. Bakers bake, so is a Twitter someone that twits? Now more than seven years later, I’m a blogger and a twitter, except when I’m drinking I’m just one big twit – so the rumour goes. I can’t confirm this rumour as I don’t honestly remember due to the blackouts. So, I’ve been invited to 80% of the Tasting Plates and I can honestly say that each and every one of them has been a great experience to not only try food from new restaurants but sometimes to return to old familiar haunts. The following is my review of Tasting Plates Vancouver 7th Anniversary from decadent vegan baked goods to Mumbai street food so good that you wish you were homeless on the streets of Mumbai.
Bonus Bakery Cafe
1185 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
Cuisine: Plant-based bakery
Registration for Tasting Plates Vancouver 7th Anniversary was at Bonus Bakery who focuses on plant based baked goods and which I was excited to try as I have a high sensitivity to dairy. I don’t normally buy vegan baked goods, as I’m not allergic to gluten but I do avoid the whipped cream and baked goods that have 10 pounds of butter. On Bonus Bakery’s they post delicious photos of various items that they offer such as Rice Crispy Squares with Matcha Drizzle, Cinnamon Buns, Pizza Pretzels and Walnut Brownies served with espresso based beverages featuring Matchstick coffee. But come early to get you fill of their delicious vegan baked goodies as Bonus Bakery is only open 7:30 am- 2:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
The Blueberry Muffin was a little more dense than the non-vegan version which sometimes happens when you bake with vegan flours. I also notice the absence of butter in the muffin, so to compensate I added a dollop of Earth Balance Vegan butter. The Walnut Brownie didn’t disappoint as that first bite released an explosion of extreme chocolate flavour. I didn’t think the brownie was any more dense than ones made with white flour, although I think avocado could be added to take the place of eggs to make it moister. No complaints about the Bonus Cookie because it was chewy and decadently sweet – I mean, how can you go wrong with the combination of marshmallows, Oreos, corn flakes, chocolate and pretzels? By the time I wrote this review, I purchased the Pizza Pretzel which was cheesy and wonderful. Make Bonus Bakery a part of your daily routine if you miss all the great baked goods due to allergies.
1795 Robson Street
Whenever someone asks me what poke is, I reply, “It’s a sashimi salad that’s made to order which apparently originated in Hawaii”. I have my suspicions though a drunk tourist at a luau tipped over the buffet table and voila,the poke was born. Like all poke bars, at Pacific Poke, there’s different sizes you can order from regular (2 proteins, 3 toppings) and large (3 proteins, 4 toppings). But at Pacific Poke, for the base you can choose rice or swap it out for a healthier one with quinoa or kale.
Our Tasting Plate was a miniature version of The Main which is a protein focused bowl with ahi tuna, sockeye salmon, crab and shrimp. Sometimes ahi tuna and sockeye salmon at poke restaurants have a surcharge as they tend to be considered “premium sashimi”, so happy I was to have this on my Tasting Plate. The jicama and cucumber adds contrasting texture to the whole combination while the avocado and seaweed are two ingredients I always ensure are in any poke bowl I order (sometimes avocado is extra). Pacific Poke doesn’t drown the poke bowl with the miso sesame dressing so everything ends up tasting fresh. I suspect that because of their close proximity to Stanley Park, that they’ll probably be busy during the summer months.
Davie Dosa Company
1235 Davie Street, Vancouver
Cuisine: South Indian
Dosa I like Davie Dosa, well I’d have to say I dosa, do you? I’ve been here twice during Tasting Plates events and I keep vowing to come again, but blame my leg, as it’s curtailed my activities the past year and a half and I haven’t been able to recruit four ready, willing and able boy toys to carry me around on a dais like Cleopatra. Dosas here are ginormous (with a delicious crispy outer layer) and if you eat like a sparrow, you’ll be asked to lock up after you leave as it will take you all night to finish. I can’t stop raving about them.
Our Tasting Plates at Davie Dosa was a vegetarian platter of delights starting with the Avail soup with coconut milk and vegetables which really hit the spot on this cold February night. I ate this with the Adai which I really liked as I do love lentils and this had a depth of flavour and texture that pancakes made with white flour doesn’t have. Next, I tried the Kara Pamiyaram which I thought needed more spice and herbs until I hit a spicy chili. But I think that after eating the Avail, the Kara Pamiyaram didn’t appeal to me as it seemed to be made with white flour. Last, the Kesab which was made from semolina, was a little too sugary sweet for my palate as I generally find that most Indian sweets just don’t appeal to me as I prefer chocolate based desserts.
1148 Davie Street
Tel: (604) 423-3281
Cuisine: Mumbai Street Eats
If this is street food in Mumbai, then I want to be homeless and live in the streets where the cows roam free and I can ride them, travelling from food stall to food stall. My Asian giggle twin, Fay (pictured above in her “I think I’m chiquita banana” pose) agreed that this was best Tasting Plate in the Tasting Plates Vancouver 7th Anniversary event, because after we were finished, we not only wanted seconds, but thirds, fourths and fifths. I am definitely coming back soon when the snowflakes stop falling on my head… do wop wop.
Chef Tushar Tondvalkar, I think I love you because I’ve never tasted chicken or shrimp that tender that I wanted to run around the restaurant and steal everybody else’s Tasting Plate. And if you’re married, tell your wife not to worry as I only want your mad skills in the kitchen. The Shevi Puri was a mixture of potatoes, onion and shev (crunch noodles made from chickpea flour) on top of a cracker, drizzled with tamarind and chili chutney, making it a wonderful vegetarian snack to whet our appetites for the meaty appies. I’m not sure if this had ghee in it and if it didn’t, then it could be considered vegan. The Chicken Lollipop was a deep-fried chicken wing in spicy red batter, which wasn’t too spicy, but so good that I swear I could probably win an eating contest if you stuck a whole bowl of these in front of me. The same goes for the Prawns Rava Fry which are Kokam (citrus fruit) marinated prawns, deep fried in spices, semolina, onion and lemon – this ruined prawns for me in other restaurants. As for the Shrikhand which is Sweet hung yogurt, topped with dry fruits and seasonal fruit, I really didn’t eat too much of this was I avoid anything that looks like it has a creamy texture due to my dairy allergy. In my opinion, you’d have to like yogurt infused with savoury herbs such as cardamon to enjoy this item.
1224 Granville Street
Cuisine: Irish food
Besides Lucky Charms and Irish Stew, what do leprechauns eat? Well, you’ll probably find the wee folk at Donnellans Chipper, after they’ve been dancing and prancing with the young lassies on Granville Street, scarfing down fish and chips, burgers and sausages. The photo above isn’t mine as I didn’t actually eat here as I didn’t want to wait 45 minutes just to get a table, as they were backed up when we arrived. Because this was our last stop of this event, I couldn’t stand for 45 minutes as I have a bum leg. An empty chair did become free, but some young jackass grabbed it and didn’t even offer it to the gimpy one. I suspect that Donnellans Chipper is probably packed with hungry party goers after last call at the bars on Granville Street.
About Tasting Plates
Each month Richard Wolak organizes one or two different Tasting Plates event focused on a specific neighbourhood or food theme. There are usually four or fives restaurants on the tour. This is a self-guided tour which you are given about four hours to visit each location. You begin at a common registration point where you receive your Tasting Plates ticket which will list the tasting plates at each establishment. The price of this ticket varies as the earlier you buy your ticket, the lower the price will be. You should subscribe to the Tasting Plates newsletter to learn about new Tasting Plates events. My ticket is complimentary as I promote this event and write reviews and I tweet and post my photos on instagram.
February 27 – Tasting Plates Mount Pleasant (tickets now on sale)
March 6 – Tasting Plates Yaletown (tickets now on sale)