The art of eating a soup dumpling | Vancouver, B.C.

Before arriving my friend and partner-in-eating asked me where I wanted to eat while in Vancouver. My response was “everything Asian: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, whatever, as long as it’s Asian”. That in short sums up what I will be eating for the next few weeks. In a city with such a large community of Chinese, Koreans and Japanese, one thing is sure: the food will be amazing and options, endless to say the least.  On our first day together we decided on dumplings. Because nothing can beat a little ball filled with a mixture of heavenly goodness. Being downtown and having no access to the Chinese mecca that is Richmond, we decided on the Dynasty House located on lower Robson street. Most of our Asian food adventures downtown revolve around the two block radius of lower Robson and Denman where many variety of Korean, Japanese and Chinese restaurants reside.


Dynasty Dumpling had a small line up out the door which can never be a bad thing. But within 15 minutes we were quickly seated (despite a little hiccup over having a child and stroller with us). Guests were quick to offer their table so as to accommodate us, on the other hand, the hostess was not very happy about us having a stroller. But in the end, a nice man offered up his table after witnessing the commotion.


I’ll skip a few lines detailing the bad service and get to the good part: the soup dumplings. The menu features Shanghaise dishes including a page filled with a variety of soup dumplings. We ordered the original pork dumplings and the pork and kimchi dumplings along with a variety of other dishes including other dumplings beef and rice cake, and honey glazed lotus roots. The first time I had a soup dumpling happened to be on a Chinatown tour in Philadelphia. It was there that I was taught the secret of how to eat a soup dumpling. Once served If you bite into one right away you will surely burn your tongue. It is best to wait at least a minute to let it cool. Then gently dipping your chopstick in the vinegar you can pick up the dumpling right underneath the chopstick and place in spoon. You will then have two options: 1- poke a hole and let the broth ooze onto the spoon before eating, or 2- biting off the top and sipping the broth before devouring the whole thing. Either way you are sure to feel the same effect: pure and simple ecstasy. 


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Am I crazy for loving Seagulls? | Vancouver, B.C.

The anticipation of traveling to Vancouver with my son has been building up for the past few months. It is the first trip just the two of us which meant feelings of anxiety and excitement played a tug of war. But, finally excitement overshadowed anxiety and we made it. For the next month I will share with my son and viewers my perspective on Vancouver. This includes many nature walks, farmer’s markets and a variety of Asian food adventures.


Growing up I was itching to move away from home to go explore the world. I wanted to be anywhere but here and found any excuse to pack my suitcase and hop around Europe for months and years on end. But that was in my twenties. Now, in my thirties, with more travel options and more opportunities, all I do is dream and yearn to come home for the summers and winters and all the months in between just to take in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  It is funny how distance can put so many things into perspective and create so much gratitude where none existed.


And so here we are- just me and my baby boy.

The first morning we woke up to the sound of our neighborhood seagulls. They start early and keep going until just after sunrise. Some people have roosters. We have seagulls. I know It may seem absurd to some but its those very seagulls that I miss when I am away. Those seagulls represent so much more than what most think of them as: loud, large birds that grab your food at the beach. To me they represent the vicinity of the sea, the vast blue sea surrounding Vancouver which I took for granted growing up. So many places I’ve lived don’t have access to ocean, to sea-life and everything else the ocean represents. I miss and yearn for the sea. I miss the seagulls. Now I live in a place with no direct access to the sea. No seagulls. And who wants to live in a place that doesn’t have seagulls?


Later on in the morning, we went for a walk along the seawall towards Stanley Park. The sea breeze, fresh crisp air and sound of waves quickly caressed baby boy to sleep. We passed English bay and walked into the park towards lost lagoon where the nostalgic scent of blackberries started hovering in the air. It’s funny how a scent can bring back so many memories. That sweet smell of blackberries takes me back to my childhood picking berries in these very woods with my mother.  It was our own paradise back then.  Towards lost lagoon we walked through a family of Canadian Geese. How I have missed the site of these wild geese. They represent home. Along the lagoon, I parked under a tree, baby boy still asleep.  I looked at his innocent face deep in sleep and wondered what a peaceful way to take a nap.  So different than where we live where 40+ degrees in the summer prevent us from stepping  foot outside.  I sat at that bench for a while trying to take it all in, to cherish every moment because now unlike before I am a visitor in my own hometown. I have a round-trip ticket that makes every day spent here worth cherishing. And I will do just that-cherish every moment spent with my son in my beautiful city.


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A Foodie’s Guide to Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver, British Columbia…the most beautiful place on earth. At least that is what the license plate claims. But really, it is! I may be biased since I am from Vancouver and spent the majority of my life there before moving south of the border. And while the natural beauty, scenery and wildlife may take your breathe away, Vancouver has even more to offer. The diverse mix of immigrants that now inhabit Vancouver has brought with it some of the best restaurants and food in North America.  Here is my list of go-to spots in Vancouver that I never fail to visit when I am in town. I would love to hear what your favorites are in the comments below so that I can consider them on my next trip home and add it to my list!



From the same owners as Chambar, Medina serves Belgian-Moroccon cuisine. Lines up go around the block and can take hours but once inside the food will make you forget that you waited for so long. Don’t miss out on the classic belgian waffles and the lavender lattes. Twisted Fork serves some of the yummiest brunch in town. I always go for the banana stuffed french toast which is an unforgettable experience in decadence.

Or choose to spend the morning in Stanley Park, the sprawling urban oasis of greenery and water that is the West Coast’s rival to Central Park. Begin at the Teahouse in Stanley Park, a well-known brunch spot, both for its location and Canadian Northwest twists on some classic breakfast items. Ask for a table by the window to look out over English Bay and West Vancouver. Don’t miss the smoked salmon Benedict, which comes with local sockeye salmon. (7501 Stanley Park Drive;


It is not a surprise that really good chinese food can be found in Chinatown and while there are really authentic spots where you must visit with a mandarin/cantonese speaking friend (for which I’m lucky to have one) there are other more modern restaurants that have started popping up in this up and coming hip neighborhood. Bao Bei is a really hip/hipster restaurant that has really good chinese food with a twist. Phnom Penh is another favorite located in Chinatown. And while the name might suggest the food is a mix between Cambodian, Vietnamese and Chinese.  It offers some favorite classics like the chicken wings.

Dim Sum:

For one of the most genuine Asian cultural and culinary experiences in North America, go to the Aberdeen Center for dim sum at Fisherman’s Terrace (3580-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond). This sprawling Asian shopping center has an entire store dedicated to Hello Kitty merchandise, a Korean barbecue and a pan-Asian supermarket, among other treasures. Many options are also available downtown in Chinatown. The Jade Dynasty Restaurant (137 Pender Street) offers good-value dim sum, or just wander along the road and choose one of the many restaurants that takes your fancy. 


My favorites include Chambar (562 Beatty Street) is a sophisticated, funky restaurant serving innovative Belgium, French and Moroccan food using regional ingredientsLes Faux Bourgeois  is a french bistro located in Mount Pleasant. If you want to feel a little bit of France and have authentic French food then make the trip out of downtown to Mount Pleasant. Wait times are long but it is definitely worth it. Another French favorite located downtown is La Brasserie located in Davie Village.


There is a large Indian population in Vancouver which means one thing: really good and authentic Indian food. For the real deal you must head to Main street and Fraser street to ‘Little India’. Here you will find a vast number of Indian restaurants where cheap eats are a plenty. However, for a more upscale evening, head to one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver: Vij’s (1480 W 11th Ave). Owners Vikram and wife Meeru pride themselves on quality Indian food in a beautiful setting. The restaurant is quite small and the wait time often is over 1-2 hours long. So be prepared to wait a while and get drunk in the process. My favorite item on the menu? The Lamb Popsicles!


An area in Vancouver that should be explored if you have time is Commercial street- Vancouver’s own version of Little Italy. Here you can find a range of great Italian food. Outside of the Commercial street area are a wide range of great choices including my favorites: Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma. 

Italian Pizza options are also great in Vancouver including Nicli Antica Pizzeria in Gastown and Pizzeria Farina.


Starting off at the intersection of Denman street and Robson street is where the feast begins. For the best ramen downtown, I usually head to either Motomoki Shokudo (740 Denman Street) or it’s sister location, Kintaro Ramen.  Try the black bamboo charcoal ramen. It is quite possibly the best broth you’ll ever taste.

Further up on Robson street is another all-time favorite, Guu with Garlic, a Japanese Izakaya restaurant which opened its doors in the early 2000’s and quickly gained so much popularity that it now has multiple locations around Vancouver and Toronto. (Below is the grilled squid served with a side of Lemon and Japanese Mayonnaise).


For the best hand-made gyozas in town I always head to Gyoza King (1508 Robson Street), a small and cozy Japanese bistro where you can choose from a variety of gyozas and other Japanese favorites. My number one pick: the shrimp and chive gyozas with a bottle of unfiltered sake to wash it down.


Where to begin on this one? Sushi restaurants cover the streets of Vancouver just as frequently as Starbucks. Some authentic, fresh and delicious and others are just in the business to make money. Making the hunt for good sushi a fun challenge (although to be honest even the mediocre sushi bars in Vancouver are far better than most sushi I’ve tasted around the US)! For a healthy organic sushi meal I head over to the tiny little gem, Shizen ya, located on Hornby street directly across from the courthouse.  For a more upscale experience with unique takes on sushi, Miku (#70 – 200 Granville St) is the place to be. The sushi is amazing and takes on a form of art. If in Yaletown, Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar (1095 Hamilton St) offers a vast range of fresh seafood, sushi and BC coastal fare. It is a classy affair and on the pricey end but if in Vancouver for a short time it should not be missed.


Finchs Tea and Coffee House (353 W. Pender Street) is a classic Gastown gem serving some of the best sandwiches in town. Favorites include the proscuitto, pear and baked blue brie cheese and walnut sandwich. Absolutely to die for! Hubbub is another favorite due to their oh so delicious bread. My all time favorite is the turkey sausage sandwich which I describe in great lengths in my post.



When in Vancouver, eat lots of seafood, the unrivaled local specialty.There are so many that I am going to list them here for you and let you pick your favorite:  Blue Water Cafe and Raw BarMiku, Rodney’s Oyster House and Go Fish Ocean Emporium (a food stand close to Granville Island).


 What are your favorite restaurants in Vancouver? Please add below in comment so that I can try it out next time I am in town! 


The Hungry Nomad

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Fine Dining Sushi at Miku (Vancouver, Canada)

When it comes to eating sushi in Vancouver the possibilities are endless. If its quality, creativity and an upscale Aburi experience you are searching for then Miku is a great option. It is a relatively new restaurant located along the Burrard Inlet next to Canada Place.   Every detail in the restaurant deserves a five star: from the attentive service, modern decor, and extremely fresh use of ingredients.


The experience started off with a modern take on the traditional goma-ae salad substituting kale for spinach dressed in a sweet sesame glaze and sesame seeds. It was gone within seconds.

DSC_0336The tuna sashimi was one of those rare melt in your mouth experiences. Again, gone within seconds.  The plate of Kaisen Soba Pepperoncino was filled with fresh pieces of grilled scallops, jumbo prawns, squid and clams on a bed of soba noodles topped with arugula. It is a great plate on its own but if you are sharing you will definitely need several more dishes to leave the restaurant satisfied.
DSC_0341 DSC_0342 The pan seared gyoza was plated nicely but was the least exciting dish of the night. But the best part of the meal was yet to come…DSC_0345

The sushi…and not any kind of sushi but the Aburi kind. Rectangular pieces of rice topped with  pressed sockeye salmon, the secret ‘mike’ sauce topped with a thin slice of jalapeño and the other topped with pressed prawn and ume sauce. Personally, I am a big fan of aburi style sushi and cannot get enough. These little pieces of heaven come at a price, $16 per roll. It is definitely on the high end but worth every bite.



For the vegetarians, the vegetable nigiri, especially the eggplant nigiri is a great option. The eggplant is so smooth and creamy and again, literally melts the instant it hits your tastebuds. 
DSC_0350We also ordered several more traditional sushi rolls all of which were outstanding, especially the King Roll.
DSC_0351The dessert menu consisted of several european and japenese inspired dishes of which we ordered the Green Tea Opera and Coconut Mousse. The plating was beautiful and colorful and the the blend of flavors perfect.
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Overall, the experience at Miku was outstanding and memorable and I highly recommend to any who want a fine dining sushi experience to visit Miku. Reservations are highly recommended.

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Waffles at Nero Belgian Waffle Bar (Vancouver, Canada)

Vancouver has many things but one thing that it lacks is a good selection of dessert shops that are open late. The only place to have desserts in the west end used to be True Confections who, let’s be honest, no longer serves good cake. So the opening of Nero Belgian Waffle Bar is a welcoming site in the west end.


As the name suggests the shop offers a range of waffles served with the likes of nutella, bananas, strawberries, chocolate… and the list goes on.


The Waffle Bar itself is extermely small with only a few small tables. However, there is also a take out window on the outside where you can order your waffles and coffee/tea to go.


We ordered two waffles to share. One served with bananas and nutella and the other strawberries with whipped cream. The presentation was perfect and the waffles themselves were crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside and slightly chewy. Overall, it was the perfect dessert and is a great spot for sweet-tooths like me looking for a midnight sugar fix.

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Nero Belgian Waffle Bar on Urbanspoon

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Addicted to Gyoza King since 2003 (Vancouver, Canada)

It seems that the majority of my time was spent eating in the West End where there is a densely packed number of Korean, Japanese, Malaysian and other Asian restaurants. Gyoza King is no new addition! It has been around for over a decade. The tiny Japanese restaurants specializes in handmade gyozas with different fillings including the pork, prawn and chives, prawns and pork and chives. They also serve pages and pages of other Japanese delicacies typically found in Izakayas.

2-image_37 As a regular, I have the menu memorized and always order two servings of the pork, prawn and chives and pork and chive gyozas. You just can’t go wrong with these pan-fried dumplings. They are as good as it gets and you would do yourself a huge injustice if you went to the restaurant and failed to get the dumplings.  3-image_39

Next, I always order the Agadeshi Tofu. Pieces of skilen firm tofu are cut into cubes, lightly dusted with potato starch and deed fried to a golden crisp. They are then served in a bed of hottentsuu borth made of dashi, mirin and sho-yu (Japanese soy sauce) and topped with finely chopped spring onions, grated daikon and dried bonito flakes which dance in the heat to give this dish the ultimate visual appearance. The agadeshi tofu at Gyoza King is the best I’ve ever had through my trips around the world.

4-image_40 5-image_41 6-image_43 An order of kimchi Udon is only one of many servings of udon offered at Gyoza King. Udon served without the broth is what I would explain to those who have never tasted it as the Japanese version of spaghetti. Instead of meatballs and tomato sauce the Japanese have come up with their own concoction of tasty sauces to blend the udon with making it a hit at the dinner table each and every time. 7-image_46All this food would not be complete had it not been for the bottle of unfiltered sake which made everything taste even more delicious but yet filled us up too quickly. I was sad that I was too full to eat all my other favorites on their menu like the Chicken Karagge (Japanese fried chicken), ebi mayo (fried shrimp with mayonnaise) and tuna tataki. 8-image_52


Gyoza King on Urbanspoon

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Ramen Time at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (Vancouver, Canada)

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka has long been on my list of Japanese restaurants to try. Sadly, with all the other delicious selections in the West End, I never had the chance and each time that I did try there was always a long line up out the door making me think twice.

On my last trip to Vancouver, I finally made it in the door and was seated within minutes (a miracle according to restaurant fans). For those of you who still don’t know, I love Japanese food, Japanese culture, and anything and everything Japanese. My love for ramen- that steaming hot bowl of Japanese soup is like no other. I would give up an arm and a leg for a good bowl of Ramen.  One night after watching the ‘Ramen Girl’ on TV- I decided that I would quit my life and school and move to Japan to learn how to make a great bowl of ramen. That dream never panned out but you if you are ever looking for me, try your nearest Ramen shop. I might be in there slurping away on some good old ramen.


Santouka Ramen is a Japanese chain restaurant which opened doors in Vancouver a few years back, given Vancouver’s large Japanese population. It seems quite popular with both expat Japanese and local Vancouverites. The menu consists of a list of the basic ramens and other dishes for those who arent too big a fan of ramen.
09-image_15 We ordered a side of Gyoza (Japanese pan-fried dumpling) to start. Oh how I have longed for a taste of these delicious treats in my days in Louisiana where authentic Japanese food is non-existent. What suffering I go through. These gyozas were delicious and gone within minutes. 03-image_5 A friend who has never tried ramen- shyed away from the thought and ordered a bowl of Salmon Don. The serving was on the small side making it an ideal starter for those who are extremely hungry. 02-image_1 04-image_6 As for me I always order the Tonkotsu ramen– a mild, pearl-colored soup where the pork bones are simmered for 20 hours to make the perfect broth. Before serving the vegetables, noodles and other ingredients are added to make magic. I’ve been to several Ramen shops in Vancouver and found this ramen to be only average. I’ve definitely had better in neighboring ramen shops located on Denman street.


My partner in food in Vancouver and I both looked at each other and agreed that this Ramen joint is by far not the best in town. Leaving us with the same question? What is all the fuss about? Why such line-ups when there are plenty of other good authentic ramen places in the West End? Perhaps, nostalgia brings those expats here reminding them of their home. While the  food is consistent and good it is definitely not worth waiting an hour for (although the other ones definitely on Denman definitely are). (see post on Motomochi Shokudo)
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Hokkaido Ramen Santouka on Urbanspoon

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Viennoiserie at Beaucoup Bakery (Vancouver, Canada)

If you know anything about me, you know that the one thing I do best and often is to travel. My latest trip took me to my hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. I hadn’t been back home for almost two years which meant there were many new restaurants to try and review. But after two years of being away all I really wanted to do was visit old favorites. A few newer places were on the must-eat list including the most talked about bakery in South Granville, Beaucoup Bakery.


I gathered all my girlfriends for a day of venturing into Vancouver’s food scene. It was the most perfect and beautiful sunny day for it. We walked across the Granville Street Bridge and followed our stomach’s to Beaucoup Bakery. The place was packed forming a line almost out the door. I felt at home and was immediately transported back to my college years in Paris.

02-DSC_0024An assortment of Viennoiserie sat perfectly in the baskets along the wall including my favorites: Pain au Chocolat, Chausson aux Pommes and Croissants.


A pain au chocolat and pain aux raisins were my choice while my friend ordered the most tempting creation: a blue cheese and raisin twist which was truly amazing.  While butter is a key ingredient to French pastries, these were drowned with butter to the point where each bite released a mouthful of butter. My girlfriends while enjoying every bite felt that theirs too was too rich in butter…if there ever was a thing. I’m not one to complain of too much butter and definitely enjoyed every bite. My girlfriends loved it so much that rumor has it they are now big fans. Me? Unfortunately I left Vancouver shortly after my first visit.
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Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Richmond Summer Night Market (Vancouver, Canada)

Anyone who has travelled East will appreciate a good summer night’s market. The Richmond Night Market (renamed as Summer Night Market) offers you just that. A large area filled with food stands and other goodies from Asia. It’s a great way to spend the evening feasting on cheap eats while buying ‘Made in China’ goods ranging from sunglasses, massage chairs, lingerie, electronics, stationary, hello kitty, etc. It reminds me of night markets of Bangkok where I also feasted on cheap Thai food and coconut juice and spent a lot of unnecessary money on unnecessary items (which I would do all over again in a heart beat). Unfortunately, as the name makes clear the night market is only on in the summer time so folks get there while you can or you will just have to wait until next year to get your hands on some hot dim-sum. 

Richmond Summer Night Market- a summer must-do!

The night market has come a long way. I remember the early years back where it was located in a very small parking lot in downtown Richmond. I still made trips back then when it was little heard of amongst local Vancouverites. Thankfully back then I had a Richmond born and raised friend who knew the ins and outs of Richmond including the summer night market. Back then there were only a few food stands with cheaper prices.

Years later after returning from living in Europe I returned to the Night Market only to find that its location had been changed and the venue had expanded to cover a huge area with flocks of Vancouverites and tourists visiting each summer. The food stands are fantastic and if not for the products then definitely make a trip for the food. It’s well worth it. Here is a visual list of my favorite food stands. 

Japanese Octopus balls
Fish waffles filled with nutella, peanut butter and cream

Heaven on a stick sprinkled with ketchup

Chinese Cotton Candy

Curry Fish Balls

Curry Fish Balls
Pork Dumplings

Korean Glass Noodles
Bacon wrapped sausage
This is how it looks as soon as the gates open…we were one of the first ones there.
And this is what it looked an hour later
Dim Sum- Yum!

Delicious waffles with a choice of nutella, peanut butter or red beans.
Corn with different flavors to sprinkle on top.
Richmond’s amazing night market tradition continues with the renamed Summer Night Market, with 300 vendors, tons of food, and thousands of visitors.

Richmond Night Market on Urbanspoon

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Chewie’s Steam and Oyster Bar(Vancouver, Canada)

A New Orleans inspired restaurant in the heart of Vancouver? This I had to try. It had been a while since my last trip down to NOLA. Craving some fried chicken and Cajun inspired dishes I headed to Chewie’s Oyster Bar in Kitsilano. The place is inspired by Rodney’s Oyster House in Yaletown but with a Southern twist.  Mr. Chewie himself and the staff are all ex-Rodneys staff, who spent some time in New Orleans learning from the best and bringing their favorite recipes home to Vancouver for all of us to try. 

The atmosphere was lively yet laid back. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about each dish. The menu offered fresh oysters in addition to their Cajun dishes. We tried the fried chicken and Jambalaya. Not being a fan of oysters limited our choices to the main menu. 

The Jambalaya was the typical Jambalaya dish I’ve had in New Orleans- although in all honesty I haven’t had that much Jambalaya, usually choosing to go with the Gumbo instead. My dish- the Southern Fried Chicken was served with a honey drizzle, mash potatoes and green beans. The chicken was marinated in buttermilk for two days and tasted tender and juicy.  However, I felt that it lacked in flavor. I had to add a lot of salt to make it flavorful. If you like your food less salty then you will enjoy this dish. For dessert, we just had to try the beignet inspired by Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. It was served with a side of creamy vanilla sauce and was delicious and probably not so light on the calories. 

All in all, this was a great place to spend the evening: great ambiance, an all male serving staff, great food and great service. 

Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon
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