Emmy Lee is the Editor-in-Chief of Here and Elsewhere, a Vancouver-based on-line publication featuring what to see, eat, drink and do, near and far. www.hereelsewhere.com
I love to eat and although it’s difficult to pick, here are 3 of my favourite regular spots to nosh in Vancouver:
1. Sushi Mart: when I moved to London for a year, whenever people asked me what I missed most about Vancouver I unequivocally responded with one word: sushi. Sushi in other parts of the world, including Japan, is expensive. When I was a student in France for a semester, I was so desperate that I paid $35 for a bento box and regretted it horribly. Being the addict that I am, I feel SO lucky to live in Vancouver where sushi is as common as Starbucks. I eat at Sushi Mart on Robson about once a week where the toro is super fresh and buttery, the rice has the right not-too-hard-not-too-soft consistency, and the gommae is very lightly seasoned instead of drowned in sauce like so many other establishments. The rice to fish ratio is also just right. A short while ago Sushi Mart added brown rice to their menu, an option which gives their rolls a slightly richer, nutty flavour that is a nice West Coast twist. The space is cleverly outfitted with wood palettes on the walls providing an economical and hip design – it’s a great place for a quick bite.
2. Il Giardino: I am not at all a hipster so when people ask me where to go for a nice meal, I turn to old school favourites like Il Giardino. I’ll admit it holds a lot of sentimental value for me as my family has celebrated many birthdays and special occasions there, but mostly I go because the food is just so darned tasty. Their traditional pasta dishes like gnocchi (I substitute a red sauce for the gorgonzola), pesto, penne arrabiata and linguine vongole will transport you to an Italian trattoria instantaneously. I am always impressed by the care they take with these simple dishes so that they turn out perfectly and full of flavour every time. Their West Coast take on Italian includes beautifully seared fish like black cod, accompanied by perfectly cooked vegetables – you realize eating at a place like this that their kitchen really has mastered the technical aspects of food preparation, something that cannot be assumed about all restaurants! I’m a sucker for their tiramisu which is a wonderfully decadent but airy finish to any meal. The service is grown up and while the room is definitely dated, their patio is an oasis in the summer.
3. Pizzeria Farina: Eating pizza reminds me of being a kid – my brother and sister and I would order in pizza and scarf it down while watching tv when we were little. So I was very happy to find a grown up pizza joint on Main Street that has refined my childhood favourite. Farina is a simple, self-serve, pizza only spot which is what I like about it. My favourite there, as everywhere, is the Margherita which combines the simplest of ingredients – dough, tomato sauce and cheese – to make magic. The dough is light and airy but with a crisp, charred bottom that has a bit of bite. Sadly, they don’t yet have a liquor licence but that’s my only beef with this spot which definitely illustrates the motto: do one thing and do it well!