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  • The Anonymous Hungry Hippopotamus

Vancouver Part 3: Dining

For my final Vancouver post, I'm discussing one of my favorite topics -- food. In addition to the outdoor activities, scenery, and site seeing opportunities, Vancouver has a vibrant food scene. Restaurants in Vancouver celebrate proximity to the ocean and forests, showcasing the freshest, seasonal ingredients.

My favorite aspect of Vancouver cuisine is its diversity. Here, you can truly experience multi-cultural dining. Not only are there restaurants featuring the best of a singular culture, there are also places to try creative, fusion cuisine.


Kissa Tanto

 Kissa Tanto

A wonderful example of this is Kissa Tanto, where Japanese-Italian fusion is king. Kissa Tanto gets its name from 1960s, Tokyo, jazz bars, called "kissas." Inside, that vibe is on full display in their second-floor, dining room marked by retro-sophistication.


If you want to try a little bit of everything that made this restaurant so popular, and earned it a Michelin star, I suggest partaking in the omakase menu. If you are going to go this route, be sure to come with a large appetite and some time, so you can really enjoy the journey through all the inventive courses. The menu changes regularly based on the seasons and the freshest ingredients available. My omakase dinner below, should give you a pretty accurate idea of what to expect.


Oysters and Caviar

I started with the local oysters. This lavish presentation of oysters was topped with caviar and finished with wakame powder and yuzu oil.


Arancini

Next, I moved onto the arancini, a traditional, Sicilian, street food made of deep-fried, breadcrumb-coated, risotto balls stuffed with various ingredients. To incorporate an Asian influence, this rice ball was stuffed with kimchi and spruce and topped with mushroom and chive.


Smoked Octopus

The third course was a crispy, smoked octopus, served with fresh and pickled radishes, parsley and chili purée. All of these ingredients were artistically presented in a small bowl constructed of endive spears.


Tajarin

Tajarin is the Piemontese version of tagliatelle. Cut more narrowly and made with more egg yolk, it is my favorite pasta. Tajarin is most traditionally topped with a sage, butter sauce, the best preparation of which I experienced at Spinasse in, Seattle, Washington.

Here, to incorporate a Japanese element, Kissa Tanto topped the tajarin with butter, omitted the sage, and added roasted mushrooms and a miso-cured egg yolk.


Seared A5 Wagyu Beef

This was easily the most decadent dish of the night. The extremely, well-marbled, wagyu steak was accompanied by pickled burdock, peach emulsion and finished with a sprinkle of maldon sea salt. The steak was so rich, that I was only able to eat a few bites.


Intermezzo

After the unctuous, previous dish, this intermezzo was much needed and desired. This spoon full of cucumber and shiso granita, topped with shaved parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, cleansed my palate and prepared me for the main course. Yes, unbelievably, there was still a main course to be had.


Magret Duck Breast

This duck breast was cooked perfectly. It was so moist and tender, it could have been cut with a table, rather than a steak knife. That says a lot for duck, which can be unpleasingly tough and chewy if not attended to with proper care. The duck was accompanied by British Columbia mushrooms, cipollini onions and yuzu kosho jus.


Cannoli

I finished the meal with a matcha-powder, sprinkled cannoli, served alongside a mascarpone sorbet. Coming into the meal, I couldn't envision how to blend Japanese and Italian cuisine. Upon completion, I was so inspired that I have since created some Japanese-Italian fusion dishes of my own at home, including miso mashed potatoes and a ginger and garlic lobster with green tea noodles.


Published on Main

In 2022, approximately three years after opening, Published on Main, received a Michelin star. Since then, it has been very difficult to get a table. Forewarned, I made my reservation early.


 Mushroom and Chèvre Ravioli

All advice led to one dish that I was told I must have: the seasonal, mushroom ravioli. This house-made ravioli was stuffed with goat cheese and wild mushrooms. In addition, more wild mushroom were sautéed in a cream sauce and spooned on top of the pasta. If you like mushrooms, this is a dish for you.


Hay

Yup, you read that correctly. This dessert is called "hay." You know the saying, "hay is for horses and...?" (If you know the saying, you'll understand why I'm not finishing it). Well, I learned that hay is not just for horses. Apparently, it is for me! That is not to say that you will see me eating it from a bale, but hay in this composition is right up my alley.


The chef describes the preparation as such: "We toast the hay aggressively until it’s super fragrant and steep it in milk and cream for the custard. It’s aerated with a whipped cream dispenser and served with a green apple granita.” There is also a touch of chamomile infused in the dessert. The flavors were subtle, yet complex, and left my brain and palate wanting more.


Homer Street Cafe

Homer Street Cafe is a contemporary bistro that the Michelin guide says, "delivers on its promise of comfort food." I say, "indeed it does." I walked through the very hip Yaletown district to reach the restaurant that is housed in two of Vancouver's most iconic buildings -- the Homer and Beasley buildings.


Oyster Royale

At the suggestion of the friendly manager, who I ended up chatting with throughout my meal, I started with an oyster, which was topped with Northern Divine caviar, crème fraîche, and chives.


Manila Clams

For my main course, I enjoyed clams in a preparation that was equally new to me and delectable. The clams were served in a flavorful broth, with cannelloni beans, Goat's Horn chilis, and crispy pork jowl, topped with fresh dill. This dish combined multiple flavors and textures brilliantly. It was altogether, creamy, briny, crispy, spicy, fresh and very comforting.


That is it for my Vancouver series, or at least for now. To my wonderful nephew and his fiancée: I will be back to visit Vancouver and see the both of you soon. I am so excited to (finally) be living on the same continent as you. To everyone else reading this, I hope you will visit the beautiful city of Vancouver and that you enjoy it as much as I do.



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