Travels: ALL the Food in Vancouver.

This summer, my husband and I visited Canada for the first time. Specifically, we spent 3 days in Vancouver. From there, we traveled down the west coast to San Francisco. While in Vancouver, we stayed at a tiny studio apartment about two blocks from the Gastown district, which we found on Airbnb.com. That area was wonderful, I would definitely stay in this hip part of downtown again. The streets are laid with bricks, there are many new modern shops and restaurants, and it is right next to the waterway.

While I never heard of Vancouver being known for its food scene, I was pleasantly surprised at how great some of the food was! I will start with the order in which food was eaten:

Our first evening in Vancouver, the restaurant I wanted to try (never actually did) was packed, so we stopped for a quick appetizer at Baodown. Here is that review: http://twogirlsonedish.com/?p=452
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The tapas restaurant I had in mind for dinner never seemed to lose its crowd or waiting line, so Drew and I walked around looking for a good late-night deal. We found a fantastic late-night happy hour! Here’s that review of 131 Water Kitchen and Bar: http://twogirlsonedish.com/?p=505
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The next day, we spent at Granville Island, mostly focusing on the Public Market there. This was my favorite area of Vancouver, and possibly my favorite day of our entire vacation. This is a must-see!  http://twogirlsonedish.com/?p=509
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That night for dinner, we were walking back from the bus stop. My favorite thing about Vancouver was the diversity in food options. There were so many Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and many other restaurants all over town. The hardest part was deciding which one of these restaurants to choose.

We decided on a very authentic-seeming pho restaurant, Pho Extreme Xe Lua. It was small, like most of the downtown restaurants, and sparsely-filled. The hostess/ waitress barely spoke English, which I took as a good sign. The menu had enough English on it to give us a very vague idea of what we were ordering.

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Before we ordered, the waitress brought us free hot tea. It was slightly floral, and sweet enough it needed no additional sugar. I really enjoyed this freebie!

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We ended up choosing the Vietnamese style chicken salad, for $8.50 and the Curry Chicken with french bread (it said banh mi next to it) for $9.

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The salad was delicious. It was bright, and full of sweet and spicy flavors, exactly what you would expect from a Vietnamese salad. It was rather large, as well. I would definitely order this again.

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The curry chicken with french bread was not the banh mi I was expecting, but it was delectable! The curry was mild, but very flavorful. The chicken was bone-in, so we had to pick around that. There was chunks of sweet potato as well. The french bread was perfect soft with a slightly chewy crust. It soaked up the curry sauce perfectly.  I would definitely order this again as well.

The following day, we spent walking all over downtown, and trying some fantastic food. Our first stop was in Gastown for a quick “breakfast dessert”.  Saturday and Sunday, we had been walking past Chewy Junior, drooling over the idea of getting cream puffs, but they were closed on the weekend. So, Monday morning, Drew and I walked in to just split one cream puff.

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There were many flavor options: chocolate, oreo crunch, strawberry cheesecake, machta green tea, and many more. We decided on a simple almond flavored puff.

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For about $3 (Canadian money) this was a great, and very delicious, deal! While there was no almond flavoring, except for the almonds sprinkled on the top, everything about this cream puff was perfect. The crust was just chewy enough to hold together, while also being slightly flaky and sweet. The cream was to die for. It was the best cream puff I have ever had.

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It was very difficult not to buy 10 more of these, but we knew there was much more on today’s menu agenda, for which we need to make room.

After walking a couple miles to our lunch destination: Meat and Bread, we were slightly disappointed with this highly rated sandwich joint. It was on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, too. Here’s the review:
http://twogirlsonedish.com/?p=516

We continued to walk through Chinatown and all over the rest of Vancouver’s downtown area. My pedometer said we walked over 15 miles today…enough to make me hungry for a couple dinners.

Our first dinner was at Tropical Fusion, a small Vietnamese restaurant that had a sign out front that said $4 banh mi’s. My kind of place!

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Drew and I just split one of these huge, cheap sandwiches, and it was delicious. Of course, I have never had a bad banh mi. However, this one was not my favorite of all time. They were pretty simply on the meat and the veggies weren’t as pickled as I like. But, hey…it was $4
If I lived here, I would eat this for lunch probably every day.

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For our second dinner, we went just two stores down to Fresh Bowl. This is a small chain, but sounded too good to pass up.
The restaurant itself was super modern with clean lines and bright colors. The table we chose to sit at faced the street, which was perfect for people-watching.

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The menu was what intrigued me, however. You could choose a rice bowl, a noodle bowl, or a salad bowl. Then, you would choose which sauce to combine it with. You could also add proteins, such as chicken or shrimp, if you wanted.

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We split a very large bowl of thin rice noodles, with lots of added veggies and shrimp, in the laksa sauce, which was a  mildly-spiced lemongrass coconut broth. It was very tasty! It also felt very light and healthy, which made me feel great after all of the other food I had today. It was the perfect end to a food day in Vancouver.

What’s for dinner: One of our favorites: Watermelon Jicama Mint Salad!

Years ago, my besties, Cristianna and Lindsay, invited us over for our first official dinner party. It was delicious!

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Ever since then, I have frequently made this crazy refreshing and bright watermelon jicama mint salad. I had to ask Cristianna what jicama was, which is like a Mexican turnip. It has the texture of a starchy potato, but the crispness and freshness of an apple. I also asked for the recipe, and she gave me some overall ideas of what was in it, but nothing specific. So, I had to figure out those deets on my own. (We were just getting to know each other then, so I guess she didn’t want to share her secrets just yet) When I made the recipe video, she let me know I was close, with one correction…smh. Below is my recipe, followed by Cristianna FINALLY letting me know the correct recipe! Thanks, blog!

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Here’s a very short video on how to make the salad, and the recipe is below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xNO5-40NyA

Recipe:
-10 cups cubed watermelon
-5 cups julienned jicama
-3 tablespoons fresh, chopped mint
-1/2 cup fresh lime juice
-1.5 teaspoons salt
-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or 1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
instead, according to Cristianna)
-2 tablespoons honey

Directions:
1. Cut the watermelon into small cubes. This can be done many ways, but the video above shows my favorite method. I have also julienned the watermelon, and that made for a beautiful salad as well.
2. Julienne the jicama. I do NOT suggest cubing it. Jicama is a nice, sublte touch if added in small bites. However, it can be too much if the bites are too large.
3. Make the dressing by adding the mint, lime juice, salt, vinegar (or lime zest), and honey and mixing.
4. Add all ingredients together and refrigerate to cool. Eat at any time.
*Hint: Don’t throw away any of the juice left from the salad. Instead, make a great summer cocktail with it by adding some tequila!

Cristianna’s hint:
Instead of using apple cider vinegar, I just zest the lime and use that. I can’t believe you couldn’t figure that out, Amy!

If you use this recipe, comment and let us know how you like it!