Chada Thai Fine Cuisine—named after the traditional headpiece in a Thai classical dance—prepares platefuls of pan-seared tiger prawns, chicken blanketed in curry sauce, and pad thai noodles. Around the dining room, elaborate headpieces adorn walls, and sculptures sit near the entrance, high-fiving patrons as they walk in.
Nando's Flame-Grilled Chicken, founded in South Africa in 1987, brings Portugal's peri-peri flame-grilled chicken to the Vancouver area with only the bare minimum of laser lights and smoke-shrouded, two-way mirrors. Discovered by Portuguese explorers in Africa in the distant days of maritime exploration, peri-peri is a fiery chili pepper that adds a kick of capsaicin to any cuisine, clucker-related or not. Nando's fresh chicken breasts luxuriate in their peri-peri marinade for 24 hours, resulting in dishes with a slate of Scoville-scale-scorching spice levels—mild lemon and herb, medium, hot, and the daredevil-only extra hot. Step up to Nando's counter to order from the menu of sandwiches, pitas, wraps, salads, and peri-peri chicken. Enjoy a grilled-to-order peri-peri half-chicken with a side ($11.39) such as spiced rice or hearty coleslaw, or bite around basted bones with a dozen peri-peri chicken wings with a side ($9.99). Nando's also sports peri-peri chicken breast sandwiches or pitas ($8.49–$10.79), chicken or veggie whole wheat wraps with a side ($8.49–10.79), and veggie burgers or pitas ($8.49–$10.79), as well as salads and salad meals ($3.99–$9.99) for lovers of leaves of lettuce.
With its burnished leather chairs, high-backed wooden booths, and burgundy walls, the look of Copper Club Restaurant & Lounge’s dining room hearkens back to a turn-of-the-century smoking parlor or baron’s study. It’s a stark change from the airy lounge space next door with its vaulted ceiling, wall of windows, and blue and orange plush couches. Though the two spaces harbor aesthetic differences, their cuisine unites them, as chefs sear certified Angus beef from Canadian ranches and Ocean Wise–approved sustainable seafood to populate their menu of West Coast-based fusion fare. Each dish melds fresh flavours with flourishes evocative of worldly cuisines, from Asian mango salsa and coconut tomato sauce to St. Louis–style barbecue. Once dining companions have cleared food from plates and spoons from noses, they can retreat to the lounge for live music until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Since 1997, Big River Brewing Company has created its craft beers on the banks of the historic Fraser River. At the brewer's restaurants, you can pair their 8 distinctive brews with hearty pub food. In some cases, that pairing is taken care of for you—the chicken burger is marinated in Sidewheeler blond ale, and there are beer-braised onions, crisp bacon, cheddar cheese, and a special sauce on the Big River classic burger. Sauces are another specialty here—a cajun basil pesto amps up the chicken quesadilla; meanwhile, Frank's red hot sauce coats the brewhouse wings and the fingers of everyone who eats them. The Coquitlam location has an open kitchen, so you can watch at the chefs incorporate ales and lagers into their dishes and sauces.
At Ricky's All Day Grill, the grill stays hot from breakfast time to dinner. Behind it, the cooks flip three egg omelets with shrimp, pesto, and goat cheese and sear certified Angus beef sirloin steaks. Daily cocktail specials and beers on tap fill diners' glasses along with smoothies, specialty coffees, and milkshakes.
It's safe to say all living things like food, but maybe not as much as Chef Victor Bongo does. Recently transplanted from Africa, a young Victor worked as a dishwasher, but the siren call of the culinary scene lured him. He navigated from one kitchen to another, learning to cook, achieving the position of head chef, and eventually studying with three-star Michelin Chef Edmund Liew-On.
Today, Chef Bongo helms Daniel's Restaurant, where he puts his considerable talents to work blending internationally beloved spices into local seasonal and organic ingredients. He places pan-seared scallops into seas of pureed parsnips or submerges bison filet mignon in blueberry-port-wine sauce. His culinary ministrations earned his new restaurant the accolades of local press, including Straight.com's 2012 Golden Plate award for Best New Restaurant Outside Vancouver.