At Hog Shack Cook House the pit masters smoke their meats for 6 to 24 hours to bring out the tangy flavour that characterizes authentic Kansas City barbecue. Though taking its cue from KC, the menu plays host to a wide variety of dishes including Cajun chicken penne and pulled pork tacos. Traditional beef ribs and house-smoked brisket keep things classic as servers dish out heaping portions and bartenders fill glasses with one of more than 70 craft beers. By keeping the suds flowing, sauces slathered, and tuning the TVs to the big game or ultimate infomercial reel, the barbecue gurus foster a festive environment while adhering to the sensibilities of Southern and Midwestern hospitality.
Eating at Starry Night Restaurant provides a hip alternative to dining out under the night sky. Purple panels overhead are speckled with glowing dots and recessed lights, which surround a chandelier bristling with refractive glass. Beneath the cool hues, waiters carry plates of deep-fried spring rolls and chargrilled ribeye over to purple booths that curve along the walls. Seated in the downstairs lounge, diners can nibble on pan-seared halibut or an appetizing lighting fixture as they listen to live music on select nights.
Hananoki Japanese Restaurant Cafe’s menu highlights nigiri, sashimi, and maki. Chefs position salmon and tuna sashimi alongside scallops and California rolls on combination platters or within wooden hana boats that also make great tub toys. They also prepare rolls and nigiri a la carte, and surprise patrons with rotating assortments of chirashi, a mélange of rice, fish, and veggies. Beyond fresh seafood, cooks also dish up Japanese mainstays, including chicken katsu, beef teriyaki, and tempura.
Aromas of spicy garlic, honey-roasted pork cheeks, and hot soups flood the dining room at Hakkasan Contemporary Chinese Cuisine, wafting an olfactory preview of the menu's contemporary Chinese cuisine past diners' tables. Although the chefs rely on traditional Cantonese spices and cooking techniques, their goal is to elevate Chinese fare—without masking the dishes' regional roots—by integrating eclectic ingredients such as foie gras and Berkshire pork loin. They also complement the Eastern flavours with Western presentations, carefully sculpting and arranging every entree on its plate to create a thoroughly refined dining experience, and one that has earned praise from the Richmond Review and the Vancouver Sun. In addition, Hakkasan won Best Service Award from the 2011 HSBC Diner's Choice Awards.
The restaurant's signature tasting menus rotate seasonally, which allows the chefs to incorporate fresh bounties of locally sourced produce, organic greens, and free-range chicken. Additionally, the à la carte menu tempts diners with its own selection of entrees, including a fragrant quail-and-fungus soup that double boils inside of a young coconut for three hours.
Even though the menu is influenced by eateries in the Old World, almost every other element of Tapenade Bistro is supremely local. Chef Colin Uyeda, who grew up in Steveston, got his first job in a kitchen at age 15 according to the Richmond Review. The reporter sampled locally caught seafood, going so far as to name the local fisherman behind octopus that's "succulently braised and served with in-house merguez sausage, harissa paste, a combination of pickled and fresh vegetables, and a citrus emulsion."
That's not the end of the regional influences though; there are Salt Spring Island mussels, cuts of Fraser Valley pork, and more, all of it made in compliance with Ocean Wise's guidelines for sustainability. Small producers from the region are well represented on the wine list, as well, and a special dinner series walks patrons through those offerings.
A gentle breeze blows across the bay, travelling to an outdoor patio where it tousles the hair of patrons sharing tapas and lounging atop chic black-and-white couches. This scene embodies Mandalay Lounge & Steakhouse, a restaurant whose staff aims to seamlessly fuse globally inspired cuisine, trendy decor, and serene ambience. The eatery's chefs seek balance between Asian and European culinary influences as they top their succulent steaks in demi-glace and craft rice bowels. These multicultural influences seem to echo the dining room's decor, which blends the familiar glow of chandeliers with Southeast Asian adornments, such as decorative elephants that sound their trunks and ask for a bite at each dish's arrival. Upstairs, staff refill wine glasses in a private dining room that overlooks the water.