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.
You might notice your order taking a bit longer at Vera's Burger Shack than it would at a standard quick-serve restaurant. That's because specially-trained Burgeristas take the time to cook each fresh, hand-made burger to a perfect medium?just a little pinkness?and top it with a choice of specialty ingredients such as chipotle mayo, fried eggs, and even cheese curds, not to mention Vera?s signature sauce. The result is a roster of burgers that can number over 1,000 combinations and has topped readers' choice polls for over a decade, as they did again in Westender in 2014. Diners can switch it up by ordering a patty made with lamb, turkey, or veggies, and they can make the meal complete with double-fried fresh-cut fries and milkshakes made with hand scooped ice cream.
When you walk into Papi's Market, you might catch the aroma of lamb slowly braising with oregano and garlic or the sweet fragrance of a chocolate olive-oil cake baking in Chef Ken Iaci's oven. Iaci and co-proprietor Claudette Piacenza can point you in the direction of imported Italian pastas, olives, and artisan cheeses to take home, as well as fresh Italian meats, baked goods, and desserts that Chef Iaci prepares every day. While he's finishing your carryout order, explore gift baskets brimming with cold-pressed and organic olive oils ideal for mixing into marinades or greasing the wheels of a rusty bread truck.
The cozy shop has a small number of tables where diners can sample their foodstuffs, and where Chef Iaci hosts private dinners for 8–10 people. He also provides catering services for groups of 25–250.
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.
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.