Sunday, November 8, 2009

Banh Mi, Tacos, Coffee, Croissants & Chocolate in Vancouver

This past week I went to Vancouver for the first time and unfortunately only spent 2 days.  Of what I've seen it's a great city with great food, great hiking and huge trees.

The day we arrived we met Dave at Dona Cata at  2pm for tacos and a banh mi sandwich.  Just as we parked in front he pulled up on his bike, the timing couldn't have been better.  He rode all the way to pick up the best Banh Mi sandwiches from Ba Le Sandwich Shop and then to meet us. Outside we shared this delicious sandwich (which was meatball - thank you to the anonymous commenter as enquiring minds want to know).  The Vancouver eating feast had just begun.  I had to seriously control myself not to eat the second one Dave had in his bag.  The sandwich was hot the filling a perfect mix of carrots, cucumber, meat, spices & cilantro, and the amazing BUN light and airy as if it had just been baked moments before we ate it.

Ba Le Sandwich Shop
China Town
121-633 Main Street
 Vancouver,BCV6A 2V4, Canada 
 (604) 662-8108

Next we ventured inside the restaurant Dona Cata.  The plan was to share all the tacos and salsa (so there would be room for more of course).  The meat for all the tacos was moist and succulent, in fact it tasted steamed.  I didn't ask for all ten salsas but after working in restaurants and eating family meal prepared, in my humble opinion, by some of the most talented Mexican chefs (mostly working at jobs other than cooking) in New York City I can tell you the salsa was great! It was chunky without being too large, moist without being watery, the colors enticing, the flavors fresh and lively with the right amount of salt and spice.  These salsas were not made for the timid American palate, they were made with fresh chilis with various names ranging from the pale green to the yellow and dark deep purple reds.  Thought I enjoyed these tacos very much I thought they were lost without the salsas.  I didn't eat any other food here but the table next to use looked like they were sharing some version of Chilaquillas with green salsa, that I was tempted to stick my fork into for a taste (they were eyeing me cautiously).

This place is in a very interesting neighborhood filled with Chinese restaurants, Chinese herbalists, and Chinese markets.  Check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

Dona Cata
5076 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC V5P3T8, Canada
(604) 436-2232
Closed Mondays
Tues- Sat 9am-2pm, 5pm-10pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
Mastercard, Visa, Debit

After Dona Cata we were going to head for a beer but we'd over done it with the tacos and I was still contemplating that second Bhan Mi (but I left it for Dave). So we headed to the hotel Vancouver Marriot Pinnacle to relax and get ready for dinner at  Vijs (Blog to follow).

The following day we started out with  croissants from 49th Parallel Roasters Cafe and Coffee at The Elysian Room, got it..... Oh well it's not the most beautiful photograph of an espresso I've ever taken but.... oh the taste. In my humble opinion I think they are brewing some of the finest espresso anywhere!  49th Parallel Roasters is making an espresso blend exclusively for Elysian that is incredible.

So where are the croissants from~~~ah the amazing Thomas Haas. Go and check out his new store in Kitsilano. The store is adorable.  I bought a bar of his Wild 67% at 49th Parallel and it's some of the finest chocolate I've tasted.  At 67% you might think it would be too sweet but this is a fine eating chocolate.

Now, I must confess I am not a coffee drinker and I lay no claim to having drunk millions of cups.  I don't need the caffeine buzz and I don't like coffee breath.  But I do know what I like and when on vacation and traveling I like to taste espresso.  Several years ago I had an espresso pulled by an amazing person in the Chelsea Market when Ninth Street Coffee first opened there. Up until I tried the Elysian Espresso Blend from 49th Parallel that was the best espresso I'd ever had.  Originally I thought it was 'just' the coffee.  I have since learned the error or my thinking, yes of course it was the coffee and the espresso machine but if it weren't for that amazing person the espresso wouldn't have been quite as good.

When I taste I add nothing. If it doesn't smell great, taste great, have a smooth &; creamy sensation, leave a nice long finish that keeps giving then I don't think it's the most awesome ultimate espresso I've ever tasted.  So if that coming from a non coffee drinker gives you any sense of how I like my espresso then I am happy and thank you for reading.

The Elysian Room
1778 W 5th Ave
Vancouver, BC, Canada
M-Th 7-7
Fr 7am-10pm
Sat 10am-10pm
Sun 11am-7pm
Master card, Visa & American express accepted.

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters Cafe
2152 W 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC V6K

Thomas Haas
2539 West Broadway Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V6K 2E9
Underground parking available
Tuesday - Saturday:  8am - 5:30pm
Sunday & Monday:  Closed

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yummm, the banh mi sounds amazing as does the all the rest. What kind of banh mi was it?