Saturday, July 16, 2011

West Coast Street Food!

Last year I made a decision...I would finally travel out to BC to visit the west coast. As I was planning the trip I started to learn about the street food revolution starting in Vancouver. A self-admitted food geek, I was excited to hear about the variety of cuisines and cultures that were represented in the local food carts.

As I was already an avid Twitter user, I was happy to discover that many of the vendors used this form of social media for their advertising and communication. For a few months leading up to my trip I followed several of these vendors closely, and anticipating the meals I would get to experience.

My trip very quickly became an adventure is eating. Daily activities were planned around meal times and vendor locations. What transpired was a gastric tour of epic proportions.

My trip started on Vancouver Island....


Trollers Fish and Chips. Nanaimo.

Exhausted after a full day of travel, I was looking forward to grabbing a quick (and greasy) meal and heading straight to bed. So I ventured down to the waterfront at was able to grab a bite to eat a Trollers right before closing. It's located right on the docks surrounded by fishing boats and tugs.  Fun location and the food was good. I ordered the 1 piece cod fish and chips. 


After a long ride across the island, I was happy to finally make it to Tofino.  My first stop (as I promised the owner a couple days earlier on Twitter) was the Tofino Hot Dog Stand.  I ordered the rosemary lamb sausage with caramelized onions and I was not disappointed!  The food is often from local farmers and they have a selection of sausages, along with daily specials like smoked meat sandwiches.  Located on a corner of the main drag in Tofino, it's an excellent spot to sit back and people watch.  And it doesn't hurt that there's a ice cream place next door for desert!

For dinner that day I stopped by the Wildside Grill.  Recommended by Rick Mercer a couple months ago, I was looking forward to trying out their fish tacos.  I think the picture below is self explanatory..


Day 1 of the Billabong Camp with Surf Sister... I was STARVING after a morning of flailing around on a surfboard like an idiot.  Had my mind set on hitting up Tacofino.  My love for street food started several years ago after travelling to southern California, so I was excited about visiting this giant orange taco truck!

 ordered the pork burrito and a lime/mint freshie.  The burrito kicked ass, but the drink was pure awesome.  Basically it was the best virgin mojito ever made.  A must have if you visit this truck!
And their logo on the burrito wrap is hilarious...


Day 2 of the surf camp.  I was so exhausted after the morning in the water that I slept for most of the day afterwards.  Ventured out in the evening to grab a snack and ended up at Big Daddy's Fish Fry.  A non-descript shack attached to a local Inn on the main street in Tofino, they serve all kinds of steamed and fried seafood along with milkshakes and ice cream.  I opted for the clam and mussel steamers. 


My first day in Vancouver and I was excited to enjoy more street food!  From the beginning of this trip the one truck I was looking forward to the most was the Roaming Dragon.  I have a serious (and probably unhealthy) love for all things pork, so I had to go for the pork belly sliders.  In addition, I enjoyed the rice balls and a basil lychee lemonade. 

I returned to the "Dragon" the following day with a couple friends and tried the short rib taco (and another lemonade).  All and all, great food and great staff.  Had a blast chatting it up with the girls while they took my order! 


Following my second meeting with the Roaming Dragon, my friends took my over to Granville Island to explore the market.   

I enjoyed this profiterole cup from one of the bakeries.  Went back a couple days later for a quiet Canada Day breakfast and picked up some snacks of sea asparagus and various charcuterie while I was there.


Met up with some friends today for a quick trip down to Seattle.  First stop....Maximus Minimus for some porky love...

I got the "maximus"(hot BBQ sauce) pulled pork sandwich.  All around great flavour but what really surprised me was the difference the cilantro made.  It was absolutely ingenious of them to add that to the sammy!

Next stop...and the purpose of the trip...a visit to the Pike Place Market.  What can I say about this market, except WOW!  The food, flowers and atmosphere was unbelievable.  I enjoyed some deep fried chicken hearts and gizzards and a lemon curd and ricotta crumpet, among other goodies.

One of the gorgeous fruit stands at Pike Place.


Back in Canada today, I spent the morning at the Vancouver Aquarium.  Totally not food related, but if you are visiting the aquarium I recommend signing up for the "Sea Otter Experience".  I was given the opportunity to hand feed the otters, and they are ridiculously adorable.

Back to the food....first stop for lunch was the Re-Up BBQ!  I hit up the Re-up 2 for a brisket sandwich and a strawberry soda.  As is the norm for all the vendors I met, they were very friendly and happy to serve.  The sandwich was great and I also dropped my business card into the pot for a bacon raffle!  Why would I carry my (government) business cards while on vacation you ask??...Bacon Raffles.

Earlier in the week I swung by the original Re-Up truck and given my love for all things pig, my friends insisted on this pic with the cart...

Onto lunch #2 for the day, Coma Food Truck just happened to be conveniently located just a block away!!  Pictured are my seaweed rolls and noodles.  Loved chatting with the guys at Coma, specifically about the LA scene and their inspiration food truck, Kogi.  I had eaten at Kogi a couple years ago and like them, it sparked my interest in street food. 

For dinner this day I was able to catch up with the Kaboom Box right before closing.  The guys working the truck were hilarious and my Oyster Po Boy was prepared in short time.  Love that the "Box" is collecting autographs and hand written messages on the walls from its fans! 


Canada Day!!  After a nice breakfast at the Granville Island Market, I ventured down to Canada Place to hit up a couple trucks for lunch...totally forgetting that the crowds would be a little nuts downtown.  But fortunately, crowds and Canada Day mean more street food!!  First stop....Dim Sum Express for pork dumplings...

Next stop....Feastro the Rolling Bistro!  BC Spot Prawn Bisque... Best. Soup. Ever.

And last, but not least, a special treat from Salmon and Bannock Restaurant who had a stand set up for the day.  I had a muscox roll and bannock with blueberry jam.  Can't get more Canadian than that!


With the Vancouver portion of my trip behind me, I settled in for what I thought would be a relatively "street food free" visit to Squamish and Whistler.  But I was pleasantly surprised....

Stopped by the Squamish Farmers Market before a long hike up the Stawamus Chief in the morning.  Picked up some perfectly ripe cherries and a couple pastries to keep me going for the day. 

4 hours later I finally finished the gruelling hike and was greeted at the base of the mountain by the Juice Caboose who had come up from Vancouver just for the day!  Of course I had to order the one called the "Bacon Slicer"....which combined greens, apple, ginger and lemon.  It was a great thirst quencher!

Love the green!!!

Next was a well deserved lunch stop at the Campfire Grill for, what else, more pork!!  The maple pulled pork with apple slaw was unbelievable.  And a side order of mac n' cheese and a pecan butter tart topped off the meal.

That evening I made my way back south for a visit to the Richmond Night Market.  I had been looking forward to this for months, as I knew it could only mean one thing...unusual and bizarre street food!
The market was buzzing and to no surprise the majority of the crowds were around the food vendors.  It was a complete sensory overload..all the noises, smells and blew me away.  I started the evening with a sample plate of takoyaki, a dough ball baked around seafood, most commonly octopus.  Next I sampled some pork skewers a BBQ duck "pocket" and grabbed a mango bubble tea to wash it down. 

After wandering (and digesting) around the non-food section of the market to help digest I grabbed a heaping portion of BBQ squid.  Then...onto one of the most bizarre dishes of them all....stinky tofu!! 

Given this tofu is banned in many cities worldwide because of its rotten stench, I was a little nervous about my first bite.  But, to my surprise, it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting and I enjoyed the entire portion!


With my trip winding down, I left for Whistler to hang out in the mountains.  Perfect timing it seems as I was able to make it there for the farmers market.  Lunch today consisted of a savoury crepe filled with prosciutto, caramelized onions, goat cheese and arugula.  Desert was beautiful a chocolate hazelnut gelato.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find the Chili Tank at the Market!  An authentic WWII mobile soup kitchen from the Czechoslovakian Army, this is possibly the most badass of all trucks in Vancouver.

Unfortunately, by the time I got there they were all sold out of I had to "settle" for their drink....a pear/honey/ginger/mint freshie. 

So that pretty much sums up my trip.  It was the best holiday I think I have ever been on.  Not only was the food amazing, but the west coast of Canada (and Seattle) is absolutely gorgeous.  Disappointed that I couldn't get to more food trucks, but at least that leave me more to discover on my next trip out west.  For now, I am recovering at home in Ottawa and lamenting over the pathetic street food scene here.  Hoping things get going here soon, or I may have to consider re-locating!!

Thanks for reading.  If you want more info or pics of my trip, feel free to follow me on Twitter and we can chat more there. 


1 comment:

  1. Amazing post! True love how you travel to discover all things street food. Would love to meet up if and when you are in Toronto :) - allen