My friends and I drove up to Canada this past weekend to stay at a friend’s cousin’s empty condo. We were there for three days.
AND IT WAS AWESOME.
I mean, I’ve been to Canada lots of times before; it’s only a few hours away. But I’ve never gone with just some friends and no family. But more than being able to go clubbing without a judging parent’s eye, I discovered that -waitforit- Canda is basically China’s amazing food, but cleaner, and with bigger streets and better weather!
Based on the few times I’ve gone to China, it’s seems like the country is super crowded with streets packed all the time, hot and humid weather all the time, and crazy polluted by smokers, cars and taxis, and little kids peeing on the street (it’s true). I mean, sure, the mountains and caves and monuments are great. But I’m not really that kind of tourist. It’s nice to see those things, but maybe after you’ve seen the city, first. And to me, the city isn’t all that impressive. Except for the food. I remember the awesome meals we had. Of course, we were also scurried from one restaurant to another by family, but OHMYGOODNESS THE FOOD! Huge tables filled with plates and plates of deliciousness, and it never seemed to stop. Then again, I could be overexaggerating it, since I was only a little girl at the time, so I had nothing to really focus on besides the food (and how weird I thought it was that my dad would order Sprite for me instead of just tap water, when I knew he thought Sprite was unhealthy). But I think it was really good.
When we were in Vancouver, it was similar. We ate amazingly well. Dim sum, ramen, hotpot, shaved ice, and all-you-can-eat sushi. And after that, going to the big Asian grocery market (Yaohan) to buy asian sweet or savory buns to bring back. Oh, Yaohan. How I love you so. You should be Canada’s national market. Or at least Vancouver’s, if the French-Canadians complain. Every time, without fail, I MUST go to Yaohan in Richmond. And every time, I’ll get sweet buns and a savory rice wrap and bubble tea from the food court. And every time, I’ll wish I could live in there. Some people go to the market begrudgingly to buy food. Some are somewhat amused by Costco and ethnic groceries. I LOVE going to the market and looking at all the yummy food.
The other places we ate were also great. There’s no worry in Vancouver about eating General Tsao’s Chicken, or some sad previously-frozen fish. It’s all authentically delicious. The dim sum place we went to, Dinesty (hah) had some really nice xiao long bao and an amazing lo sung tofu dish (I have it in as much English as I can. If I translated it further it’d be little tiger buns and pork floss tofu). The ramen joint (Santouka) had amazingly rich and smooth soup and melt-in-your-mouth pork cheek slices. Although, the entire time we were eating I was giving the table next to us an evil glare. The group of three was taking up two tables in a really small shop, and were just sitting there talking after having paid. They’d already finished when my group was seated. They left after we were finished eating. I felt bad for the waitresses. They had no idea what to do!
We also got hotpot at Landmark Hotpot before a couple girls in our group left for a Joseph Vincent concert (oh, did I mention? They got a pair of VIP tickets to his concert when we went clubbing). I don’t know about you, but hotpot back home generally has a chicken soup base and sadly dull meat slices. Not so here. We got the second cheapest (cheapest being a from-scratch chicken broth) and it was a milky looking beef-bone and dates broth. Really good on its own. The restaurant also gave a nice refreshing plum drink when we were done.
Of course we saved best for last. Each time my group of friends go to Canada, they stop by an all-you-can-eat sushi and korean bbq restaurant called Shabusen. I’ve never gone with them before so I wanted to see what all this hype was about. But we didn’t go there. Instead we went to a new all-you-can-eat, called Ninkazu. For $10 each, we could order all the sushi and nigiri we wanted. For $15, we could skip all the sushi rice and order all the salmon and tuna sashimi we wanted! And ohhh, did we order all we wanted. We got maybe 40 pieces of the sashimi, along with salmon skin rolls, yam rolls, fried tofu, chicken karaage, chopped scallop temaki, and ohhsomanyotherthings. Basically we stuffed ourselves of tender sashimi and a whole range of japanese foods (in retrospect, I’m pretty sure we ordered at least one of everything. Or close to it). We left stuffed. I love fish, but after that, even I’m kinda done for a little bit.
So over the course of three days, we ate. A LOT. The weather was nice, and we walked around a lot. The air was polluted, there wasn’t any pee on the ground (although we did see a huge flock of tiny ants in a crack on the sidewalk. That was kind of weird), and the public transportation looked pretty cool (Skytrain, Seataxi and Seabus? Does that NOT seem cooler than just buses?). I still have a few more buns and rice rolls to prolong the deliciousness. All in all, it was like being in China with my friends. Except better than China.
PS- And seriously, if all that food wasn’t enough to convince you, we also found an amazing radio station in Vancouver. It had the best mix of new songs and older classics. It’s called The Beat 94.5 .