My primary motivation for traveling is food. It’s the first and strongest way that I connect and understand new places. So it won’t be surprising that most of my posts will revolve around the culinary theme. Our first stop on the cross-Canada road trip was Vancouver. Even though the weather and the lifestyle of Vancouver wasn’t necessarily my thing, I still found plenty to enjoy about the place. The diversity of the city’s population is wonderful to behold. Approximately twenty percent of Canada’s population is foreign born and Vancouver has always been the door through which their emigrants from all over Asia have entered.
We chose to stay near a section of King’s Way in the Joyce-Collingwood neighborhood. An informal International District has spread all along both sides of the street. Dozens of authentic, regional Chinese shops and restaurants are intermingled with Thai, Hawaiian, Japanese, Latin, Indian, and Vietnamese establishments of all types. These places are aimed at the immigrant populations that have either been priced out of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighborhood or come along after the series of real estate booms that led to wack-a-doo housing prices and caused a spread of the populace out into what used to be underdeveloped suburbs. The housing bubble has reached such absurd levels in Vancouver that someone developed this fun little game called crack shack or million dollar mansion.
But enough about real estate, let’s eat! A good starting point is at the corner of Joyce Street and King’s Way. Gimena and I joyfully sweated and sniffled our way through authentic Hunan Dry Pot at Chef Pin (remember to bring cash), but from this corner you have your pick of an easy dozen spots offering all sorts of deliciousness.
Within a few blocks from here, you’ll find establishments offering Hawaiian, Thai, Vietnamese, Xinjiang, Indian, and Japanese just to name a few. They’re interspersed with grocers, fishmongers, herbalists, clothing shops… The list goes on.
King’s Way isn’t the only neighborhood of its kind in Vancouver. For instance, if you find yourself with an appetite out by Stanley Park, you’re in luck! There’s another killer little strip nearby. Start on Robson Street at the corner of Denman. Looking back toward downtown, you’ll find an embarrassment of riches awaiting you. Although you’ll find a more broad spectrum of diners than out in the further reaches of Joyce-Collingwood, these places don’t pull any punches.
These are the neighborhoods I gravitate toward, my experiences always being more positive at establishments that cater to a limited and savvy clientele rather than businesses that trade primarily on their location and are capable of maintaining financial security without ever serving the same guest twice. Examples of the latter type can be found in great abundance within Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. Tourists and undiscerning locals throng the streets of Chinatown every day of the year, but very very few are taking the SkyTrain to 29th Street and walking the ten blocks it takes to do their shopping or dining on the stretch of King’s Way I’m talking about. But their loss is your gain. Trust me. It’s worth the trip.