Tasting Plates Summer Edition

After doing a write up in support of Richard Wolak’s Tasting Plates event, I was invited to attend the food tour. Unlike other food tours in the city, this is a go-at-your-own-place type of tour and not something one should attend alone. The social nature of dining is crucial because if you’re going to make a dent in at least two-thirds of the restaurants and sample all the tasting plates offered, you’re gonna need one or two buddies along for the ride.

There are eleven stops on this tour, with a variety of ethnic foods and experiences waiting to be discovered. Each guest receives a card and map; upon arrival at the restaurant, a server or volunteer will mark the corresponding restaurant on the card until each destination has been completed.

Stop 1 of 11 – Mobius Tea and Coffee

Dessert First! New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce and Lemon Curd Cheesecake.  Even though it’s small, I like the filling to crust ratio. Not really anything special in particular, but it was a nice stop to get our appetites warmed up.

4125 Main Street, Vancouver, BC

Mobius Coffee & Tea on Urbanspoon

Stop 2 of 11 – Bob Likes Thai Food

The tasting plate included: Miang Kham [mîəŋ kʰam] (just a bite) – Piper sarmentosum or chaphlu leaves, Roasted coconut shavings, Lime, Shallot, Peanut and Ginger with Tamarind Palm Sugar sauce.
Tuna Chilli Dip
– Tuna, Garlic, Chilli, Lime leaf, mashed in Mortar serve with Cucumber.
Bob’s Chip
–  Fried rice ball of red curry paste, lime leaf and Black sesame seeds.
Lastly, Papaya Salad – shredded Green Papaya with Green Beans, Tomato, Garlic, Chillies, Fresh Lime Juice.

This stop was quite the popular one, and offered a great variety of options — perfect for someone who has yet to experience a meal at Bob Likes Thai Food.

3755 Main Street, Vancouver, BC

Bob Likes Thai Food on Urbanspoon

Stop 3 of 11 – Triple O’s on the Go

Any legitimate food tour needs to include the popular mobile style of dining — food carts. This stop was the furthest on the tour and well suited for those who were biking between restaurants. I was one who chose to walk the entire tour and this particular stop was not really near any of other ones, but its menu was worth the extra steps to try.

The menu included a combination of the following:

Orange Creamsicle Milkshake – Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Candied Orange Syrup, served with Fresh Whipped Cream
Butterfinger Milkshake – 
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and crushed Butterfinger, served with Fresh Whipped Cream
Meatball Sliders – House made Meatballs smothered in Marinara Sauce, served with Pesto and Provolone Cheese
Crispy Mac n’ Cheese Slider – Mac n’ cheese fritter, with  house made bacon-ketchup

Here’s a close up shot of that Mac n’ cheese slider..minus the whole “bacon ketchup” (didn’t really taste any bacon), this slider makes a good non-meat alternative.

Stop 4 of 11 – Sal y Limon

I think this restaurant, although prepared and customized everything to order, had a pretty proficient queue and food delivery system. While I was waiting, I noticed I was just a few steps from Les Faux Bourgeoise, and suddenly, wanted lemon tart. Who am I kidding? I always want lemon tart.

My choice (of 3 proteins) was the pulled pork with avocado sauce and cilantro. Cute little tacos. It’s a nice little pit stop and the servers were definitely warm and welcoming.

5-701 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC
Sal Y Limon on Urbanspoon

Stop 5 of 11 – Pop Up Pizza (half way done!)

Pop Up Pizza was, according to my experience, the restaurant serving actual meal size portions. By this time, I was getting really full, but my card was not complete! Must push onwards. The restaurant kitchen was small, so the waiting time made me even more full; but the options were impressive. From the choice of three pizzas, we choose (above):

Sublime” – Also known as the ‘Game Changer”. White Wine, Cilantro, Garlic, Prawn and Lobster, Baja-Style Tomato and Pepper Sauce with Parmesan and Piquante cheese.

Misfit” Rosemary Wild Boar Salami, Pecorino Toscano, Proscutto, “Super Tomatoee Sauce”, Basil Leaf, Red Wine and Garlic Marinated Roma Tomatoes baked and finished with Romano Cheese.

Given the size of the pizza, I’ll forgo the lack of toppings. But, I must say, great service and simple decor of vinyl records and EPs.

Stop 6 of 11 – Fray on Fraser (stay with me….)

At this point, as sad as it is, you simply can’t eat all of the things on your plate. One bite each is what it comes down to. The tasting plate at Fray included: Portobello Fries, Rosemary-Infused Potato and Taro Chips, Polenta Salad (Polenta is buried beneath all those greens and Pork Belly Sandwich. The item I enjoyed the most was the Portobello Fries, the sandwich was a bit too heavy on the bread side and the salad and fries were a bit lackluster. This restaurant is quite fun and interactive, with trivia nights and even a rendition of Hipster Bingo. It’s a cool place to spend an evening.

3980 Fraser – Vancouver, BC

Fray on Urbanspoon

Stop 7 of 11 – ShakTea (I’m almost done, I swear)

I came in here hoping I could just grab some tea for digestion — yes, I realize it’s a very Asian thing to do. Instead, what we got was a small tea sampling and a few bites from their afternoon tea service. Gah I was full, but surprisingly still had room for these little two biters. (I swear, when food’s in front of me, I just eat it).

Above – Tea Egg Sandwich with Smokey Tea Sauce and Miniature Cream Earl Grey shortbread cookie. The servers don’t really know too much about their food offerings but their knowledge on the tea selection and their recommendations are quite helpful. Definitely plan to return for afternoon tea service.

3702 Main St, Vancouver, BC

Shaktea on Urbanspoon

Stop 8 of 11 – Trafiq Bakery (Stick a fork in me, I’m done)

Food coma achieved. I didn’t think I could go any further. So to end the night, we circled back to Trafiq for some Americanos. While we’re at it, might as well sample the dessert tasting plate. Above – Salted Caramel Pecan Cookie and Killer Brownie. The cookie was really lovely, sweet and salty; with the Americano,  it was a good way to end the evening.

4216 Main St, Vancouver, BC

Dang, I didn’t make it to all of the stops.  View the entire menu and restaurant list >>

For many food aficionados (refraining from using the other “food” term you see), food events like these tours aren’t necessarily true representations of the establishments, nor do they believe that a “review” should be done on said restaurants because this visit isn’t an ordinary visit. With all of that aside (believe me, I understand this perspective), my take on food tours reflects my attitude towards food in general. It’s about the social experience, the act of sitting together to enjoy a meal. And with Tasting Plates and other similar events, it’s also about making new friends.

This recap is simply my experience. Progressive dining is an experience I personally enjoy. I like variety, I like exploring places I may not necessarily go to and I like sharing food.