Vancouver Restaurants – 1

Whether you are traveling on business or coming to Vancouver, BC for the Winter Olympic Games 2010, you will need to find some inventive, low cost restaurants for at least some of your meals, as I expect prices will rise, especially during the Olympiad.

With the worsening economy, many people have also had to look closely at their budgeting, so these two home-style restaurant choices in Vancouver can help your bottom line.

  • Hi Genki – Vancouver – a unique Japanese Restaurant. The allure of a “Washoku” (home-style) Japanese meal for under $10 is strong, so go early on the week-end, as the lines get long. If you want to avoid a wait, you might aim for an 11:30 a.m. or a 2 p.m. meal, since you can’t make reservations.

    The restaurant is in the nine-year-old Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre in Burnaby, which also provides housing for seniors, and although the restaurant serves meals to the residents, it is also open to the public — dining hours for the two groups are staggered. A good plan would be to take in a cultural event at the center and then do lunch or dinner. Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre, Vancouver

    You won’t find sushi or izakaya style (Japanese pub food) dishes here. The kitchen serves many specials every day — a lot of them donburi style (rice bowl). Examples of specials include salmon katsu (breaded); salmon with egg on rice; prawn with egg on rice; chikara udon; oden is a spicy hot pot with fishcakes, vegetables and egg; ebi katsu don (breaded and deep-fried prawns) with egg and rice; sukiyaki don (veggies and eggs with a sukiyaki sauce over rice); deluxe bento with tempura, salmon teriyaki, tuna and rice). There are also side dishes like agedashi nasu (deep-fried eggplant served in a ponzu-like sauce).

    The restaurant is the same ownership as Fujiya, the Japanese store and takeout with locations in Vancouver, Richmond and Victoria.

    6680 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby.
    Public hours: 11:30 to 3 p.m.; and 6 to 8:30 p.m.

  • Atithi Indian restaurant, Vancouver is another home-style establishment, and their vegetable samosa are the most delicate in the city. The jovial owner, Abhishek Roy, was the executive chef at the fancier Maurya Indian restaurant before starting out on his own two years ago.

    The decor at Atithi is not glamorous, but it’s neat and comfortable, and the food is plated, fine-dining style.

    Many of the techniques and dishes are treasures from his mother, and he is always influenced by Vikram Vij, he adds.

    His mother, he says, never used cream because it wasn’t available. “There are one billion people in India, having curries every day. They have to have simplicity or they wouldn’t get fed.” And, they use healthy ingredients.

    One hallmark of his modern Indian cookery is the blackboard — with specials featuring ingredients he’s picked up on rounds at Granville Island market, daily.

    Roy says, “Sometimes I’ll make Bengal curry out of fresh halibut with ginger and mustard and fresh cilantro. Or I’ll get coho salmon, grill it with poppyseed curry on top.” He tries to shop organically and definitely uses local sources.

    Lunch is served buffet-style, with about a dozen dishes; dinner is more inventive and there are lots of specials.

    Try the “frankie,” which is a Mumbai (Bombay) street food. Think of it as an Indian hotdog where chicken or lamb is mixed with egg, paneer (a simple Indian cheese), vegetables and spices and then is wrapped with several layers of paratha dough. It’s served with french fries, mint and a tamarind dip all for $6. Not a bad deal at all.

    His pakoras and samosas are not heavy, dense, oily versions like we’ve all munched on in other establishments. The jackfruit pakora is his mother’s recipe; they had a jackfruit tree at home.

    There are secrets he won’t divulge about his unique, healthier recipes, but fresh ingredients play a big part, he says, and he makes small portions of basics at a time, so the food is always fresher. He uses his mother’s Garam Masala spice mix.

    Desserts also have a light touch, and are classic choices like Khir (rice pudding) and Gulab Jamin.

    Grab a bite before a movie at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas. The frankie and samosas here, will be fast and fresh.

    2445 Burrard St.,
    Open Monday to Friday for lunch and 7 days a week for dinner.

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