STACKED is a Scout column that aims to dig down into the delicious details of Vancouver’s better sandwiches and burgers. From banh mi and burgers to sliders and reubens, the goal is to craft and catalog an archive of awesome that visitors and locals alike can reference when at their hungriest.
by Andrew Morrison | The artfully constructed French Onion Dip at The Tuck Shoppe on Union St. is nothing short of a sandwich masterpiece. And like any superior piece of art worthy of our attentions it is complete. If you were to add anything to it or take something away from it it would lose its overall impact, which is quite simply an edible expression of perfection.
1. Thinly sliced 63 Acres beef brisket brined for 24 hours in a mix of red wine vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. It then sits in a sous vide bath for 24 hours at 62.5 degrees before resting for a day. It is sliced and portioned out at 5oz per sandwich and finally baptized in jus to order. Dissolves on the tooth after two or three chews.
2. Hard Bite brand potato chips, plain. You could fuss about them not being prepped in house, but they play a supplementary, added-value role here and are far from instrumental to the whole.
3. A mere whisper of Emmentaler, a yellow, medium-hard Swiss cheese made from cow’s milk. It might add a lick of slickness to the overall texture, but the taste impact is negligible.
4. The jus is a salty combination of the meat’s brine, the moisture from the meat’s sous vide preparation, and some puréed caramelized onion.
5. The role the parsley plays here is all about adding a little bit of colour to the presentation. It is otherwise overwhelmed by its flavour neighbours.
6. Caramelized white onions play a big role in this sandwich, as they not only act as a visible and palate-perceptible layer they’re also pureed into the dipping jus (detailed in fig. 4).
7. Quartered pickle made in house. Boiled brine of white vinegar, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, garlic, dill, salt, mustard seeds, peppercorns, sambal and fennel is cooled and steeped for 24 hours before another 24 hours of cucumber immersion. Very flavourful and not overly crunchy.
8. Horseradish is pretty much the hero of this sandwich. For me it’s what pulls everything together, even more so than the dipping jus. It elevates what would otherwise be a marinated steak sandwich into something special. It might look like a lot, but the shavings are tiny, and a little goes a long way.
9. Yellow and Dijon mustards blended with a little paprika. A cool move on the part of chef Martin Keyer to keep this on the side as mustard can be a motherfucker with delicate flavour balancing acts. For my part, I prefer not to let the horseradish do its thing alone and use the mustard instead to soften the crunch of the chips and give them the flavour they’re missing. Waste not, want not, et cetera.
10. The bread is from La Baguette on East 1st Avenue, a wholesale baker that’s been in the trade since 1982. Once it’s loaded up it’s toasted for three minutes before the garnishes (figs. 5, 8) are applied. It crisps up nicely but surrenders to the bite with little pressure.
11. Aside from its minor flavour role, the spread of mayonnaise adds enough viscosity to keep the meat moving on the bread’s surface under the weight of the other ingredients (and the swampy deluge of dipping jus), but not so much that all of the meat comes out at once in a disastrous one-bite exodus.
Chinatown, a commercial (and increasingly residential) neighbourhood within the Downtown Eastside, has been one of Vancouver’s most vibrant areas since the City’s beginnings. It got its start as a ghetto on the edge of the Granville Townsite in the late 1880s when scores of Chinese immigrants arrived to work BC’s mines and build its railroads. Despite the institutional racism of the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act and the anti-animated neon signage laws of 1974, it has endured with outside forces doing little to curb its vibrancy. Today it is home to an eclectic mix of traditional and trendy eateries, markets, gardens, temples, and a wide assortment of businesses ranging from tea shops and apothecaries to art galleries and vintage stores. Its future is uncertain, however, as developers are cashing in on its cool cachet and consequently – dramatically – impacting the neighbourhood’s affordability while also eroding its unique character. How much more of this it can take remains to be seen, but the tipping point between its survival and its end feels closer than ever. Chinatown’s borders are debatable, but they can be squared roughly by Abbott St. in the west, Gore Ave. in the east, E. Pender St. in the north and E. Georgia St. in the south.
Did we miss your favourite new spot? Let us know via @scoutmagazine
Blue/Orange facades of Ho Sun Hing Printers & Fresh Egg Mart on East Georgia; the leafiness of Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Gardens; ugly blue LED streetlights; Erin Templeton shop facade; cheese sauce at Bestie; Mamie Taylor’s green walls; Matchstick Coffee’ house “Catalogue” blend; yellow window shutters above Fat Mao; orange awning above New Town Bakery; omnipresent decorative red and gold; freshly horked old man loogie; marinated eggplant with soy, garlic, and ginger at Bao Bei; stinky summer fish gut puddle; the best table in the house (#43) at Kissa Tanto; green signage at Kent’s Kitchen; dead alleyway pigeon tri-colour; dried tokay gecko on a stick.
DEAD LIZARDS FOR YOUR PENIS*
$8.99 (AND CHEAPER) HAIRCUTS
EXCELLENT PARADES WITH BAGPIPES, DRAGONS, & SIKHS ON MOTORCYCLES
THE RENNIE COLLECTION AT WING SANG
THE OFTEN BIZARRE ASSORTMENT OF VINTAGE AT SPACE LAB
THE OCCASIONAL RAT
PRESENTS FOR YOUR MOM
GAMES OF POOL AT THE LONDON PUB
THE VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE KEEFER PARKADE
AN UNSUSTAINABLE AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES
AMAZING JAPANESE KNIVES AT AI & OM
OUT OF THE ORDINARY BLIM WORKSHOPS
SWEET VINTAGE AT DUCHESSE
TERRIFYING GUTTER PUDDLES
THE NICE GUYS AT THE SHOP
THE PLAZA SKATEPARK
SUPPLIES FOR LIQUOR LOVERS
A WHOLE LOTTA PIGEONS
LEATHER BAGS AT ERIN TEMPLETON
* the dried lizards (tokay geckos) are a traditional Chinese medicine for impotence, tuberculosis, and asthma.
MARINATED EGGPLANT (OR PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING) AT BAO BEI
APOTHECARY COCKTAILS AT THE KEEFER BAR
HOT & SOUR PORK NOODLES AT FAT MAO
“RED” RAMEN FROM THE RAMEN BUTCHER
THE FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICHES AT JUKE
STRANGER WINGS PIZZA AT VIRTUOUS PIE
LATE NIGHT FRIED RICE AT GAIN WAH
ICE CREAM SANDWICHES FROM SCENT OF A SANDWICH
BBQ DUCK AT MONEY FOODS
GIN & TONICS AT JUNIPER
GOOD AEROPRESS COFFEE & CONVERSATION AT AUBADE
HAM & MUSTARD GALETTES AT MATCHSTICK
SWEET & SOUR PORK FROM SAI WOO
APPLE PIE FROM THE PIE SHOPPE
CHICKEN WINGS & GARLIC PRAWNS AT PHNOM PENH
HAM GRENADES AT MAMIE TAYLOR’S
AVOCADO TOAST AT ROOST
EXCELLENT BEANS AND SPACE TO BREATHE AT PROPAGANDA COFFEE
PORK BUNS AT NEW TOWN BAKERY
SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM FROM PRIME TIME CHICKEN
TORTELLINI & SINGAPORE SLINGS AT KISSA TANTO
PORK THURINGER CURRYWURST AT BESTIE
– The oldest standing structure in Chinatown is the Wing Sang Building on Pender, built in 1889 by Chinatown pioneer Yip Sang.
– Market Alley, spanning from Main Street and Carrall between Hastings and Pender, was a turn-of-the-century hotspot for opium production, gambling, and after-hours debauchery.
– Dr. Sun Yet-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was the first of its kind to be constructed outside of China.
– Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in North America.
– Note so cool: a city ordinance was passed in 1937 that prohibited Chinese-owned restaurants from employing white women. In 1939, city council amended the law to permit white waitresses in Chinatown restaurants that served “English meals to English customers”.