by Ken Tsui | Kick off the lunar new year with a bang at the Chinese New Year parade on January 29th. From 11am to 1:30pm experience the vibrant sights and sounds of cultural dance troupes, marching bands, martial arts performances and the largest annual gathering of traditional lion dance teams all snaking through the historic neighbourhood’s streets. Speaking from experience, I know that following the pounding beat of the parade drums, cymbals and bagpipes through works up one’s appetite. Here are nine reliably delicious options, from the typical and traditional to the unlikely and newfangled:
New Town Bakery & Restaurant | 148 E. Pender St. | With out-of-towners and locals clamouring to New Town and leaving with boxes of their famous steamed buns, it’s safe to say that they’ve got the best buns going. I recommend taking a number at the counter and grabbing the classic steamed chicken or Sichuan pork bun when it’s your turn. Don’t sweat the line. It moves fast.
Bestie | 105 E. Pender St. | With the parade falling on a Sunday, there’s no better excuse to catch Bestie’s “Schnitzel Sunday” special. For one night a week, the fine folks at this German-themed sausage party fry up proper Austrian pork schnitzels with mustard sauce and a roster of rotating sides that’ll keep you coming back for more. Pair it with some Sunday Cider and you’re golden.
Kam Wai Dim Sum | 249 E. Pender St. | True story: Kam Wai once dished some of the tastiest dim sum in the neighbourhood. They’ve unfortunately traded in their dining tables for more storage freezers, but not all is lost! Their take-out counter still sells sticky rice with pork, shiitakes and Chinese sausage wrapped in fragrant lotus leaves that will remind you of the restaurant’s heyday.
Fat Mao Noodles | 217 E Georgia St. | Catching a few hours of the parade during a particularly cold winter will undoubtedly set a chill in you. Fat Mao’s restorative hot and sour pork noodles or southern beef laksa will set you right! The steaming bowls of noodles at chef Angus An’s side project originate everywhere from Taiwan to Thailand and the quality of the ingredients used is high.
Juke Fried Chicken | 182 Keefer St. | Warm up with a couple of fried chicken sandwiches at this instantly popular neighbourhood newcomer. Two of the little sandwiches cost just $9 (a steal), so consider pairing it up with a basket of Dirty Fries, a delicious all dressed mess that sees – shocker – hot sauce and gravy (among several other things) in bed together.
Dollar Meats | 266 Pender St. | Dollar Meats is one of the oldest Chinese butcher shops in town and carves up some of the neighbourhood’s tastiest (and best looking) vernacular BBQ and cured meats (behold the crispy whole hogs and glistening ducks hanging in the window). The friendly butcher can send you packing with plenty of char siu, BBQ pork or duck.
Virtuous Pie | 583 Main St. | Vegetarian? Lucky you. The Stranger Wings pizza is one of the most interesting pies currently going in Vancouver. It’s a V-take on buffalo chicken with cauliflower taking the place of chicken and faux blue cheese crema softening the spice. Made even more mouth-watering by fried shallots and fresh scallion. Bonus: gluten-free crust is an option.
Ramen Butcher | 223 East Georgia St. | Currently ranked #1 on Scout’s reader poll of Vancouver’s best ramen houses, The Ramen Butcher is going to be gangbusters on Sunday. But don’t worry, the queue is quick-moving and there’s almost always a seat at the two communal tables or the bar. A great place for a quick warm-up/re-up, plus they always have one or two local beers on tap.
Mamie Taylor’s | 251 E. Georgia St. | If you’re down in Chinatown for the festivities but can’t live without brunch on a Sunday, Mamie Taylor’s menu has enough of it to keep you happy and properly caffeinated for the parade. I suggest their chicken and waffles to help straighten up whatever shape Saturday night left you in.