STACKED is a new Scout column that aims to dig down into the delicious details of Vancouver’s better sandwiches and burgers. From banh mi and beef dip 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 | East Pender’s sweet little Bestie is well known for its tasty currywurst and cool, widely applauded Scott & Scott aesthetic, but did you know chef Colin Johnson also does a Bavarian ‘leberkäse’ melt sandwich that ranks among the city’s most deliciously unique handhelds? True story: it slipped into the menu ranks as a mainstay about a year ago following a long, oft-requited romance as an occasional special. Ok, but what the hell is ‘leberkäse’? Fair question. Though it translates literally from the German as “liver cheese”, the descriptive term came about by way of folk etymology “from the archaic word Laib (loaf) and an obsolete usage of Käse to denote any pasty food formed in a mold (cf. English ‘case’); not all products bearing the name necessarily contain liver or cheese, let alone both.” So it’s basically a Bavarian meatloaf that’s sliced and apportioned like bread. But how does it break down at Bestie? Let us show you…
1. Small gherkin, pinned to top. It’s like a present that says, “Good on you for ordering this weird-sounding thing you’d never heard of before. Courage should sometimes be met with immediate reward, so take this gherkin as a token of our respect.”
2. A squishy, enriched doughy and brioche-y bun from Swiss Bakery, halved and ring toasted on the flat top so the circumferential edge is nice and crisped.
3. Smoked cheddar. Though the whole thing is advertised as a ‘melt’ I couldn’t for the life of me find this taste on my palate, but sure as Bestie is busy it’s there and melting and imparting something to the mix.
4. A sweet and savoury relish/chutney made with onions and Granny Smith apples. It’s an acidic balancing act that knows its place and doesn’t overpower or misbehave. I’d saddle a pork belly with the stuff any day.
5. A smear of Dijon mustard adds a breath of whispered heat. Also, not to altogether distract you from this ingredient, but check out those fries on the right. The leberkäse comes with a side of golden brown action. Not a bad combo for $10, right?
6. An inch-thick slice of leberkäse, griddled on both sides to a toothsome crisp. As is the case with their sausages, Bestie sources the loaves from the good people at Oyama Sausage Co. on Granville Island. It’s a mix of veal and pork (the percentile division of which is unknown), and as you can well imagine it’s wicked tasty. Oyama retails it as “Bavarian Meatloaf”, so it you want to experiment with it at home, go for it.
7. A good lick of house mayonnaise, because sandwich.
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.
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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”.