The new concept, due to open later this Spring, will blend Italian and Chinese cuisines under the guidance of chef Alex Tung, the company’s new Culinary Director whose lengthy career has seen him clock hours under the legendary likes of chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud and Christian Delouvrier.
This is one of the more exciting and unique restaurants in the local pipeline right now so I jumped at the chance to walk through the space late last week. Upon entering at the top of the stairs off Alberni St. I was surprised to find Market’s old patio space now completely enclosed, thus creating a new dining room and lounge that looked to be about 80% finished.
Anchored by a banquette island topped with small olive trees, this is the Friulian-inspired Frasca Room, one of two dining rooms at Miantiao and home to surprising amount of natural light. The second follows the footprint of Jean-Georges old showcase and will be known as Jia, or ‘home’. Its elegant peanut butter-coloured booths and wooden parquet floors are accessed through an attractive, light-lined archway and is further separated from the Frasca Room by a completely revamped cocktail bar.
As before with Market, there are three private rooms discretely tucked into as many corners. Taken all together, the Zara Sangha design looks and feels as refined as Market ever was, even unfinished. The 180-seater might seem pretty big and fancy for a company that has previously kept things small and casual (see Pizzeria Farina, Ask For Luigi), but they have very capable personnel and a long history of successfully training-to-project. What’s more, their other restaurants have all been winners, and when they require tweaking they don’t hesitate to tweak (witness the 2017 transformation of Joe’s Pizza into Di Beppe). This makes me believe they can pull it off, even in the clinging wane of an insufferable pandemic.
Here are some excerpts from the Shangri-La’s original announcement last month, plus a bunch of photos from my tour:
Showcasing the very best of Italian, Chinese and Canadian ingredients, the refined cuisine of Miantiao will provoke thought and emotion. The Miantiao culinary program can be described as Italian cuisine elevated with Chinese sensibilities, and Chinese gastronomy uplifted by the elegant simplicity of Italian cuisine. With no rules limiting the creativity of the talented culinary team, guests can be prepared for a unique, stimulating and enticing journey. Guests can expect unparalleled pasta fresca, twist on the famous traditional Peking Duck, a cornucopia of the freshest seafood and interesting interpretations of cornerstone dishes from Italian and Chinese cuisine.
Inspired by the multicultural nature of Vancouver, Miantiao’s concept revolves around the story of a Chinese-Italian couple living in Vancouver. Proud of their respective cultures and the cuisine they grew up with, the partners consistently banter about which cuisine reigns supreme. Despite the nostalgia for their own heritage, each partner recognizes the culinary excellence of the other and borrows techniques and ingredients from their partner’s cuisine.
Miantiao’s menu reflects this story with an array of delectable dishes, an inspired cocktail offering and an exceptional wine program. Complemented with a stylish and comfortable room, the understated, yet elevated service will introduce guests to a truly unique Vancouver dining experience.