Late June, I attended my first Tasting Plates Vancouver event, hosted by Richard, better known as Vanfoodster. Focused around a walkable distance, attendees get to visit a variety of restaurants, sampling various cuisines. It's a great way to socialize and meet new people, and to discover those hidden treasures located in every neighbourhood. The one I attended was "East Van", and centralized around Commercial Drive. First place we hit up was Siddhartha's Kitchen, an airy and bright Indian restaurant. Our tasting that night consisted of two fried items. The first was Aloo Tiki, a vegetarian friendly dish, essentially a potato pekora. The second was a Chicken Goliya (the smaller of the two balls above) with a fragrant sesame coating. Both were good with the two sauces, although I preferred the mint chutney more. This was a great way to start off our night. We then backtracked to Prado Cafe, where various handmade coffees and teas were being served. I decided for a Fruit-flavoured Iced Tea, and they also served a Mini-Cookie with No Name, but it was very reminiscent of a smore, but missing the graham flavour. Strange to have something sweet before dinner, I know, but location was key in our deciding to come here second. And actually, we continued with dessert and went to Gelateria Dolce Amore next. This family-run gelateria served up a Strawberry Cream Cheese gelato as well as a decadent Hazelnut flavour. The texture of the strawberry lingers on the tongue due to its richness, but the flavour is much more potent in the hazelnut version. And with that, we had dispensed with the sweets on this tour in one fell swoop.
Next up was Pasture to Plate. Everything here is organic and they use bio-dynamics on their farm in Chilcotin Valley. We had a vast selection of their items to try. Going clockwise from the upper right hand corner, we started off with the Porchetta on House Focaccia, with a Pine Nut & Basil Aioli. Didn't even really notice the aioli, since the pork was so flavourful, although the focaccia was a bit thick.
Next was the Beef Carpaccio Crostini with a garlic aioli. Again, the flavour of the meat masked the aoili. The crostini was a better than the focaccia, and when eaten without the beef on top, the garlic flavour does come out.
The third item we had was the Bacon Plum Mini-Pizza topped with Caramelized Onions. This was a bit sweet but the crust was the best of the bunch.
And we saved the best for last, it was the Pork and Beef Sausage, simply served with mustard. I could have had half a dozen of those easily. I don't know if it's great because it's organic or it's just that I don't eat many sausages. These had a nice crunch on the casing and the meat was super moist. A winner for sure.
Here is a selection of their meats. There are a variety of sausages, perfect for BBQ season!
They also have some other meats, such as Bacon, Pastrami, Corned Beef and more.
Okay, with three more to go on this tasty adventure, we've just passed the half-way mark now and onto the home stretch. Our next stop was La Mezcaleria, where we were treated to traditional Mexican appetizer fare.
From left to right, we have the Guacamole, the Refried Beans and a Seafood Ceviche. The corn tortillas and tostadas are made in-house. They were super crispy and not oily at all. They did a great job and held together despite the wetness of the ceviche.
The guacamole had a very fresh taste to it and I added some hot sauce for extra heat. The refried beans were some of the smoothest I've ever had. And I liked the additional topping of cheese, instead of just blending it all in.
And what do we have here? A Via Tevere Food Truck? With a wood burning oven inside?? Yes!
We were given two slices each. One is the classic vegetarian friendly Margherita. With just a simple blend of tomato, cheese and basil, this pizza is truly more than the sum of its parts. And the blistering on the crust was just enough for me. The other slice we got was the Capricciosa. I love prosciutto and mushrooms, so this dish was right up my alley. THe addition of salami, artichoke and olives gave the slice a nice salty briny quality. But I was getting full...and we still had one more place to go!
And the final destination, 5 Elements Cafe. From the name and the exterior, you would neve expect this to be a Vietnamese restaurant. They were the only restaurant on the menu that gave customers a choice of what to order. This decision-making process made the lines very long here.
But I can understand them wanting to showcase their finest options to a large group of people. This is the first option, a combo plate consisting of a Spring Roll, a Shrimp & Papaya Salad, Shrimp Paste on Sugar Cane and a Pumpkin Coconut Soup. I really liked the fact they had shrimp on their menu, and not just once, but two ways!
For the vegan option, they were offering a Spring Roll, and the shrimp in the first salad was replaced and reintroduced as a Tofu Papaya Salad. There is also got a Coconut Curry, as well as a Thai Tom Yum Soup. From the people at my table who had this, the spring rill was a clear winner, the salad had a nice texture and the curry was a bit too oily.
And as if that wasn't enough, there are also four Noodle Soup choices, a Plain Phở (rice noodles soup), a Saté Peanut Phở, and Mixed Seafood & Pork Rice Noodle Soup, and a Bún Bò Huế, a Spicy Lemongrass Beef & Pork Vermicelli Soup. The last one is what I got, and it wasn't as spicy as it looked. The noodles had a good bite to them, and the meats were quite tender, albeit a touch fatty.
This is a fun way to spend an evening, and whether you go as a group (might be harder to get seating at some places) or by yourself, the people are friendly and are all their to have a great time and to try a variety of cuisines. There is another one focused on the Lower Lonsdale area on July 23.
I've got my ticket, will I see you there? Tickets are available now.