Day 2 Itinerary:
L I B E R T Y B A K E R Y
3699 Main St
Liberty Bakery is a charming neighbourhood café located on busy Main Street. The café and bakery has occupied this corner spot for many years, but a change of ownership in 2015 also meant a change in look and brand.
Now owned by three local artists, the cafe has a relaxed vintage aesthetic. Depending on what time you visit, it's the perfect little place to get work done or to catch up with friends.
Their kitchen serves breakfast and lunch, a standard cafe menu of salads, soups, and sandwiches. The drink menu is also a standard coffee shop list, with espresso-based drinks and tea. With bakery in their name, it comes to no surprise that their baked goods are made in-house, everything from cakes to cookies to croissants.
After ordering at the counter, you'll find the seating area directly to your right. If it's busy, the area can be a bit tight, as tables are designed only for small groups of two to four. I found the decor very pretty and Nordic-inspired. The white walls and vintage portraits are approved by both Instagrammers and hipsters alike.
We woke up bright and early that Sunday, so caffeine was in order. The matcha latte ($4.50) for me and a macchiato ($4.50) for the sister. Both came out very strong and very bitter. I guess their drinks come unsweetened, so sugar levels can be adjusted yourself, to your discretion, at their condiment station.
To be perfectly honest, the only reason why we visited Liberty was for these cute little guys. Their insta-famous Totoro cookie ($3.50) is made of gingerbread dough with icing details. So adorable and you don't even have to be a fan of Studio Ghibli to not be tempted to get one. At the end of the day, it's a classic gingerbread cookie, perfectly spiced with a tiny bit of chew.
If you're in the neighbourhood, make sure to stop by Liberty Bakery for a cup of joe. While you're at it, enjoy a sweet treat (or two) from their bakery counter. Might as well.
G A S T O W N
Brunch plans were in Gastown but because we were still early and the restaurant wasn't open yet, we decided to kill time by just walking around. It's fun exploring and stumbling upon restaurants and places that you've read about online. Here are some Gastown visuals for you all:
L ' A B A T T O I R
217 Carrall St
L'Abattoir, French for 'slaughterhouse,' has a rich and storied past, being the site of Vancouver's first jail. Nowadays, it's one of Vancouver's trendiest restaurants, serving a refined, yet casual West Coast menu that is also French-influenced.
We decided on trying L'Abattoir for their brunch, served only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 to 2.
When you first arrive, a hostess will take your coats before leading you to your table. On the main level, there is bar seating as well as a small dining area in the back. The back has floor to ceiling windows, almost like it's an attached greenhouse. With the sun shining in, it must be gorgeous in the summer. We were lead upstairs to the main dining area. Decor elements are certainly well thought-out, a mix of rustic and industrial.
Before you place an order, a server will come by with a tempting basket of baked goods. The pastry assortment includes pain au chocolat, danishes, scones, cinnamon buns, and Italian doughnuts filled with lemon curd. The pastries are all freshly made in-house and are available à la carte for $5.00 each. The scone is a little more expensive at $7.00 since it comes spread with clotted cream and jam. If you're undecided on what to get, our server mentioned that the Italian doughnut is a staff favourite.
Or you can just get them all. You probably can't go wrong with any of them.
The Italian doughnut was certainly tempting but we decided to try the currant scone ($7.00) since it seemed to be the most popular choice online. The scone is perfectly crunchy on the outside, warm and crumbly inside. A generous portion of clotted cream and raspberry jam is sandwiched in between. I wouldn't be surprised if the raspberry jam was also made in-house because it was delicious and not cloying like most jams are.
My sister was complaining about not having an appetite but that all changed when the breakfast burger ($15.00) was placed in front of her. The plate looked deceivingly small but the burger is anything but. Quarter pound beef patty, hashbrown, fried egg, iceberg lettuce, and a spread that my sister said was similar to "Big Mac" sauce. She demolished the burger but was nice enough to save me a bite at the end. So much for not having an appetite, eh?
The burger was nice and meaty, but the showstopper was definitely the hashbrown patty. Crispy and perfectly seasoned. Pro tip: order the hashbrown as a side.
I'm usually not a fan of eggs Benedict but the poached eggs with smoked pork belly ($17.00) sounded too good to pass up. Instead of traditional hollandaise, the eggs and pork belly are dressed with a cheddar sabayon over top a homemade English muffin.
As you can see, the eggs were perfectly poached. Soft with a super runny and oozy yolk. The pork belly was crispy while the sabayon was satisfyingly cheesy. As a whole, it almost became a bit too rich and heavy since all of the components are creamy and fatty.
L'Abattoir ticks off all the boxes for a satisfying brunch experience. Gorgeous decor, pretty plating, interesting menu, good eats. Worth a visit.
B K H J E R K Y
3201 Fraser St
We planned to spend the rest of our day in Burnaby. On the drive there, we stopped by BKH Jerky just off of Kingsway for some souvenir gifts. As mentioned in my previous Vancouver posts, BKH Jerky is my favourite Singapore-style jerky shop.
Singapore-style jerky is a lot more tender than your regular leathery jerky. It's sweeter, almost like it's coated with a caramelized glaze. Jerky pieces are also finished off on a grill which imparts a delicious smoky flavour.
At BKH, jerky comes in beef or pork, spicy or non-spicy. They're sold in 1/4 pound, 1/2 pound, or 1 pound increments. If you're in Vancouver, definitely stop by and grab a bag for a friend, two for yourself.
We spent the next few hours shopping at Metroplis at Metrotown and Crystal Mall down the block. We stopped for a mid-day snack, just across the street at:
S U L M I D A D E S S E R T C A F E
Korean shaved ice, more commonly known as bingsu, seems to be one of the many food trends that hit Vancouver last year. I'd say Snowy Village was responsible for bringing bingsu to the forefront, as they now have three locations across metro Vancouver. Besides Snowy Village, bingsu can also be found readily at dessert cafes such as Passion8, Midam Cafe & Bistro, and Sulmida.
Sulmida is located directly across from Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby. During the time we visited Vancouver, they had just opened up their second location in Richmond, across the street from PriceSmart Foods on Ackroyd Road.
It was rainy and cold when we walked in so it was surprising to see as many people as we did ordering and enjoying bingsu. I support the fact that ice cream shouldn't have a seasonal expiration date. You hear that Edmonton?!
Bingsu comes in two sizes at Sulmida: single or full. The bowls are displayed right at the counter, allowing you to gauge the portion sizes of both. The single bowl looks deceptively small, but I'd say it's definitely more than enough for two. Flavours are similar to the ones offered at Snowy Village, including red bean, injeolmi (rice cake), green tea, yogurt berry, strawberry, mango cheesecake, melon, etc. They even have fake displays in their cooler that show exactly what you're going to get.
Besides bingsu, Sulmida also offers injeolmi toast and an interesting creation known as lava bread, thick toast that oozes custard when cut. They also have a drink menu that consists of different coffee-based drinks, frappes/smoothies, and fruit lemonades.
Ordering is done at the counter and they will give you a number to identify your table later on when the food is delivered to you. The wait was a bit longer than I expected, but there were only a couple of girls in the back pumping out orders for the many tables. Also, presentation matters here and I can understand them taking a little more time than necessary.
Knowing that my favourite mangoes weren't exactly in season, we went for a single size strawberry bingsu ($10.00). Like Snowy Village, the shaved ice texture is very fine, but I did find it to be slightly icier and not as creamy. The strawberries were on the tart side but they were tempered when eaten in combination with the ice cream and condensed milk.
Naturally, there will be comparisons drawn between Sulmida and Snowy Village since they offer the same product. I've only ever been to Snowy Village out of the other cafes so I can't say how Sulmida stacks up to the rest of the competition, but Snowy Village definitely wins this round for me.
V I C T O R I A S U S H I
15 Royal Avenue East #10
New Westminster, BC
Dinner ended up being another long drive, this time all the way out to New Westminster. Why New Westminster you ask? A sushi restaurant has been making quite the name for itself all over social media.
Victoria Sushi is located in a residential neighbourhood, on the main floor of a condo building. Parking is horrible, because there's pretty much none. We had to circle the area a few times, eventually parking a little ways away.
The restaurant isn't anything fancy, but they're becoming well-known for their reasonably priced aburi sushi.
There's not a lot of tables inside and because they're getting quite popular, it's best to make reservations on busier nights during peak times. They also do quite a bit of take-out business as well.
We started off with takoyaki ($6.00), my favourite. Nice and crispy, good-sized chunk of octopus inside as well.
Aburi is what they're getting known for, so aburi was all we got. Pioneered by Miku in downtown Vancouver, aburi refers to flame-searing sushi. A quick brush with the blowtorch imparts a smoky aroma and enhances the natural flavours and textures of the fish.
We tried the scallop oshi sushi ($12.00), which starts off with scallop and tobiko on top of pressed sushi rice. A creamy mayo sauce is spread over the top, which is the part that gets the most seared. The scallop was our favourite of the night as it was the most creamy and smooth.
The salmon oshi sushi ($10.00) is pretty much the same deal as the scallop, except with a thin jalapeno slice adorning the top. Comparing it to Miku simply wouldn't be fair but you do have to take into account that the same roll would be $17 at Miku. As such, Victoria Sushi's version is more than decent at its price.
Our last item was the aburi tobiko roll ($10.50) with crabmeat, salmon, cucumber, tobiko, and oshi sauce. Essentially a California roll with a few more bells and whistles.
I think the wise thing to do here is to order some other things to balance out the aburi. By the end the flavours started to get repetitive and tiring since they utilize the same sauce for all of their aburi sushi.
If only it wasn't such a drive out, Victoria Sushi would be more popular than it is now. It's a great alternative to Miku at almost half the price.
Stay tuned for day 3!