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Aug 5, 2009 07:15 AM

"Low-end" Asian fusion in Vancouver?

I'm going to be spending a few days in Vancouver next week, and I'm trying to track down some truly interesting Asian fusion restaurants. Now, normally, I don't trust the term, but it seems like there's some cool places, like Lion's Den (Japanese-Caribbean), Japa Dog and the Hong Kong-style cafes that do noodle soups alongside pork chops and spaghetti.

Is there anything else like that that I should check out?

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  1. Euro-Indian: Vij's

    Yoshoku-ya: Ping's, Yoshoku-Ya, Barefoot Kitchen, Hi-Genki (a food court at a Japanese senior's home)

    I would consider at least some of the izakaya to serve fusion cuisine: Hapa Izakaya, Kakurenbo, Kingyo, and a number of others.

    Hawaiian-Japanese: Gohan (haven't been, but it has been on my list for a bit) has a few Hawaiian dishes in the predominanty izkaya-like menu; Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ (Maple Ridge) - I haven't been here either.

    Then there are the more self-conscious fusion places: Flying Tiger, Wild Rice

    How far do you want to take it? Many of the city's restaurants use Asian ingredients and techniques. (eg have a look at the menu at a restaurant like Market at the Shangri-La). "Asian Fusion Cuisine" is all over the place and arguably defines the dining scene here in this city.

    As a sidenote: I don't know if I would consider Lion's Den a fusion place...they serve Caribean food and Okonomiyaki...but I have never seen an attempt at fusing.

    Edit: I just noticed you edited the title to indicate "Low-End" - well strike off Market, Vij's and perhaps the some of the izakaya places. Rangoli - Vij's sister restaurant - might fit in the budget category - I wouldn't call it low end..

    7 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      I used to go to Gohan quite a bit about 4-5 years ago. Since then I have rarely gone, just the occasional work lunch. The lunch combos are quite cheap, however their rolls are premade and the rice is old and hard. Originally when I used to go, I'd go for dinners, the selection they had was quite interesting and tasty. However, the past couple of years, the taste just isn't there. We used to order the calamari, croquettes, chicken katsu, pretty much all their deep frys are good, it's got a different flare to it. Hawaiian chicken isn't too bad either but it's similar to sweet and sour chicken.

      Oh if you order from the regular menu or the special it's not very cheap. It used to cost of around $70 for two. Their combos are cheap but often doesn't include the things we wanted.

      1. re: fmed

        Some others I forgot about (and it fits in "low-end"):

        Filipino-Chinese: Pin-Pin.

        Indian-Chinese: Green Lettuce, Chili Pepper House.

        1. re: fmed

          Ah, some nice suggestions! Thanks! I think those Yoshoku-ya-type places will be an interesting contrast with the HK-style cafes.

          How far do I want to take it? Well, I've adjusted the name of this discussion to better reflect what I'm after—low-end stuff, which seems more naturally evolved than, say, the high-end fusion restaurants. I love how things like borscht wind up on Hong Kong menus, for example. And I think (from what I've read) that Lion's Den may be putting jerk chicken in their okonomiyaki. I like it when fusion comes from the ground up, rather than top down—i.e., some fancy chef throwing kaffir lime leaves into braised short ribs is less interesting than some small Thai restaurant deciding to long-braise short ribs in a massaman curry. Does that make sense?

          Also: Is there an ideal HK cafe to get my borscht on in? I've heard good things about Cafe Gloucester, but are there others?

          1. re: worldmatt

            OK - I understand now...thanks for the clarification.

            There are dozens of HK Cafes in town - Angel, Honolulu, Mui Garden, iCafe (though to be honest, I'm not an aficionado of this cuisine). Richmond is the place to go for this.

            Good to know that Lion's Den is fusing the two cuisines...they didn't do that the last time I was there (a few years ago now).

            The ubiquitous "Chinese-Canadian" restaurants may be not interesting enough...Mom and Pop restaurants that serve burgers and chow mein...not unlike the American-Chinese places down south...but worth a mention.

            1. re: fmed

              Not quite fusion but definitely one type of cuisine alongside another: the Argo Cafe. Great atmosphere, super service and excellent value for everything from burgers to Chinese specialties to (my favourite) daily specials like short ribs and duck confit for a tenner or less. Now open for Sat brunch IIRC...

              Argo Cafe
              1836 Ontario St, Vancouver, BC V5T2W6, CA

              1. re: grayelf

                the argo is indeed awesome value, a tad off the beaten track, exceelent value , albeit a bit out of the way and services workers in the arera therefore it closes at 4pm m-f and yes they do sat brunch

                1. re: grayelf

                  Nice addition! (Think French-style braised lamb shanks with baby bok choy and pureed root veggies - honest fusion not fluffy con-fusion).