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Nov 20, 2009 09:17 AM

Pan Asian at the Flying Tiger: A Chowdown Report (Vancouver)

In a city of great "authentic" Asian food, I have to wonder why Pan Asian cuisine succeeds in Vancouver. Places like Wild Rice and our Chowdown target last night, Flying Tiger are perennially popular spots - particularly for non-Asians. I contend that most of the appeal is in the Western sensibilities in terms of service, amenities, cleanliness, etc. Asian restaurants, as a generalization, are often seen as less than desirable places to eat in terms of those criteria. But what about the food? I would characterize the food here as "approachable." If you are looking for authenticity, you will need to look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for a place that can fly you around Asia and serve classic dishes that are well prepared and well presented, then Flying Tiger is the place for you.

Last night powerhouse chef Tina Fineza prepared a sampling menu of some of the restaurant favourites to a dozen Chowhounds. We had a special guest - Calgary hound miss.foodie is still in town eating her way around Vancouver.

In order of appearance (I hope I get this correct) we had:

An Amuse of Tuna tartare (served on Chinese soup spoons and dressed with seasoned mayo)

Har Gao (well presented with perfect pleating - though I found the skin a bit undercooked)

Deep Fried Squid (served with a tart tamarind, lime, belachan and fish sauce -based dipping sauce)

Roti and Curry Dip (the roti was very croissant-like and tasting as if the used actual croissant dough - very buttery. The curry sauce that accompanied it was a bit sweet).

Green Beans (fried and dressed sweet soy -based glaze)

Black Cod (served with a green papaya slaw - with a tart lime dressing. This is my favourite dish tonight.)

Her famous Duck wrap (a sweet shredded duck filling served with flour peking duck wrappers and a nice selection of somewhat unusual Asian herbs like rice paddy herb, mints and basils - which added some nice fresh notes)

Penang Chicken curry (a coconut curry inspired by a true Pan-Asian dish originally from Malaysia. You will find Penang Curry all over SE Asia - but the Thai version is probably the best known. Again I found it a bit sweet.)

Overall, the experience was extremely positive. I left my "authenticity" hat at the door and imagined the restuarant as a fun place to eat Asian food. It is like a gastronomic theme park ride throughout Asia. This is also great place to introduce Asian and Southeast Asian food to novices because it's style highly approachable - with flavours adjusted to accommodate virginal palates.

Some very dark and fuzzy pics here:

Flying Tiger
2958 4th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6K1R4, CA

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  1. Don't forget dessert!
    Mango gelato and thai sticky/sweet (?) rice

    Lots of food and I think everyone was pretty happy, I know I was and was very full too!

    5 Replies
    1. re: starlady

      Yes I did forget the dessert!. The pictures I took of the sticky rice were completely unusable. Damn these dark and funky restaurants.

      And yes indeed it was a lot of fun (such a great group of people)! There was so much food that we had leftovers (of which I was the lucky recipient.) ....mmmmm....leftovers (in a Homer Simpson voice).

      1. re: fmed

        Concurring on your writeup, as I usually do, fmed ;-). Thanks for that and for the pix. Had a great time with all the Hounds -- three hours sped by.

        1. re: grayelf

          Deep fried squid was my fave of the night. Time did fly, I told my son I'd probably have to dilly-dally waiting to pick him up from work at 10, but I looked at my watch and it was 10:30 (well, actually I couldn't see my watch in the light - starlady told me the time)! It didn't feel like 3 hours had gone by! He was home before me. I enjoyed the dinner/company a lot and I too agree with fmed in all his observations!

          1. re: ck1234

            Thanks for the writeup and the pics, fmed. My fave was the deep fried squid as well, mainly because of the dipping sauce. I totally concur with fmed's observations as well. I had a great time last night... It was really nice meeting more hounds in the Vancouver area.

            1. re: miss.foodie

              If you like that dipping sauce, then I think you will like the dipping sauce in Song Huong's Bo 7 Mon.