An expat in Vancouver first impressions: food

I’ve only been in Vancouver a week, so as the post title states these are first impressions. We’ll see how they stand up to time.


Vancouver is practically synonymous with diversity, and much of that comes from Asia. Yes, Chinese noodle houses and Japanese sushi joints are ubiquitous. But within walking distance to my condo I can also get Ukrainian borscht, Malay roti, Montreal smoked meat, Lebanese falafal, Indian Korma, Korean BBQ and more, as well as the usual pizza, tacos and burgers. The presence of this diversity doesn’t mean it is all good (or hygienic). Just that it’s there.


In Portland, it goes without saying at almost any modern eatery that the food is locally sourced, seasonal and organic. Even chain groceries like Safeway and Albertson’s are giving organic more than lip service. In Vancouver, that ethos is present but not a given. More often than not the Asian grocery stand, while carrying almost everything you’d need in a kitchen from Japanese boiled chestnuts to Italian tomatoes, will not carry organic produce. Vegan is fringe; compare that to Portland where the Oregonian’s FoodDay has a vegan columnist.

Chinese influence

The most striking immediate change on the scene is the great Chinese food. The demand for excellent dumplings, seafood, noodles, vegetables and, it must be said, viscera, from the many Chinese from the PRC, Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as Canadians of Chinese descent, benefits us all. On our first night we were driven by hunger to a drab, unesthetically lit noodle joint in a non-descript mall in the nearby municipality of Richmond (almost 50 percent Chinese) for a simple and authentic meal of shrimp dumplings, “fish tofu”, noodles, gai lan in broth that comforted and sated.

Now I need to track down one of those dim sum food carts I’ve heard about.

About kmazz

I spend as much time as possible pursuing my interests in global culture, photography, arts and politics.
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2 Responses to An expat in Vancouver first impressions: food

  1. U know who says:

    price per meal relative to portland? In which city is a 5-meal rampage more enjoyable?

  2. kmazz says:

    Portland is hard to beat in NorthAm for top value at low cost. But give me more time here and I’ll respond more fully.

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