Completely turned on by the idea of savoring a city’s culinary scene in a bounded period of time, we followed in Anthony Bourdain’s foot steps and laid over in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although while Anthony’s visits tap out at the FMC regulated 24 hour layover, our Friday evening arrival and Sunday night departure permitted a full 46 hour period to traverse the city oyster scene, with a few sushi stops along the way. We soon realized that Tony is truly onto something, for as much as the extra 22 hours encompassed its own welcoming endeavors, a mere 24 hours was all we really needed to slurp our hearts out.
Heading back west, this time to the birth place our favorite bivalves, we took to our fellow foodies in mapping out our British Columbia natives. Treading international waters would mean a passport stamp and a whole lot of empty shells. After some research, we learned that Vancouver houses only a few staple oyster bars and a bunch of new comers, but nonetheless, all serving the local love. For our palates, there is nothing like the meaty start, creamy middle, and sweet metallic finish of a west coast oyster.
Immediately disappointed that we would not get effed by the very perfection of the Effingham oysters, our friend Rob still generously enlisted his little soldiers to point us in the right direction of our 24 hour oyster bar crawl. With all things raw on our minds, we incorporated a few sushi bar stops along the way as well. Day mapped out, 12 hours, 7 oyster bars, 2 sushi restaurants, we were ready to hit the road.
First stop, ginger tea and oysters at the new member of the scene, Oyster Express. Located in the Chinatown district of Vancouver. The entire wood enclosed gem, offers up a variety of thirteen oysters as well as a few house specialties such as the creamy and divine oyster stew. By recommendation of Shawn, the owner and shucker of this cozy establishment, our first dozen of the day included six of their oyster of the day, the Summer Breeze, two Royal Miyagis, two of Miyagis bigger and badder cousin, the Golden Mantle and two Fanny Bays. The Fanny Bays were the biggest we’ve ever seen, so full of cream and flavor, the Royal Miyagis sweet and refined, the Golden Mantles a bit meatier, and our favorite, the Summer Breeze, a simple elegance. An oyster of the fanny bay family, it tumbles around on the sandy beaches of British Columbia developing into its fine mollusk beauty.
Hungry for a little substance, we headed back the city center for some sushi at Sushi Mart on Robson Street. A lunch of Wild British Columbia Sockeye Salmon Sashimi (6 pcs), Hamachi Sashimi (6 pcs), Unagi Nigiri (2 pcs), a chopped Scallop Roll, and a large Kirin, it was the best $35 spent. The quality of the fish was on par with the best sushi restaurants in New York, and at a fraction of the cost.
A little shopping brought us into the happy hours of our oyster bar crawl itinerary. Next stop, dollar oysters at Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House. With a few glasses of Rose, the dozen Local Beach oysters smoothly slivered down our lubricated throats. Restricted by time, it was onto our next stop, the very very new kid on the block, Fish Shack. Only open for one month, we conveniently stumbled upon their big aquatic doors on Granville St. Front and center, we took two seats opposite the shucker making his way through what seemed like an endless bucket of enclosed shells. A quick exchange certified our mutual affection, and by the time our next dozen of happy hours arrived, we had sampled a whole bunch of other goodies.
Only one hour left, we were off to the infamous Rodneys, for our last round of happy bivalves. Sticking with the theme, we ordered a few local brews and a dozen of their special that day, and just for comparison, two Fanny Bays. The special oysters were splendid, and for $1.50 a piece, a worthy bite. But the Fanny Bays were half the size of those we had earlier at Oyster Express.
Our next, and final stop, dinner at the globally recommended Blue Water Cafe. A restaurant known for the best seafood in Vancouver, we decided to try their version of our lunch earlier that day. An exact replica, the sashimi was out of this world in freshness. It simply melted in our mouths. The rolls, a perfect ratio of fish to rice, and the unagi a sweet and savory finish. And just to make sure we really weren’t missing anything, we topped it all off with a two pound dungenous crab. Size matters, and this one delivered in full swing with its meaty and sweet interior.
A beautiful and welcoming city, we will definitely be making our way back. Perhaps adding few extra days to visit some farms and take on a few slopes in the Whistler mountains near by.
The Fish Shack
Rodneys Oyster House
Blue Water Cafe
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