On our way over to Gyoza King to have their shio salmon chazuke, we noticed Sala Thai on Burrard. On the spur of the moment, we made a choice to go there instead. What good fortune, because we came away from the restaurant having tasted one of the best things we’ve ever had at a Thai restaurant.
From their specialty list, we ordered chicken in pandanus leaves (gai hor bai toey). Boned chicken thighs are marinated in a secret garlic sauce, shaped into little drumettes, then tightly wrapped in pandanus leaves and deep-fried. They’re served on a bed of very finely shredded cabbage and come with a sweet dipping sauce. How can I sing their praises? The leaves protect the chicken from getting too oily; they essentially steam in their own juices and marinade. Not only was the presentation marvelous, but the first bite into these tender morsels, exploding with flavor, was enough to forswear my allegiance to any other Thai restaurant.
Gai hor bai toey (Chicken in pandanus leaves)
Their pad see iew was also excellent. Based on these two dishes alone, we are sure to return. Also intriguing on the menu was a steamed mussel dish with basil and a house chili sauce, all served in a clay pot. The ambiance was also very nice, very Thai.
Pad see ieuw
102-888 Burrard St. Vancouver, BC
One of the best nature walks you can take in Vancouver is along the Seawall, a 22-km path that passes by stunning views of the ocean and the city, built to protect the coastline from erosion caused by the many marine vessels that ply the First Narrows. Though its S-shaped path stretches from Kitsilano Beach to Coal Harbour, we hiked only the portion around Stanley Park.
The weather today was pleasant for a good walk, one that passed several points-of-interest. One of them is an impressive stone outcropping called Siwash Rock, actually a volcanic plug of basalt that eroded over time to become the only sea stack in the Vancouver area. Siwash is over 50ft tall and attracts much attention by passersby.
Another dramatic sight is a view of Lions Gate Bridge from underneath.
Lions Gate Bridge
Public art also makes appearances along the walk. Reminiscent of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue, the bronze Girl in a Wetsuit sits offshore on a giant granite boulder.
Girl in a Wetsuit statue
Brockton Point Lighthouse is one of the two lighthouses serving Vancouver, the other being on Prospect Point on the other side of the Narrows. Though the tower was built in 1890, the current lighthouse was completed in 1914, whose upper terrace is a good place to look out toward the city.
Brockton Point Lighthouse
Stanley Park is one of the greatest urban parks in North America. Its forest surrounded by water on three sides reminded me what a beautiful place the Pacific Northwest is. One section of the park has a display of impressive totem poles, each of which tells a story important to the tribes that inhabit the B.C. and lower Alaskan coasts.
Along the southeastern portion of the seawall are dazzling views of Vancouver’s skyline. Surrounded by water and mountains, Vancouver is one of the most spectacularly situated cities in the world.
View toward the Vancouver skyline
Since its opening in 1998, Bin 941 has been wowing its customers and critics alike with its approach to tapas-style dining, Pacific Northwest-style. The emphasis is on sharing small plates, a formula that worked so well that other Vancouver restaurants started to adopt the trend. Our good friends took us here several years ago because they considered it one of the best restaurants in the city. The success of Bin 941 has led Chef Gord Martin to open Bin 942 and Go Fish!, both of them equally highly regarded.
So it goes without saying that we needed to return, especially since we were lodging at the WorldMark only blocks away. The menu changes frequently, so the chances of repeating what you had eaten before is not likely. Four of us settled on steamed mussels and chorizo in a mesquite smoked tomato broth; duck breast and fingerling potato on port cranberry jus; spinach salad with fried calamari and white nectarine with toasted coconut dressing; greens with goat cheese and hazelnuts dressed with apple cider clover honey vinaigrette; pommes frites; and portobello mushroom with asparagus gazpacho, goat cheese and aged balsamic vinegar. All were wonderful, but I will most fondly remember the mussels and the bread-dipping-worthy broth.
Steamed Cortez Island mussels, chorizo, mesquite smoked tomato broth, grilled foccacia
Greens, goat cheese, hazelnut, apple cider clover honey vinaigrette
Spinach salad, calamari, white nectarine, toasted coconut dressing
Portobello mushroom, asparagus gazpacho, goat cheese, aged balsamic
Duck breast, fingerling potato hash, truffle oil, haricot vert, port cranberry jus
Bin 941 Tapas Parlour
941 Davie St. Vancouver, BC
Burrard Inlet faces Kitsilano Beach, with Vancouver skyline in the distance
In the summertime, Kitsilano Beach is very popular with locals who swarm here to sunbathe. There is also an outdoor salt-water pool, the longest in all of Canada. The beach faces Burrard Inlet, across which is a grand view of the Vancouver skyline.
A footpath takes you to Vanier Park to the east, the Burrard Bridge and Granville Island. Along the way, you’ll see several marinas (or is it just one big marina?), which lends credence to the fact that Vancouver boasts more boats per capita than anywhere in Canada.
One of several marinas east of Kits Park
Also along the path are the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Museum of Vancouver, and several impressive examples of public art.
Restored submersible Ben Franklin that made a historic 30-day “drift-dive” along the Gulf Stream (Maritime Museum)
Gate to the Northwest Passage (Vanier Park)