Where Vancouver’s Top Chefs Eat

Four of Vancouver’s top chefs – Andrea Carlson, David Hawksworth, Makoto Ono and Vikram Vij – reveal where they go when they’re hungry

Credit: Adam Blasberg

Vikram Vij, Vij’s – 1480 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver

Arguably Vancouver’s most famous chef, Vikram Vij is rounding out yet another monumental year. The culinary mogul debuts on CBC’s hit TV show Dragons’ Den this fall, just opened a brand new restaurant, My Shanti, in Surrey and his eponymous restaurant is celebrating its 20th anniversary. But these accomplishments haven’t distracted Vij from what’s always been most important to him – his customers. “I try to make my restaurants feel as though you’re coming to my home for dinner. There’s time to relax, drink some wine and have some snacks.”


Favourite Vancouver Restaurant: “It’s difficult for anyone in the restaurant business to find a night to go out, so when I get the chance, I try to visit as many different places as I can. We really do have some amazing chefs in Vancouver. Recently I went to The Pear Tree restaurant in Burnaby, which was fantastic.”

Vij’s Signature Dish

Wine-marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on turmeric
and spinach potatoes

Must-have Fast Food: “I’m not a big fan of fast food, but I do love pizza from Boston Pizza.”

Favourite Brunch: “I really enjoy going to Terra Breads in Olympic Village. They have great pastries and coffee, and the view is amazing.”

The Best Greasy Spoon: “Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe on Cambie and 17th in Vancouver.”

Favourite Dessert: “I don’t really eat desserts. My sweet tooth is for red wine!”

Favourite Home-cooked Meal: “Slow-cooked cauliflower macaroni with a béchamel sauce.”

Favourite Restaurant in the World: “Choosing one is like choosing which of my children is my favourite. I have so much respect and admiration for so many chefs across Canada and internationally.”

Favourite Takeout: “For a quick meal on the go in Vancouver (although I am biased) I would say our Vij’s Railway Express food truck – it’s quick and delicious food that you would think was made for you in someone’s home, not out of a truck.”


Vikram Vij’s Tips on How to Toast Spices

Makoto Ono, Pidgin – 350 Carrall Street, Vancouver

Since opening its doors across from Pigeon Park on the Downtown Eastside in early 2013, Pidgin has rapidly risen to the upper echelon of Vancouver dining. And it’s in no small part due to the talents of chef Makoto Ono, whose East-meets-West cuisine is always adventurous (grilled octopus, spiced lamb belly) and undeniably delicious. Although the restaurant was named one of Canada’s top 10 best new restaurants in enRoute magazine, the self-effacing Ono doesn’t seek praise or the spotlight. “At Pidgin we don’t focus on separating ourselves from other restaurants. We just do what we do best – cook great food.”


Favourite Vancouver Restaurant: The Pear Tree. They have one of the best-tasting menus in town. I highly recommend their spot prawn cappuccino.”

Pidgin’s Signature Dish

Sautéed mushrooms drizzled in a brown butter yuzu soy sauce atop a pea purée and served with a soft-boiled ramen egg

Must-have Fast Food: “Church’s fried chicken – it’s crispy and juicy, and they’re open 24 hours!”

Favourite Brunch: “Calabash Bistro. It’s unlike any other brunch in the city. The Rise and Shine Roti, served with roasted cumin potatoes, tomato and garlic choka and coconut rundown hollandaise, is delicious.”

The Best Greasy Spoon: “Congee Noodle House on Broadway. I enjoy their traditional wonton noodle soup. They also have a lot of delicious deep-fried items on their menu and are open late.”

Favourite Home-cooked Meal: “I’ll often make hot pot, because it’s simple and healthy. A big pot of dashi broth, vegetables, Chinese cabbage and any type of seafood – I prefer fish balls – and you’re all set.”

Favourite Restaurant in the World: “Tsui Wah in Hong Kong. They have an extensive menu, so I’m able to try something new every visit. During my last visit, I had their fish ball noodle soup – it had amazing flavour and texture. They’re also open 24 hours, have friendly and efficient service, and are inexpensive.”

Favourite Takeout: “I like going to Clubhouse Sushi on West 1st. It’s steps away from home and it has great, inexpensive sushi.”



Credit: Adam Blasberg

David Hawksworth, Hawksworth – 801 West Georgia Street, Vancouver

In search of the quintessential West Coast restaurant? Hawksworth epitomizes fine dining in Vancouver, with effortless cool and a mouth-watering menu to back up all the hype. In fact, Maclean’s magazine named Hawksworth Canada’s “Restaurant of the Year” in 2012 (you read that right, the best in the entire country). And in a foodie town where the scrutiny is Vancouver-real-estate-prices-high, living up to the acclaim is a challenge that Chef David Hawksworth readily meets day after day, meal after meal. “We enjoy catering to a discerning and varied clientele. Whether they come for a power breakfast, casual brunch or celebratory dinner, quality is key.”


Favourite Vancouver Restaurant: “We enjoy everything from Dan Sushi to Vij’s to dinner at my close friend Johnny V’s house.”

Hawksworth’s Signature Dish

Hamachi loin dressed with a ginger and white soy vinaigrette served with passion fruit gel, coconut-lime sorbet, smoked passion fruit seeds, jalapeño, radish, sea asparagus, puffed white rice and cilantro

Must-have Fast Food: “Santouka Japanese Ramen on Robson Street.”

Favourite Brunch: “Our family prefers to go for dim sum. We are regulars at Kirin at City Square.”

The Best Greasy Spoon: “No dives, but Tacofino from the food truck.”

Favourite Dessert: “Bel Café. It’s shameless self-promotion, but we make macarons, lemon tarts and all the pastries in-house.”

Favourite Home-cooked Meal: “Pizza. We have a wood-fired Forno oven, and I’ve spent years perfecting the dough. My seven-year-old likes to help out with the toppings.”

Favourite restaurant in the world: “Le Gavroche in London. It’s an institution and it’s where I proposed to my wife.”

Favourite Takeout: “Dan Sushi.”



Credit: Adam Blasberg

Andrea Carlson, Burdock & Co. – 2702 Main Street, Vancouver

If you’re going to create a tantalizing veggie-focused menu like Chef Andrea Carlson has done at her latest venture, Burdock & Co. (don’t worry, carnivores, there’s plenty of meat too), the produce better be good. But that’s not an issue for the former Bishop’s chef, whose tasty tapas-style dishes feature nothing but the freshest home-grown ingredients. And according to Carlson, Vancouver is the perfect place to embrace this locavore philosophy. “We have a long growing season, which is a great benefit to the many urban and Lower Mainland growers that provide us with a bounty of choices in local organic food, and heaps of food-conscious consumers that help support them.”


Favourite Vancouver Restaurant: “Ask for Luigi or Pidgin.”

burdock &co.’s Signature Dish

Seared lingcod, buttered gooseneck barnacles, charred green onion with potato purée, crispy trotter, tangy kefir sauce and watercress

Must-have Fast Food: “The pre-cut fruit aisle at Whole Foods on 8th and Cambie. No joke – it’s the best thing after a workout. And their papaya with lime has to be the best value in town. Another option is The Fish Counter’s lingcod and chips.”

Favourite Brunch: “The Savary Island Pie Company.”

The Best Greasy Spoon: “Tomahawk BBQ.”

Favourite Dessert: “It’s a tie: panna cotta with prunes from Ask for Luigi or the Kalamansi Meringue, which is no longer on menu.”

Favourite Home-cooked Meal: “A super simple, super fast pasta with olives, feta, fresh tomatoes and basil.”

Favourite Restaurant in the World: “Blue Hill at Stone Barns (New York) is still a sweet memory.”

Favourite Takeout: “Bella Pizza. We eat way too many pizzas late at night from our Hemlock location.”


andrea carlson’S TIPS ON HOW TO pickle carrots