Richard Wolak, better known as Vancouver Foodster organized another Tasting Plates event focusing this one in the Marpole community. Marpole is considered one of the older neighbourhoods in Vancouver and it happens to be the area where I grew up in. It’s nice to see a lot of new restaurants and bars popping up here – I was even surprised that the local Safeway has been completely re-done.
For this particular Tasting Plates, there were four participating establishments: Gigi Blin Market Cafe, Cafe Mai-Mai & Pho, Bonjour Marketplace and The Yard.
Note: All photography done by Nathalie de los Santos.
Nathalie and I started off at Cafe Mai-Mai & Pho, where we chatted with Megan, one of the owners of the Vietnamese restaurant. She tells us that there is no MSG in their broth, making it daily with beef bones and vegetables. All their items they purchase and make daily, so that you’re never left wondering how old your ingredients really are. Additionally, they make their own Homemade Chili Sauce weekly – and it is quite delicious!
We had a bowl of their beef pho and a spring roll. Their spring rolls are larger than the ones you’d get elsewhere and crispy without being too greasy. Their pho broth is very delicious – I normally couldn’t care for pho broth, but this one has good flavour. Their noodles are good, not too soft and taste fresh. I would have to say this was my favourite stop of the Tasting Plates event.
From here, we walked half a block up to Bonjour Marketplace – a fusion of market and eatery that serves up healthy eats and fresh, organic produce. We had hearty carrot soup, brown rice risotto, enzyme salad and multi-nutrients fermented noodles. I’m in no way a health freak but I can appreciate a good, healthy meal. I enjoyed the fermented noodles and carrot soup the most – the noodles had a delicious light sesame taste to them and the carrot soup was made with a nice amount of vegetables and not too much added to it. I wasn’t too crazy about the brown rice risotto, there wasn’t anything wrong with it, but I’m not too sure how I feel about the giant date on it. The enzyme salad wasn’t too bad tasting at all, the name is a little off putting however. It had a bit of a vinaigrette/bitter taste to it that was balanced a bit by the citrus notes in the salad.
We also got to try two teas: Honey Red Jade Tea and their award winning Pine Oolong Tea. Both teas were very enjoyable, I personally liked the Honey Red Jade tea the best. All their teas are sourced from Taiwan fields, but the company is local.
After being super healthy, we proceeded to The Yard – a neighbourhood pub that is narrow and laidback. They have a decent sized patio too, perfect for summer. All the other patrons who were not there for Tasting Plates were actually quite friendly and chatted with us. We were treated to five different beers – mostly Granville Island – IPA, Pale Ale, Honey Lager and Session. We were also treated to Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks – a super nerdy brewery that will be opening a tasting room in the week or two to come in Richmond. With beers named Shiva and Raiden, you sirs had my curiousity, but now you have my attention. Looking forward to checking out your tasting room soon.
Finally, we made our way back to Gigi Blin Market Cafe to finish off the evening – which in retrospect was a great idea considering we went from dinner to drinks and then to a nice cup of coffee and danish to finish off the evening on a sweet note. Gigi Blin Market Cafe is a cafe and grocery store that opened in 2015 in a building that’s been around since 1905.
They serve baked goods, sandwiches and espresso beverages. Many of their market items are either hyper local or from Europe. We also had a chance to meet Skylar and Chloe from Kids Can Cook and try their gourmet pasta sauce (creamy tomato is delicious!) which is available at Whole Foods, loblaws and other places.
At Gigi Blin, we were served a raisin danish from Baguette & Co. and an affogatto, which is an espresso shot served with ice cream. The espresso shot was nice and smooth with a subtle hint of smokiness, the vanilla ice cream gave this a nice sweetness and heaviness to make this a nice after dinner treat.
For more information on Tasting Plates, be sure to visit Richard’s website for his events here.
Disclaimer: Please note that I was invited to Tasting Plates, but all opinions are my own.