Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
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This article was published 31/12/2015 (1754 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They are two chefs of exceptional skills and creativity, and both have worked their way up from their original four-star ratings, through 4½ to the ultimate five.
I find it impossible to choose between Chris Taing of Fusian Experience and Scott Bagshaw of Enoteca, so this year it's a tie for best restaurant of the year.
612 Academy Rd., 204-227-9298.
You can rely on finding the dishes you've enjoyed before on the relatively permanent menu, but there are often new additions and there's always a sheet of specials.
The fabulous seafood is due to Taing's expertise and the exceptional fresh ingredients that are flown in from all over the world.
The sashimi and uni are the finest I've found and, to mention a few other personal favourites, panko-crusted shrimp in a slightly garlicky glaze scattered with diced shiitakis, torched whelk shells stuffed with diced whelk meat and bits of veggies in a slightly creamy, sake-spiked sauce, and the sushi pizza of crisp rice topped by salmon, avocado and a mellow seafood sauce.
Glorious desserts, too.
1670 Corydon Ave., 204-487-1529.
Open from 5 p.m. only with a menu devoted entirely to small and medium plates -- all wonderful, all unique. Bagshaw's eclectic menu changes often and it's impossible to generalize or predict what you might find -- the hamachi with passion fruit might, on a return visit, have evolved into a ceviche with prosciutto-like spec.
If you're lucky, there will be the superlative beef tartare with a torchon of foie gras and a wee quail egg; raw scallops with lomo cured pork, a flavour-packed hanger steak with smoked potatoes, oyster mushrooms and shaved foie gras, or ricotta dumplings with white prawns.
3670 Roblin Blvd., 204-691-3330.
A boon to restaurant-shy Charleswood. The large menu offers some of the usuals for everyone, but also some outstanding dishes by Heather Porteous (a former contestant on TV's Chopped Canada).
Chipotle-lime bacon-wrapped prawns, for instance, sautéed pickerel cheeks dusted with hemp seed and lemon rice flour, plump scampi with linguine in a subtle garlic sauce and fabulous, slow-roasted ribs with honey-garlic sauce.
A delightful touch is the wee square of house-made fudge with the bill.
3116 Roblin Blvd., 204-615-3116.
Wayne Martin brings an enviable reputation for two Vancouver restaurants to Charleswood.
His menu here is relatively short, but the fish dishes alone are worth a visit -- the standout tempura ahi sushi roll, for instance, or the fresh tasting and perfectly pan-roasted halibut, beer-battered halibut and pan-roasted mahi mahi.
Excellent meat choices include a New York steak in red wine sauce, and short ribs tomato ragout with rigatoni.
1390 Erin St., 204-783-2813.
The five-course, $39 dinners in Dario Gutierrez's charming little house change daily, so it is impossible to predict what you might find on any given day, other than sophisticated, accomplished cooking with occasional Latin twists.
Some outstanding possibilities might be braised bison shreds on creamy polenta, salmon bisque, rack of lamb with green peppercorns, and a chocolate-passion fruit mousse.
Portions aren't massive, but you won't leave hungry.
714 Sargent Ave., 204-424-5989.
Almost all the Filipino food I've had has been good, but usually it's come from steam tables.
Jeepney offers full table service of its savoury specialties, including such highlights as oxtail kare kare in a subtle peanut sauce with a gingery green papaya and raisin pickle; pork belly adobo that is heady with garlic and the salty-sour taste of soy and vinegar.
You've probably never heard of sisig, but take a chance on this great cool starter of scrambled pork cheeks, liver, onions, chilies and cracklings.
175 Hargrave St., 204-9947-0314.
Now a full-scale restaurant, it's come a long way from its humble 1929 deli beginnings.
Those corned beef sandwiches are still available, but now there's also a great smoked-salmon club with the usual bacon et al. They've added beets to the wonderful potato latkes, and your baba would approve of the chicken soup with matzo balls, as well as such comfort foods as stuffed peppers or brisket in a slightly spicy jus.
Don't miss Hari Haidau's exquisite feta-filled phyllo cheese pie and apple strudel, or Jill Atnikov's exceptional cookies.
635 Corydon Ave., 204-715-2615.
Ask for the menu of authentic Chinese specialties instead of the standard takeout menu. It's shorter than most, but it's the only authentic Chinese food I know of on the Corydon strip, and it's delicious.
Many dishes are spicy, but they'll turn the heat down on request. Some top choices: No. 26 -- incendiary head and shell-on prawns with wild pepper in a milder stir-fry of celery, potatoes and red chili peppers, lamb with cumin spiked by hot chili powder, or, for milder tastes, eggplant with minced pork in a slightly sweet sauce, and the enormous lion's head meatballs
590 Corydon Ave., 204-505-7935.
Far from the bustle of the strip, this little house offers a warm atmosphere, easy parking and delicious Korean food.
Mandoo dumplings are exceptionally light and juicy; the panjeon seafood pancake is loaded with not just squid, but shrimp and veggies as well, and la galbi grilled short ribs and the sesame-sprinkled beef bulgogi are both excellent.
Those who can take the heat should try dak galbi chicken coated in red chili paste.
670 Osborne St., 204-222-6306.
Just 20 seats, no reservations, and only open from 5 p.m. But the Neapolitan-style pizzas are worth the wait -- approximately 12 inches of thin, hand-stretched dough, sauces made with San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte mozzarella.
My preferences? Salsiccia with house-made sausage, roasted pepper, tomato and fior di latte, and the Panna Pancetta with creme fraiche, pancetta, the house ricotta and fior di latte.
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I'd like to say farewell and express my gratitude to the readers who have followed my column, to both those who have agreed with me and, yes, to those who haven't.
Thanks also to the many wonderful restaurants that have given me so much pleasure over the years. A happy new year to all, and bon appétit.
Updated on Thursday, December 31, 2015 at 10:01 AM CST: Replaces photos, adds photos
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