Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver: 5 Spots Where Tony Ate

Guided through the city’s incredible, diverse culinary scene by a group of chefs called the “three amigos,” it’s not hard to see how after just one visit, the city of Vancouver quickly became one of Tony Bourdain’s favorites… despite it having no shortages of vegetarians!

Anthony Bourdain visited Vancouver to film season 4 (episode 3) of No Reservations; it was his only on-screen visit and barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. (He did visit other parts of Canada though, including Montréal and Toronto!)

Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver Hero

If you’re planning a trip to Vancouver (or perhaps call the city home) and want to try some new flavors, you’ve come to the right place – in this guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver, and in planning a trip to Canada’s big West Coast city. Grab your fork, chopsticks, and fingers – it’s time to dig in!

Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits Vancouver?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō), Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsleil-Waututh), šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmaɁɬ təməxʷ (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish), and Stz’uminus peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present peoples of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca

Stopping first at Cioppino’s, Bourdain meets with chef ‘Pino’ Pasteraro, the first member of the trio.

Inspired by the West Coast Italian-inspired seafood dish from which it takes its name, Cioppino’s specializes in Italian food made with largely local ingredients (a recurring theme in Vancouver), and the restaurant is credited with taking a largely industrial neighborhood into a hot restaurant district.

Catching Pino in the middle of the dinner rush, the meal is brief but delicious – chilled tomato consommé (a type of concentrated broth), with lobster and a drizzle of olive oil.

Japadog

Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver - Japanese Hot Dogs

Renowned in the area and beyond, with some guests coming from Japan to try it, Japadog is a unique take on the ‘mystery meat in tube form’ of which Bourdain is so fond. Along with producer Nari Kye, the two visit one of Japadog’s stand locations to sample the novel variations on standard street food firsthand.

Bourdain opts for a Terimayo dog, consisting of beef sausage with teriyaki sauce, fried onions, seaweed sprinkles, and Japanese mayo, with Nari going for a Misomayo, a turkey frank with daikon sprouts, miso sesame, and mayo.

Tojo’s

Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver - Tuna Toro

Chef Tojo, the second member of the Vancouver “three,” and the self-proclaimed inventor of the world-famous California Roll. A chef from Osaka, Tojo apprenticed at a Japanese ryokan, a type of traditional inn, where he learned his craft and gained experience in creating over 2000 Japanese dishes.

At the eponymous Tojo’s Restaurant, as with a lot of Japanese restaurants, the best seat is at the bar for ‘omakase’ – a Japanese word meaning “I’ll leave it up to you,” giving the chef full creative control over what to serve.

For Tony’s visit, Tojo serves up tempura fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with fresh scallops; a salad of baby Dungeness crab, mustard miso dressing, daikon, and Japanese celery; followed by halibut cheek and morel mushrooms stuffed with local red stripe fish; and finally a tuna toro with freshly ground wasabi paste which Bourdain describes as “a religious experience.”

Vij’s

Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver - Matar Paneer

Vikram Vij, the third member of the three amigos, is a long-time restauranteur in Vancouver, and Vij’s is known for its modern and creative Indian food.

Sitting in on the staff meal, Bourdain is treated to an offering, consisting of saag, also known as curried greens, in this case chopped mustard greens and spinach, which are slowly cooked for 4-5 hours. This is served together with matar paneer, aka peas and cheese. The peas, matar, are stewed in spicy curry whilst the paneer is like a type of Indian ricotta. Finally, there is the essential chapati flatbread, perfect for mopping plates clean of all the flavorsome sauces.

Sooke Harbor House

Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver - Petal Salad

Located on Vancouver Island, Sooke Harbor is a hotel restaurant that takes locally sourced food to the next level. Selling only local seasonal fare, all meat and vegetables come within 20-30 miles; they’re changing chefs currently (see the above link for an update), but at the time of his visit, Tony’s meal was prepared by chef Edward Tuson whose motto is “all you need to cook is in your backyard.”

Tuson himself is nothing short of a genius in the kitchen, to the point where even Bourdain is left speechless with what is being served. There is a starter of nasturtium flower and minced duck tower, garnished with sage flower, pickled golden beets, and wild sorrel puree, followed by crispy albacore tuna served with a tuberous begonia sauce, daikon radish, and dianthus petals.

After a refreshing palate cleansing fresh petal salad, there is sablefish and chef’s own bacon, wrapped in seaweed, steamed in miso and bull kelp broth, atop a nodding onion and leaf fritter, a dish that even Tuson seems excited to have created.

Whilst Bourdain acknowledges there are more courses too numerous to mention, the locally sourced vibe runs deep at Sooke Harbor, with the menu literally being the view from the window, all ably put together by a chef who could “make potpourri taste good.”

Bonus: Private Meal at Pino’s house

Rounding off his trip to Vancouver, Tony joins the three amigos once again as they come together for a potluck at Pino’s house.

These being chefs, there is no mac & cheese or sad wilted salad on offer. From Pino, there is dry aged, marinated rib eye, together with halibut steaks with parsley, garlic, and olive oil, and a little bit of white wine, baked in the oven. Vij has prepared a tiffin, a typical type of lunch from Bombay, consisting of coconut curry chicken, lamb stew, mushroom creamy curry with paneer, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Finally, Tojo stays true to his love of local seafood, with wild spring salmon, lightly broiled and flavored with cedar and miso sauce, together with smoked sablefish box sushi.

As the wine flows and the group talks shop, it’s clear to see why Anthony Bourdain finds Vancouver to be a city that he never gets tired of coming back to.

Vancouver Food Tours to Try

While Tony certainly shows off the incredible diversity that Vancouver has to offer through the creative structuring of this episode, there are so many other flavors to enjoy too; food tours can be a great way to sample a lot in a short time. Here are a few food tours you might consider booking to sample even more of the city:

Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver? Let me know in the comments below!

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Matt Young is a street food fanatic and world traveler, currently splitting his time between Europe and South East Asia.

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