Vancouver is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Vancouverites aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a feature dubbed Dining Confidential. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
Pedro Gonzalez has been Executive Chef of COAST Restaurant since 2011. He shares his love of a West End Vietnamese restaurant which never disappoints.
So, where do you like to go to eat?
I've only been in Vancouver for two years, I was in Vegas for ten years before this (Pedro worked in the kitchens of Aqua at the Bellagio, Tableau at Wynn Resort and Botero at the Encore Hotel) so you ask me about the little rundown great joints there, I'm your guy! So I'm a newbie here but I'm enjoying exploring and finding great places. I love to eat at BaoQi on Davie Street.
What's good about it?
It's like a 14 ft room and the mom is in there cooking, the son is out serving and taking orders and - I think - the dad, is bringing deliveries in from the market - everyone is helping out. There are two communal table so people can eat together; basically you're sharing with strangers, but it's fun, the place is tight - you can see all the way into the kitchen.
What do you like to eat there?
Everything I've tried and tasted has been really good. I'm not Vietnamese - but I feel like a lot of what they have is unconventional; their hot & sour bamboo and prawn soup, the noodles that they use are different; they're rice but not the normal ones, thicker, more durable, they hold the soup differently. The freshness and quality of the meat - you can taste it - the soups are great and the bahn mi is delicious, the meats are plentiful.
What makes this a stand-out for you?
The presentation is beautiful, it's not just bowl and plate, they have a dramatic plate! You get a rice dish and it's not just an airline plate that's flat and separate, there's height on the salad, you can just tell that someone has really though this out. I know for sure that the mom puts everything together - she's the only person putting things together - and you can just tell that your plate was cared for and loved by her.
Any special touches?
The tea that they serve, it looks like something petrified - or a dried mushroom! I finally got up the nerve to ask and it was a dried artichoke, It taste earthy but sweet. The whole thing is like a boutique hotel vs a giant resort - It's small and intimate and I've never had a bad time there.