Picks of the Week – September 25, 2019

Summer has officially come to a close, autumn is upon us bringing cooler, wet weather and pumpkin spice…everything. Let’s see what entertainment picks the first week of fall offers us.

Speakeasy Theatre Company – The Shipment photo: Jens Kristian Balle

Opening: Firehall Arts Centre opens their season with a presentation of SpeakEasy Theatre’s powerful and provocative comedy, The Shipment

Park: The Festival Lawn at Deer Lake Park is filled with the sounds of Vampire Weekend on Wednesday night

Culture: The 10th Annual BC Culture Days celebrate arts & culture from September 27 to 29, in venues in every corner of the province.

Hub: This weekend, BC Culture Days CBC Culture Hub kicks off with Opening Ceremonies on Saturday morning followed by dozens of free events Saturday and Sunday

Plaza: Haida-Tsimshian siblings Gillian and Robert Thomson are Sister Says, a pop/indie group performing outdoors at Jack Poole Plaza on Friday September 27th, at 1130, for BC Culture Days

Date: Explore a variety of artistic endeavours when you go on a Date with Culture, a free BC Culture Day event at Chain & Forge at Granville Island.

North: Take off and see the Great White North meets the Land of Fire and Ice as Flyover Canada welcomes Flyover Iceland to the cinematic adventure until October 20

Dance: The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival continues to bring rhythm to Vancouver’s stages until Sunday September 29.

Doll: Celebrate BC Culture Days & Gateway Theatre’s upcoming production, China Doll, with a Chinese Arts & Culture Celebration at Gateway Saturday and Sunday

Stage: The Arts Club Theatre Company season begins with A Thousand Splendid Suns at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, running until October 13th.

Orange: BC Lions play host to Montreal Allouettes at BC Place on Saturday September 28th.

Away With Home:
L to R: Zefanya Hardhian (in front), Lucy Luo, Kevin Nguyen, Arjun Panesar and Lennox Johnston-Yu pic: Amanda Skuse Photography

Home: For two nights only, MISCELLANEOUS Productions, presents their 2018/19 new work, Away with Home at The Scotiabank Dance Centre

Film: Celebrate Culture Days and the 100th anniversary of Korean Film with four popular recently released Korean films, presented by the Korean Cultural Centre of Canada, at the Coquitlam Library Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Gallery: Transits and Returns, is an exhibition of twenty-one Indigenous artists from around the Pacific at the Vancouver Art Gallery, from September 28, 2019 until February 23, 2020.

Music: Explore the Feel-good Factor of Music at Polygon Gallery on Sunday during BC Culture Days, students and teachers will present a short informal performance featuring different styles and instruments.

VTS Back to School

Improv: Hit the books and laughs as Back to School Theatresports comes to The Improv Centre on Granville Island, Tuesdays to Saturdays until October 12.

5 Lunar New Year Festival 2018 Events

Chinese New Year is known as the largest mass human migration in the world, as millions of Chinese make visits to their home countries, towns and family, to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  Vancouver and Richmond have many events for those of the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and other communities who can’t make the trip home or are returning home to visit.

Weeks of events to commemorate the Lunar New Year Festival include:

Lunar Fest 2018 at the newly renovated Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza welcomes the whole family and their four-legged friends with entertainment, exhibits, crafts, markets over two weekends; Feb 18, 24 and 25, as well as events at Oakridge and Vancouver Playhouse.

Fly Over Canada – a spectacular double bill ‘flies’ over Canada and then follows through the peaks and valleys of China’s vibrant landscape in the Flight Of The Dragon, until February 18th

Lanterns in the Garden fill the Dr Sun Yat Sen classical Chinese Garden with lanterns, food, activities of a traditional YUAN XIAO (Lunar Month) lantern festival,  for three weekends from February 16th to March 4th.

International Village Mall, Aberdeen Centre, Oakridge Centre  and other Shopping Centres all around Metro Vancouver are hosting Chinese and Lunar New Year events;  Exhibits, Craft & Flower Market, Stage Performances, Dragon and Lion Dances, Kids Activities, Prizes and more fill the Malls through the New Year.

Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival, rings in the new year with a bang on February 18th as firecrackers crack through the sounds of spectators and revellers lining the route of the 45th Chinatown Parade from 11am, along E Pender, Gore and Keefer Streets. After the parade watch for ‘the Lions’ as they visit and perform for local Chinatown businesses to bring good fortune through the new year.

For more Vancouver and Richmond events and information visit lunarfestival.com

PNE Chinese Lantern Festival shines

Chinese Opera lantern

The Chinese Lantern Festival has been lighting up the night at the PNE since December 15. If you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, this weekend is your last chance to experience the largest festival of its kind in Canada.

Spread over 14 acres of the PNE Hastings Park site, 35 intricate, illuminate Chinese Lantern displays bring colour and character to the winter nights.

Pagoda

 

Dozens of Chinese artists, spent a month prior to opening setting up the elaborate lanterns, including the amazing pagoda made of thousands of pieces of Chinese porcelain china set, stacked and strung together to create the massive structure which stands without any glue or fasteners except for thin white twine.

250ft Dragon

Amongst the Chinese cultural displays unique Christmas themed lantern; Santa, reindeer, snowmen, to bring a festive touch to the site.  Some of the colourful, Chinese cultural lanterns tell the story of Confucius, and Chinese Opera while others like the reflect symbols of fortune and good will; pandas, fish, flowers, and the centrepiece 250 foot long Dragon.

With nearly 50,000 people coming through the gates, the Chinese Lantern Festival has proved to be a popular winter event, and will surely grow in popularity when it returns for a second year, next winter.

The Chinese Lantern Festival at the PNE must close January 21, 2018. The site opens at 5pm each day, tickets can be purchased online at vancouverlanternfestival.ca or at the gates at Hastings & Refrew Streets at PNE Hastings Park.

Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival illuminates PNE

This Friday, December 15, 2017, the PNE debuts the Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival, the largest of its kind in Canada. One of the most beautiful and culturally significant festivals will light up the skies of Vancouver with dozens of spectacular gossamer lanterns, some reaching nearly 200 feet in length.

Bin Zhu, Director of Sichuan Tianyu Culture Communication Co. Ltd says, “We believe our lantern festivals can improve cultural communication between China and the world.”

“It is a tremendous honour to have been selected by this leading cultural organization as the inaugural host in Canada for this important festival,” says Mike McDaniel, President and CEO of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). “We anticipate people from all ethnicities and cultures from across our region will be excited about the opportunity to see this important and impressive display.”

Lantern festivals started during the Han Dynasty, about 2,000 years ago. For centuries, lanterns festivals have been lit on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Chinese calendar to pray for a good harvest, and to gain favor of Taiyi, god of heaven. Today, the lantern festivals are still held each year around the country, with each major Chinese city having its own light festival.  In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones. In modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs such as the ones that will be on display at the PNE.

The Festival will be featuring Dragon, White Pagoda, Kylin, and Huabiao Column lanterns, each lantern symbolizing a Chinese sage or legend. The columns are said to be protectors of the residents and a reminder for the emperor to pay attention to his duties.

In addition to the lantern displays, the festival will also include two nightly performances in the PNE Amphitheatre: Sunday to Thursday at 6:30pm and 8:30pm, and Friday and Saturdays at 7pm and 9pm. Featuring Face Changing, Acrobatics, Plate Spinners, Folk Dance, Jar Balancing and Erhu. These exciting performances are family friendly, and are sure to wow. The lantern festival will also feature a food and beverage program and additional children’s activities.

Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival opens December 15th, featuring 35 illuminated displays transforming over 14 acres of Hastings Park running daily from December 15th, 2017 (closed Christmas Day) until January 21, 2018.

For further information and tickets visit vancouverlanternfestival.ca 

Chinese Restaurant Awards 2017 – Winners

Since 2008, the Chinese Restaurant Awards have been promoting the high quality Chinese restaurants and chefs in Metro Vancouver as well as creating an opportunity for cross-cultural connections.

The Chinese Restaurant Awards are based on three categories; Critics’ Choice, Diners’ Choice and Social Media Choice Awards

The Diners’ Choice Winners have been announced and will be presented their awards, along with the Critics and Social Media Choice Award winners, at the 9th Annual Chinese Restaurant Awards Ceremony, March 7th at the River Rock Show Theatre.

The 22 Diners’ Choice Winners are;

Best Cantonese Siu Mai – Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant

Best Shredded Turnip Pastry – Yuan’s Shanghai Serendipity Cuisine

Best Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles – Long’s Noodle House

Best Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken – Memory Corner

Best Durian Glutinous Rice Dumpling – Kirin Restaurants

Best New Restaurant (open less than 1 year) – CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice

Best Vanfood’s Takeout Restaurant – Alvin Garden

Best Services Restaurant – The Jade Seafood Restaurant

Best Fine Dining Restaurant – Chang’An

Best Dim Sum Restaurant – Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant

Best Vegetarian Restaurant – Sun Bo Kong Vegetarian Restaurant

Best Northern Chinese Restaurant – Chang’An

Best Cantonese Restaurant – Top Gun J & C Restaurant

Best Shanghainese Restaurant – Shanghai River Restaurant

Best Szechuan/Hunan Restaurant – Lucky Noodle Chinese Restaurant

Best Taiwanese Restaurant/BBT Café – Pearl Castle Cafe

Best Hot Pot Restaurant – Liu Yi Shou Hot Pot Restaurant

Best Hong Kong-style Café – Deer Garden Signatures

Best Congee and Noodle Restaurant – Neptune Wonton Noodle

Best Food Court Stall – James Snack Sandpot Rice, Empire Centre

Best B.B.Q. Shop – Parker Place (Aberdeen) Meat & B.B.Q.

Best Bakery Shop – T & T Supermarkets, Bakery Shop

With world recognized Chinese Food in Metro Vancouver, the Chinese Restaurant Awards can help you navigate the overwhelming choices on offer.

Tasting Plates Chinatown – Recap

A damp night didn’t dampen enthusiasm of the restauranteurs and patrons for Vancouver Foodster‘s Tasting Plates Chinatown on Wednesday evening.  The five eateries, scattered around the neighbourhood, exemplified the diversity in Chinatown as new and old make the National Historic Site their own. From traditional Chinese, to European flavours, to modern Asian fusion, and 35 years face off against 4 months of history.

TP_Chinatown_img_0525Checking in at Floata, the traditional Dim Sum & Seafood restaurant, closed off part of their large space for the Tasting Plate diners. While their Tasting Plate of Chow Mein, Egg Roll and Sesame Ball didn’t show off their kitchen to its best,  I’ve been to Floata for Dim Sum before and know they’re capable of bringing good flavours to the plate.

TP_Chinatown_img_0537The next Tasting Plate brought totally different flavours to the palate, Klaus’s Kaffe Haus.  The Coffee and Strudel cafe offered hearty, fair that was perfect for the night’s weather.  A quartet of tastes graced their plate; rich Vienna Gulasch Soup, Chinese Strudel (Pork, Bamboo Shoots, Water Chestnut, Mushroom), Asparagus & Mushroom Vegetarian Strudel and a sweet Apple Strudel.  All four items were full of flavour and filling, enticing us to want to return for a full-size strudel soon.

TP_Chinatown_img_0543Next we wandered over to the longest established Treasure Green Tea Company, on E Georgia since 1981. The welcoming tea shop is pristinely merchandised, like a museum, filled with tea, gifts, accessories and other tea-infused items.  The tea hosts prepared and served a trio of Tasting Cups of premium black tea; the 2016 seasonal blend Symphony of Light, sweet floral Romantic Peony and the tart Citrus Melody.  As an accompaniment baguette was dipped in Treasure Green Tea’s Camellia Tea Oil, infused with Dragon Ball jasmine green tea reduction.

TP_Chinatown_img_0566On Main Street we next found the Le Tigre Food Truck, outside of their restaurant, Torofuku.  The truck dished up a plate of zesty fried chicken. Even though it’s called “Don’t Order This Chicken” you really should, order it! The crispy but tender friend chicken was complimented by  7 Spice Mayo, and mixed herb Thai Chilli.

 

TP_Chinatown_img_0583Across the street was the most recently opened participant, Lise Lou’s Chocolate Bar, is a bar that I could regularly be found propping up! The small chocolate, confectionary and ice cream parlour offered a cross-section of their handmade wares.  Marc Ice Cream, inspired by their Marc Chocolate Bar – bourbon caramel, marcona almonds, Ruth Bar – strawberry raspberry jelly with crunchy peanut praline, then we got to choose a flavour of Salted Caramel and one of their nearly two dozen signature Truffles

All five restaurants showed their flavours and that the neighbourhood continues to evolve and develop.

If this sounds like a taste excursion, join Vancouver Foodster’s next events, Noodle Mania and during Dine Out Vancouver Festival, Brunch Crawls.

Vancouver Foodster Taco Crawl – recap

A sunny autumn evening was a perfect occasion for Vancouver Foodster’s first Taco Crawl.  The selected Vancouver restaurants created their take on their best taco bringing a balance of flavours and styles for the Taco Crawl patrons.

TacoCrawl_img_8927Meeting at Kalai’s Dosa Hut on Fraser Street we collected our Taco Crawl cards and menus.  Then we sat down for Dosa Hut’s unique variation on the taco, taking one of their signature dosas, and wrapping it around a nicely spiced tomato chicken (or vegetarian) filling.  Watching some of the other dishes and massive dosas coming from Chef Kalai’s kitchen made us put Dosa Hut on the list for a return visit.

TacoCrawl_img_8949Over in Cambie Village, we had a traditional pair of tacos from the always reliable Los Tortas Gourmet Mexican Sandwiches.  Soft tortillas enveloped rich, barbecued pulled pork or Mexican Zucchini, tomato and cheese.

TacoCrawl_img_8943Across the street, Tmix Tea & Dessert served up another unique ‘taco’. Tmix brought together hot and cold for a sweet taco. Wrapping one of their hot-from-the-griddle bubble waffles around ice cream.  From the list of a dozen plus flavours we settled on frozen brulée banana and red velvet cheesecake. The warmth of the waffle softened the frozen flavours enough to make it a soft ice cream sandwich or more like a burrito.

TacoCrawl_img_8955Downtown La Catrina Tacos, said to be Vancouver’s Best Mexican Tacos, presented another pair of traditional style tacos.  Hot tortillas piled high with filling; Papas Mexicanas – Mexican potatoes drizzled with cream and Res En Cascabel -zesty braised beef cooked in cascabel chili sauce. Add hot sauce, pickled onions, hot peppers to taste and make the tacos your own.

TacoCrawl_img_8963Getting into Patron Tacos & Cantina just before the Canucks and Whitecaps let out, let us wrap up Taco Crawl with another pairing with another unique ingredient.  Cochinita is tender, braised pork butt with achiote paste and onion. On the other side Nopales, the tender new leaves from a prickly pear cactus, were cooked with corn salsa and topped with cheese. Served with refried beans to add to the filling or eat on its own.

While we may think we can never get enough tacos, the Taco Crawl certainly satisfied us with great tastes for the evening.

If you missed out on this great tasting Vancouver Foodster event, get your tickets now for Tasting Plates Yaletown on October 19th.