Top Vancouver restaurants, according to Maenam’s Angus An

Chef Angus An of Maenam in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo credit: Hamid Attie.
Chef Angus An of Maenam in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo credit: Hamid Attie.

Hometown: Vancouver, B.C.
Occupation: Chef and Owner, Maenam and Longtail Kitchen
Years worked as a chef: 8
Years lived in Vancouver: 23
Accolades: Best Thai Restaurant, Vancouver Magazine (2009-present)
DiRoNA Award, Distinguished Restaurants of North America (2012-present)
Winner, Golden Dumpling Competition (2014)

Go to Chef An’s shortlist

What do you love best about Vancouver’s food scene?

It has some of the best Asian food in the world, especially Chinese food!

Name the top restaurants and dishes that you think every visitor to Vancouver should try. 

At Lucky Noodle House, I go for the crispy spicy pork intestines. This is one of our favorite go-to hole-in-the-wall places, great Hunan style Chinese food and very spicy.

Long’s Noodle House where I get fish head soup and xiao long bao. Great tiny restaurant, family-owned and family-run. The best northern Chinese food.

Mr. Red is one of my favorite places, and I order beef rice roll and pho. It’s northern Vietnamese food, located in the East Village.

Cuu Long: I’ve gone here at least once a week for the past 10 years – it’s like my dining room. I love the lemongrass chicken and salad roll.

At Santouka, I get the pork jowl ramen. You need to be there early to avoid the lineups.

Describe your “perfect dining out day” in Vancouver.

I’d go to Congee Noodle House for breakfast to order preserved egg (thousand year old egg) and pork congee.

Double baked almond croissant from Thomas Haas. Photo credit: Stephen Tang.
Double baked almond croissant from Thomas Haas. Photo credit: Stephen Tang.

For mid-morning break, I would go visit Thomas Haas and have a couple of his fresh pastries and chocolates while having a coffee. While I’m enjoying my coffee, I’d try to figure out how he’s the fittest person I know, but he works around all those sweets!

Lunch would be a toss-up between HK B.B.Q. Master, Mr. Red or Cuu Long. HK B.B.Q. Master is the best Chinese B.B.Q. place on this planet!

During cocktail hour, I would swing by West and have David Wolowidnyk make me any cocktail he pleases, and I’d have a few bar snacks from Chef Quang Dang.

For dinner, I would ask Hamid Salimian to do a pop-up restaurant and serve me his modern Persian food. Or I would go to Farmer’s Apprentice and make sure David Gunawan makes me his crab chawanmushi.

For a late dinner/cocktail, I would swing by Bao Bei and have a couple of snacks from Joël Watanabe, making sure I get his “Chinese doughnut” dessert.

The West End. There you can find some of the best ramen shops, Korean places, izakayas, you name it!

Steamed mussel with lemongrass and Thai basil from Maenam. Photo credit: Hamid Attie.
Steamed mussels with lemongrass and Thai basil from Maenam. Photo credit: Hamid Attie.

If you had to pick one personal favorite at Maenam, which would it be and why?

Clam matsutake soup with holy basil (when in season). It really speaks of the style we are doing at Maenam: introducing a local twist to authentic recipes. Clam and holy basil are true to the original recipe, and it works so well with our local matsutake mushrooms.

There’s no shortage of Asian restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, and Maenam is a favorite among chefs interviewed on Eats Abroad. What other Thai restaurants in Vancouver have impressed you? 

We cook Thai food every day, so my wife and I don’t really eat it on our days off unless we are in Thailand or LA. There are lots of good Thai restaurants in Vancouver, but we just feel we need a change on our weekends.

What other cuisines do you enjoy eating and cooking most? 

I love to eat Japanese food and Italian food. At home I cook a fair bit of Italian for friends and family. I enjoy it. I love to go to Zest for sushi, and Cioppino’s for Italian. Chef Pino makes the best spaghetti vongole!

What food is your guilty pleasure, and where do you go to get it?

Stinky tofu. Beefy Beef Noodles has it. The stinky tofu is the ultimate street-side pleasure for people growing up in Asia. It smells like shit but tastes like heaven!

What’s one dish in Vancouver that blew you away and left you wishing you came up with the recipe yourself?

David Gunawan’s crab and matsutake chawanmushi.

Seafood tower from Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. Photo courtesy of Boulevard.
Seafood tower from Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. Photo courtesy of Boulevard.

Since Eats Abroad is geared toward travelers, are there any favorite restaurants or bars at YVR or the city’s hotels that you particularly like?

I enjoy visiting Boulevard in the Sutton Place Hotel.

Where do you like to go for a drink?

WestBao BeiL’Abattoir.

Are there any foods native to Vancouver or B.C. that you particularly like?

When in spot prawn season, that’s all you should eat!!!! (Editor’s note: Spot prawn season typically starts in early May and lasts until mid to late June.)

Finally, what would you say every visitor must see or do before leaving Vancouver? 

We are blessed in Vancouver with the city, the mountains, the ocean, the climate. It is the only place on earth you can hike, golf, ski, fish, shop and dine all in the same day. If you get all of the above checked off in one day, then you know you have enjoyed Vancouver to its fullest!

Chef An’s Shortlist:

Maenam, 1938 W. 4th Avenue (Kitsilano); Thai, lunch Tuesday-Saturday, dinner Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday.

Longtail Kitchen, 810 Quayside Drive, #116, New Westminster, B.C.; Thai, lunch and dinner daily.

Lucky Noodle Chinese Restaurant, 3377 Kingsway (Renfrew-Collingwood); Chinese, lunch and dinner Wednesday-Monday, closed Tuesday.

Long’s Noodle House, 4853 Main Street (Riley Park); Chinese, lunch and dinner Wednesday-Monday, closed Tuesday.

Mr. Red Cafe, 2234 East Hastings Street (Granview Woodlands); Vietnamese, lunch daily, dinner Monday-Saturday.

Cuu Long, 3911 Knight Street (Kensington-Cedar Cottage); Vietnamese, lunch and dinner Wednesday-Monday, closed Tuesday.

Santouka, 1690 Robson Street (West End); Japanese, lunch and dinner daily.

Congee Noodle House, 141 East Broadway (Mt. Pleasant); Chinese, breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night daily.

Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie, 998 Harbourside Drive, North Vancouver, B.C.; chocolates and pastries, open Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.
Second location: 2539 West Broadway (Kitsilano); open Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.

HK B.B.Q. Master, 4651 No. 3 Road, Suite 145, Richmond, B.C.; Chinese (Cantonese), open for lunch and dinner Thursday-Tuesday, closed Wednesday.

West, 2881 Granville Street (Fairview); contemporary regional, lunch Monday-Friday, dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday.

Farmer’s Apprentice, 1535 West 6th Avenue (Kitsilano); farm to table, lunch Tuesday-Friday, dinner Tuesday-Sunday, brunch Saturday-Sunday, closed Monday.

Bao Bei, 163 Keefer Street (Chinatown); Chinese, dinner only Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.

Zest Japanese Cuisine, 2775 West 16th Avenue (Kitsilano); Japanese, dinner only Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.

Cioppino’s, 1133 Hamilton Street (Yaletown); Italian, dinner only Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday.

Beefy Beef Noodle House, 4063 Main Street (Riley Park); Chinese, lunch and dinner daily, late night Friday-Saturday.

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, 845 Burrard Street (Downtown); seafood, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

L’Abattoir, 217 Carrall Street (Gastown); French, dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday.


About the Chef: When it comes to Thai food in Vancouver, one restaurant reigns supreme: Maenam. Nearly every chef interviewed by Eats Abroad has suggested it, and it’s been a favorite of locals and food critics alike for the past several years.

Angus An is the man behind Maenam. Trained at top fine-dining restaurants in Montreal and London, An focused primarily on French and British cuisines until he took a job at Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Nahm. That experience would forever change his life both professionally and personally.

“I DIDN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT [THAI CUISINE], AND HAD NEVER HAD ANY GOOD THAI FOOD PRIOR. I WAS REALLY BLOWN AWAY BY THE FLAVORS, TEXTURES, BALANCE AND THE INTENSITY. ALL OF THOSE THINGS CAN EXIST IN HARMONY!”

While at Nahm, An also met his future wife and business partner, Kate. The two soon moved to Vancouver to start working for themselves, debuting with Gastropod. Though it was critically acclaimed, the couple scrapped its West Coast concept and reinvented the restaurant as Maenam in 2009. Drawing upon their passion and knowledge of Thai food, they developed a menu offering authentic dishes that showcased seasonal flavors from both Thailand and British Columbia. In 2013, Longtail Kitchen opened in New Westminster’s River Market, giving diners a more casual environment to enjoy Thai snacks and dishes.

 

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