Vancouver is the perfect city for visiting gastronomes with a culinary concept of terroir that will satisfy any palate. Each meal is an adventure around the world from Japanese gyozas to Indian curries to Pacific Northwest seafood. The multicultural influence of produce and cuisine are astounding and refreshing. The abundance of fresh, diverse seafood is inspiring. Beyond the savory selection, Vancouver offers an impressive selection of sweet options. We are not talking your average cupcake or tiramisu, there are extraordinary desserts from across the globe, with more choices then one would know what to do with. Dining in Vancouver is a complete, well-rounded and gratifying experience.
Here are a few unassuming places to find great sweets in Vancouver:
Among the magnificent array of charcuterie and cheeses, Salt Tasting Room offers one seasonal dessert that is impossible to forget. On my visit to Vancouver, rhubarb was in season and available in abundance. It was the star ingredient in Salt’s dessert tasting, a stellar trio of rhubarb cheesecake, rhubarb pudding and a rhubarb crumble. The presentation highlighted the beauty and creative genius of the menu at Salt Tasting Room.
My favorite of the desserts was the rhubarb cheesecake. The graham cracker crust was moist and crumbly. The cheesecake was lush and silky. The rhubarb compote top was unfailingly juicy and vibrant. The combination was an explosion of flavor. If not just for the dessert, I highly recommend a visit to Salt Tasting Room if you are in Vancouver.
We came to Pourhouse for some after-dinner cocktails, however after glancing over the menu to find our drinks of choice we discovered a dessert menu that included house-churned salted caramel ice cream. Warm chocolate cake with house churned salted caramel ice cream to be exact. Full as I was, I could not pass it up.
The chocolate collapsed under my fork to reveal bittersweet liquid gold! Ribbons of caramel sauce danced across the plate. To the side lay the salted caramel ice cream. It was magical, buttery to no end with an undeniable salty presence. Paired with a nice artisan beer, this dessert is sexy!
Since the moment I first discovered the ‘true’ Belgian waffle known as a liege at Le Pain Quotidien in Los Angeles, I fell in love. Perfectly golden brown, with a gooey doughy center, these waffles have sugar pearls hidden inside each fold and square of dough. I haven’t found another liege since - that is until this visit to Vancouver.
Café Medina in the Gastown district of Vancouver specializes in liege waffles. A steaming cup of coffee and a waffle in the morning - what more could you ask for? Café Medina offers an assortment of accompaniments to the liege from white chocolate pistachio to mixed berry compote. I gave a few toppings a try, but I have to admit I am a purist at heart and I enjoy my liege unsullied and unadorned. The sugar pearls give you all the sweetness you need. Take note: just one waffle won’t be enough - they are so good you will need to order two or three!
158 Pender Street EastVancouver, BC V6A1T3, Canada
One of my all time favorite desserts are sweet sesame balls. Imagine my delight when walking down the quiet streets of Vancouver’s Chinatown on my last Sunday in the city I stumble upon a window full of hot, fresh (and may I add gigantic) sesame balls. I had stumble upon New Town Bakery a Chinese Filipino bakery with a dessert case of sweets that will make your mouth water.
A sesame ball is mochi rice flour that is deep-fried and rolled in sesames. The crust is so crisp, almost like a brulee; one delicate touch and it folds into itself revealing a sweet, sticky, starchy inside. Dig even deeper and you reach a center of sweet red bean paste. The combination of ingredients is idyllic, not too cloying, just pure soul satisfaction.