This year’s October restaurant crawl took place along West Broadway – a street filled with some of the best restaurants in Vancouver! We were led in groups of eight through three restaurants: Nuba, The Eatery, and Browns Social House. The day I went was a gorgeous sunny day, which was perfect for enjoying lunch and meeting new people.
My group started off with Nuba, a restaurant featuring fresh and authentic Lebanese food.
Not only is Lebanese cuisine absolutely delicious and healthy, many of the dishes at Nuba are vegan, and the meats they use are halal, non-medicated, and hormone-free.
The interior of the restaurant was neat and spacious, the style being modern with a slight Mediterranean feel from the textured ivory walls, pastel green shades and exotic-looking lamps. The front of the restaurant was bright and well-lit from the natural light coming in from the windows, but our group was seated further into the restaurant, so it was a bit darker.
Once our group sat down, the food came out promptly before we could even finish introducing ourselves. We had pita bread with a plate of Baba Ghanooj – a slightly creamy, hummus-like spread made with eggplant. Before our server told us it was eggplant, we had no idea!
Then came the Najib Special, which is Nuba’s signature cauliflower dish; it was nicely spiced with a slight tang. I don’t normally eat cauliflower, but this dish was fantastic.
The Falafel was mildly spicy and went well with the sauce drizzled on top, though I found the texture to be a bit dry. The avocado slices on the side were a nice touch!
I thought the Lamb Hushwie was quite good, since I really like lamb meat. Like the Falafel, the ground, spiced lamb went well with the sauce that accompanied it, which was a smooth and light sauce. (And more avocado, yay!)
The Mjadra consisted of stewed lentils with jalapeno and onion. I found it to be mildly spicy with a strong taste of onion…and I’m not a huge fan of onion. This may have been my least favourite dish at Nuba, but at least it came with even more avocado!
At the end with a quick vote, our favourite dish was the Najib Special. But all the dishes were wonderful and provided an exciting experience for those who were trying Lebanese cuisine for the first time. They also receive bonus points (in my books, anyway) for having avocado on the side of many of the dishes!
Our next stop was The Eatery, a Japanese fusion restaurant that offers a huge variety of unique and innovative dishes.
Once again, we were seated in a dark, inner space of the restaurant, but we were able to (just barely) see our dishes by candlelight. The darker, more crowded interior was a lot different from Nuba. And there were all sorts of eccentric decorations hanging from the ceiling and walls, adding to the restaurant’s overall fun and bustling atmosphere.
Before we knew it, our table was being piled with dishes! There was the Flame Sushi – blow torched salmon belly nigiri, drizzled with unagi sauce. The seared salmon definitely gave it an interesting texture, and the unagi sauce added a sweet-and-salty flavour.
There was also the Captain Crunch, which was a deep fried California roll, and the Volcano: spicy imitation crabmeat piled high on top of deep fried scallop, salmon, tuna, and avocado rolls. Flavour-wise, the Captain Crunch was nothing surprising, but the Volcano was full of flavour thanks to all the toppings, and the rolls had a nice crunch to them. It was supposed to be spicy, but I didn’t find it to have any heat at all.
Additionally, we had the Sushi Pizza Bites, which were big dollops of spicy tuna on individual wanton chips, topped with wakame (seaweed). The soft and mushy tuna went well with the crunchy wanton chips, but once again I didn’t find the spiciness of this dish to be spicy at all.
These Nobashi Prawns were different from the regular tempura prawn you normally get at Japanese restaurants. They were covered with an extremely crunchy batter, while in many other restaurants the tempura batter tends to be crispy or light. They went well with the sweet chili sauce that accompanied them!
And last but not least, the Fat Elvis: deep-fried avocado drizzled with sweet and salty unagi mayo. This was our group’s favourite dish at The Eatery; the combination of the creamy avocado, crispy tempura batter, and flavourful sauce was excellent!
Overall, The Eatery would be a great place for a group dinner out with friends, with its funky atmosphere and unique fusion food that is perfect for sharing!
Our third and last restaurant of the event was Browns Socialhouse.
Browns had a light, casual atmosphere, with lots of sunlight coming in through the windows. We were (finally) seated in a brightly-lit area next to a window, and someone – perhaps the manager – came to tell us about the three dishes we would be trying that day.
After a short wait, the dishes arrived. The first one was the Margherita pizza, made with fire roasted tomato sauce, bocconcini, and a sprinkling of basil. The flavour was quite mild, but the texture was nice and chewy because of the cheese.
The second dish was another pizza, the Biltmore pizza. This one had jalapeno white sauce, pesto, feta, and sundried tomato, and one half of the pizza was topped with shrimp – the original recipe – and the other half had chicken, for the sake of our group members who were allergic to seafood/shellfish. That was a pretty nice gesture from them! This pizza had a rich, creamy taste to it, which I liked, but I also found it to be a bit salty.
The third dish was the Ginger Beef – sweet, sour and spicy beef on rice. The most dominating flavour for me was the saltiness, but other people found it to be quite spicy! The rice helped a bit with that, but this was likely our least favourite dish. I noticed the Ginger Beef is a starter on their menu, which is interesting since I’ve always seen meat-on-rice as more of a main dish or one person’s meal.
In the end, our group decided that the Margherita pizza was our favourite dish at Browns Socialhouse. This restaurant/bar could be a decent place to hang out with friends, maybe to share some pizza and have drinks, but in terms of food, there are probably more interesting places elsewhere.
At the end of the day, everyone in our group was pretty stuffed! I had actually been full about halfway into the meal at The Eatery – we had definitely filled our stomachs there with rice. But luckily we still had group members who were eager to try more food and put their stomach capacities to the test! Overall we enjoyed Nuba and The Eatery the most and Browns Socialhouse the least, but it was an extremely well-organized and enjoyable food crawl. The dishes came out promptly and we had plenty of time to eat before moving on to the next restaurant. We were able to experience different cultures and different foods, and also meet great people in our groups. So congratulations, UBC Foodsoc, for another highly successful event!