Vancouver Foodie Tour – Vancouver’s Food Carts & Food Trucks

by Mijune on August 3, 2011 · 27 comments

in $10 or less,Burgers/Hot Dogs,Canadian,Downtown Vancouver,Food Event,Food Truck/Cart,Fusion,Japanese,Pastries/Cookies,Sandwiches,Vietnamese,West coast

Post image for Vancouver Foodie Tour – Vancouver’s Food Carts & Food Trucks
Photo by Winston Wong

Foodie Tour of Vancouver’s Food Carts & Food Trucks

5 food stops, 4 sandwiches, 3 food carts, 2.5 hours, 1 full foodie day!

After a year of hibernation, Foodie Tour is back up and running, and this time it’s running with restaurants on heels, I mean wheels… I was the one in heels! Anyways Foodie Tour is introducing a tour of Vancouver’s food carts and food trucks!

With over thirty food carts in Metro Vancouver, it’s impossible to hit them all in one tour over 2.5 hours. So creator and host of Foodie Tour, Michelle Ng, has selected five of her favourites in downtown Vancouver and is taking locals and tourists to go try them out.

Photo by Winston Wong

I was invited to attend the media launch for the Vancouver Foodie Cart Tour which included a visit to five food carts and samples of their signature item. For the average person you’ll probably be full at the third stop, but if you can really eat, you’ll make it to all 5 and be pretty full at the end.

You eat about half a sandwich at each stop so the food is substantial, especially since most food carts specialize in a couple things and all are considered as “mains”. However you are walking from location to location and it is over 2.5 hours, so there’s time for digestion and it’s all spaced out. On the other hand, the food carts and trucks are in close proximity of each other so the walk is easy. This is a “foodie tour” though, so this format is expected.

Since I only tried one sample sized item at each cart, I’m not going to go into much detail about the food, well not as much as my usual at least. The tour showcased some of the diversity in Vancouver’s food carts, and there were a couple that I can’t wait to go revisit.

Tickets for the Foodie Cart Tour are $50/person. I do find it pricey, but it is an experience and you do get to meet people and learn about the carts and trucks. The tour is conducted in groups of 15 people max, so it’s more of an activity than it is about finding value in just the food alone. You also get a Very Important Foodie Card (VIF Card) card which lets you enjoy small perks and privileges at a few selected establishments and food trucks. For tickets and more information see here.

All photos are courtesy of Sherman unless otherwise noted.

Photo by Winston Wong

La Brasserie Street

West Georgia St. and Granville St.
Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
La Brasserie Street on Urbanspoon

The first stop was La Brasserie Street, and it ended up being my favourite of the five we visited. The La Brasserie Street food cart stems from the semi-casual Franco-German restaurant La Brasserie on Davie Street. Therefore I was prepared for some bratwurst, ham hocks and suckling pig, but instead I was surprised to find only one sandwich on the menu, the Brass Chicken Sandwich. This was a gourmet chicken sandwich though and it honestly made me forget about their pork specialties.

This is also the only food cart out of the five we visited offering dessert… bonus! It’s such an easy money maker and I don’t know why so few trucks offer it.

Nonetheless with every food cart we visited after this one, I couldn’t help but to reminisce about this glorious chicken sandwich. I’m going in full detail with this sandwich because I enjoyed it so much and nothing was altered.

Brass Chicken Sandwich – 5.5/6

  • Beer brined rotisserie chicken in gravy, on a buttermilk bun, topped with crispy onions $6.25
  • If I had a grandma who made Sunday night dinners, this is what I would hope would show up on my plate.
  • It reminded me of Thanksgiving dinners or a chicken pot roast, but in sandwich form.
  • It was a super soft and fluffy buttermilk bun that was almost like a brioche.
  • To contrast the airy light bun was a mound of delicious crispy fried onions which always makes everything taste better. I did wish they were a bit more seasoned though.
  • If it had crispy onions AND crispy house made bacon bits… this would be a pee in your pants exciting sandwich! I was borderline…
Photo by Winston Wong
  • The filling was just pouring out and the ratio to bread was ideal.
  • It was a plentiful amount of  juicy, moist, shredded, tender chicken bathing in an intense chicken gravy that was perfectly seasoned.
  • The gravy was made with wonderful chicken juices and oils, but it wasn’t greasy, oily or too heavy, but still rich.
  • The chicken was infused with the fragrant piney scent of rosemary which wasn’t overpowering, but noticeable.
  • The sandwich was warm and almost just melted in your mouth with little chew.
  • All it was missing was mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and the other half of the sandwich.
  • This was hearty comfort food at its best and it’s reasonably priced too!
  • It’s the biggest mess since it’s quite saucy, drippy and soft, but so worth it. I warn you, a nap may be in order after this.
  • I will certainly come back again for a full sandwich and highly recommend this!

“World’s Best” Butter Tart – 4/6

  • $1.79 (Not included on public Foodie Tour)
  • Put the “World’s Best” in front of anything and expectations will rise ten fold.
  • I’m not huge on butter tarts, but I’ll eat them if they’re there. I think these are out sourced.
  • It was very good, creamy and smooth, not too sweet and heavy with maple syrup and rich buttery caramel flavours.
  • It wasn’t too oily or sticky which I liked as well, but the shortbread crust was a bit hard and not as tender, crumbly, flavourful or thin as I like.
  • I personally like butter tarts with raisins and nuts in them too, but for what it was, these were still very good.
Photo by Winston Wong

Japadog

845 Burrard St (Burrard & Smithe – has few locations around downtown)
Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Japadog (Burrard & Smithe) on Urbanspoon

I think this is the must try food cart just because the Vancouver food cart craze pretty much started with Japadog. It’s Vancouver’s most successful food cart and the most recognized, even in the States.

As a tourist I think it has to be on the list of food carts to tour, and in fact I always bring tourists here just because it’s usually new for them to try. On the other hand, as a local, the chances are you’ve already tried a Japadog and the hype has died, so you might not be as excited to see this on the list. It’s a solid hot dog and generally a local favourite, so it’s the obvious choice. To see my full post on Japadog – see here.

Kurobuta Beef Terimayo Japadog – 4/6

  • Most highly prized pork! Kurobuta 100% pure all natural Berkshire pork. Kurobuta is the Kobe beef of pork. $6.47 Including tax $7.45
  • It was a 6/6 for me when it first hit the food scene, but now it’s just a hot dog with Japanese toppings, but still very good.
  • The hype has dwindled and the prices increased so you look at it differently.
  • This is their most popular hot dog and it’s my favourite one.
  • For me the wasabi mayo is a must on this Terimayo hot dog.
  • It’s quite a standard and juicy beef hot dog, marinated with Teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, sweet onions and shredded nori.
  • It’s Vancouver’s award winning hot dog, but with all the variety we have in food carts now, it’s just not my first choice anymore.
  • To see more of their hot dogs see my full Japadog post here.

Bun Me Baguette

Robson St and Hornby St
Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Bun Me Baguette on Urbanspoon

It’s the most affordable food cart in Vancouver, which is surprisingly a rare find. At $4.50 for a sandwich enough for two people, it’s easily a great choice for “cheap eats”. However if you’ve had a Vietnamese sandwich (banh mi) before, or you’re a veteran banh mi eater, then you probably know where to get it for cheaper and better.

That being said, I can be sold on enthusiasm and young entrepreneurs, and that’s what the creators and operators of this food cart represent. What I actually appreciated the most was that it was one out of two food carts we visited that didn’t have a “fancy” restaurant name, or brand, backing it up, the other was The Kaboom Box.

From a “foodie” perspective, yes it gets better, but if you’re looking for convenience and what does the job, this will do the job. On the other hand there is the very hidden hole in the wall called Sushi Yoko Cho that’s selling banh mi just a 1 minute walk away from Bun Me Baguette. They’re only $3.75 there too, but I haven’t tried them yet.

BBQ Lemon Grass Chicken Banh Mi – 3/6 (and make sure you get the hot sauce)

  • The classic cluckers banh mi! Stuffed with our lemongrass seasoned juicy chicken and drizzled with out special sauce. Combined with a rich eggy mayo, crunchy cucumber, fresh cilantro, and crisp and refreshing pickled carrots and daikons, this wicked sandwich will make your mouth water.
  • You can select your spice level and I highly recommend adding the jalapeno and hot sauce to the baguette, or it’s very average.
  • The banh mi was not bad here, and the buns are baked fresh daily, but the flavours were very mild compared to most, and the vegetables weren’t pickled enough.
  • It’s a crunchy crusty baguette and the lemongrass marinade was light and I actually couldn’t taste any rich eggy mayo.
  • The chicken were pieces of chicken thigh and at times it was a bit fatty for me with a little bit of the gelatinous skin still on.
  • The hot sauce (sriracha sauce) really makes it. It’s a great sauce, but it shouldn’t necessarily make the sandwich either.

The Kaboom Box

795 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
The Kaboom Box on Urbanspoon

It was a break from the meat and bread, but not from the carbs, and it was on to potatoes! I probably would have rather sampled one of their sandwiches though and I didn’t find what they showcased, the poutine, as a highlight here. I just felt like I had the “best sellers” from every other food cart, and then here I was just trying one of their sides, which is not the star of the show or representative of The Kaboom Box.

The Kaboom Box was the only cart that was so focused on local and sustainable ingredients and materials though, so I did appreciate the visit for that reason. Had we tried a sandwich I probably would have enjoyed this stop even more.

I have been to The Kaboom Box before, which was previously called Fresh Local Wild – see my post here. On the other hand, my post needs an update because although the menu is almost the same, the chefs have changed, and I feel that the food has as well, at least the poutine has.

Just an added note, but all their sandwiches are $7.25 now, which includes their Fried Oyster Po Boy Sandwich, Venison burger and the popular hot Smoked Salmon Burger.

Poutine – 2/6

  • Made with local mixed mushroom gravy and real white cheddar curds $5.36
  • The fries were quite regular, but crispy and seasoned, and the cheese curds were imported from Quebec, but they weren’t squeaky.
  • They weren’t the fresh cheese curds and they melted really easily so they were just plain White Cheddar cheese curds as opposed to “real” cheese curds used for traditional poutine.
  • The vegetarian mushroom gravy was quite good and creamy with some celery flavour in the background, but it needed more mixed mushrooms.
  • I actually wanted to ask for a side of this mushroom gravy and go back to La Brasserie for another Brass Chicken Sandwich and pour the mushroom gravy on that!

Nu Greek Street

Granville St & W Georgia St
Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Nu Greek Street on Urbanspoon
This was easily my second favourite of the tour. I’m not sure if it was a great way to end because I was getting pretty full, but if I had known I would have certainly paced myself better to thoroughly enjoy it.

The Nu Greek Street food cart is under the Kambolis Restaurant Group which includes Raincity Grill, C Restaurant and Nu. The Nu Greek Street food cart is obviously the baby of Nu, their casual fine dining Greek restaurant in downtown. With such a big name to carry it, and considering the owner is Greek and many recipes come from his mother, I had high expectations.

At $6.50 for a gourmet Greek wrap I considered it fair. Most of the food and sauces are made at Nu and then finished off and grilled upon order at the cart.

Grilled (Chicken) Souvlaki Pita – 5/6

  • Chicken, lamb or vegetable $6.50
  • The meat is flavourful, moist and good, but it wasn’t the highlight.
  • The highlight was the pita which could stand on its own. It’s an amazing pita!
  • The pita is super soft with an almost flaky exterior and it reminded of Indian naan without the spices. It carried its own flavour too.
  • It was a good thickness, tender and chewy, and even a bit fluffy, and they’re half prepared at the restaurant and finished up on the grill at the cart.
  • There were some fresh tomatoes, onions and tzatziki (ask for a good amount of the tzatziki).
  • The tzatziki is creamy, refreshing and tangy, but it wasn’t thick with Greek yogurt, although still very flavourful and balanced with fresh cucumbers mixed in.
  • They could honestly sell just the pita with their house made tzatziki and I would buy it, and they do for $4!



{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 4SlicesofCheese August 3, 2011 at 10:26 am

You really need your own tv show.

Plus I want to be a VIF!

2 Linda August 3, 2011 at 11:16 am

nomnomnomnom! i love that food trucks have finally hit the food scene here in vancouver! finally something food worthy that we can brag about :)

the butter tarts from the la brasserie truck is actually from Tartine bakery and i haven’t had one yet but i’ve heard they’re pretty good – i personally like pecan butter tarts more just for the wonderful textural difference :)

can you believe that i still haven’t tried a japadog? the funny thing is, when i was younger i used to put mayo in hotdogs all the time and ppl laughed at me and wondered where i came up with such a weird combo… look who’s laughing now! lol :)

the bun me truck reminds me of the nom nom truck in LA… i’m really glad that their prices here are so far – i mean a banh mi somewhere else like Ba Le or something is already $3 so $4.50 isn’t too much of a stretch… the poutine at the kaboom box looks so sad but i heard the oyster po boy there is quite tasty so if you get another chance, you should try that :)

i personally really like coma food truck and i’ve heard that feastro is really good too! i just saw them on EAT ST :)

3 Linda August 3, 2011 at 11:18 am

ps – cute romper!

4 Jayda Home August 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I agree with 4SlicesofCheese …. you’d be a great host for a show on the Food Network. You should send them a link to your blog and a cool concept (I used to like Rachel Ray’s show on the Food Network where she toured different cities and found the best local places for inexpensive dining) …. although you are a lady with expensive tastes so I’m not sure that would work for you! lol…. just kidding! But seriously…… if your blog is any indication, you’d have no problem garnishing a loyal following of fans.

5 Mijune August 3, 2011 at 4:38 pm

@4SlicesOfCheese – aww wow!! what a compliment!!! Thank you!! At least I know I’ll have one viewer :) (if you’re on here you’re a VIF!)

@Linda – ahh Tartine! yup! That’s what I wrote too! I prefer nuts! You haven’t tried Japadog? Well now the hype has dies so you might not be that “impressed” by it. Mayo on a hot dog is totally not weird!!! I like Coma too.. they’re quite good, but just not sure hoe much fusion is going on. Sometimes it seems totally Korean and others it seems barley Korean.

-lol thanks for the extra comment :) So cute!

@Jayda Home – wow!! Jayda!!! you’re going to make me cry!! Thank you so much!! It would be literally a dream if that ever happened. Doing anything on Food Network would be a dream! I’m so happy to have such loyal readers who are so supportive! I’ll keep trying and doing my best! I feel so lucky just to have your comment already!!

Btw do you mean $40 a day? I used to watch that too! Lol maybe I’ll do a $60 a day!? :)

6 Erin August 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Love it! Was only a matter of time before someone capitalized on the food cart tour idea- but as you mentioned, holy pricey! (also- am I the only person that finds all the food carts popping up super expensive?! I mean, they have no overhead but prices are comparable to some restaurants- anyways, back on topic).

The Japadog with the soba noodles on it is my fave- hehe. Have been dying to try the Brasserie sandwich. Wonder why they don’t feature the Dragon Truck as it’s pretty much the most popular one out there. Do you have a fave truck not on the tour, Mijune?

7 john August 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm

what is a Kurobuta Beef? so is the hotdog mix of beef and pork = BORK? lol
ya i haven’t tried japadog still…. i just need time to get out of the restaurant.

8 LotusRapper August 4, 2011 at 12:28 am

Am I like the last person in Vancouver who *haven’t* eaten at one of the new-generation food trucks downtown ?!? :-/ Please someone drag me out of Fairview Slopes !!

Bun Me ….. haha, love that !

9 Mijune August 4, 2011 at 2:33 am

@Erin – no! You are NOT the only one that find them expensive, which defeats the purpose of street food! I think $6.50 is a good mark and I want to be full from whatever that is… for anything more than $6.50 I feel like I might as well go to a restaurant.

I’m actually eager to try Tacofina and I hear so many good things about it!! Roaming Dragon I’ve tried a few things, but I’m a tad biased because I know that style of food and where the ideas original came from. I have to try it again! I was certain it would be on the tour, but I think Michelle wanted to showcase her favourites and also some diversity so there was already Japanese and Vietnamese. I still have lots more carts I need to try though!

@john – u need a break!! Kurobuta is the Kobe beef of pork so it’s actually pork lol. A very highly prized and massaged pig? lol. yeah Japadog was more fun when it first came out and not it’s kind of lost a bit of it’s pizazz… still good, but pricey IMO.

@LR – YOU HAVEN’T TRIED ONE!??! No don’t worry.. I’m rarely in downtown in the afternoon so it took me AGES to try one too!

10 ten August 4, 2011 at 8:21 am

$50 bucks is complete rip off. If you went to each food cart yourself and ordered a main course item usually under $10 for a full order not a half, you’d not only have enough food for yourself and three homeless people, but you’d still have change for a coffee or dessert of your choice. I understand the concept of trying to hit a number of food carts in one day for those who don’t live dwtn or are visiting, but $50 wow. Sounds to me like someone is charging a hefty premium to do what google maps or a free app does. I agree that the prices of these trucks are about 30% overpriced, which may be due to upfront costs and the 7-8 month season. I can think of about 100 better ways to spend $50 on a meal .

Great job with the blog BTW.

11 Mijune August 4, 2011 at 10:36 am

@ten – Welcome! Yes I agree, it is quite pricey, but that’s why I said it’s more for the experience and meeting people etc etc…. from strictly a food value perspective it would be cheaper to do on your own… but it’s the value of the experience if you care for that aspect. Thank you so much for the compliment by the way! :)

12 Glenn August 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Re Kaboom Box and Fresh-Local-Wild. I didn’t know that Kaboom Box used to be Fresh-Local-Wild, but FLW can now be found in a bigger cart (with 1 table “dining space”) at Burrard and Hastings.

13 john August 4, 2011 at 8:39 pm

@mijine – lol ya i need a break!! hmm sounds like some sort of marketing ploy!! Will find japadog in Richmond and try this out!!

14 Sandra August 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

The food looks great, but I am always nervous about safe food handling practices. Did you feel that these street vendors maintain that? I would love your blogs to include these observations.

Thanks!

15 Mijune August 5, 2011 at 11:45 am

@Glenn – Hi Glenn! Yes! Check out my post for Fresh Local Wild is here :) http://www.followmefoodie.com/2011/07/fresh-local-wild-food-cart/

@john – To be honest you could probably make a damn good japadog… my friends and I did it at a BBQ.

16 Mijune August 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

@Sandra – Vancouver Health Inspectors seriously watch them like a HAWK. The food carts in Vancouver are different in ones in say Asia. There is almost nothing to be worried about because they get shut down so fast if they’re dirty or any reports of them improperly handling food. I would almost say as far as I’m concerned… I don’t worry at all about the cleanliness. It’s no different than a restaurant and maybe even cleaner because everything has to be somewhat premade before it gets sold from the truck. AND at a cart you can see everything unlike a restaurant. It’s probably cleaner than a restaurant.

17 Anna August 10, 2011 at 10:53 am

looks amazing! another great post! I really want to try the Brass Chicken sandwich! Yum Yum

18 Mijune August 11, 2011 at 2:00 am

@Anna – aww thanks love!!! :) Try it!

19 Tina October 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm

It may be because I had it at 5 in the afternoon, I thought the Brass Chicken Sandwich didn’t quite live up to the reviews people have been giving. While the bun was soft, the chicken was past tender. I couldn’t really taste the beer brine, and thought the gravy was plain, though not oily nor heavy. The pre-fried onions added no texture nor taste. I had to rely on the mustard to give it a zing. One plus is that the sandwich was really overflowing with filling.

20 Mijune October 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm

@Tina – yikes.. I would try them again because those onions are amazing! Mine were very crispy and salty. My gravy was also full of flavour. On the other hand, mine was during the tour so who knows if that changed things.. although i’m confident it shouldn’t.. They serve only one thing so it should be the same all the time… i’d hope. try it again maybe at a better time?

21 Mijune October 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm

@Tina – I’m pretty sure they aim for the chicken to melt in your mouth like that though. And I don’t think the beer is meant to be tasted…. just cooked out.

22 Apollo Food Trucks August 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Really like the marketing of the Bun Me food cart. It makes sense on a surface level, and is a really nice play on words for the classic Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches that everyone seems to love. Great marketing.

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