Restaurant: Le Tigre Cuisine
Cuisine: Asian/Chinese/Taiwanese/Fusion/Eclectic/Food Truck
Last Visited: February 8, 2013
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: Robson/West End (map)
Phone: (778) 990-2853
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
Food: n/a, haven’t tried enough
- Modern Asian cuisine
- Asian flavours
- Made from scratch
- Busy at peak hours
- Healthy options
- Gluten free options
- Vegetarian options
- Vegan options
- Dairy free options
- Budget friendly
- See here for various locations
- Vancouver Farmers Markets on occasion
- For locations/hours: @LeTigreTruck
**Recommendations: Kick Ass Rice, Famous Beet Fries, Warm Brussel Sprout and Cauliflower Salad
Whoa… major food cart/truck binge lately. I know, but I have my reasons. Street Food City 2 happened and then the Vancouver Farmers Market hosted a food truck festival for the month of February. It was hard to resist. And why would I want to? Well, to avoid line ups maybe, but it was nice having them all in one spot and not having to hunt them all down. Street food is supposed to be convenient, and this was convenient for me.
Anyway, this is Le Tigre! It only came on the scene last year, so it’s relatively new. Owners, operators, friends and both professionally trained Chefs, Clement Chan and Steve Kuan are the boys behind it. Both tired of working for someone else and being told what to do after 18 years of combined culinary experience they decided to start a food truck. This urban food truck is brightly painted in orange and yellow strips with the words “Le Tigre” tagged in funky graffiti across the front.
You might not be able to tell behind their plastic frameless Hello Kitty glasses, but this competitive and well seasoned duo take their jobs very seriously. Both come from strong culinary backgrounds working for some of the city’s finest award wining restaurants under highly acclaimed chefs. They are no strangers when it comes to culinary competitions either. Steve won the National 2010 Canadian Apprentice of the Year and Clement came 2nd in Bocuse d’Or Canada in 2008. He was also the National Chef of the Year in 2010 and is part of the Top 20 on Food Network’s Top Chef Canada this year. I had met Clement previously at a few BC Chefs’ Association culinary competitions, so I was aware of his truck and concept and was invited to come try out a few things.
To be honest, I was really confused with the concept and what was on the menu. According to the website “Le Tigre is a food truck that will serve modern Asian cuisine all over Vancouver. Our food will be a contemporary interpretation of classical Chinese cuisine.” They say “the essence of Chinese cuisine is found in the ingredients.” I understood the concept, but it didn’t translate into the menu as well because I found the menu very modern and quite Japanese influenced more so than Chinese. Some things seemed almost completely West Coast too, although it might have been just what I ordered. The food was still very good regardless; but I would come with the right expectations or you might be caught off guard.
At first, you might think Roaming Dragon food truck already does this, but they have very different approaches. Both good in their own ways. Le Tigre puts an innovative twist to Asian street food using French techniques, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it “Asian fusion”. I really dislike that term and it kind of represents a food trend from 5 years ago, and I think Le Tigre deserves more credit. They don’t bastardize the food because they understand the flavours since they are native to most of the cuisines. I just think the menu doesn’t align with their self-description, but again I still really enjoyed the food.
With such reasonable prices, quirky owners, and serious culinary talent, I would say that this is a must try… at least for the following things I had, which are the top three best sellers. I don’t buy into the “popular items” all the time but when they’re good, they’re good, and these were worth the hype. It made me excited to try the rest of the menu, so hopefully the rest is as good even if they aren’t “the best” (which is all relative and arguable anyway).
On the table:
- Roasted beets, 7 spice mayo $4
- It kind of bothers me when menu items get called “famous” without hitting “fame”, but damn, these were good.
- They were a bit oily and I guess being deep fried takes away from the “healthy” aspect, but whatever. I wanted two orders.
- They had a very light batter of what I thought was corn meal because it created a barely there thin crispy crust.
- It was actually tossed in a bit of potato starch which is how Taiwanese popcorn chicken is made too. It allows for an extra crisp and crunchy exterior similar to cornmeal.
- The beets were tender and sweet and they were wedges instead of fries, but this made it a bit easier to eat being bite sized.
- They were tossed with some mint which just gave it some freshness and also cut the spice of the aioli a bit.
- It was a nice switch from an expected cilantro which would have been more Asian. I would be curious to try these with Thai basil too.
- Beets are not Asian so I found this a bit random, but it was delicious and I would order it again for sure.
- The dip was a spicy and citrusy orange chili aioli that tasted like it had Sriracha sauce in it, but there wasn’t.
- It was a very aromatic dip with tangy and spicy Japanese Shichimi tōgarashi seasoning spice.
- Usually that spice is to flavour soups and grilled meats or udon, but it worked really well in the aioli.
- I wouldn’t have minded a 7 spice yogurt dip option for something a bit lighter with more acidity too.
- It was sweet, savoury, tangy and spicy and it just had a lot of flavour for something so simple.
- It was a refreshing change from yam fries and chipotle aioli (I know that isn’t Asian), but just saying it was a nice change.
- Capers, cracked chilli, lemon, parmesan $4
- This tasted almost the same as the “famous” Glowbal Group Brussels Sprouts, which I love.
- It was another simple dish, but everything was well balanced and it was nice that the brussels sprouts were not reliant on bacon.
- It was served warm and the brussels sprouts and cauliflower florets were tender and perfectly cooked.
- The brussels sprouts seemed roasted until caramelized and crispy on the exterior, but I’m pretty sure they were flash fried before serving.
- I had equal amounts of both ingredients and they were tossed in parmesan with capers and lemon.
- It was salty, spicy, cheesy and tangy and it was again more West Coast/Mediterranean/Italian than Asian.
- I wouldn’t have minded smoked tofu or chestnuts, or something else to make this more like a substantial salad than a side veggie.
- I love both ingredients as is, so naturally I knew I was going to like this and I would still order it again.
- Kiss Ass Rice w/Braised Pork Belly or Popcorn Chicken – Sake, dashi, poached egg, fresh herbs $6
- This was in my Top 10 Orgasmic Dishes so far this year, but I thought about it days later.
- I got it with braised pork belly and it is the recommended choice.
- I know fried rice is “just fried rice” and it is something you can get in generous amounts for dirt cheap, but this was not just any fried rice.
- This Kick Ass Rice really kicked my butt and I didn’t expect it to be that good.
- I probably wouldn’t have even ordered it if it wasn’t recommended, but thankfully I did!
- I saw another guy order it with DOUBLE pork belly… sick man. I want to meet him again and shake his hand.
- And hello egg!! Egg Yolk Series worthy.
- The egg was sous vide and the yolk was almost the same texture as the white. It was beautiful and perfect.
- I love egg and a fried egg on fried rice is typical Asian comfort food, but the sous vide egg just glorified it.
- The sweet and savoury soy, garlic and ginger marinated pork belly was super tender and melt in my mouth buttery.
- The fat was not gelatinous or chewy and it wasn’t overly fatty either.
- There was a decent amount of pork belly, but I could have used a bit more although it was fair.
- The yolk was a natural sauce to the rice, but the rice had flavour on its own.
- The rice was chewy garlic, sake and dashi seasoned fried rice and it was moist, savoury, and tangy and almost like fried sushi rice.
- It was sticky, but not wet or soggy. It was not a traditional fried rice which is usually dry.
- I think it was supposed to be topped with fresh mint, cilantro and basil, but I didn’t get much fresh herbs.
- The seasoning was great on this regardless though and it was topped off with the 7 spice Japanese aioli (?).
- The aioli added spice/richness (as if it needed more richness) and I would say it had a kick and heat.
- It was maybe mild-medium for me. The bowl looks small, but it’s a very heavy dish so it’s filling.
- I wouldn’t have minded something crispy or crunchy like prawn crackers or optional toasted peanuts, but overall A+.