The so-called “underground restaurants” have really caught up in Vancouver as of late (here is a bit of context). Behind the mysterious label is something rather simple. It is compromised of the following:
- A private chef who is willing to entertain a communal table full of people with good food.
- Diners who are just interested in food and appreciate casual, non-restaurant setting.
- An undisclosed location to host the above two.
So far as I know, this phenomenon is nothing new elsewhere – I am glad it’s coming to Vancouver. However, it became really popular when the HST was announced last year, so I wonder if this has anything to do with that. The Vancouver Coastal Health is not a fan – it wants to inspect them. I think the diners should make the call on this… after all, what’s the difference between this and a dinner party (outside the monetary incentive)?
Yours truly had a dinner with the fellow blogging group, hosted by the chef/owner from NFA (No Fixed Address). The normal price is $50 for a 5-course menu. You may bring your own wines – there is no corkage fee. The menu changes regularly except for a few popular items (e.g. pork belly). Our Asian-inspired menu consisted of the dishes below:
- Thai Beef Salad
- Scallop Trio
- Pork Belly with confit fennel and garlic
- Grapefruit Sorbet with Campari (palette cleanser)
- Sake Marinated Sable Fish (sorry the photos were disappointing)
- Chocolate Mousse
I won’t go into too much details with each dishes like I have done before. To me, this is more about the dining experience. The service was good – great timing with the dishes, succinct description, and little interruption during the courses. The dishes were definitely not bad, neither were they great. They weren’t meant to impress – just simply good food. It’s something that the chef likes to eat and cook and reflects himself. The courses well thought out and put together. Critical as always, I think there were flaws with each dish. But, what do you expect with an ex-lawyer, self-trained chef?
Like in the U.S. and Europe, I hope this underground restaurant thing will really take off and won’t just stop at being a fad. Vancouverites deserve it.
P.S. if you need the contact information for NFA, let me know. I guess I will try to protect the secrecy.