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Taste of Yaletown is back for its 17th year! For the first time, it will run for the entire month of October, with restaurants offering special menus created especially for the event.

This year, Taste of Yaletown (TOY) is putting an emphasis on community and bringing the community back together safely. For every TOY menu sold, Yaletown Business Improvement Association (YBIA) will be donating $2.00 to The Greater Vancouver Food Bank and Yaletown House, a not-for-profit long-term care home for seniors. In addition, the YBIA has partnered up with Earls Yaletown to buy lunch for all 150 staff at the Yaletown House to give thanks for keeping Vancouver seniors safe during the pandemic. Yaletown House is the only seniors home in Vancouver with zero cases thus far. All 150 staff members will be able to book their lunch at any time that works best for them.

Also new to TOY this year is the “Healthcare Happy Hour”, to honour and celebrate every healthcare worker that has been on the frontlines of the pandemic. Taking place every Wednesday during TOY at 4:00-6:00 pm at Bill Curtis Square, healthcare workers can stop by the event for some live music, and pick up a gift basket put together by Yaletown businesses and restaurants. The YBIA will also be setting up a community board where Yaletown visitors can share their own messages of appreciation and support for healthcare workers.

Participating restaurants include Banter Room, Bistro Sakana, Brix & Mortar, Cactus Club Cafe, Grand Chinese Restaurant, Hapa Izakaya, Provence Marinaside, Robba da Matti, Sushi Maro, The Flying Pig, The Greek by Anatoli, and WestOak. Restaurants will be sharing their special menus on their social media channels.

For more information, visit yaletowninfo.com/tasteofyaletown/

Photo credit: Yaletown BIA

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While we are working towards establishing some new normalcy, it is still important to remain vigilant and stay safe. Most restaurants are open for dine-in again now, but some of us may still prefer to eat in the comfort of their own home. Therefore, this Thanksgiving, some local restaurants continue to offer a to-go option so we can celebrate with friends and family safely at home. Here is my round-up. I will continue to update this list as restaurants continue to promote their offering.

And make sure to check the order details for each one to not miss out!

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Hello Nori opened its first location on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver earlier this year. They specialize in sushi hand rolls (temaki). It became popular very quickly, with line ups at the door. Since I’ve been almost a hermit during the pandemic, I haven’t ventured out downtown for a number of months. Finally last month with a nudge from my friend CC, we went to check it out.

Hello Nori has a rather small menu, which isn’t a bad thing, keeping it focused and making food prep easier. They have a few set menus or you can order a la carte. They may also have a couple of featured items on the “fresh sheet”, which were ikura and futomaki when I went. While their set menus offer decent selections and a great sample of their hand rolls, I opted for a la carte because I had my eyes on the unagi hand roll.

Food

Toro – which is their version of a Negitoro (toro with green onion) – there’s nothing spectacular about it but it’s flavourful.

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Do you sometimes get this giddy feeling when you come across something new and unique, knowing that you’re among the firsts to know about it, and you can’t wait to tell people? I get that when I try a new restaurant, or spot a new product at grocery stores. And I just had a moment like this when I attended a food and beverage product trade show at the Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre in Gastown.

Named “A Flavourful Journey to Indonesia”, the purpose of the event was to provide Canadian businesses with a glimpse of the food and beverage products Indonesia offers, thus bringing these products to Canada and making them available at local retail stores. So naturally, many products I saw at this event are not yet available in Canada, but I had the opportunity to sample them and I seriously hope they will be available here soon.

Here are a few that got me really excited:

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Being Chinese, we celebrate Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節 every year. It is always on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, promising the roundest, fullest full moon of the year. Part of the tradition is to eat mooncakes月餅, a baked pastry with fillings. The most popular versions we used to get in HK are with lotus seed paste or mixed nuts filling, plus salted egg yolk(s). Over the years, mooncakes have evolved. Bakeries have introduced other flavours of fillings such as red bean and lava custard; and some places sell a version called “snow skin” where the exterior is not baked and is made with glutinous rice flour.

Origin of Mooncakes

Do you know the origin of mooncakes? The one version that is forever stuck in my head is that it was created by rebellions in the Yuan Dynasty, who hid secret messages inside baked pastries, and distributed them to plan a revolt to overthrow the ruling Mongols, leading to the fall of Yuan and the rise of Ming Dynasty.

Buying Mooncakes in Vancouver

This year, Mid Autumn Festival lands on September 21, 2021. If you are interested in making your own mooncakes, check out Mama Lam’s recipe for Baked Chinese Mooncake with Salted Egg Yolk Custard Filling that I shared last year. Otherwise, if you are looking to support local businesses and buy some at a store, here are some ideas for you.

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