King & Columbia

Explore Another West Side
Community by Forme.

Five Featured Neighbourhood Businesses


Anh and Chi | 3338 Main Street

The modern story of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods continues to evolve. Bounded by transit-
friendly arterials (Granville, Oak, Cambie, and Main Streets; Broadway, King Edward and 33 rd
Avenue), communities like Mount Pleasant, Cambie Village and South Granville are home to
some of Vancouver’s best-loved restaurants, shops, and purveyors of locally-sourced products.
These businesses are Vancouver’s social media darlings; snap and tag and share to your heart’s
delight; they’ll appreciate the exposure.

Perhaps the best example of a multi-generational family business can be found at 3338 Main Street, where for over 30 years the Pho Hoang restaurant introduced countless Vancouverites to the exotic tastes, colours and textures of Vietnamese cuisine.

The story of how a modest Vietnamese noodle house morphed into a Michelin-rated restaurant is truly the stuff of Vancouver culinary legend.

In 1980, Vietnamese “boat people” refugees Hoàng & Lý Nguyen arrived in Vancouver and three years later, opened Pho Hoang at 3338 Main Street in a non-descript commercial block. Before the fall of Saigon, Lý’s grandmother ran a successful café that became a safe space for a freedom-loving community of artists and musicians. Word got around about Nguyens’ new restaurant that, over three decades, introduced countless Vancouverites to the immensely varied flavours and textures of Vietnamese cuisine.

In a similar vein, communal engagement and prosperity are very much at the heart of what the Nguyen family has created at Anh and Chi. The family rallied when their father Hoang passed away in 2010; their son Vincent even abandoned a potential career in medicine to shoulder the burden. In 2017, Pho Hoang closed and then re-opened under the Anh and Chi banner, which greatly expands upon their parents’ legacy. Amelie and Vincent Nguyen are, in the Vietnamese language, Anh and Chi; the eldest brother and eldest sister from the same family.

The entire interior was gutted and retro-fitted to resemble French colonial era Saigon, but with mid-century modern tables and chairs. A coveted liquor license resulted in the creation of a tasteful array of truly colourful cocktails while a new menu was introduced that updated old favourites while creating room for bold, innovative new dishes. In the summer of 2022, the prestigious Michelin Guides food critics dropped by and awarded their family effort by bestowing a Bib Gourmand award in recognition of Anh and Chi’s commitment to serving tasty and affordable meals. "The menu is a love letter to Vietnam," says the Michelin Guide. "Chạo tôm bánh hỏi is prepared in a classic way, with grilled prawn mousse served with an array of fresh herbs, and there is pho, of course."

What makes the Anh and Chi story even more remarkable is that their mother Ly is still very much involved with the culinary direction of the restaurant’s success, though she has curtailed her formerly all-consuming work schedule to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Vij’s | 3106 Cambie Street

Vancouver’s reputation as a Canadian culinary capital started with a handful of mid-Nineties restaurants that “fused” traditional ethnic dishes with a newly-emerging Pacific Northwest ethos that, to this day, prizes locally-sourced ingredients. Near the top of the heap was Vikram Vij’s namesake restaurant in the South Granville Fashion District. When New York Times reviewer Mark Bittman declared that Vij’s was “easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world” in 2003, Vij’s was well on his way to becoming Vancouver’s first celebrity chef.

A less-told Vij’s story goes far beyond its cuisine the namesake’s television fame. Since its inception, female chefs have contributed hugely to Vij’s success, thanks to Meeru Dhalwala, recipient of Vancouver Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022. Dhalwala, who happens to be Vij’s wife, has been fully committed to providing the very best guest experience through the development of an ever-changing menu that introduces diners to a remarkable array of perfectly-plated appetizers and entrees.

Despite the enormous work required to make Vij’s a world-class destination restaurant, Dhalwala generously gives back to Vancouver’s vibrant—yet often precarious—culinary community. She founded Joy of Feeding—a food festival which supports the agricultural program at the University of British Columbia, including its much-praised UBC Farm. Her Yes Shef! annual dinner pairs seasoned female chefs and up-and-comers with the goal, says Dhalwala, “to not only empower women in the industry, but entice those who left to come back.” “This isn’t about food,” she told us back in 2012, when she launched Joy of Feeding. “It’s about generosity.”

Almost three decades since opening its doors—albeit in a different location in the Cambie Village neighbourhood, Vij’s continues to shine brightly. When Michelin Guides came a-calling to Vancouver last year, it was no surprise that Vij’s was on their Bib Gourmand list. Its advice? “Consider a signature dish of wine-marinated “lamb popsicles” with a fragrant fenugreek sauce, or opt for one of the vegetarian dishes, like a curry made with red bell pepper, portobello mushroom and paneer. A list of unique cocktails offers a perfect foil for the well-spiced cuisine.”

Cadine | 3345 Cambie Street

The conventional wisdom about retail is that you establish your bricks-and-mortar presence first, followed by—if you dare—an e-commerce website later. Then again, there’s nothing conventional about Cadine, a home décor boutique in Cambie Village. Founders (and sisters) Brenda and Paula Li utilized their online presence to gain valuable insights into what clients might want in a ‘real’ store and hired award-winning St Marie Art + Design to realize their vision. On-line inspiration (and ordering) led to the creation of a 2,000-square-foot experiential retail space where, like the Hotel California, “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

While one might surmise that opening during a pandemic might be bad for business, the truth is that Cadine scratched a very real itch to re-evaluate our relationship to home and our emotional attachment to common household design objects. It’s the sort of place where, (if the owners let you, which they never would), you could buy the whole store and all of your earthly needs would be met. Archways and alcoves invite exploration and encourage a kind of languid desire; no, you might need another cotton tote or coffee mug, but you’ll certainly know where to buy it (or order on-line) when you do. Great care and attention are placed on ethical sourcing, locally-designed (and occasionally manufactured) items, and creating an atmosphere of what the sisters call “approachable luxury.” To get an idea of Cadine’s finely-curated vibe, log on to their website and download their “Happy” Spotify playlist.

Potluck Hawker | 3424 Cambie Street

“Food hawkers” are a staple of community life throughout southeast Asia. Housed in open-air pavilions, dozens of food stalls vie for visitors’ culinary attention, their smoky, spicy odours waft forth from sizzling meat and vegetables tossed into wok pots. The connection between customer and cook is literally one-to-one; no maitre d’s, reservations, waiters, or bussing staff.

While Potluck Hawker chef and co-owner Justin Cheung honed his chops at Vancouver Community College’s renowned culinary program, his early career as a Red Seal certified chef began in prestigious Hyatt resorts around the world. Upon returning to Canada in TK, he discovered the wonders of the wok while working as an understudy to Angus An at Longtail and Chicken Shack; two beloved and award-winning pan-Asian restaurants. At Chicken Shack, Cheung mentored Domenic Sai, an eager and motivated student/entrepreneur from Singapore who was familiar with food hawker culture and its straightforward culinary style.

Cheung and Sai partnered together and have positioned Potluck Hawker as a place that serves up affordable favourites like chicken wings and caramelized Brussels sprouts alongside more innovative fare such as deep-fried crispy Pata pork hock and Black Pepper Halibut. Steeped in lemongrass broth, “Mama’s Laksa” noodle dish is a homemade recipe handed down by Cheung’s mother that is the very essence of down-home cooking. Char Kway Teow, a wok dish that features fish cake, prawns, Chinese sausage and home-made chili sauce, takes its name from Cheung’s uncle’s food stall in Penang, Malaysia.

Prior to opening Potluck Hawker in Cambie Village, Cheung told the influential on-line magazine Scout Vancouver that he wanted to create a place for people to come together. “When we talk about the most intimate and organic gatherings, it’s always a potluck.”

Paragon Tea Room | 2207 Cambie Street

In a city where there once seemed to be a Starbucks on every street corner, settling down and relaxing with a steaming cup of tea seemed, well, almost weird. But the gap between tea and coffee drinkers isn’t as far apart as one might think; while 70 percent of all adult Canadians drink at least one cup of coffee per day, almost 50 percent consume a cup of tea.

Indeed, there’s a lot to discover in a world that goes far beyond Earl Grey and Red Zinger. Opened in 2020 by two former Hong Kong ex-patriates, the Paragon Tea Room’s peaceful ambience provides the perfect environment for exploring tea’s vast universe. Paragon’s mission statement strives to “create a culture of inclusion, experimentation and openness.”

The innovative Tea’spresso machine utilizes a unique infusion process which duplicates flavours normally only experienced during a formal tea ceremony and allows for a wide range of specialty drinks that one had to experience in person to appreciate.

Most of the “ceremony grade” premium teas used in Paragon’s drinks are available for sale so that you have your very own tea ceremony at home. What you won’t get is the very special, appreciative vibe that Paragon’s staff extends to each customer who comes through the door. The self-professed “tea nerd” staff will patiently describe each richly nuanced offering to the novice tippler.

Author: Steven Threndyle