The latest culinary craze in Vancouver is photogenic Asian-style dessert creations that earn oohs and aahs in your Instagram feed. So, grab your phone, put away your passport and nab a taste of Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan and more just by venturing downtown.
If you think that waffles belong only on the breakfast table, perhaps you’ve never tried their Asian incarnation: puffy bubbled pastries heaped high with fruit.
Unlike the Belgian version with the hollow squares, each section of an egg waffle is raised into a crisp, airy globe that almost bursts in your mouth as you bite. Try one at Vancouver’s Bubble Tea Shop, where a specialty is the Super Mango variety topped with mango ice cream, chunks of the fresh fruit and whipped cream.
Korean Shaved Ice
Have you tried the refreshing Korean-style dessert known as bingsoo? This classic shaved ice treat is layered with cascades of fresh fruit or other toppings for a light and sweet bite. At Vancouver’s Snowy Village, frozen milk is used instead of ice to create a creamy texture that resembles fluffy snow.
If you love sweet fruit, mound your bingsoo with mangos, strawberries or blueberries. Set against the white ice, the vibrant yellow mangos are particularly camera-friendly.
A more traditionally Korean toping is injeolmi, chewy rice cakes resembling Japanese mochi, which are scattered over the snow with sweet red beans piled on top.
You can also try your bingsoo with a dusting of green tea powder and layered with the same red beans. Even the regular-size bowls of these creamy treats are large, so you might want to share — but we’d forgive you if you didn’t.
The signature dish at this order-at-the-counter spot is taro balls — colorful, chewy, mochi-like rounds served cold over shaved ice or hot in a soup. Either way, it’s garnished with your choice of sweet toppings, ranging from red beans to chunks of fresh taro to tapioca pearls.
Other desserts include a similarly garnished grass jelly or soft tofu pudding. These traditional sweets may be an acquired taste, but bring a companion (the portions are huge) and give it a try.
French-Asian Fusion Ice Cream
Mark Tagulao grew up in Vancouver in a food-loving Filipino-Canadian family. After training as a pastry chef, he combined his culinary prowess with his ice cream ardor to open La Glace, a chic little shop that launched in Kitsilano this summer.
Tagulao and his team are serving rich, French-style ice cream in delicate flavors that ramble the world, from Valrhona chocolate to matcha swirled with black sesame.
This stylish spot even churns out vegan flavors that are so creamy you won’t miss the milk. Try the coco pandan (made with coconut cream) in a parfait topped with salted coconut caramel and crunchy roasted sweet rice.
Mille Crepe Cakes
Another French-Asian hybrid is a gâteau mille crêpes (“cake of 1,000 crepes”). Find this lavish treat, which is popular in Japan, in suburban Richmond at the L’otus Cake Boutique.
At this sleek dessert café, pastry chef Stacy Liang stacks more than a dozen paper-thin pancakes to build each cake, crafting them into tortes flavored with matcha, mango or hojicha, a roasted green tea.
But before you dig in, don’t forget to snap a photo. You don’t have to split your decadent treats, but it won’t hurt to share a few pictures on your social media feed.