Words & pix: Stephanie Y
What not to like about the Pan Pacific? Glorious Ocean view, stylish décor, relaxing lounge, and the very approachable Café Pacifica and Cascades Lounge that have been luring locals and visitors with global cuisine and drinks!
In this vibrant food city Vancouver, eateries come and go. But over at Canada Place where the magnificent five sails adorn the skyline, the Pan Pacific Hotel continues to shine after decades. Glancing through my past food notes, there’ve been more than a handful of stories about Pan Pacific, and I’m quite sure the same memories are shared by many.
In fact, my first fine dining experience as an anonymous food columnist for a Chinese publication took place in the elegant dining room of Five Sails. Romantically-dimmed light, dazzling view, meticulous white-glove service and delicate fine bone china-wares set the tune. Complete with passionately prepared dishes that never ceased to amaze us, I aver in my column that Five Sails was the best fine-dining restaurant in town.
And of course, there’s the Café Pacific, a place we go as a family when we are out and about as a tourist (from the suburb) trying to make the day special. We go there for lunch and tea. Depending on the budget, it could be a soup and a salad; a pasta dish or a 3-course meal for lunch. Afternoon with friends or family members can be a glass of wine and a cheese plate at the Cascades. The cup of fresh-brewed coffee (plus a piece of pastry!) however, is what I always long for when I feel like sitting down to unwind.
I also had the pleasure of loitering around at Café Pacific’s Sunday Brunch and a few of their special celebrative brunches. My Chinese friends love hearing about it. You see in Asia, brunches in hotel restaurants, as popular as family dimsum gathering, is indeed a huge draw for those who can afford and treasure it. My music-loving friends, on the other hand, enjoy their Opera Buffet Dinner. “Yes, it might not be the same as going to a theatre for a traditional opera evening, but here, I can eat, drink and be highly entertained in one beautiful place without going somewhere for dinner and then to the theatre. Let me tell you, the talents and the ambiance are paramount!” She raves.
My most recent pre-Christmas dinner there was another memorable evening of first-class provisions. The finishing touched done by Executive Chef Bob Wiles and Pastry Chef Hans Pirhofer right there in the dining room. Dinner, an excellent sampling of west coast cuisine with Asian influenced mellowed in, was more than a decadent meal, it was front row evening with the masters.
Starting with Ahi Tuna Tartar with sweet soya, yuzu pearls and wasabi infused avocado and Japanese pickled plum; everyone was spellbound by the togorashi crackers to allow more scooping. The moist and flaky Lois Lake Steelhead whose story so worthy of telling and sharing, was seared and partnered with crushed potatoes with Dungeness crabmeat, garlic rapini and red wine butter sauce, a plated of Roasted Golden Beet & Baby Vegetable Salad came separately seemed so much, but boy, did I love those golden beets! As a huge duck fan, the duck confit muffin was as seductive as the Pan Seared Duck Breast; and blood orange reduction and glazed vine tomatoes laced in the right amount of acidity. Oh no, it didn’t stop there. The other main ‘Seared Lamb Terderloin’, beautifully plated with rosemary gnocchi (yes, rosemary!); baby fennel, English peas was simply a work of art!
When Chef Hans stepped in with all sorts of goodies, we knew the evening would end in a sweet dream mode. A chocolate bar of soba-cha, a cream puff filled with dulce de leche cream served with white cappuccino cream and mango passion fruit sauce; and a very cute coconut lemon tart. This platter of crafted desserts deserved every bit of attention from all our five senses!
For this festive December, the Winter Solstice Luncheon has already started (daily 11:30 – 2:30); the Saturday Opera buffet is now ‘Opera Angels Heard on High’; Santa’s Sunday Brunch starts at 11am. For other holiday feasts or log onto www.panpacific.com