La Fraternite du Bondage Gastronomique's Vancouver, British Columbia, Bondage - 10/5-9/16

"Bound to Eat!"

Executive Summary Summary


Executive Summary

It went to eleven [1].


This is the official, unabridged, unadulterated, gluten-free, non-GMO, handcrafted, exquisitely curated account of Vancouver, British Columbia, Bondage (VBCB). Don't settle for an imitation! And be sure to read the footnotes.

The first recorded international bondage in history ought to have required serious planning. It didn't. Given our previous successes, Bondage by the Bay and Bondage by the Coast, we [2] prepared by asking ourselves just one question, "Where should we have lunch?" We answered ourselves, "Vancouver, BC," and worked backwards, arriving at our usual 6 am estimated approximate possible starting time. Choosing a hotel could have required work, but Phil had stayed at the Empire Landmark Hotel fairly recently and thought it would meet our needs - great location, good price - nicely. Steve had stayed there sometime in the previous century, back when it was the Sheraton, and thought it would meet an anti-need - rotating restaurant at the top - uniquely. Done!

10/5 (Wednesday) - Day One

6 am - We're off, just as we hadn't planned, in the Bondomobile II. FYI, the Bondomobile II is identical to the original Bondomobile except: 1) it's burgundy, not emerald green; and 2) it works. [3]

8:10 am - We stop at Denny's in Lacy, WA. We need a last dose of Americana before our impending infusion of Canadiana [4], and nothing beats Denny's for that. Besides, we're hungry. (Lots of things beat Denny's for that, but this is Lacy.) Our waitress is straight out of central casting - indeterminate age (OK, terminate age, but there's a lot of room between 40 and 75), raspy voice, dry sense of humor, and, most importantly, she calls each of us "hon."

1 pm - Vancouver ho! [5] All we have to do is check into our hotel and then we can explore lunch options. Fortunately, Phil has booked the Empire Landmark through Expedia, which means we've saved some money, and we can use that money to pay for lunch. Of which we are in some hurry to find. But what Expedia provideth in one area, it doth taketh awayeth in another. In this case it's the ability to remedy the situation with a convenient confirmation document or number. Seems that Expedia - or Phil - or EL has screwed up, and the two rooms with two beds in each we thought we'd reserved have morphed into two rooms with one bed in each. One of those rooms will do, but we need two beds in the other. Bondage may be bondage, but it's not bondage. The hotel clerk seems intently focussed on not appearing to have a sense of humor. Or empathy. Or optimism. He tells us rearrangement will be difficult, and we can see his reasoning for ourselves. It seems that some sort of meeting/convention/flotilla of approximately 38,142 Japanese teenage schoolchildren, all dressed in their uniforms, is using our hotel as its staging area. After 15 minutes or so of intense staring at his computer screen, occasionally punctuated by keystrokes but not by any change of expression, our clerk exchanges one of our adjoining rooms for one "three levels up." We won't find out what this means exactly until that room is available, which is three hours from now. Meanwhile, we'll stow our stuff in the single-bed room and make our way to food.

2 pm - We choose A Taste of India for our first international dining experience. It has a couple of things going for it. First, it's close, less than a 5 minute walk from EL. Second, it has room for us to sit down. Third, it has food. Unprepossessing as AToI seems from outside, our hearts tell us Indian cuisine in Vancouver has to be good. Or maybe it's just our stomachs. In the end, our mouths have the final word, and that word is "excellent." Good portionage [6], zestful spicing, and some dishes we've not seen in PDX.

3 pm - Now we're ready to hit the street and check out our surroundings, especially the restaurant part of those surroundings. Which brings us to Eddie Bauer. Who knows why we go in. It's probably god, trying to prove that he's truly good, merciful, and just. Whatever the reason, once inside we soon find ourselves engaged in conversation with an employee who seems hip in an exceptionally cosmopolitan way. We are SO right. Donna's lived in Paris and LA, among other cities, speaks a few languages, has her own styling business, and loves food. We do what we do best - explain our mission and ask for recommendations. She offers Hon's Wun-Tun House for inexpensive Chinese and Miku, expensive but extraordinary Japanese. Preliminary research by Jon had placed Miku on his radar; ditto for Steve and his radar. This means we have to commit. We can only cop latish reservations, but now we have dinner covered. With about five hours to kill, we're back on the street scoping the restaurant scene. We spend one of those hours checking out a Tesla store, just because. When our investments pay off [7], maybe we'll buy one. By that time, we may need a self-driving bondomobile.

5:00 pm - Back at EL after some decent recon on nearby restaurants. In case you're curious (and even if you're not), here are cuisines we noticed within an easy 15 minute walk from our place: Korean, Belgian, French, Italian, Indian, Greek, Himalayan (pause while we catch our breath), Vietnamese, Japanese, Thaiese, Malaysian, Mongolian, Afghani, Algerian, and Mediterranean. Not to mention places dedicated to steak, seafood, and breakfast. The last one is essential. We'll need to start off on the right foot (there are three of us, so perhaps it should be "right feet") tomorrow. But wait, there's more! Subsequent observation [8] will also uncover Ukranian, Turkish, African fusion (WTF!), and a restaurant dedicated solely to Japanese dessert. Our "three levels up" room is ready, and it seems clear that "levels" means price. It's not only larger but it's also on the 39th floor, as opposed to the 21st. Great view, which is pretty difficult not to achieve from any significant height in this city, assuming your room has windows. And it has two beds.

5:30 pm - It's three hours till dinner, so we decide to take advantage of the Empire Landmark's 42d floor revolving restaurant (one revolution/85 min.). We don't want food, just drinks [9], to accompany the lovely views that slowly change as we turn: early on; not so early on; later on; time to eat!. The EL has a sort of frayed-at-the-edges, not-quite-genteel-but-one-step-up-from-utilitarian vibe; nevertheless, its revolving restaurant has done the job. On to dinner. Miku's in Gastown [10], about a 20 minute stroll, assuming we navigate correctly. Which we do.

8:45 pm - Miku! We find success at several levels. The waterfront view of Burrard Inlet is spectacular. As is the food. As is the service. We'd expected all that [11], given the recommendation we'd received earlier and what we insist on calling our research. But maybe not to this degree. And to top it off, we cop more restaurant recommendations. We ask about Korean. They oblige with DamSo, then up the ante with a gratuitous suggestion for Italian, Ask for Luigi. When we ask about Joe Fortes, another of our R&D efforts, vigorous affirmation ensues. Miku isn't inexpensive, but the info we get is almost like a rebate. At the end of our 2 1/2 hr. dining experience, we're pleasantly full and fully able to enjoy our walk back. And we're armed with quality intel for tomorrow's food festivities.

10/6 (Thursday) - Day Two

9:15 am - Breakfast at Breka Bakery & Cafe. We noticed this place, about a 5 minute walk from EL, yesterday. It gave us a good feeling, especially the sign stating it's open 24/7. After all, breakfast goods can double as desserts and snacks. Breakfast sandwiches can double as lunch fodder. And coffee is useful anytime [12].

10:30 am - Yesterday's daily infusion of culture was the Tesla store. Today it's the Vancouver Art Gallery. As imposing as it seems from the outside, inside it's merely OK. We agreed that the Stephen Waddell photography exhibition, Dark Matter Atlas, was probably the high point. Here's one representative photo and one not so representative but which we dug. Emily Carr's paintings and journal excerpts also engaged our attention. Naturally, we're always up for a life-size (c. 5 1/2 ft. high) rendition of a sperm whale's heart; Bharti Kher's is one of the best we've seen. But it's been over two hours since we finished breakfast, and we're in need of lunch. And thanks to yesterday's tips, we know just where to go.

12:50 pm - Damn right, we're at DamSo, smack in the heart of the Vancouver's Korean restaurant district. FYI, said district appears to cover all of the city, minus Stanley Park. Not that we're complaining. Also FYI, no, we didn't screw up and forget to insert a link; DamSo doesn't have a website. Perfectly appropriate given its rather iconoclastic approach to modern technology. DamSo's food lives up to and beyond its billing. We love everything we taste, from the Korean tacos, through the barbecue, to the bulgogi, with assorted stops in between.

2:15 pm - Further footwise exploration of our environs. Vancouver's a lovely city for walking. Great views in nearly every direction; few severe slopes; lotsa pretty cool architecture. It helps that the temperate, dry weather is holding.

5:30 pm - We're back at EL's rotating restaurant, enjoying some pre-dinner wine and the ever-lovely view.

8:10 pm - On our way to dinner, we pop into Eddie Bauer once again, this time to thank Donna for her Miku recommendation and to retaliate with a hearty endorsement of DamSo. She re-retaliates with Lolita's (a Mexican cantina, not the book), Gyu-Kaku (Japanese BBQ), and Pidgin (Asian-French-Northwest). The technical term for this is a win-win situation.

8:30 pm - Dinner at Joe Fortes. [13] Seafood and chops on a bustling, multi-story scale. Even though JF is non-ethnic and, we surmise, heavily infested with tourists. it leads to our substantial enjoyment. And let's emphasize that "substantial" with dessert, an edible example of Vancouver's high-rise architecture. We don't leave without scoring more suggestions. After hearing about FBG and why we're here, our waiter is only too happy to recommend The Flying Pig [14] ("nouveau"; their word, not ours). And WildTale [15] (seafood). And Cioppino's (Mediterranean). It'll turn out we don't go to any of them. So many leads; so little time. Speaking of which, it's past 11:30 pm when we get back to our rooms.

10/7 (Friday) - Day Three

9:15 am - Breakfast at Breka. Again. Get used to it.

11:15 am - We walk through Stanley Park, pausing to take in the waterfront views and make new friends, on our way to the Vancouver Aquarium. In addition to regular aquarium sights and displays, we "pet" the rays, watch dolphins being fed, stay for sea lion training, and cap it off by checking out a beluga whale. Yes, we're tourists! And we're voters. Acting in the latter capacity, we vote on aquaria: Vancouver's vs. the Oregon coast version. [16]. It's unanimous in favor of Vancouver.

2:50 pm - It's a latish time for lunch when we arrive at Gyu-Kaku (thanks, Donna!), eager and hungry for some Japanese barbecue. At least we can be sure we won't have to wait for a table to open up at this unbusy time. Except Gyu-K is un-unbusy. After waiting 10 minutes, we're seated. Each table has its own little gas heated pit, which means we need a lesson in how to cook our food. But first we need a lesson in menu navigation, because most options are mini-banquets, suitable for 2-10 people. Our server's adept at addressing both issues, probably because she's had to do it about 13,000 times. And once we get the hang of how much to cook at one time and how long it takes, we're fine. Then we're full, so we're even finer. And in this case, what makes us finest of all isn't the food. Thanks to Phil's jones for the latest political news, we get wind of the leaked DONALD TRUMP "And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything." SEX TAPE. [17] Why wait for the election? Hillary's success is now even more of a sure thing! [18]

5:40 pm - We depart EL for dinner at Ask for Luigi (thanks, Miku staff!). We know AfL doesn't take reservations; with a name like that, how could it? And we know it's small and hip with cool food people who know stuff, like the guy who tipped us to it. And we know it's Friday. And we know we've been told to expect a wait. Our conclusion: an open table probably isn't in our immediate future. After a pleasant thirty-five minute stroll that takes us through Gastown, we're there. Everything so far meets with expectations. Hence, the hour-and-a-half wait Megan, the hostess, surmises. AfL is pretty close to a promising looking bar Megan's suggested, but that place is also pretty - as in too - crowded for our tastes.

6:30 pm - Back to Gastown, where we settle in at Chill Winston. ChillW describes itself as a "gastrolounge, satisfying hunger and other appetites." What it is, in fact, is a loud, large bar that serves what looks to be pretty good food and has seating options beyond chairs and stools. We're primed for the dinner ahead, so we just have drinks. Apparently we've missed out on satisfying those other appetites, unless you count killing time as an appetite.

8:15 pm - We've returned to Ask for Luigi, waited an additional twenty minutes, and are now seated. What happens in the next three or so hours will roughly encapsulate the joy and astonishing success of VBCB. Megan lets us know that a complimentary pate plate will be sent our way to compensate for our extra-long wait. Nice touch. A nicer and more significant touch is the place itself. Cosy and informal, just like one of those places - often Italian - where you're not surprised that your meal is memorable, even though you're surprised that you're not surprised. And nicest touch of all is the food, which elicits the same feeling of well-being as the place itself. During our meal, we explain ourselves and our mission to Megan, mentioning our reservations at Pidgin for tomorrow night and ask if she's been there. She tells us no, but she's heard good things and, by the way, another place we might like is Kissa Tanto for Italian-Japanese fusion [19]. Pidgin's close by, and she asks if we'd like her to call and reserve a table over there for dessert. We thank her and demur; we're eager to have dessert right here. As we're finishing, Megan stops by our table to let us know she's made reservations for us anyway, just so we can check it out and have another dessert. It's clear this woman knows the kind of eaters we are; resistance is not an option. While all this has been playing out, we've also explained ourselves to our superb waitress, Brooke, successfully deploying our bondage business card in the process.

10:05 pm - We're at Pidgin, ostensibly for drinks and dessert. Our success at Ask for Luigi has left us too full for both, so we settle for drinks. Single malt scotch all around. Neat, of course. [20] We dig the informal, latish night buzz, and the Asian/French/Northwest inflected menu looks intriguing. We somehow fall into conversation with the manager/manager surrogate, probably thanks to Megan's call, and we let him know we'll be back tomorrow for our last dinner.

10:50 pm - Time to head back. [21] A wrong turn at the outset almost immediately puts us in a decidedly different part of town. All that was charming and hiply grunge-ish about Gastown has turned poorly lit, rather close, and vaguely ominous. As we walk past a man huddled on the sidewalk, apparently smoking crack, our suspicions are confirmed. We check coordinates and, yes, we're on East Hastings, the one specific area we'd been warned about. We never feel threatened, merely uncomfortable and distinctly out of place. Nevertheless, we're relieved to be back on West Hastings after turning around.

11:30 pm - It's been a beautiful evening for our walk back to the EL.

10/8 (Saturday) - Day Four

9:30 am - Breakfast at Breka, but you knew that.

11:30 am - We're off to the Vancouver Maritime Museum via Bondomobile. This is the first place we've driven to since we arrived; it's also the first rain we've had, in spite of weather forecasts to the contrary. [22]

11:50 am - We're there and proceed to be pleasantly occupied. Vancouver's version may not be, (i.e., isn't) on par with the Columbia River Maritime Museum [23], but it's warm, dry, and culturally useful. It also serves to pass the time while we work up a craving for lunch. We're supremely skilled at summoning food cravings; after 75 minutes or so, we're ready to go. But where? It's raining hard enough and we're hungry enough and we're wary of too late a lunch enough to just walk around looking for eats without any sort of plan.

1:30 pm - Back at EL we formulate said plan. It's called Korean food near our hotel. And an excellent plan it is, limiting our choices to fewer than 25,000. But for one reason or another, not many look promising. It appears DamSo has spoiled us. Finally, we come upon a place that looks pretty good. But now our plan's tragic flaw appears - it's lunchtime for everyone else in Vancouver, too. The restaurant is packed, and there's a half-hour wait. But a tragic flaw isn't necessarily a fatal one. DamSo is just a block away, and there's still half the menu we haven't tackled.

1:50 pm - We gladly admit DamSo is inevitable. The empty table waiting for us is proof. Taking note of wall mirrors hung at odd angles, once again we appreciate DamSo's offbeat, irreverent attitude. And once again we're delighted almost to the point of stupefaction by our meal. Casual as DamSo is, the food's seriously excellent.

3:15 pm - We're at our hotel, ready for an afternoon nap. But a problem has arisen, if a superfluity of promising choices may be defined as a problem. It seems that Brooke (our Ask for Luigi waitress, remember?) has taken advantage of the info provided on our bondage business card to email us with another restaurant recommendation. It's Cinara, an Italian-ish bistro. We're instructed to ask for Ben if we call. Now there's a decision to make for tonight's dinner: stick with Pidgin, recommended by Donna (from Eddie Bauer, remember?), which we've personally checked out and at which we have reservations; opt for Kissa Tanto, recommended by Megan (our AfL hostess, remember?) and offering an opportunity to sample a cuisine we've never tried, never heard of, and have difficulty imagining; or try Cinara, recommended by Brooke, presenting an alt take on Italian fare and dangling the promise of having an in with someone there named Ben. We choose edginess and call KT, but no tables are available. We call Cinara, get hold of Ben and book a spot for 8 pm. Promising ourselves we'll try Pidgin on our next visit, we cancel our reservations there. Hard work, and our naps are well-deserved.

7:15 pm - Before departing for dinner, we contact Elmer to coordinate dinner in PDX tomorrow night. Sunday marks the second Clinton v. Trump debate, and we have to watch it. Together. With pizza. And dessert. And more pizza. And wine/beer/other intoxicants as prescribed. And more pizza. This will be hard on the heels of the DONALD TRUMP SEX TAPE news we heard on Friday, and neither we nor the rest of the country can wait.

7:30 pm - We're off. The rain has stopped, and we're up for a pleasant walk. Cinara's in an older part of town, spiced with assorted small shops selling assorted small things. We pass something called a "donuterie"; it's right next to an umbrella store. [24]

8 pm - With expectations high and appetites intact we arrive at Cinara. No, they don't have us at "hello." It takes the first dish, white anchovy toast, to do that. Then things get complicated. Too many promising dishes and no easy way to divide them into courses and pacing suitable for three. [25] Thankfully, Ben is on hand to provide expertise regarding what to have, how much of it to have, and in what order to have it. Problem solved, followed by lots of food related banter with Ben, and smiles all around at the end of our 2-hour-plus meal.

10:30 pm - We stop at Breka for takeout dessert. [26] We've had our eyes on their chocolate almond croissants ever since we saw them on Thursday morning. But the croissants are gone! Apparently we're not the only ones who see their late night dessert value. Or maybe they never made it to late night. Or early night. Or even to mid-afternoon. We settle on cake, vowing to cop croissants tomorrow morning for dessert tomorrow night.

10/9 (Sunday) - Day Five

9 am - Phil's not feeling well, so it's just Jon and Steve for breakfast. And YES!, Breka has almond chocolate croissants on hand. We consume our breakfasts, pick up Phil's, and arm ourselves with this evening's dessert.

9:45 am - Departure for America. [27]

2 pm - Lunch at a Burger King in Tumwater, WA, USA. [28] Hardly gourmet, but it gets the job done efficiently.

2:45 pm - Next stop PDX. While on the road, we call Pizza Jerk for pick up at 5:45. Steve's DVR is recording the debate, so we're in no danger of missing any part of Trump's meltdown.

5 pm - We're home! Jon and Phil will pick up pizzas, salads, and additional supplies, and bring them to Steve's. Elmer will meet us there at 6.

6:15 pm - Let's eat! And watch Hillary demolish Trump once again, unless Trump demolishes himself first.

8:30 pm - The debate's over, as is VBCB. Both with predictably happy results. [29]

"Do not ask if it is true. It is all true."
-Ernest Hemingway


1. What, you haven't seen Spinal Tap? [back to where you were]

2. "We" really means .75 we. Elmer elected to give VBCB a miss. According to the bylaws we don't have, the precedents we do have, and our unremitting commitment to self-serving decisions, we (the .75 version) decided that VBCB counts as an official bondage special event. [back to where you were]

3. See Bondage by the Bay for details. Specifically, see Sunday, 11 am. [back to where you were]

4. No relation to Roseanne Roseannadanna. [back to where you were]

5. Not the same as "Vancouver, ho!" Not at all. [back to where you were]

6. Yes, it's a word. At least it is now. [back to where you were]

7. Powerball AND Megabucks. Diversification is key to our strategy. [back to where you were]

8. Many Vancouver restaurants are located on the second floor. It helps to look up. [back to where you were]

9. This is the very place Steve enjoyed his first single malt scotch, making this a splendid opportunity to celebrate by having another. But noooooooo. The EL in 2016 is no longer the Sheraton from the early 1980's, and the "selection" of available "scotch" is rather tepid. [back to where you were]

10. Think PDX's Old Town. Add vibrancy, charm, and a sprinkling of money. Remove most of the seediness and all of the surface parking lots. [back to where you were]

11. What we hadn't expected was that Miku would be packed until near the end of our meal. More significantly, it was packed with young people. Young people with disposable income. How un-Portland. [back to where you were]

12. Coffee seems to be Vancouver's single glaring food failure. Strong, tasty java just isn't the norm. Not even the exception to the norm, unless you count Starbucks. We didn't sample widely, so maybe that's unfair. And being from PDX, we know we're spoiled. [back to where you were]

13. Interestingly, Joe Fortes is not the name of the restaurant's founder/owner. And there's no "'", so neither is Joe Forte. Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, Joe arrived in Vancouver in 1885, making his living as a porter, roustabout, and blacksmith. He eventually became Vancouver's first official lifeguard and was beloved by the locals, many of whom he taught to swim. [back to where you were]

14. No, he doesn't mention Donald Trump in doing so. [back to where you were]

15. No Trump reference here, either. Possibly because he knows how it's spelled. But still, admirable self-control! What our waiter does mention is that WildTale is in Yaletown. On an earlier jaunt, when faced with a directional choice, the Yaletown area seemed less promising on our map. We relate this to him, and he lets us know that Yaletown is really quite hip and interesting. After we suggest that all we've seen in Vancouver so far fits that description, he says the city does have a couple of sketchy areas, East Hastings probably being the worst. You, careful reader, should take note. We didn't. [back to where you were] [back to where you were if you came here from footnote 21]

16 - See Bondage by the Coast, day one. [back to where you were]

17 - Yes, we could have provided you with a link. We could have provided you with 20 gazillion links. But in this case, it's so much more fun to search for yourself. Really. See how few search terms you can get away with. See how few letters. See how many reasonably related hits you get. See how much fun they are. See how much fun the unreasonably related ones are, too. Pro tip: go furniture shopping when you're done. [back to where you were]

18. You're expecting a bitterly ironic footnote, right? Sorry, you'll have to wait. Bitterness we've got, but irony escapes us at the moment. [back to where you were]

19. Italian-Japanese fusion? Who knew? [back to where you were]

20. Two of our three drinks arrive in proper single malt scotch glasses. The other's in an Old Fashioned glass. They get the neat part right, at least. Charmingly casual or cause for concern? Maybe we'll find out tomorrow. [back to where you were]

21. Also time for you to refer to footnote 15. Especially the last 3 sentences. [back to where you were]

22. But what do weather forecasters know? It's not like weather predictions are reliable the way 2016 US presidential election predictions are. Right? RIGHT? (Pardon us while we take a break to stab ourselves in the kneecap with a steak knife.) [back to where you were]

23. See Bondage by the Coast, day two. [back to where you were]

24. Back in the Dan Aykroyd years, Saturday Night Live once had a skit about a scotch tape store. If such a store existed, it would be here. SNL also had a skit about a restaurant that specialized in pepper. It probably exists, and it's probably here. [back to where you were]

25. You'd be amazed at how difficult it is for us to figure out what and how much to order without Elmer to complete our foursome. The problem involves prime numbers, astrology, numerology, game theory, the Reimann hypothesis, the Kabbalah, and Donald Trump. Among other things. In a nutshell, using the Mobius inversion formula and given a null.....ahhh, the hell with it. Take our word for it, this is complicated. [back to where you were]

26. With Breka open 24/7 and so conveniently located, we knew this would happen. So did you. [back to where you were]

27. Remember, it was still America in October 2016. [back to where you were]

28. Remember, it was also still the USA in October 2016. [back to where you were]

29. A .500 batting average is baseball. We can't muster anything closer to irony, but bitterness abides. [back to where you were]


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