Hidden Gems: Beloved Local Eats

A roster of delicious eats you may have missed

pan fried egg noodles
Highlighting the best local restaurants in Lower Mainland. Photo Courtesy of @laksakingvancouver (Instagram)

By: Yelin Gemma Lee, Arts & Culture Editor

Are you sick of frequently going to the same restaurants all the time or trying something new but disappointing? Fret no more, I have a foolproof list of delicious local eats, all of which are on my all-time favorites list. Although unfortunately, some of them didn’t survive the impact of COVID-19, here are some who are still running. Go show these local restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries some big love!

Laksa King / 2546 E Hastings St, Vancouver 

Photo Credit: @laksakingvancouver

Located a short block or so away from Iron Dog Books, this is the place I go for lunch whenever I’m on my way to pick up some books. This restaurant has an 80s neon diner theme going on, with a Southeast Asia-focused menu serving Burmese, Thai, Singaporean, and Malaysian classics. Their Roti Canai is as flaky as your ex and the peanut sauce that it comes with is a perfect balance between sweet and savoury. I order their Chicken Laksa as a main dish every time. Its coconut curry broth is perfect, especially with the chili oil dancing on top of the soup if you order yours spicy. I find coconut broths can either be too rich or watered down, but this one is the most balanced I’ve found in the city with a clean aftertaste. Laksa King offers take-out and delivery through Uber Eats and Doordash.

Emilio Finatti Pizzeria / 551 Sherling Pl, Unit 1160, Port Coquitlam 

Photo Credit: @emiliofinatti

Thin crust pizza pictured on a wooden table
Photo Courtesy of @emiliofinatti (Instagram)

I’m quite loud about this on my social media whenever I get to go to Emilio Finatti, but this is hands down the best pizza in the Lower Mainland. Their toppings are always so fresh, I wouldn’t be surprised if they said they had some kind of greenhouse garden back there. The best part about this place is their honey butter crust. You heard me correctly. They drizzle honey butter on their crust and it perfectly complements the puffy thin crust and the fresh toppings. They have a bunch of pizza dips, all of which are made in-house, and inexpensive but delicious homemade cupcakes! The pizzeria is located in a brewery-filled area of PoCo, and located steps from Provincial Cocktails, where you are encouraged to sip delicious cocktails and get pizza walked over from next door. Vice versa, if you want to stay and eat at the Pizzeria, pre-bottled cocktails from Provincial are available for purchase — we love to see locals supporting locals! Emilio Finatti offers curbside pick-up and has their own delivery service with orders accepted and prices determined depending on distance. They have their full COVID-19 safety plan available on their website to review before you visit.

Ramengers / 1043 Brunette Ave, Coquitlam 

Photo Credit: @ramengers_feat_smokingpig 

Bowl of ramen with pork, egg, and perilla toppings
Photo Courtesy of @ramengers_feat_smokingpig (Instagram)

My favorite ramen place in Metro Vancouver happens to be sandwiched in between a Hells Angels building and a gas station. From the food, to the people who run this place, to the general vibe of the establishment — every bit of it tickles my fancy. The restaurant is Marvel themed, with posters and a figurine collection decorating the haunt. There is a literal punching bag in the middle of the room, and although kicking isn’t allowed, the staff don’t blink twice if you start practicing your right hooks and jabs while you wait for your food. Run by no more than three staff, six days a week, the menu is one page and there are no modifications or additions. Things are irresistibly simple here, with a quiet but attentive waiter who is there all the time with expertly crafted food. The ramen broth is refreshing and rich in flavour, their egg is always perfect, and the smoked pork on top is so soft it flakes apart when you poke it with your chopsticks. I usually order the Spicy Ramen, and don’t recommend you order the next spice level unless you are strong with spice. If you come with friends, order their Korean Chicken to share as an appetizer, as it is one of the highest caliber. Ramengers does not do delivery but they are happy to accommodate for take-out!