Hidden Gems: Vancouver businesses worth checking out

From food to stationary, Main St. and Commercial Drive has it all

The exterior of a building with chestnut-coloured wooden panels and text sitting above a window that reads “Regional Assembly of Text.” There are snowflakes falling outside and trees reflected in the window. There are various typewriters in the display window.
PHOTO: Amirul Anirban / The Peak

By: Jeeya Parasbhai Khavadia, Peak Associate

Regional Assembly of Text
3934 Main St., Vancouver / Monday–Saturday 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

This is an adorable stationery store and a must-visit if you’re a fan of stationery. The store may be small, but it’s packed with all sorts of unique stationery, which can also be bought from their online shop. From hand-bound notebooks to quirky greeting cards, there’s something for every pen and paper lover. As many of the products are made by regional designers and artists, every purchase you make helps to support Vancouver’s creative scene. The store is also a refuge for writers; you can let your imagination run free in the pleasant writing room located in the back of the shop. The Regional Assembly of Text is an ideal location to get away from city life and work on your writing. Trust me, you’ll leave feeling inspired and creatively rejuvenated.

Kin Kao Commercial Dr.
903 Commercial Dr., Vancouver / Monday–Sunday 5:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.
Appetizers $8–15, entrées $15–25, sharing plates up to $30

Kin Kao is a quaint eatery tucked away in the bustle of Commercial Drive, and it’s quickly becoming a local favourite. Their authentic, delectable dishes will take your taste buds to Thailand. From traditional dishes like pad thai to crispy pork belly, the menu offers a variety of dishes to satisfy whatever you’re craving. I highly recommend trying the thai tea old fashioned. It incorporates the traditional ingredients of an old-fashioned cocktail — whisky, bitters, and sugar — with the distinctive and subtly sweet flavour of thai tea. The restaurant is compact so it can get busy during prime times, but it’s worth the wait to experience the amazing food and cozy atmosphere. They also offer takeout options.

The Arbor
3941 Main St., Vancouver / Thursday–Monday 11:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m. (Hours and days extended during patio season)
Small plates $8–20, entrées $14–26

If you’re on the lookout for some delicious vegetarian and vegan cuisine, you definitely need to check out this charming restaurant. Their menu features a variety of options, ranging from fresh salads and sandwiches to hearty mains like vegan mac and cheese and mushroom risotto. The Arbor is the ideal place for a romantic date night or a casual supper with friends because of its warm, laid-back atmosphere. The staff makes you feel at home as soon as you enter by always being warm and accommodating. Prices at the restaurant are close to what most Vancouver’s casual dining places typically charge. You can place orders for pickup over the phone or through the restaurant’s website or you can order through food-delivery apps like DoorDash and SkipTheDishes.

The Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples
3718 Main St., Vancouver / weekdays 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., weekends 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.

The Soap Dispensary sells a wide range of environmentally-friendly and low-waste products for everyday use. This includes cleaning supplies, personal care products, kitchen staples, bulk foods, and DIY supplies. Many of these items are sold in bulk, allowing customers to refill their own containers and save money. They also provide workshops, such as their vegan chocolate making workshop, soap making, and DIY projects. They also offer online shopping on their website. Follow them on Instagram at @thesoapdispensary to stay up-to-date!