Big Lou’s, Save on Meats and Japadog

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Although today was meant as a rest day, I couldn’t resist taking a look at a couple of places from my ‘to-do’ list of Vancouver.

Save on Meats was todays first port of call, another Vancouver landmark. It had that mix of old establishment meets hipster staff. Food was very good though, and we were meeting an old University friend of mine who now works for The Keg. It’s just a simple diner really, but they have their own butchery shop next door. The counters were beautifully laid out, like most North American meat counters, meat looks fresh, rests beautifully on butchers paper and there’s an extremely good selection – 40 day aged rib of beef anyone?. They had a very small butchery area at the far end of the shop with the cutting block facing the public – it was nice to see people actually cutting in the public eye and customers weren’t shy in going up to the butchers and asking them directly for specific cuts.

The second stop for the day was Big Lou’s Butchery, it was in a less than salubrious area and the clientele were a real mix. The lady in the queue before me had arrived in her Smart Car and was picking up a few hundred dollars worth of produce, while the majority of the other customers were locals waiting for a freshly made sandwich (which looked awesome). Big Lou’s too had a public viewing area of the butchery – they had a glass window that overlooked the cutting block and the back room was extremely compact but like most butchers shops, well organised and everything had its place. I regret not taking a picture of the window, but having stood there watching the butcher de-bone a shoulder of pork I really thought I’d put him completely off his game if I started snapping away too. The cabinets again were beautiful and extremely well laid out. All the produce was local, local to us is 20 miles or so, local here seems to be from within the same State. Later in the afternoon we were discussing the shops that we’d been to – small butchers shops are a novelty here as large supermarkets have largely done away with small businesses. We don’t have a huge amount of these niche businesses at home in the UK as we tend to still have High St butchers shops. However, they do differ quite a bit too – they’re like a posh farmers market or farm shop in some way – locally sourced meat, from farms with high moral and welfare standards providing the best produce possible. They’re also very well designed, excellent branding, good shop layout and a joy to walk into to take a look around.

While wandering through Gastown we took a little detour passed L’Abattoir and down Blood Alley to see Judas Goat and the Salt Tasting Room. If I have time at the end of the trip I’m sure I’ll be heading back for some food.

Feeling a little peckish we stopped at a Japa Dog food cart, a Japanese influenced hot dog stand. My first taste of street food on the trip, and so much better than any of the mass manufactured burgers and hotdogs available in layby’s across the UK. I went for the pork hotdog (naturally) and was quite impressed at the level of information available on the menu regarding the products. The demographics of Vancouver are really very interesting, and I’m sure with such a large Asian population that their food culture is influenced by this. I’d noticed in a number of places about Kurobuta Pork – “the most prized pork in Japan”. It’s essentially the Black Berkshire pig, highly sought for it’s taste, marbling and juiciness. And that’s exactly what I had in my Kurobuta Terrimayo hotdog – a Kurobuta hotdog, teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, fried onions and shredded seaweed.

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