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Top 5 Restaurants in Vancouver: Alex Chen's guide

From his childhood roots in Malaysia to his top-10 finish representing Canada at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or culinary competition in France last year, Alex brings a unique set of skills and experiences to Boulevard. He shared his five favourite local restaurants with the Vancouver Observer. 

Alex Chen is the Executive Chef at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, the brand new restaurant in the Sutton Place Hotel. Boulevard aims to capture a big piece of Vancouver's high-end dining market currently owned by Hawksworth. Alex is part of a talented team that includes Chef de Cuisine Roger Ma, Maître d’ Brian Hopkins and Director of Operations Steve Edwards. From his childhood roots in Malaysia to his top-10 finish representing Canada at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or culinary competition in France last year, Alex brings a unique set of skills and experiences to Boulevard.

Here are Alex’s five favourite restaurants in Vancouver:

Maenam, 1938 West 4th Avenue

Alex credits the "tasty, modern and progressive cuisine and the sharp, consistent focus on fresh flavours, local ingredients and innovative twists on centuries-old recipes" as prime reasons why he loves this popular and authentic Thai restaurant. Located in the heart of Kitsilano, Maenam owner and chef Angus An "serves up dishes running the gamut from casual, family-style dining to modern riffs on Thai street food".

Phnom Penh Restaurant, 244 East Georgia Street (no web site)

Phnom Penh was the first restaurant that Alex visited in Canada after leaving his boyhood home in Malaysia. He still "admires how the Cambodian institution has earned its niche with its authentic takes on Southeast Asian cuisine", especially the chicken wings which he credits as "the best in the city by far".

Le Crocodile, 100-909 Burrard Street

Alex praises the “proper, classic cuisine” of this restaurant that has been a staple of the Vancouver food scene for three decades. Chen credits Le Crocodile chef Michel Jacob for "eschewing pretense or fanfare" and "carving out a reputation as one of the most respected chefs in the city, standing the test of time" and for consistently producing dishes that Chen "loves, understands and admires".

HK BBQ Master, 145-4651 No. 3 Road, Richmond

Alex is "a huge fan" of this Richmond favourite’s "succulent and crispy BBQ pork, BBQ duck, soy chicken and char siu". He notes the "efficient and friendly service" and calls the work of this restaurant’s chef and kitchen staff simply “the best in Vancouver”.

Oyama Sausage Co., Granville Island Public Market

Oyama has long held a reputation for producing the finest quality charcuterie from uncompromisingly quality ingredients and ethically raised meats. Alex estimates he spends "at least $60 a week" on Oyama’s famed saucission sec for his daughter. While Chen "loves the amazing variety on offer" at this Granville Island Public Market staple, he lists the jambon de bayonne and duck prosciutto as his favourites.

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