Dishes with global flavors with unexpected and little-known ingredients are in the spotlight here
Vancouver’s Yaletown is now home to a new upscale plant-based restaurant that hopes to push the boundaries of vegan and vegetarian cuisine as we know it.
Nightshade soft opened at the very end of 2021 in the Mainland space that was previously home to heavyweight predecessors WildTale – the seafood-centric arm of the Flying Pig family of restaurants – and Glowbal – the forward – original post from the Vancouver restaurant that has become a brand in its own right.
At its end, Nightshade has impressive roots, only they were grown in one province in Alberta; this first Vancouver venture comes from the same people behind well-known vegetarian restaurants The Coup and The Dandelion in Calgary, and Nourish in Banff.
For Nighshade, however, the team took things up a notch, moving decisively from veggie burgers, salads, and bowls to more sophisticated, globally-inspired dishes, with a focus on flavors and techniques. Asians.
The opening menu was designed by celebrity chef Chanthy Yen, who was trained in Vancouver and has spent time in kitchens across the country and around the world. Now Yen has moved on, having taken on a fairly high-profile post: he is the personal chef to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family.
Yen’s stamp on the Nighshade menu includes dishes built around ingredients not usually in the spotlight, such as jicama, the juicy/starchy root vegetable that resembles a less sweet apple crossed with a potato , used here in a ceviche-style dish. Salsify and burdock are braised, and cassava and lotus root are fried.
“We drew inspiration from techniques and flavors from many different places, including India, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos,” Yen said in a press release.
The globetrotting journey can see you ripping chunks of roti infused with fenugreek and garam masala and scooping up a creamy spread that blends raita with vegan butter and golden orbs of roasted garlic, then drizzle a palm sugar sauce over a crispy fried taro roll accompanied by fresh basil, mint and butter lettuce.
One of Nightshade’s most popular menu sections is the plant-based sushi, from which orders seemed to fly to every table in the restaurant on a busy Saturday night. The restaurant’s namesake roll features cucumber and avocado inside with a rich filling of smoky roasted eggplant and a bit of heat from a thread of chili filling. Vegetarian and vegan sushi is currently enjoying growing popularity in Vancouver, and these rolls decorated with atypical sushi components, like chickpea and tomatillo or yuba and heart of palm, definitely take the options to the next level. when it comes to fish. free maki.
For the industry, Nightshade keeps things tight with just a few options, all easily shared and representing a diverse approach to working without animal protein. Here, you don’t see “steaks” made with cauliflower or watermelon, and no tofu cubes drizzled with sauce. A pasta dish includes agnolotti stuffed with Vancouver Blue Heron “cheese,” with a curious blend of turmeric and a fermented chili and tomato arrabbiata sauce balanced with roasted squash wedges. The dish offers a kind of intriguing smoky funk that teases the palate as opposed to a burn, though the squash is a bit lost overall.
A sweeter pasta game actually snatches tteokbokki – rice cakes – from Korea and sends them to Italy via Vancouver with a sauce made with Jerusalem artichokes, local wild mushrooms and kale. This dish is fun when it comes to experiencing the chewy texture of rice cakes that replace pasta, but it’s a bit bland, although some crispy mushrooms add a bit of spice.
Nightshade also has a small selection of desserts, including a vegan crème brûlée that’s a little closer to lavender yogurt with a filling centered around bright, fresh raspberries.
The bar serves vegan wine and cocktails, including house creations and familiar classics, as well as bevs like aged rum Manhattans. In the back is Lightshade, a 20-seat “intimate setting inspired by easy conversation” serving as a wine bar and tasting room (and a phone-free zone). In the spring, Nightshade will have a 30-seat patio on Mainland.
And while most of Nightshade’s dishes are completely plant-based, some do contain eggs and/or dairy. That said, it’s easy to enjoy a hearty, creative, world-fueled meal at this new Yaletown eatery without running out of meat.
Nightshade is located at 1079 Mainland Street in Vancouver. Follow @nightshadeyvr on Instagram.