By Sarah Jamieson
VANCOUVER — Heritage Asian Eatery has been open less than a month, but it’s quickly creating a buzz in the Financial District as the place to go for Asian-inspired breakfast and lunch.
“We’re different… You will not find anything like this in Vancouver,” says executive chef Felix Zhou. “You might find something that looks similar, but not taste anything like it.”
The casual restaurant offers quick, simple, and locally sourced food in a setting of reclaimed wood tables and polished concrete flooring. The restaurant is Zhou’s first solo enterprise, but the 28-year-old has been a rising star in the culinary scene since he was a teenager. As well as manning the kitchen at Beach Bay Café and Patio, he’s worked under David Hawksworth and Warren Geraghty at the critically acclaimed West Restaurant, which helped Zhou “really understand what good food is.”
For Heritage Asian Eatery, Zhou joined forces with industry long-timers Natasha Romero (co-owner of The Anchor Eatery) and restaurant businessman Paul Zhang to create a modern and introspective experience of the flavours they grew up with. The inspiration for the menu is a combination of Zhou’s experience growing up in South China, Zhang’s familiarity with Northern Chinese cuisine, and Romero’s knowledge of Japanese and Portuguese styles. Although the ingredients and the spices will be familiar to most, they’re used in imaginative ways to create a distinctive style.
For example, the five-spice chicken wings are marinated for 24 hours and coated with chilies, a staple taste of Southern China — specifically the Hunan province where Zhou was born.
The baos, a take on the popular handheld Asian sandwich, are infused with a variety of culinary innovations including cotechino, Zhou’s version of chorizo sausage.
The restaurant even puts a twist on two breakfast classics: eggs benedict and crepes. For his breakfast bowls, Zhou uses a crispy rice base instead of an English muffin — a tasty and interesting gluten-free alternative to the benedict. The breakfast crepes, served with an omelette, come with a variety of possibilities including crispy tofu and mushroom ragout, duck, and pork jowl.
Currently, Heritage Asian Eatery is open on weekdays for breakfast and lunch, but Zhou said that he plans to expand the restaurant’s hours soon to include weekends, special events, and evenings. He’s hoping that its success will prove to young chefs that it is possible to have a restaurant as well as home life.
“I want to show people and encourage young cooks to get into this industry, and kind of say ‘hey, there is a work-life balance.’ It still exists,” Zhou maintains. “It’s not just all hard work and not good pay.”
Heritage Asian Eatery is located at 108 W Pender St and is open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.Asian cuisine, BC, British Columbia, Felix Zhou, Heritage Asian Eatery