Kim Canteenwalla's in charge of the food and drink at the new Parq Vancouver urban resort, and he's fallen hard for his adopted city. 
chef kim canteenwalla
Credit: Courtesy of Bill Milne

The new Parq Vancouver urban resort isn't just the latest and greatest cluster of shining towers to grace the Canadian city's now-iconic (and still growing) skyline; it's also instantly made a giant splash on the dining scene, with four restaurants and three lounges now open, with one more to come in December.

At the helm, you'll find Chef Kim Canteenwalla and his partner Elizabeth Blau. Together, the power couple has been responsible for some of the most talked-about off-Strip, local dining experiences in Las Vegas in recent years—now they're tackling one of the most visible new development projects in all of Canada; the complex includes two luxury hotels, a high-end gaming facility, a 30,000 square-foot park with native trees planted six floors above street level, a destination spa, and a food and beverage operation large enough that more than 600 people have been hired to work in that department alone.

For Canteenwalla, it's a homecoming of sorts—he's Canadian, after all. But growing up in Montreal, way at the other side of the country, didn't quite prepare him for Vancouver, as distant and different a city as you could find and still be in the same country. As he began designing the project, hiring staff and gearing up to open, he's spent a great deal of time getting out to explore and understand the city, getting to know its sources, its secrets, its food.

"Vancouver is a great city with so many different cuisines, traditions, and neighborhoods to explore. It is an endless source of inspiration," says Canteenwalla.

"I love being able to go from looking at the fresh fish at the market in the morning, to having a great local, seasonal Western style lunch, and being able to have amazing Indian or Chinese for dinner, without being in a car or cab for more than a few minutes," he enthuses.

And his favorites? In his own words, here's Canteenwalla's guide to his adopted city.

A must-stop for anyone visiting Vancouver is Granville Island and the public market. It’s been an institution in the city for almost 40 years, but I still feel like I always find something new. It’s a great way to get a sense of all that British Columbia has to offer. You can’t go wrong wandering through the stalls, but some of my go-to’s are Tenderland Meats, Terra Bakery, Oyama Sausage Co., and Benton Brother’s Cheese. We love to load up at the market for a picnic or a BBQ in Stanley Park.

There are a ton of great Asian restaurants in the city, I’ve got a few on my list, but Vij’s is an institution. I love Indian food—these are the flavors I grew up on—and while I have been to many really good Indian restaurants over the years, Vikram Vij has created something special in Vancouver. There is a chance you will to have to wait, and it’s worth every minute, even in the rain! His more casual spots, Vij’s Rangoli and Vij’s Railway are worth checking out, but the original location is always where I end up.

If you’re in Vancouver, it’s worth getting out of the city and exploring the province. The BC wilderness and outdoors are world famous, but one of my favorite destinations is Kelowna and the wineries of the Okanagan. Mission Hill is a favorite, and dinner at the Terrace is worth the price of admission. They use almost exclusively BC product, much of which comes from the property or the farms surrounding it.

Vancouver’s food scene is full of young ambitious chefs running their own small spots with a lot of personality and passion. One of my favorites is Bao Bei, Chef Joe Watanabe and Tannis Ling’s funky Chinese brasserie. They execute classic flavor combinations with a lot of inspiration and innovation, as well as offer exceptional cocktails. Their new spot Kissa Tonto mashes up Japanese and Italian and is worth checking out too.