If you’re heading in to dine at downtown Vancouver’s newest culinary destination, Street Auntie Aperitivo House, buckle up — a meal here is an immersive journey.
Owner Yuyina Zhang drew inspiration for the new addition to the city’s Entertainment District from her childhood experiences growing up in Yunnan Province, China, where street food vendors are referred to as “Street Aunties.”
Zhang has separated important aspects of Yunnan’s food culture into five distinct menus now available at Street Auntie.
The options include Butcher Auntie, Ocean Auntie, Yunnan Auntie, Dim Sum Auntie, and Vegetarian Auntie.
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We went inside the 1039 Granville Street spot to explore what exactly this multi-menu format meant for diners, as even Zhang admits, it’s a pretty unique way of serving a meal in Vancouver at the moment.
The general idea is to have folks explore a different story with a menu, pieced together with each dish as told by the ingredients and flavours used to create it.
It’s worth noting that menu items here will rotate regularly, but patrons can expect five dishes plus Yunnan tea or coffee no matter which “Auntie” selection they opt for.
“When I envisioned Street Auntie, it was with the intention of celebrating the bold flavours and unforgettable food I enjoyed that was prepared by the Street Aunties in our Yunnan mountain village, but adding a uniquely pan-global twist,” Zhang says.
“By incorporating some of the great ingredients available to us here on the West Coast and drawing on my roots, I have been able to showcase these amazing street food experiences in a bold, transportive way that will offer diners an entirely new dining experience for the senses.”
Clearly, a lot of planning has gone into the diner’s experience at this establishment.
This same attention to detail is evident before you even take a bite of Street Auntie’s food.
The restaurant’s branding and the interior is a feast for the eyes, including gorgeous dried floral bouquets and shelves of intricate tea china, rice, soy sauce, and more.
Our experience was a chef’s choice meal.
This means we tasted a selection of dishes available throughout all of the five menus, including everything from steamed fresh seafood to modern Northern dim sum and Asian tapas dishes.
During our visit, there were several highlights, but it’s hard to beat the Dim Sum Basket, which was composed of three offerings: a Scallop Avocado Har-Gau, a Sea Urchin Dumpling, and Morel Siu-Mai.
Delicacies such as 72-hour Slow Braised Abalone and Pork Belly, Street Auntie’s Street Calamari, and the Ghost Chicken show the array of flavour-packed proteins coming out of the Granville Street eatery’s kitchen.
In addition to those, the Street Auntie Fried Rice served with house-made XO sauce and the Shanghai Noodles with shallot-infused oil rounded out our cravings for some of the street food classics we know and love.
And just when you think you’ve seen the show-stopping plates here, dessert comes around.
Unexpected and playful dishes such as the giant fluffy Fortune Cookie, made with jasmine tea and strawberry, instantly brings excitement to whoever’s sitting at the table it lands on.
As if the Fortune Cookie wasn’t already the most photo-worthy thing you could imagine, the VanCity Special comes out.
This roll-your-own-joint, 100% edible creation, is made with smoky mint, apple, and chocolate flavours and even features Pop Rocks for a kick of nostalgia.
Diners can pre-book one-hour time slots for lunch, which is $38 per person. Dinner is just slightly longer time slot-wise and can be booked for $58 per person.
“The Street Auntie Sober Paring” can be added to your meal for $19 more.
This comes with a selection of beverages like the “Teatonic” – aka Yunnan Sparkling Tea – and two other sips throughout your feast along with a dessert pairing like candy-coated grapes.
Takeout is also an option for those wanting a taste of what Street Auntie has to offer.
You can enjoy a three-course take-home box complete with an additional dessert for just $28.
Street Auntie Aperitivo House is now open Monday to Saturday from 11:30 am to 3 pm for lunch, Monday to Sunday from 5:30 to 10 pm for dinner, and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm for brunch.
Street Auntie Aperitivo House
Address: 1039 Granville Street, Vancouver