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Vancouver Aquarium Cafe, #tacochallengeyvr

It has been so long since I visited the Vancouver Aquarium, but today the Vancouver Foodster gave me a good reason to do so. This month I was tasked with judging his annual taco challenge, where 7 competitors put their best tacos forward and compete to see who has the one to reign over them all. And my duties as a judge, brought me here on a sunny Saturday.

The Vancouver Aquarium actually boasts multiple food outlets, two of which, do require aquarium admission to enter: the Upstream Bar + Grill and Courtyard Café & Coffee Bar. The seasonal Bicycle Bistro is set to open in the upcoming weeks, and will see those visiting Stanley Park, and not necessary the aquarium. Although it is worth mentioning that aquarium members do receive 20% off food and beverage purchases from all the above outlets.

The Courtyard Café & Coffee Bar was our destination. Located right of the entrance, there is a steady line, but the fluid staff make quick work out of it.

Given how cloudless of a day we were having, we decided to sit in the courtyard of the Courtyard Cafe.

There, we started with a Screamer, my first of the sunny and hot season. This is nostalgic childhood at its finest. A mix of fruit punch slush and vanilla soft serve for a crunchy ice meets melty cream to help beat the heat.

For those who like it extra, you can also get this in one of their collector mugs to take home as a souvenir. And this month it is a shark with its jaws gaping wide, in-line with the aquarium’s latest exhibit: Monsters of the Abyss.

Similarly they have a limited edition burger that also tied in with the featured exhibit. And I could not walk away without trying this new Megalodon Burger. A double stacked beast of a burger, one you would have to unhinge your jaw to bite down into.

Double patties, double the cheddar cheese, double onion rings, and double the bacon. The burger was so thick that I had to squish things down to get my mouth around it. But despite how large it was, it was still fun to eat, and not that wet or messy.

The patties are sourced from a local butcher, using the kitchen’s specified blend. It ate clean, and like everything else, was of quality. As a whole, I was surprised by how elevated the food was, not what I expected from an attraction cafe and/or what appeared to be a glorified concession stand.

Although on the same token they also have seasonal bistro features like a Miso Salmon Donburi Bowl, a Korean BBQ Chicken Rice Bowl, and the tacos we were here to try.

This is their FIN-tastic taco (they have to tie it to the aquarium some how). Created by the aquarium’s Executive Chef David Lee, inspired by West Coast flavours. Tempura Pacific cod, crispy pickled ginger, and spicy slaw; all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.

This was a simple and elegant taco, but there is something so meta about eating fish at the aquarium. It had a great crunch from the even breading. Although the tempura-ed pickle ginger was the highlight. A game changer, I have never had anything like it before, nor even thought to bread and fry pickled ginger. This was memorable. I just could have used more spicy mayo, or a dish of it on the side to have in conjunction with the collection of carrot and celery sticks.

Another seasonal treat is the Mermaid’s Delight clownfish cone. Like their regular clownfish cone with soft serve piped into a baked crispy, dough cone, shaped like a fish. The mermaid edition comes with a cookie shaped like a mermaid’s tail and candy sprinkles shaped like seashells and more mermaid tails.

The candy was more for show than for taste. It was hard and chalky, made even denser with the icy chill of the ice cream. I expected the cone to be similar to that of the Korean style fish pancake soft and chewy, but instead this was hard and crunchy.

And as an extra special treat Chef David Lee gave us to an exclusive taste of the dessert that will be featured on their Mother’s Day set menu. This was an after hour ticketed event where guests dine in the aquarium and experience it in a whole new way.

This was their house made white chocolate ube tart with handmade citrus gummies, mango coulis, and raspberry dust. This was the best dessert that has ever graced my lips, and sadly I will never get to have it again. The white chocolate was sweet, but not enough to overpower the distinct flavour of ube. The topping was extra, adding freshness and elements to change the taste in between bites of firm chocolate and dark brown butter crust. I would come back to the aquarium just for this.

And seeing as we were already on the premises we decided to check out the Monsters of the Abyss exhibit after lunch. Doing so to help us digest.

This all-new interactive exhibit, will be available until September 2nd, 2024. It showcases modern day aquatic animals and dives into their prehistoric past through fossils and live shows. Alligators, snakes, lizards, newts, and turtles.

The aquarium is a great way to spend the day. And I will have to return to try one of their night at the aquarium dinners, especially after hearing Chef David mention that their most recent menu will feature wagyu, plus having tried the amazing tart above. Who knew you could have this caliber of cuisine in the aquarium.

Vancouver Aquarium
845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2
(778) 655-9554

2 thoughts on “Vancouver Aquarium Cafe, #tacochallengeyvr”

  1. A unique dining experience amidst the stunning marine exhibits of the Vancouver Aquarium. Thanks for highlighting this captivating destination. We’re excited to enjoy delicious food while surrounded by the ocean’s wonders!

  2. The Vancouver Aquarium Cafe, visited during the #tacochallengeyvr event, offers a surprising array of delights. From nostalgic treats like the Screamer to elevated specialties like the Megalodon Burger and FIN-tastic taco, the Cafe impresses with its diverse menu. Exclusive desserts, including the Mermaid’s Delight clownfish cone and the white chocolate ube tart, showcase culinary creativity. The article also highlights the interactive Monsters of the Abyss exhibit, enhancing the overall Aquarium experience. Overall, the Cafe exceeds expectations with its quality offerings, making it a worthwhile destination for both food and entertainment enthusiasts.

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