2016 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards: All the winners

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For the 28th year, Vancouver Magazine has given us a tantalizing wish list of must-try (or must-try again) dining spots, via their highly anticipated Restaurant Awards.

A team of 18 judges are given the delectable duty of dining out just about all year in preparation for the awards. Among this year’s panel are the city’s two remaining old-school print media restaurant critics (Mia Stainsby of the Sun and Alexandra Gill of the Globe & Mail). The team comes up with a starting list of contenders, then it’s narrowed to five options in each category. Those five are ranked, and the results are the Gold, Silver, Bronze, and honourable mentions, singling out shining stars in Vancouver’s top-notch and eclectic dining scene.

For 2016, Vancouver Magazine‘s Editor-in-Chief Max Fawcett tells Vancity Buzz they shook things up a bit by opening up the Restaurant of the Year category to all the Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners in the Best Casual, Best Upscale, and Best New Restaurant categories. The result: Kitsilano’s Maenam–a Thai spot–takes top honours for this year, a win that pleases Fawcett.

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SEE ALSO: Best new restaurants in Vancouver 2015

“Part of the reason why we changed the way Restaurant of the Year was judged—a big part, if I’m being perfectly honest—is that I couldn’t understand why it had been more than 20 years since an Asian restaurant had won Restaurant of the Year,” explains Fawcett. “Once the door was opened for the judges to consider a wider field of restaurants, they all decided to walk through it. And that was very gratifying.” To that end, Maenam also happens to have nabbed Gold for Best Thai Restaurant.

Fawcett, who is new to his post, says he looked at the Restaurant Awards with “fresh eyes” this year, which meant creating room for change. Among the changeups was the removal of the special “Green” award (it went, not surprisingly, to Chef Ned Bell last year). Fawcett says it’s because they “felt that in 2016 running a sustainable and environmentally conscious operation is no longer particularly noteworthy or unique.” Customers have come to expect top-quality restaurants to serve the best of the local bounty.

The Vancouver diner, according to Fawcett, is “looking to have an experience that combines the best of what casual and upscale has to offer,” and to do so “in an atmosphere that isn’t hurried or overly fussy.” Also key is the Vancouver customer’s desire to simply try new things, from ingredients to cuisines, or restaurants. “Vancouverites are a very adventurous bunch when it comes to how and what they eat,” notes Fawcett.

Also up for adventure are the rising crop of food media in Vancouver. “The more eyeballs, and more tastebuds, that we have trained on this plates coming out of this city’s kitchens, the more conversation we’re going to have about what’s good—and that can only make everything better in the long run,” observes Fawcett, who calls this “the democratization of dining.”

Perhaps a little less democratic in scope is the panel of the “sharpest minds and keenest palates” Van Mag assembled for the awards, which Fawcett sees as a good thing. “Each one of them has forgotten more about food and dining in their lives than I can ever hope to know, and it was humbling to watch them do their thing,” he explains. “And make no mistake: their thing has value. Their thing is worthy of our respect. And, dare I say, it’s even worth paying for.”

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SEE ALSO: 13 Canadian chefs on why Vancouver is a great food city

Respect stretches back to the people and businesses the Awards honour, too-and that includes chefs, owners, and staff who don’t interject themselves into the spotlight.

“Their work is just as valuable when it comes to creating the kind of culinary landscape that we’re all so fortunate to live in,” reflects Fawcett of the industry’s many unsung heroes. “I’m not sure how we can find a way to give them the shine that they deserve, but we’re going to try.”

Speaking of shine, here is the full list of the Vancouver Magazine 2016 Restaurant Awards:

Restaurant of the Year

Maenam

Best New Restaurant

Gold: Royal Dinette
Silver: Bauhaus
Bronze: AnnaLena
HM: Latab, Ancora

Best Upscale

Gold: Hawksworth
Silver: Bauhaus
Bronze: Cioppino’s
HM: The Pear Tree, Blue Water Cafe

Royal Dinette (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Royal Dinette (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Best Casual

Gold: Ask for Luigi
Silver: Maenam
Bronze: Bao Bei
HM: AnnaLena, Latab

Best Upscale Italian

Gold: Cioppino’s
Silver: Giardino
Bronze: CinCin
HM: Cinara, La Quercia

Best Casual Italian

Gold: Ask for Luigi (TIE)
Gold: L’ufficio (TIE)
Bronze: Lupo
HM: Campagnolo Roma

Best Upscale French

Gold: Le Crocodile
Silver: L’Abattoir
Bronze: Bacchus
HM: Five Sails, Chambar

Best Casual French

Gold: Au Comptoir
Silver: Tableau
Bronze: Les Faux Bourgeois
HM: Bistro Wagon Rouge, Jules

Best Upscale Japanese

Gold: Zest
Silver: Tojo’s
Bronze: Masayoshi
HM: Kiriri, Miku

Best Casual Japanese

Gold: Kinome
Silver: Kingyo
Bronze: Rajio
HM: Kishimoto, Suika

Best Upscale Chinese

Gold: Dynasty Seafood
Silver: Chef Tony
Bronze: The Jade
HM: Hoitong, Chang’An

Best Casual Chinese

Gold: Dinesty
Silver: Long’s
Bronze: Ningtu
HM: Old Xian’s Food, Kongee Dinesty

Best Thai

Gold: Maenam
Silver: Jitlada
Bronze: Longtail Kitchen
HM: Thai Cuisine by Montri, SalaThai

Best Vietnamese

Gold: Mr. Red Cafe
Silver: Hai Phong
Bronze: My Chau
HM: Chau Veggie Express, Hoi An Cafe

Bun cha at Mr Red Café's original location (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Bun cha at Mr Red Café’s original location (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Best Korean

Gold: Royal Seoul House
Silver: Hanwoori
Bronze: Damso
HM: Seoul Doogbaegi, Ma Dang Goul

Best Indian

Gold: My Shanti
Silver: Dosa Corner
Bronze: Sachdeva Sweets
HM: Rangoli, Apna Chaat

Best Other Asian

Gold: Phnom Penh
Silver: Pidgin
Bronze: Torafuku
HM: The Union

Best Dim Sum

Gold: Dynasty
Silver: Chef Tony
Bronze: Golden Paramount
HM: Kirin, Vivacity

Best Noodle House

Gold: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Silver: Marutama Ra-men
Bronze: Motomachi Shokudo
HM: Congee Noodle House, Fat Mao

Best of the Americas

Gold: Molli Cafe
Silver: D Roti Shak
Bronze: Las Tortas
HM: The Mexican, Back Forty

Best Casual Chain

Gold: Kingyo
Silver: Cactus Club Cafe
Bronze: La Taqueria
HM: Earls, Guu

Best Steakhouse/Chops

Gold: Hy’s Encore
Silver: Gotham
Bronze: Black+Blue
HM: Joe Fortes, Hamilton Street Grill

A dish from Blue Water's 2016 "Unsung Heroes" dinner (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

A dish from Blue Water’s 2016 “Unsung Heroes” dinner (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Best Seafood

Gold: Blue Water Cafe
Silver: Tojo’s
Bronze: Ancora
HM: Boulevard, Landmark Hot Pot

Best Food Cart

Gold: Vij’s Railway Express
Silver: La Bohème
Bronze: Via Tevere
HM: Le Tigre, Yolks

Best Pizzeria

Gold: Bufala
Silver: Via Tevere
Bronze: Pizzeria Farina
HM: Corduroy Pie Company, Campagnolo Roma

Best Coffeehouse

Gold: Revolver
Silver: Timbertrain
Bronze: Milano
HM: The Birds & The Beets, Bump n Grind

Best Downtown

Gold: Cinara
Silver: Royal Dinette
Bronze: Gyoza Bar (TIE)
Bronze: Jinya Ramen (TIE)
HM: BaoQi

Best West Side

Gold: L’ufficio
Silver: Au Comptoir
Bronze: Maenam
HM: Rajio, Farmer’s Apprentice

Best East Side

Gold: Via Tevere
Silver: Burdock & Co.
Bronze: Kalvin’s
HM: Mr. Red Cafe, Chau Veggie Express

Best West End

Gold: Kingyo
Silver: Tavola
Bronze: España
HM: Gyoza King, The Fat Badger

Best Gastown/Chinatown

Gold: Bao Bei
Silver: Ask for Luigi
Bronze: Bestie
HM: Fat Mao

Best Yaletown

Gold: Bistro Sakana
Silver: La Pentola
Bronze: The Flying Pig
HM: Provence Marinaside, Rodney’s Oyster House

Dessert at La Pentola (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Dessert at La Pentola (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Best Richmond

Gold: Kiriri
Silver: Sushi Hachi
Bronze: Kongee Dinesty
HM: Top Shanghai, Cocoru

Best North Shore

Gold: Canyon
Silver: Blue Eyed Marys
Bronze: Feast
HM: Trattoria Park Royal

Best Whistler

Gold: Araxi
Silver: Alta Bistro
Bronze: Bearfoot Bistro
HM: The Mexican Corner, Rim Rock Cafe

Best Victoria

Gold: Stage
Silver: Brasserie L’école
Bronze: Camille’s
HM: Part and Parcel, Pizzeria Prima Strada

Best Island

Gold: Pilgrimme
Silver: Wolf in the Fog
Bronze: The Pointe
HM: Sooke Harbour House, Sobo

Best Okanagan

Gold: Waterfront Wines
Silver: Raudz
Bronze: Salted Brick
HM: Local, Central

Best Winery/Vineyard Dining

Gold: Miradoro
Silver: Joy Road Catering
Bronze: The Vanilla Pod
HM: Unsworth Vineyards, Terrace (Mission Hill)

Joy Road in the vineyard at Black Sage (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Joy Road in the vineyard at Black Sage (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Best New Restaurant Design

Gold: Mosquito
Silver: Torafuku
Bronze: Tacofino
HM: Sai Woo, Bauhaus

Chef of the Year

David Gunawan

Lifetime Achievement

John Bishop

Mentorship Award

Hamid Salimian

Bartender of the Year

Grant Sceney

Sommelier of the Year

Roger Maniwa

Front of House All-Stars

Jenna Briscoe from Café Medina
Ben de Champlain from Cinara
Michel Durocher from Bauhaus
Kristi Linneboe from Maenam
Tara Thom from Ancora

Producer/Supplier of the Year

Grain – Shira McDermott & Janna Bishop

Ingredient of the Year

Kombu

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About the author

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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