Friday, 3 January 2014

Vancouver Eats: Cuchillo

Inside Cuchillo that has a warm yet edgy atmosphere
I just got back from dinner with a few friends at another new hot restaurant that opened in 2013 called Cuchillo on the edge of Vancouver's Chinatown. Like Pidgin, Cuchillo was also the focus of attention of anti-gentrification protestors which only drew more curious diners to the place that has no signboard except for a pair of neon purple skulls highlighting this Latin American restaurant.

Inside is a long narrow place of exposed brick with a bar near the front and an open kitchen at the back and long wooden tables for communal eating. We liked the three-dimensional tiled skulls that jutted out of the counter for the kitchen that made this place edgy and cool.

The restaurant's version of Albacore tuna ceviche
The waitress we had was very friendly and helpful, guiding us with suggestions of what to eat. One of her recommendations was the local albacore tuna ceviche ($14) that did not come diced up in a bowl, but instead cleanly presented in layers with two thick slices of tuna on top with a mild spicy sauce and on the bottom a warm Peruvian double-smoked bacon causa or potato.

After cutting up the ingredients and eating them together the flavours were complex and delicious. We also fell in love with the Lois Lake steelhead trout ceviche ($13), with chayote, a kind of lime-coloured melon, cucumber, jalapeno, and interestingly lychee, and mint basil dressing. It was very refreshing, crunchy and slightly sweet, the trout very tender.

Grilled octopus salad with heirloom tomatoes
Another favourite was the corn bread azul ($7). The waitress explained it was gluten-free which repulsed me at first as I've tried gluten-free baked items before that were hardly appetizing. However she said that it was light and fluffy and so we gave it a shot and we're glad we did. They were just as she promised with a subtle spicy kick from the guajillo chilli butter.

The taqueria or tacos here are also must-haves that come in twos. You can't go wrong with the pulled duck ($8), tender pieces of meat that were hardly oily, with roasted garlic topped with blackberry habenero jam. Thankfully each serving has an extra soft taco underneath to be able to carry the generous fillings.

Delicious pulled duck tacos with blackberry habenero jam
For salads we ordered the grilled evo local octopus confit ($13), that came with wedges of heirloom tomatoes and crispy Serrano ham for a contrast in textures. The octopus was cooked perfectly and definitely outshone the tomatoes.

By this point I was pretty much full, but had to try the highly recommended pork belly confit ($21). The fatty tender meat was dressed in a maple chipotle tamarind glaze topped with chicharon, or fried pork rinds, as well as patacones, or fried plantain slices. The combination of flavours here was amazing, again complex and delicate.

The famous pork belly confit was a hearty finish to the meal
Our reservation was at 6pm and we finished around 8pm, but because there didn't seem to be a barrage of customers waiting to be seated we were able to sit here for another few hours to round off a memorable fun evening.

261 Powell Street
604 559 7585


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Mel -- Thanks for the comment and yes Cuchillo is definitely worth checking out!