Claudia Kwan/for Metro Vancouver
The Flying Tiger
2958 W. 4th (and Bayswater)
Open Mon.-Sat. at 5:30 pm
Dinner for four, including tax, tip, and drinks: $94
**** (out of 5)
It’s surprising that a menu spanning such vast geographic expanses can be contained in one tiny spot on the western frontier of Kits. Inspired by Asian street food vendors, the Flying Tiger’s food is tailored to those who want a huge range of choices when they’re hungry.
It’s a challenge to read exactly what’s on offer in the dimly-lit and darkly furnished interior, but peruse with caution to make sure you don’t experience diner’s regret — some things should not be missed. It’ll also distract you from how hard the bare wood seats are on your heinie.
The arrivals are nicely timed so that we don’t have five items flooding onto the table all at once; unfortunately, a well-intentioned attempt to make sure customers are familiar with every part of the dishes before them becomes sweet torture. The server giving detailed descriptions isn’t picking up on our hints that we’re ready to dive right in.
The golden poori fry bread is yummy, but I’m not sure it’s worth $11 to have it with chutney, yogurt, and potatoes — next time I’ll just get a little side order for the mussels or lamb vindaloo. The seafood and vegetables are perfectly cooked in the piping hot spicy hawker street noodles, and the richness of duck confit is lovely enveloped in rice flour crepes, and then balanced with jicama and cucumber salad. I admire the dedication it takes to make three kinds of kimchi in-house, and the generous portion of marinated Korean-style beef shortribs (kalbi) is a meal in itself for $12.
The pork belly braised in sweet soy, garlic, and star anise is the most unique dish of the night. Squelch your initial squeamishness and let the luscious layer of fat on each piece tenderly dissolve on your tongue — the crunch and savoriness of lily flowers and pickled green mango will clear your mouth out afterward.
It’s a little heavy on the sweet side in some dishes, and I wish some were 2/3 the size and price so that I could sample more of the great menu, but those are small quibbles for a happening little joint with lots going on.