Four Vancouver chefs create new casual restaurant on Granville Island

Vancouver’s Granville Island has been working towards its own somewhat re-imagined future for the past few years, and as part of an overall plan to make the longstanding destination a more vibrant Market District, some changes are already unfolding.

One big move is the just-announced collaborative restaurant project from a team of top Vancouver chefs. Popina Canteen will be a “gourmet counter-service” eatery set up in repurposed shipping containers, and it comes from the culinary minds of Angus An, Robert Belcham, Hamid Salimian, and Joël Watanabe.

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An, who already blazed the trail to Granville Island when he opened his Sen Pad Thai noodle stand there last year, says working with his three collaborators and adding to the Granville Island food scene is “a dream come true.”

“Popina Canteen is a project that distils our years of fine dining experience into something that is casual and fun,” adds An in a media release.

In addition to Sen Pad Thai and Kitsilano’s Maenam, An is a market restaurant vet, with two popular concepts in New Westminster’s River Market, Longtail Kitchen and Freebird Chicken. Belcham, of Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma, also operates Monarch Burger inside the American on Main Street. Culinary coach and Diva at the Met alum Salimian has most recently been focusing on elevating the profile of Persian cuisine in Canada. Watanabe is part of the team behind Chinatown’s modern classic superstars Bao Bei and Kissa Tanto.

Creating a “market district” and amping up the high-quality food offerings on Granville Island is one of four core tenets of the Granville Island 2040 Plan.

Lisa Ono, Manager of Public Affairs & Programming for CMHC-Granville Island, says locals and visitors alike have expressed interest in Granville Island offering “more varied and creative food” options.

An opening date has not been set yet for Popina Canteen. The venture will be situated on the northwest side of the Public Market, and new outdoor public seating will face False Creek and downtown Vancouver.

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