Sai Woo by Kosoo, another Chef Han Masterpiece, in our Chinatown Vancouver

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

I read that if humans live within a capsule away from friends and family then their appetite for actual food will fade away, that is a horrifying future – Chef Han, Sai Woo by Kosoo Group of Restaurants.

Sai Woo Building in Chinatown is a place that is an integral part of Vancouver’s history. This is where many newly arrived Chinese men spent their free time, it was a place to taste a bowl of home, to meet with others from their land, to create new memories of this brand new world. Today, chef Han is creating a brand new world too, one that is quintessential Vancouver, with his Asian-Fusion West Coast concept.

Screenshot of an image on Sai Woo site

This neighbourhood is changing, it used to be traditional Chinese, old shops mom and pops places. So many places with longest history but at the same time there are new things happening. It used to be 100 % traditional Chinese, now lots of new styles coming along, the rent is affordable compared to Gastown,” said Chef Han.

Sai Woo Chop Suey (circa 1940s) – soon to be renamed Sai Woo by Kosoo – is another one of Chef Han’s Kosoo Concepts, Kosoo on Cardero and Kosoo Korean Chicken on Robson are well known and well-loved restaurants. As expected, this new concept by one of Vancouver’s finest chefs is delivering culinary masterpieces and fantabulous cocktails, backdropped with the lively vibe of Kosoo unique style. All this amidst one of the most beautiful restaurant spaces in Vancouver.

“Most people used to come out for dining out, they used to eat out most of their meals not just for the food but for the service the good times, the gathering, the memories. As a chef for me to provide great food and lasting memories for people and their friends and family is what is important. I love to create new menus, new memories for people. Food is not only for when we are hungry…it is many, many small memories that make up our relationship with food and life.”

“During the locked down more and more people were learning skills in the kitchen, some out of necessity, some out of boredom, and some because they wanted to recreate the foods they knew and loved. Yet there were many opting for frozen and processed food. I read that if humans live within a capsule away from friends and family then their appetite for actual food will fade away, that is a horrifying future.”

Chef Han, Kosoo Group of Restaurants

Chef Han’s biggest fear is that some people will not build those beautiful memories they usually make while dining out together, talking about their lives, interacting, sipping cocktails. He fears some will lose their appetite for life and he asked the question… What would that do to a person’s mental and physical health?

It is a question we all need to ask ourselves, we cannot let this scary pandemic take our lives away from us. Now, vaccinations has progressed nicely, the city has reopened, and restaurants are ready for us…I urge everyone to go out, dine out, remember what we lost for so long, live a little, laugh a lot and be kind to yourselves, the hard working chefs, and their teams.

Sai Woo by Kosoo’s space is simply and profoundly put, so very beautiful. It is bright and cheery, classy and welcoming, upscale and comfortable. One can feel a long history seeping out from the red brick walls with the charming paintings of the people of yesterday, smiling down on us. There is a natural, local beauty to the place, wood, brick, natural light…just like the menu creations that are natural, local, light and artistic. The whole place is charm, art and class.

Go check her out at Sai Woo

The hidden room below tells the story of philosophers and rebellion, one gets the urge to light a cigar, hunch over an exotic cocktail and discuss anarchy. There is a sense of sexy intelligence from bygone eras still lingering in the room. The entire décor is that of another place and time far away from everyday Vancouver.

The lower room is sexy!

“When I saw this restaurant I thought yes this is the one where I can do fusion, people love cultural foods but they like it to be familiar to them so here I may use 20 percent Asian influence but the other 80 percent has to look like, and taste like western food. That is a major lesson I have learnt over the last few years.”

I only had time to try two dishes before I left for Greece, and they were excellent to the point of nirvana…I am so looking forward to my return to Vancouver…our very first big dine out gathering (in a loooong time) will be at Sai Woo by Kosoo! See you soon chef Han and the gang.

Buttery tuna, crispy cassava as light as air, nutty mushroom crumbs, cool cucumber and the delicious aromatics of Vancouver island scapes…oh goodness gracious.

Grilled Pacific Tuna · GF · mushroom crumbs, compressed cucumber, grilled garlic scape, tapioca crisp, nori aioli, shaved cured egg yolk.

Lamb so tender there is no need for cutlery, the spiced crust adds the perfect crunch to the sweet puree, and of course the tang and salt of Asian greens and the earthiness of Vancouver mushrooms all come together to sing a sweet chorus…this is Vancouver on a plate. This is us, our culture, our food, our unique awesomeness.

Rack of Lamb · Sai Woo spiced crust, carrot purée, sautéed mushroom and Asian greens, soy pickled serrano, nori butter, herbed oil

Sai Woo by Kosoo is a one of a kind restaurant not to be missed!

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