Ancora is a restaurant which first opened in downtown Vancouver and combines Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. The subject of this review, is their new location in West Vancouver.
Peru was probably one of my most memorable food trips. The food in the country is outstanding. However, I have never been able to find a place outside Peru which served Peruvian food as memorable as I had in the country. One dish in particular I had in Peru which I loved, and remember to this day, is Pescado A Lo Macho. I have tried it on a few menus outside Peru, and have tried to make it at home, none have come close.
This brings us to Ancora. Ancora presents itself as fine dining. I would not classify it as such in the Michelin sense of the word. The downtown location is good, but I would not classify as outstanding globally. Should we be comparing local restaurants on a global scale? I think yes.
We are living in a world where travel, especially for food, is increasingly common, and with the internet, review sites, global food rankings, blogs etc, all available at the touch of a button, I believe all restaurants need to keep up to date with what the cutting edge places of the world are doing both with food and service.
Anyway, I was excited to try Ancora in West Vancouver. West Vancouver is one of the highest income areas in Canada, and I have always found it odd that it did not have equally good restaurants. What is popular there appears to be mostly chains, think Cactus Club, White Spot and Earls. For example, there is a Keg, which is mediocre, but no real steakhouse. In fact, before Ancora, the only place that I would recommend in West Vancouver is a place called Terrior Kitchen. Therefore, Ancora is a good addition to the dining scene over there.
We started with half a dozen oysters which were delicious:
This was followed by a soft shell crab taco:
To me, the tortilla is the most important part of a taco. If the tortilla is disappointing, the rest, no matter how good, will not make up for it. This tortilla was on point. Fantastic flavor. The rest of the filling was delicious as well. Everything worked well together, good crunch, nice acidity, and lots of flavor. Is this fine dining? To me – no; it is upscale and it is very good.
Next we ordered some nigiri:
Hokkaido Scallop “Aburi” – well seasoned and fresh scallops. The aburi is a nice touch and not overpowering. Very good.
Uni – From BC, also good.
Hamachi – Also good.
The rice was good, but I would of liked more seasoning. Texture and temperature were ok. Is this outstanding world class sushi? No. But its good and satisfying. This leads me to an area where I believe this place could improve. Have a daily fresh sheet. Fly stuff in from wherever it is freshest and offer it. I would of liked to see some blue fin tuna on the menu, otoro, chu toro, more exotic and exciting fish choices etc.
For main, we shared an Arroz Con Pato – duck and rice:
The duck was cooked perfectly. The “arancini” in the picture was filled with shredded duck. It was good as was the sauce. I loved the huge kernels of corn that were with the rice, just like in Peru. I wished there was more of it on the dish.
For dessert we had Cherimoya Brulee. Cherimoya is a mangosteen-like fruit and this dessert was very good. It was creamy and not too sweet.
The service was excellent. People were surprisingly very well dressed on a Friday night (West Van tends to be very casual), and the dining room is very modern and upscale, but I would not say formal. If I remember correctly, the one downtown has white table cloths and gives off a more formal vibe. 7.5/10