With 39 retail stores and 17 cafes around the world, Maison Kitsuné and Cafe Kitsuné are opening their first Canadian location in Vancouver.
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Where: 157 Water Street, Vancouver
When: Open daily, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Info: 236-477-4777. maisonkitsune.com
If Paris and Tokyo propagated, you know the kids would be cool. Cafe Kitsuné, is the cool kid, a hybrid born of two trend-setting urban cultures.
And the adjacent Maison Kitsuné clothing store in Gastown is the 39th of a growing international brand founded by Parisian Gildas Loaëc – the former artistic director of Daft Punk – and Tokyoite Masaya Kuroki, a trained architect.
Vancouver’s Cafe Kitsuné – clean, sparse, light and bright – is the 17th It opened on December 28 and is the first in Canada before opening in Toronto and Montreal. Kitsune, which means fox in Japanese, symbolizes the ability to change its appearance and adapt.
The duo’s partnership began in 2002 as a music and fashion brand. In 2014, they added a cafe to the concept. Their latest cafe is in a building owned by Lululemon founder Chip Wilson.
Lina Caschetto, the chef at Cafe Kitsuné, is herself something of a hybrid. She started with fashion design – coincidentally she worked at Lululemon – before pursuing her real interest, cooking. She spent seven years in France at various restaurants and in Vancouver she worked for Fable in the early days. As she says, she wears several hats – she recently bought and reopened the Say Hey sandwich shop in Chinatown. Another story, another time.
The menu is French but Japanese. It finds its center. I did not want to use the word fusion, but it finds a place in between in its own way, ”says Caschetto about Cafe Kitsuné.
Her time in France plus a Japanese aunt who has exposed her to Japanese tastes help pave the way.
The small menu offers simple quality comfort food in two parts. Breakfast and lunch are available from 8.00 for closing. And after kl. 15 the menu ‘Sur La Pouce’ or ‘on the go’ is added to an afternoon of wine and snacks.
You order at the counter and the food is delivered to you at, I noticed, Limoge’s plates. The kitchen is small and minimal, so some things are outsourced to reputable companies like Cadeaux Bakery, Butterboom and Bread Affair.
My husband and I went for lunch one day and I was disappointed that I could not order from the afternoon menu. However, my husband was really happy with his classic smoked salmon croque madame ($ 19) on sourdough toast. My scrambled eggs with aonori butter mushrooms and goat cheese on a toasted baguette ($ 15) was smothered with mushrooms and quite satisfying. Aonori is powdered or flagged nori.
There is no overall company menu, but one thing is common in any Kitsuné Cafe across the globe – the fox sablé cookie, an edible logo. A matcha raspberry financier was presented in a beautiful way, dressed in a matcha ganache and a splash of white frosting.
Our coffee and matcha latte were excellent – one of the few brands in town I would say that about. They shake their own prayers in New York.
I returned after 6 p.m. 15 a day to try some of the Sur La Pouce items. A yaki onigiri ($ 6.50) was stuffed with smoked salmon and lightly grilled – maybe too light. I missed the crispy surface of grilled onigiri, but the rice was very good with nori and shiso leaves.
Giant, edamame and roasted olives ($ 10.50) with sliced baguette did not hit the target. The face-crushing sour dish was topped with pieces of salted lemon peel and a very sour lemon dressing.
But a big mwah! to the black garlic burrata with fresh, creamy burrata topped with black garlic icing and tempura pieces to gossip on a baguette.
The black sesame cruffin was a surprise. How can a muffin enhance the classic croissant? Well … yu-um. It is definitely better than a muffin and better than a croissant with lots of crunch and a voluptuous black sesame cream.
Our wine was served with a handful of ‘Kits Mix’, a game on Chex Mix with some Japanese additions. It is on the menu and also sold packaged.
And when we talk about wine, they are almost exclusively natural wines, including bottles that are hard to find from boutique BC wineries like Neon Eon, Else, Ursa Major and Scout, and legendary French natural wine producers like Lemasson and Mark Angeli.
Case and wine instructor Layla Frances Smith has worked for Bao Bei, Kissa Tanto and Burdock and Co., and she got me very interested in a Japanese wine, Fattoria Al Fiore.
“It’s a transcendent experience – ethereal and delicate,” says Smith. “What I love most about Japanese wines is that they do not try to be anything else.”
Unfortunately, when I asked for it on my second visit, they had not received any yet.
The wines, says Smith, are selected to be delicious at all times of the day, and where one does not have to think about what one wants to eat first.
“I focused on wines that were a pleasure to drink or have with the food. It’s silly, but it’s wines that are happy and friendly and made with minimal intervention. ”
Both Caschetto and Smith have been called in to shape the next Cafe Kitsuné in Brooklyn.
SERVICE: Fundraising for Ukrainian refugees
The family behind the restaurant Anh and Chi started out as Vietnamese refugees, and that story has burned into their hearts.
Since December 2020, they have been giving back, fundraising through their Reservation By Donation program. Guests can reserve a table for $ 10 per person. person, where the profits go to one of three to four local charities to choose from – otherwise it is first come, first served.
And now, until May 15, the money raised will go to help Ukrainian refugees through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Canada, and the restaurant will match donations up to $ 5,000.
“Our parents arrived in Vancouver as Vietnamese refugees by boat in 1980, and what is happening in Ukraine reminds our family of the devastating time,” said Amelie Nguyen, one of the owners.
Through the pandemic, the Reservation By Donation program has donated $ 50,000 to organizations focused on food security, housing, mental health and counseling needs, marginalized and vulnerable youth and families.
The Lac Viet Education Society and other Vietnamese community leaders are also hosting a fundraising banquet on March 25 with live music, silent auction and lottery with proceeds going to benefit UNHCR Canada. The banquet is at the Pink Pearl Seafood Restaurant, 1132 East Hastings St., in Vancouver, starting at 18. Tickets cost $ 60 per person. For reservations, email [email protected] or call 604-866-5533.