Tiffin Project

Bestie – People Let Me Tell ‘Bout My Best Friend

by Canucklehead on June 17, 2013

Post image for Bestie – People Let Me Tell ‘Bout My Best Friend

When I was a kid, I LOVED the show, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Not only was I intrigued with the idea that your father could be your friend, but that there was such a thing as a ‘Best’ friend. Asian families tend to be quite clannish and closed to the outside world, so my social circles consisted mostly of my cousins (and I had a lot of them).

But as you grow older, you realize just what a special place your friends hold in you life. My friends showed me the larger world outside of my Asian Canadian childhood and gave me a sense of adventure and discovery.

And so – I was really thrilled for my friend Colin Johnson, when he told me he was heading up the kitchen behind the new Chinatown sausage venture, Bestie.

The idea behind Bestie is to give a local spin on German street food, with a focus on curry wurst, great beers, and locally sourced and homemade dishes (like freshly baked pretzels). Colin comes from a serious cooking background, with stints that include working for Simon Hopkinson at London’s Bibendum and Andrey Durbach locally. So you knew that there was going to be some serious craftmanship for what most would think of as fast food.

I stopped by a friends and family opening – and I gotta say I really liked the whole vibe of the venture. Low key, effortlessly friendly, and the food was really darned tasty. The whole place was awash with a sense of ethusiastic fun, despite it being a super busy soft opening.

The housemade curried ketcup that dressed the bratwurst was completely awesome, with a rounded spiciness and mellow sweetness. Fantastic.

The turkey wurst literally burst with juiciness, with the sharp sauerkraut and bitey mustard providing the perfect foil. Really grown up flavors.

You get the sense that proprietors Clinton McDougall and Dane Brown are not trying to set the world on fire, but are focused on making a corner of Chinatown a little brighter, friendlier, and tastier (and beerier). This is no less noble of a cause, and they have certainly succeeded.

The icing on the cake was seeing my friend so happy – a hardworking family man, making tasty food that genuinely speaks to him, excited to be back on the frontlines of cooking and feeding customers well.

What would my father make of a place like Bestie? He would have been really surpised that a German sausage joint would open in Chinatown, but he would have loved the youthful energy that created it. He’d try a few things, nod approvingly – and then ask to go to Hon’s so that we could top off the meal with a bowl of wonton noodles. This is why, though my father and I eventually became friends later in life – I can’t say that we were best friends. But, he was a pretty awesome Dad.

And so, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Fathers Day, especially for those fathers who are no longer wth us.

105 East Pender Street
Vancouver BC
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Okay – full disclosure here: because this was a soft opening, I did not pay for the food. I was genuinely there to support my friend who is part of this new venture. But I can honestly also say that I genuinely enjoyed the food and new restaurant tremendously.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

brian June 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm

You summed up Colin perfectly. Will be the perfect fit. He is a beautiful man with a true passion for curing, stuffing, braising, etc…

…and he’s the guy who made me the best pate I have ever eaten.

When I learn to take days off; it’s the first place on my list to eat at.

sean June 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Wow, Colin must have started really young in the business as Simon Hopkinson retired from the kitchen in ’95 (after a nervous breakdown the year before) . Could you please give an idea of the prices us plebs are likely to have to shell out? Ta.

Canucklehead June 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

The sausage platters are in the $10 range. You get ALOT of food for your money.

James June 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm


Colin started out as a chef in the late ’80’s at 16 years old. He is legit.

D June 20, 2013 at 12:29 am

Guv’nor !!!!!

sean June 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

The chef is unlikely to be taxed by cooking sausages, made by Oyama, and fries then. Perhaps the concept will allow in the future more of his talents to be fully employed, hopefully.

Jonathan June 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I stopped in the other day for lunch, party of three. While the sausage was good I was a little surprised that your $9 gets you a single small sausage, hardly a meal. The accompanying fries were small as well. Two of us opted for salads instead if fries which were very good, not sure how the bill worked out. Service was very friendly and enthusiastic. Decor was bright, very hot though needs ac big time. And a sausage and beer joint with no liquor license? Really?

Canucklehead June 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Jonathan – I know that they are very close to getting their liquor license. Then their 24oz steins will be pressed into service.

Irishgirl June 21, 2013 at 7:44 am

I always find it interesting how people like to dump on a joint (and people apparently) during it’s opening week! Wow!

Implying that a guy with a cooking pedigree is lesser of a chef just because he chooses to do something that he enjoys rather than making pretentious food for even more pretentious people, comes off very sad. Why dump on the guy? Honestly? Let him have his fun.

Anyone in this industry that has ever opened a joint knows that things aren’t always perfect in the first few weeks. We all try, but things don’t always go to plan (like liquor licenses) during an opening. I usually wait a few weeks before venturing to a new place to give them some shakedown time with their processes.

In the meantime, I wish the owners and all involved success with their simple model. Nothing wrong with doing something simple and trying to do it well. It is far more admirable than trying to be everything to everyone like the many CFD’s that are taking over the city.

sean June 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I don’t think that Colin is lesser a chef, you make your own implication as far as that is concerned. I can fully relate to his experience and desire to be part of a project that is novel, in many ways, and interesting. He also has the opportunity to work with one of the region’s most knowledgeable and competent artisans in John van der Lieck, that’s a good thing. Perhaps a little less sanctimony is required , Jonathan’s experience might offer some insight (or not) and help to work out those perceived kinks, it seemed honest enough to me to be useful. Bestie has received a lot of print, part of the model, and advertised itself as a place that serves both Dogs and beer, shouldn’t a customer expect the delivery of such?? Not a big deal really as time will resolve this. It highlights Vancouver’s lack of sophistication in such matters, as does the year of ‘due diligence’ the city engaged in when researching Glowbal Group’s request for a Josper oven. I wish them well too, sincerely, it’s not an easy life even with all that fun.

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