Slowly but surely Chinatown is becoming a hotspot in the Vancouver gastronomic scene. Leading that charge is the Keefer Bar with its self-styled 'apothecary cocktails' and Asian fusion small plates.
Our journey started, as all journeys at the Keefer do, with cocktails. We sampled the Dragonfly and the Keefer 75 first. The Dragonfly consists of dragonfruit gin, sake, lemon, ginger syrup and magnolia bark tincture, whatever the hell that is! The menu indicated it would be tart yet my beautiful Asian companion for the night, owing, I would surmise, to her deep-rooted love of ginger, found it refreshing and well balanced. I found it very tasty, tart as per the menu, but definitely one I'd order again. The Keefer 75 is the Keefer Bar take on the classic French 75. They use their dragonfruit gin, some lemon, a dash of lavender and top it off with some sparkling wine. Very fizzy and delicious, I could have had 20!
As our Peking Duck tacos, absolutely amazing, came out so too did our Wenxu and Moscow Mule. The Wenxu is made with vodka, grapefruit, lemon, the omnipresent ginger and a red ginseng tincture. Now from my limited knowledge of ginseng I know that it is supposed to relieve stress and aid in erectile distinction in men. It seemed to do both, but it may have been from the alcohol and company. I guess we'll never know! Every bar in the world, perhaps a slight hyperbole, makes a Moscow Mule. I have not, full disclosure, had one in every bar in the world, but I have had many and the Keefer Bar makes my favourite mule. Worth a visit on its own. They use Finlandia vodka, good start, make their lime juice fresh, second box ticked, and use a very high quality ginger. A near perfect 10/10!
The duck tacos were the best that I had ever had and it is not only because they were my first duck tacos of life, you don't find that on many menus, but also because the duck was lean, the tortillas mouth-watering my fresh and the vegetables were very fresh. A tear rolled down my cheek when we finished them, but happiness returned when I realized we could just order more. Moral of that story is throw money at your problems people, just throw money!
Dim sum at a bar is a gamble going in and I think most people would agree with that. I have had some surprisingly good experiences and I have had entire nights ruined. Dim sum means 'touch the heart', but it can sometimes mean 'crippling stomach pain'. The Keefer makes a mean dumpling. Their basket includes pork, shrimp and vegetable dumplings and I rank them as follows: pork, shrimp and vegetable which is really what I prefer my food to eat rather than me. I'm hoping to grow out of it one day, but for now vegetables are good for nourishing the animals which ultimately become my main source of nutrition. I will just apologize to all the onions of the world now because I hear they can be crybabies.
Afterwards we decided to grab a couple more Dragonflys and ordered the Peking Duck Sliders and the famous Keefer Shrimp Spring Rolls. Best sliders of my life. Duck is such an underrated poultry in Canada. We gotta stop people! The spring rolls didn't disappoint. Deep fried to a glorious golden brown and filled with amazingly fresh shrimp. Some of the better spring rolls I've had and I have in the past given some pretty tepid reviews of spring rolls.
The boys at Keefer are keeping the cocktails innovative, the food a very elevated Asian fusion and the ambience is still dark and sexy! Head on down to the Keefer today. Their happy hour is amongst the best in the city and runs 5-7 everyday, but Saturday. Could be a good way to dip your toe in with 2 for 1 tapas and and awesome cocktail specials!