In the early part of 2010, just before the Winter Olympics, I recall an interesting article was published in a local paper decrying Vancouver as one of the most boring nightlife cities in North America. Now, as much as I love this beautiful city, there was very little I could say against the amusing editorial. Although several reasons were listed, the general theme of the article was that Vancouver suffers from a bizarre apathy to positive group interaction. In part to address this realization, Vancouver has since seen an emergence of an in-demand market for various social engagement companies like Tangoo.ca.
Whenever I get a media invite from a new company, the very first thing I do is visit the website linked in the email. You can always tell a lot about a company by how their front facing template is constructed. Right off the bat, I was impressed by Tangoo’s minimalist yet slick aesthetic. As a business major myself, it was obvious to me this company was run by someone with a professional branding background. Easily accessing the information I wanted, I briefly read up on the vision of this start-up and decided to attend.
As you read this article, you may be asking yourself what makes Tangoo different from all the other food tour businesses popping up in Vancouver. In a nutshell? Tangoo is not so much a food crawl or tour company as it is a social engagement facilitator. By targeting a very specific demographic of young, professional social investors, this company intelligently allows itself to focus on addressing a specific niche demand. By carefully vetting venues and menus, Tangoo fundamentally aims to make socializing effortless and fun again. By removing the painful logistics of being the perfect host, every attendee is afforded equal opportunity to selfishly enjoy their evening in its entirety.
Typically, Tangoo hosted events are comprised of 3 different venues but for the evening I attended, venue 1 and 2 were consolidated to better highlight the main location for the night: The General Public at Main & East 17th. At first, I did not think we could possibly stay at this one venue for over three hours but was sincerely surprised at how quickly the time passed. The food and drinks came very quickly but a staff member brought a few sets of Jenga which really made the night. It is funny to admit but the entire group really got into the Jenga matches and I thoroughly enjoyed the collective yells of triumph and anguish as Jenga towers rose and fell.
For those not familiar with The General Public, it is a new restaurant run by the same team that opened The Eatery. Boasting a massive menu of innovative sushi rolls and popular izakaya style kitchen items, The General Public will be very familiar to fans of The Eatery. To start the meal off, we were served several really interesting rolls like the Volcano Roll and the Cucumber Wrap Roll. If you have only ever eaten traditional sushi rolls, these fusion creations may be a little startling to your traditional sensibilities but I urge you to at least give them a try. Many of them are actually pretty delicious in their own unique way.
In addition to the huge variety of sushi, GP offers a formidable line-up of fried items to go with their extensive beer and cocktail menu. With my tall mug of craft beer, I enjoyed quite a few deep fried treats like the Tempura Fried Avocados above.
Proving they are not just about shock value offerings, their Tuna Rose bowl was one of my favourite of the evening. Not only was the tuna extremely soft and buttery but the presentation was simply breath-taking.
Similar to the Tempura Avocados, the Tuna Tempura were lightly fried and crisp and went well with the tempura sauce. These dishes are definitely best when shared in a small group as the repetitive batter may cause consumption fatigue after a certain point.
The Main Roll was definitely one of the more interesting rolls of the night in that it received the tempura deep fry treatment. I am not a huge fan of doing rolls this way but it is definitely a very interesting concept that some may enjoy.
We got to try try two different types of tartare served with deep fried crackers. The tuna and salmon tartare were both very fresh and smooth. Beautifully plated, I enjoyed both and would definitely order a plate again.
This dish requires no introduction or explanation, it is a guilty pleasure for all of us. Lightly deep fried with a thin coating, these ebi tempura proved to be delicious served with a light sweet chili sauce.
The Deep Fried Eel with Smoked Salmon roll was a very tasty combination of two different rolls topped with a piece of lemon. The smokiness of the salmon went very well with the crisp, salty eel and the tart citrus of the lemon piece was a nice garnish.
The Bob Marley and GP Rolls arrived at the point where I was already full but I still enjoyed both immensely. These two rolls definitely showcase the fearlessness and creativity of the GP sushi chefs.
To finish off the meal, we got to try a beautiful serving of Torch Seared Salmon Belly Nigiri sushi. The piece of salmon was thick and deliciously fatty, torched lightly for a gorgeous surface char. This was probably my favourite piece of sushi for the evening.
As if we were not full enough, we were served a cold, sinfully sweet dessert in the form of deep fried chocolate bars with chocolate drizzled vanilla ice cream. I split this with a friend and loved it, it was the perfect finale to a really diverse meal.
After finishing up our dessert just after 10pm, we headed to Eight 1/2 Restaurant for our nightcap. Attendees were offered a choice between a light lager, red or white wine and a cocktail. As can be seen below, I went with the lager and enjoyed nursing it through some great conversation with a few new friends. The nightcap proved to be a nice end to the evening as attendees get to walk over to the final venue with new friends and enjoy a final drink together.
To wrap up, this was a very generous evening of food and laughter that I am not bound to soon forget. I have previewed almost all of Vancouver’s new food tour companies over the past year and must confess that Tangoo ranks up there as one of the best. From the invitational email to the subsequent followup Facebook Group invite, the entire package felt very cohesive and very polished. I definitely got a high sense of competency from this fledgling start-up and look forward to seeing Tangoo become a leader in Vancouver’s ongoing social transformation. If you liked this article and are interested in attending a future Tangoo evening, definitely follow them on Twitter at @TangooNights and check out their website at www.tangoo.ca. Lastly, a big thank you to Paul from Tangoo for the invite, Randy over at GP and Eight 1/2 for kindly hosting us for the evening. Cheers!