It looks like your classic neighbourhood corner store. A place where I would have gone to purchase 5 cent gummy candies and Big Leaque Chew when I was young. Granger Grocery on Heather at West 16th in Vancouver even has the iconic “Enjoy Coke” sign outside. However, one step into what is really Connie’s Cookin’ and you’ll feel like you’re in a whole other world — one with delicious Korean food.
Michelle led me to Connie’s, where she’s become a regular. Having a Korean mother, she instantly fell in love with Connie’s cooking and the friendly atmosphere created by her and her partner Jamie.
There are a few remnants of a corner store, like Twix and Crispy Crunch bars stacked in a corner, but you won’t find smokes or Lotto anywhere — that’s not the main attraction. Walk into Connie’s a look up at the menu board. There’s one menu item each day. If it’s Thursday, you get what Connie cooks on Thursdays. In our case, it was raw vegetable Bi Bim Bap.
We took a seat in a nook with hand-carved seats between beams that resembled tree trunks. Everything seemed hand-made, including the chair I sat on that Jamie said he wasn’t quite finished putting together (it was sturdy enough, he just planned on adding a foot-rest). There was only room for about 8 people but you can shuffle around a bit or get your meal to-go. Sketched signs give instructions about menu items and a shelf of artisan soaps and lotions for sale near the door provided a contrasting aroma to the spice that was being simmered into our dishes.
While Connie works her wizardry in the kitchen, Jamie runs a tight ship up front. He delivered our plates (“for Michelle and friend”) which were covered in heaps of fresh vegetables. The sign outside said black beluga lentils, mung beans, alfalfa sees, red clover seeds, and red radish seeds were the toppers on the dish. I also ordered chicken with mine and when it arrived perfectly juicy and tender, shredded apart resembling succulent pulled pork, Michelle had to order some for herself as well.
To wash all down all of this crisp, crunchy, spicy goodness we picked up two green juices from the front counter. Kale, spinach, apple, cucumber — a nice splash of vitamins that would make our stomachs happy for the rest of the day. My lunch came to $13 (for the Bi Bim Bap, added chicken, and the drink).
If you stop by Connie’s on Wednesday’s you’ll get a noodle dish and Michelle said her fish & chips on Fridays are awesome. It’s casual, comfortable, quirky, and delicious. Connie’s Cookin’ truly re-defines the term “hidden gem” for me — it’s completely unexpected. It was definitely a nice way to spend an afternoon with my childhood friend, walking to the corner store and spending our pennies.
Connie’s is located at 701 16th Avenue West with the big Granger Grocery sign out front. They’re open Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch. I can’t find a website, Facebook, or Twitter account for them. According to Yelp they’re open 9:00am to 6:30pm on weekdays and on Saturdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm.