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2S: an adventure in eating

FOR years now there has been a rug shop going out of business at the corner of Pemberton Avenue and Marine Drive in North Vancouver. At least it has seemed that way.
2S Green Asian Cuisine chef Ken Hu and owner Kathryn Zheng with a few of the dishes available at the new restaurant.

FOR years now there has been a rug shop going out of business at the corner of Pemberton Avenue and Marine Drive in North Vancouver.

At least it has seemed that way.

Next to it, in a storefront laced with garish yellow signage, is a restaurant that's changed hands many times. I haven't dined there; the revolving door of operators and the dingy, dated exterior turned me off.

So when I recently received an email from a reader advising of yet another new business in the space, called 2S Green Asian Cuisine, offering "lovely service and a wide-ranging menu," I was skeptical. Still, I convinced my coworker Shorty to accompany me there for lunch on a recent weekday. (Actually, "convinced" is a stretch; I didn't tell her where we were going, just offered her a free meal.)

As we rolled into the parking lot I was reminded of my previous estimation of the place, but as soon as we pushed through the door I realized my mistake. I had judged the proverbial book by its unappealing and unfashionable cover.

Inside, the place is clean and spacious with comfortable booths. The bar is set in glittering glass tiles and a wide-screen TV offers a diversion for those dining alone or with little to talk about.

We opened our menus.

"Oh," sighed Shorty. "It's one of these."

"One of these" refers to a massive menu with an overwhelming number of dishes to read through. 2S Green Asian Cuisine dishes up cuisine from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and China, plus smoothies, bubble teas and fresh juices.

It's a mind-boggling read. You can have your lemon chicken or pan-friend Gyoza, followed by Kung Pow boneless chicken or Pad Thai. Slurp up Tom Yum or Wonton soup then choose from about a dozen different curries.

Though it's easy to get lost, eager staff is on hand to offer help and guidance. We quickly settled on a few picks, and eyeballed others for future visits.

Roti Canai, Malaysian flatbread, was perfect: thin, flaky and totally delicious, served with a savoury curry dipping sauce.

Although it's listed as an appetizer, the lettuce wrap was an enormous helping of multi-coloured sweet peppers, corn, green beans, crunchy noodles and tofu with a meat of choice (chicken in ours), and a stack of iceberg lettuce for wrapping it all up. It's a contrast in cool and crunchy with warm and salty and it makes for messy, juicy eating that requires extra napkins.

Our favourite dish of all though was the Rendang Beef Curry, a creamy coconut-infused curry swimming with carrots, celery and green beans, plus thick wedges of beef that had been slowly simmered until it fell apart at the touch of our forks.

Dessert was included with our lunch; it changes daily. We guessed ours was mango tapioca, but were surprised to find out it was pumpkin, softly sweet, with chewy pearls of tapioca.

Talk about an adventure in dining - you could return to 2S repeatedly and try something brand-new each time. Perhaps best of all, it was affordable. Lunch specials are $7.50, but we ordered from the regular menu and left with enough food for dinner too. Our bill was $28.73, including HST.

2S Green Asian Cuisine is at 1195 Marine Dr., North Vancouver. Call 6049809138 for information or take out.

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