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New Asian gastropub moving into well-known Chinatown restaurant space

Before you journey to The Darkside, they'll be running a preview pop-up starting soon!

We won't be wondering any longer what might take the place of The Union, the veteran Asian fusion Chinatown spot that was known for its brunch and chill out vibes. That's because word is out now that the restaurant space has been taken over by a dynamic duo behind another popular Vancouver restaurant, and they hope to create a fresh, fun new Asian gastropub hangout.

The Darkside will be the sophomore effort of Chef Kevin Lin and managing partner Steph Wan. The team is behind Kerrisdale's upscale West Coast-Japanese spot Land & Sea, which debuted in 2021

At 219 Union St, Lin and Wan will offer "an approachable menu accompanied with cocktails, local wines and beers," according to a release from the restaurant. 

“We always wanted a playground to reimagine the fast-casual dishes we love by adding our flair to it,” says Lin.

While The Darkside will have its official debut in January 2023, the self-described "rebels with a cause” foodies will warm up the space with a short-term pop-up concept they've dubbed TOTT. 

At TOTT, guests will get a bit of a preview of what's to come at The Darkside from a condensed menu. That means dishes drawing from Lin’s Taiwanese roots and travels in South East Asia, along with Wan’s Cantonese heritage.

"The menu introduces West Coast and Asian spins on throwback dishes and offers plenty of large and small plates that hit all the familiar Asian notes: pungent, full of zing, and spicy," describes The Darkside's opening announcement. Look for items like Little Island Fries with taiwanese cabbage, chai poh, and pork floss; Fried Dace (a small freshwater fish) Taco with black beans, cabbage, and cilantro; Kimchi Calamari with bean sprouts, green onion and gochujang aioli; and Tom Yum Brussels sprouts with preserved radish.

The Darkside - and TOTT - will also be dipping into nostalgic street food flavours via menu items like locally sourced chicken wings done up in versions like Spicy Dan Dan, an extra spicy option for the brave “General Steph," Pad Thai, and Sweet and Sour, among others. 

Come the cocktail hour, look for specialty drinks like a Yin Yang Martini, a spin on a popular coffee + tea beverage in Hong Kong known as Yuenyeung, made with orange pekoe syrup and vanilla-bean infused evaporated milk and Ice Queen, their spin on a classic sour featuring Ribena. 

For a little more whimsy, guests will be sipping and eating in a room that will also boast a mural depicting the IRL couple's own dogs as the restaurant's "ringleaders." 

TOTT will be ready to welcome diners as soon as Nov. 25, serving up dinner and late-night snacks from 5 p.m. to late. Follow @darksideyvr for more info and updates.

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