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Meat Your Match at Oyama Sausage Company

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There’s something very refined about ordering a charcuterie platter at a restaurant. It’s largely satisfying to look upon a beautiful spread of cured meats and to taste each and every one with the sophistication they deserve. The best charcuterie platters are served with a selection of cheese and bread pairings, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, a side of pickled vegetables. Sadly, nothing in that list of items exists in my cooking repertoire (kudos to you if you’re at home crafting salami), so charcuterie platters are something I encounter only on certain special occasions.

Oyama Sausage Company

The moment I discovered Oyama Sausage Company at the Granville Island Public Market, was a moment filled with awe and opportunity. The quaint meat shop holds down a humble corner of the Public Market, but touts over 300 different products that are all handmade in Vancouver with Canadian free-range meat. The diversity of their offering, which includes sausages and patés, salamis and proscuittos, has earned accolades from the New York Times and is widely-regarded as the best charcuterie in Vancouver. In fact, the beloved charcuterie served at many Vancouver restaurants is sourced from Oyama Sausage Company. See what I’m getting at here? Some Vancouver chefs actually have special parking permits for the Granville Island Public Market, allowing them to stop by without competing with the crowds. You might just be rubbing elbows with some of Vancouver’s finest culinary talent as you lean in to place your order at Oyama!

Our Granville Island Market Tour is proud to feature seven different kinds of traditional and non-traditional recipes from Oyama Sausage Company, but we could spend a whole afternoon at their shop.  In this week’s blog post, I pondered upon what I could share about Oyama that would resonate with the same vigour as their products.

Oyama 11

As Vancouver Foodie Tours ventured to Granville Island as the new-kids-on-the-block, we couldn’t help but notice how gracious, how passionate, and how supportive the team at Oyama has been. Yet, from my years of being an Oyama-customer (pre-VFT), it is clear that Oyama is sincere with the experience they deliver. So, for this week’s post, I hope to give you a glimpse of the character behind the meats. I had the pleasure of chatting with founder, Christine Van de Lieck, who, with her husband, started Oyama Sausage Company almost 14 years ago. I could not help but smile with each of her responses to my curious questions as she was able to capture the jovial spirit that makes Oyama so unique:

J: When did you and John move to Vancouver? Did you always plan to open a meat shop or did you initially have other ideas?
C: John and I moved to Vancouver in 2001.  We had been in business in the Okanagan for 14 years previously, having taken over Okanagan Sausage from his uncle. We always wanted to do what we are doing now in the Granville Island Public Market, so when an opportunity arose, we jumped on it, sold in the Okanagan and came here.

J: What is one of your most memorable experiences from your time in Public Market?
C: Every day creates new memories, but I think one of our most memorable experiences was the first Christmas in the Public Market.  We had no idea what to expect and when, on the afternoon of the 24th, we were down to 1 paté and a small piece of Kolbassa in the showcase, we knew that Vancouver loves our products and the Public Market was the place to be!

J: What is a lesson you’ve learned from being in the meat-industry? Is there something that makes Vancouver’s meat-market particularly unique?
C: Top lesson – never stand still!  People’s tastes and desires are constantly changing as are the demographics, so it is important to be flexible.  Vancouver is unique in the entire food market because of our enormous cultural diversity and our beautiful setting, which draws people from all over the globe and allows us to present a giant cornucopia of offerings.

VFT Hint: Follow them on Facebook for updates on their latest recipes!

J: What is your favourite part about your job?
C: Our favourite part about the job is having so many wonderful customers appreciate all the effort we put into our business. From producing delicious sausages, patés and terrines, hams, salamis, prosciuttos and more to training all our wonderful staff and everything in between, the moment when a customer smiles and says “thank you”, makes the long hours all worthwhile.

J: What are 3 things that people might be surprised to know about Oyama?
C: Those 3 things are:

  1. Even though we look alike and work together in harmony, despite our close proximity to one another, almost none of us are related, except for one pair of siblings and the husband and wife team at the helm!
  2. We actually are as cheerful and friendly as we seem
  3. Just like our tiny store, we have a tiny kitchen with only 5 people, including John, producing, at various times, over 400 different products

As 5th-generation master sausage makers, there’s no denying that John and Christine know their meats! But, they’re just as charming as their 300+ products and the Public Market itself. Next time you’re putting together a picnic or simply needing a pick-me-up, take a number and prowl the Oyama counter, you can’t go wrong with your selection!

Joyce Chua

About Joyce Chua

I’m fascinated by food and its impact on culture, especially in an increasingly globalized world. I love how Vancouver’s multicultural food scene opens doors to history, culture, and understanding. Here’s to a life of eating and learning!

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