Back from Vancouver and my main learning from this trip is that the inexpensive places are the places to go. The overpriced and raved top tier places are just not worth it. Stick with ethnic and you will be just fine.
1. Go Fish: Lovely little fish and chips place by the water that is sustainable and organic. Had some halibut and chips that they served with a spicy Asian slaw. Just fabulous. Massive pieces of fish and impossibly crispy batter.
2. Zakkushi: Izakaya style Japanese restaurant. Notable dishes being grilled rice balls, grilled chicken livers and hearts, chicken meatballs topped with ground daikon and ponzu. All just lovely. Clean flavor and cheap.
3. Sun Sui Wah: Dim sum with quality that rivals Hong Kong. Amazing variety, piping hot and a definite must try if you are in the area. Kitchen does not open until 11 so dim sum only until then. We had a whole roasted squab which was lovely.
4. Tojos: I had heard so much positive feedback about this place was very excited to try it. Many local chefs warned me that the quality had gone down but I just decided to go any way. The BF got some sashimi and I did they $80 omakase. My first dish arrived and it was a beautiful tuna with ponzu. It was so fresh and delicious. The next dish arrived and it was some squash blossoms stuffed with scallops and fried. A total letdown. The meal just got progressively worse. The chef was making things in an assembly line and it was like eating at some mediocre Japanese mall restaurant. It was just so bad and not worth the money. I should have had the sashimi like the BF but his was also $90 for 16 pieces of fish. A total rip considering Miko and Toshi (2 other places in town) were way better. Seems like Tojo is just coasting on a reputation he built a long time ago. Save you money and hit Miko or Toshi. Trust me.
5. West restaurant: Widely considered to be Vancouvers's best restaurant. Lumiere and West are in a competition. I had a lovely scallop appetizer which was divine. Scallops in a lobster and lime broth topped with a crab ravioli. Very tasty. I had a chanterelle and arugula risotto for my main and it was soooo good. The service was also impeccable. A definite must try.
6. Feenie's: The lower-priced alternative to Lumiere who always gets voted best brunch. We went over for some brunch on Sunday and it was divine. I had a croque madame that was to-die-for. BF had a burger (seems everyone gets them there) and he said it was good aside from the fact that they will only serve it medium and he is a rare kind of guy. Great meal and cute neighborhood.
7. Vij's: Vancouverites just love this place and the wait shows it. We went for dinner at 5:45 because they do not take reservations and it is just impossible after 6. I like the all-woman kitchen and the atmosphere is nice. We ordered the wild boar, rapini with cashews and panir, lamb popsicles and chicken with jalapenos and cilantro. They pass little nibbles around which were quite good. I loved the cassava fries. The boar was great. It was topped with cantaloupe which was a welcome surprise. The rapini was bitter and lacking salt. Not a great dish. The lamb was good but not the best curry I have had. It was served on top of undercooked potatoes which just ruined the dish for me. The chicken was disgusting and over-spiced. A total waste and neither of us touched it after one bite. The naan was also a let down. It was dry and lacking salt. They also failed to brush it with ghee which ruined it in my opinion. It had also failed to bubble sufficiently making it tough and our basket just sat there uneaten...an true oddity considering we normally devour it. All in all a decent meal but I wish we had listened to my chef friend and hit rangoli next door (Vij's less-expensive and more traditional restaurant). I just like the simple Indian food I grew up eating and most of the time these fusion restaurants disappoint. Vij's was no exception. We got out for $150 total.
8. Kirin Mandarin: Hit this place for dinner. We ordered a peking duck and stir fried crab. The place was packed and I can see why. The food was awesome and very fresh. Perfect even. A must-try for Chinese dinner if you are in Vancouver.
9. Rodney's in Yaletown. Great oyster house. Fresh, fresh, fresh. Nice selection of house made sauces as well. The steamers are also divine. A bit pricey but worth it. Nice staff too.
10. The hot dogs and wraps on the street are also a steal and just delicious. Grab one if you are in a hurry and in need of a good bite.
re: The Blissful Glutton
I have to agree about Tojo's. I'm from Los Angeles and went on my honeymoon to Vancouver in October. We had the omakase at Tojo's at $150 a head. There were many of lovely things, no doubt, and I know I would not have that meal anywhere else. However, we just didn't feel like it was worth the money we ended up spending on it. Anyway, we gained a new appreciation for our regular sushi place! We loved Rodney's too.
I just vacationed there, and I heartily recommend Rain City Grill in downtown Vancouver. They have a special '100 mile' menu, where all the ingredients (down to the yeast and sugar) is sourced from within 100 miles of the restauarant. We actually didn't have that menu, we ordered off the regular menu, and it was fantasic.
I'd agree with the miss on Watermark, the food was amazingly lackluster. I am not a fan either of Lift, which I find over-priced and somewhat snooty. C on the other hand is well worth it, if your willing to shell out a few bucks.
Cardero's, which is down by Lift, has a much nice Vancouver feel (seafood), and if your up to crossing the bridge, La Régalade, in West Vancouver, is fantastic (it's not that far!!)! The best French food I've ever had - and I live in Switzerland now - and amazing atmosphere. I used to live in West Van, and it was by far one of my favourites.
Also, Bin 941 (on Davie) and Bin 942 (on Broadway) are tiny little tapas bars with fantastic food, and great locations - Davie is right downtown. They are always packed on Thurs, Fri and Sat, so show up early or be ready to wait, they don't take reservations.
If you want a great, cheap burger, Vera's on Davie is also very tasty, and if you're looking for something that has everything Cactus Club is the best chain around with very good prices, and they're all over the place!
Have a fantastic time, Vancouver is beautiful with a teriffic array of restaurants! I just left and am already wishing I was back home!!
I would pass on Watermark. The view is the only good thing about this restaurant. If you want a view restaurant that does decent food and you don't mind dropping some money go to Lift. If you want great food without a view then dine at West, Rare, Le Crocodile or "C" (actually C has a great view). For medium priced fare dine at Chambar or Brix. Seafood I would eat at Joe Fortes (all the tourist do) or the Cannery. Ethnic try Vij's and Dim SUm at the Imperial.
As an ex-Vancouverite who visited this summer I would recommend:
- Any of the 3 Banana Leafs - delicious Malaysian food.
- Vij's - always highly rated East Indian nouveau cuisine, subtly spiced.
- The Watermark on Kits Beach for lunch overlooking the ocean. New and stylish room.
- C Restaurant for asian fusion seafood - always an interesting menu.
For useful information visit the Vancouver Magazine website, Restaurant Awards. Any of the restaurants listed there are going to be a good experience.
I was there about ten years ago so my memory is vague... but speaking generally, I remember a good restaurants in Kitsilano (a nice beach neighborhood a short walk from downtown) and Chinatown is great (probably more so now that people have moved from Hong Kong). There are many great restaurants downtown and it is easy and nice to just walk around this beautiful city and check menus. There's a also mall/market area that I wouldn't waste time with. Have fun, I wish I were going to Vancouver again.
I would pass on Chinatown, definitely. The influx of Hong Kon immigrants has been great for food, but only in Richmond, which is now basically a chinese suburb. Unfortunately, Chinatown has basically deteriorated and has become very rundown. The last time I ate there, there was a nasty little surprise in the bottom of my dish. Unfortunately the little critter didn't even add any flavor to the food.
Just returned from a trip out West, including Vancouver. We ate at Chambar, a somewhat trendy restaurant in Yaletown. Very nice. Menu covers all types of food, from seafood to duck (which I had). Also ate at the Cannery in the wharf area of Vancouver. Somewhat pricey but beautiful view of the sunset over the harbour. Great for a splurge. Had fish and chips at Go Fish next to Granville Island. Really really good. Great coleslaw came with it. Be prepared to line up and wait for your food. Finally, had sushi at Shiro Sushi on Cambie. Great salmon, excellent Soft Shell Crab Roll and generlly an excellent place for sushi.
Sorry for not being more specific as to foods etc. but have to run.