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Four nights in Vancouver alone. Your dream restuarant tour of the city...

  • h

whenever i'm in a city alone, I tend to like to stick close to my hotel (the westin, for the record), within walking distance, and I tend to like upscale but cozy places where I can read a book while eating without offending anyone, drink a few glasses of wine, and relax.

Lets throw that out of the water. Its Vancouver! What do you think I would be sorely mistaken to miss for my four nights there? Local delicacies? Regional flair? Just great spaces with atmosphere worth checking out?

The only thing I ask is that you don't suggest someplace that I'll feel like a real doof sitting in alone. Thanks guys!

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  1. The Westin Bayshore or Grand?

    1. Bin 941. Sit at the bar and they are open late. So good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sfglutton

        Damn! That is EXACTLY what I was going to say.

        http://www.bin941.com/ It's tapas, but I like to say it's "small plates" because it is not all Spanish. It is a VERY small place. You will have an easier time getting a seat because you are dining alone. It could be my favorite restaurant in Vancouver.

      2. westin grand..... (should i switch the the bayshore? no car, so I thought robson street was best, i'm a vancouver virgin)

        tell me more about bin 941.. where is it, what kinda food, etc?

        thanks guys!!!!

        1. No, I don't think you'd need to switch to the Bayshore. The Bayshore is more scenic, being on the water, but you're going to be doing more walking trying to get to all the good restaurants (with the exception of Parkside, which is close to the Bayshore).

          Realistically speaking, you could walk from the Bayshore to the Grand in 30 minutes, so the distances in the grand scheme of things are trivial. All of downtown Vancouver (where the Bayshore and Grand are located) is walkable.

          The Westin Grand is a relatively short walk away from dozens of restaurants that you describe. It's on the eastern end of Robson Street at the northern end of Yaletown - both restaurant hotspots.

          Bin 941 is famous for its tapas, although the cuisine is French-influenced regional, and not Spanish. "Bin" (as it's known by its fans) can get really busy and loud, so if you're seeking out a quiet atmosphere, I would not recommend it for that. Yet, the food is fantastic and go there for its lively environment.


          I'd say Vancouver's highlights are regional seafood (salmon) and Asian food. Izakaya is something rarely seen outside of Japan, or Vancouver for that matter. Kitanoya Guu, Hapa Izakaya, and Shiru Bay Chopstick Cafe are some examples. Izakaya, if you're unfamiliar, is like Japanese tapas. It's not sushi, but an assortment of creative Japanese small plates. Some familiar items, some not so familiar..

          Speaking of which, sushi is definitely the Vancouver speciality. You will no doubt encounter hundreds of sushi bars going for a simple stroll through some neighbourhoods. Some are bad, some are good, and some are outstanding. What's the "best" sushi restaurant in Vancouver is a hugely debated topic.

          If you haven't scanned http://www.dinehere.ca yet, it will give you some ideas on what restaurants are highly rated by the locals.

          1. I don't think a visit to Van, especially a first timer, would be complete without a meal at West. They are on Granville around 13th Ave, part of the Toptable restaurant group. Spectacular, even for a solo diner. Very suitable dining alone spot, from personal experience. Sit at the bar, or request the chef's table, and have a tasting menu. Chinese offerings in Richmond are extraordinary, worth the cab ride, or make an afternoon of exploring. Here is a link to West with menus etc.


            1. These are GREAT suggestions!!! I'm definitely going to try Bin.

              So I'm a sushi hound, and I love all asian food. The japanese tapas thing is actually being seen in a lot of cities such as Phoenix, my hometown, but it might not compare to the quality of yours.

              I'd like a suggestion for a sushi haunt, and which of the Izakaya you suggest. For sushi, I'm looking for a place where I can sit at the sushi bar, order the chef a sake, and have him impress me with his originality. I don't care greatly for cutely named rolls:) Someplace within walking distance to the grand would be great. From the dinehere site, it seems Chiyoda is a good place for me, do you agree?

              I'll try West as well unless anyone has had a bad experience there.

              You guys have been monumentally helpful, thank you!

              I'm going to leave Sat. morning, but not before I pick up my rental car to drive to Seattle, so is there dimsum to be found in Richmond worth checking out Sat. morn?

              5 Replies
              1. re: hzp

                Dim sum in Richmond:

                Richmond Mandarin at President Plaza/Radisson - opens at 8:30A with 20% discount until 11A

                J & C Restaruant - 8766 McKim (off Garden City Rd) - opens at 9A with a 30% discount until 11A

                Kirin Seafood Restaurant - 200-7900 Westminister - opens at 10A

                All of the above are Hong Kong style, order from a menu.

                If you want something different, try:

                Shanghai River - 7831 Westminister Hwy - opens at 10A on Sat/Sun - has XLB, potstickers, scallion pancakes, other Northen Chinese "dim sum"

                This would be my pick if I could only choose one. I can find okay Hong Kong/Cantonese style dim sum near my home, but not Shanghai.


                1. re: Iona

                  Do you know if the Shanghai River also has the "early bird" discount and do you see any problems/issues if you can not order in Chinese? (i.e. is there an English menu)?

                  1. re: Pollo

                    They open at 10A Saturday and Sunday only, no discount. Weekdays they open at 11A.

                    Menu is in Chinese and English. Be sure to order "dumplings with minced pork" (XLB's or soup dumplings) which come 8 to an order. When we were there last month they cost $5.80 an order.

                    Enjoy! Iona

                2. re: hzp

                  For Izakaya, I'd do either Kingyo (Denman at Robson -- a 20 minute or so walk from your hotel), Guu with Garlic (on Robson) and Hapa Izakaya (hey, whatd'ya know -- also on Robson). My current favorite is Kingyo, though I know Guu with Garlic has a huge following too.

                  West is upscale, and it wouldn't be my cup of tea to go alone. But that's just me.

                  I'm also a fan of Chambar, walking distance from your hotel. The bar is the best place to sit and eat there, in my opinion. Fun, busy, upbeat place with excellent moules frites.

                  For a lighter meal, you could try Salt -- located in a dingy alleyway in Gastown (called Blood Alley, I'm not kidding) -- it is wine, cheese, meat. Period. Delicious food, good wine list, minimalist interior. I love it, though I realize it's not for everyone. But it will give you a flair for the Vancouver scene.

                  1. re: xandohead

                    I wasn't as impressed as others with West, but I definitely would second the Chambar recommendation. Very impressive seafood, great cocktails, very friendly. You'd be comfortable either at the bar, or at a table.

                3. good notes.. thank you. will take into consideration. i checked out the menu at west and it looks phenomenal, and perhaps at the chefs table, i'd be okay, I could chat him up, but otherwise, i totally get what you're saying and recently made that mistake in paris. i felt like a goober alone in at a table in a bustling upscale restaurant on friday night.

                  1. I LOVE Salt. I hang out there alll the time. and I recently had an awesome meal at Chambar. If you like oysters go to Rodney's in Yaletown, sit at the bar and chat up the oyster shuckers and bar tenders. Also have awesome pan fried oysters.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: starlady

                      Salt is a good place to start for a drink and a little plate.
                      Chambar~great recommendation!

                      Yaletown is a close walk from the hotel and there are some great restaurants there.
                      Blue Water (which I dont love but many do) is a good place for a single diner. There is a long bar where you could sit and have a social time.

                      1. re: starlady

                        hello, on our one visit to your beautiful city we quite enjoyed sitting at the bar in Rodneys. Great oysters, half shell or fried. cheers

                      2. okay, can someone give me the lowdown on a sushi place called togo or something like that? I have friends who said they went and it was the best sushi of their lives, but they blew like 600$ on a meal there. They said a trip to vancouver would be a loss without visiting there... so.. what the deal? is it that good? and is there a way i can escape for under 150$?

                        1. Tojo's
                          and yes you can get away with it for 150. GO in, don't order, tell em how much you can spend and likes and dislikes then let them prepare you a feast.

                          1. thanks! I made a reservation at the omakase bar for a Friday night.... thanks for the advice.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: hzp

                              Can you post after and let us know how it went? I'll be in Vancouver in the near future and would like to pay a visit to Tojo's ....

                              1. re: hzp

                                Pray you don't have the same experience I had. Reserved the most expensive omakase for 2. Confirmed the reservation TWICE. We bailed after being shuttled off to a hard wooden bench in a service corridor for 25 minutes without even being asked if we wanted a cocktail while we were waiting. No food is worth putting up with such totally abysmal and 'tude-ful service.

                                1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                  my lord i hope not. though, ... its dinner. as MUCH as i am looking forward to it, should something crappy happen, i would pick my ass up, and find someplace else and not let it ruin my evening.

                                  plus, the beauty of being alone is that i take out my book, grab a seat, and read.

                                  1. re: hzp

                                    Just ask for the Sushi Bar, Doesn't matter if they put you on the edge, even near the kitchen. Tojo San will greet you, feed you, and if you appear to enjoy it even the slightest, he will keep it coming until you raise the surrender flag.
                                    Da Cook

                                    1. re: Da_Cook

                                      Sorry, but your advice is inaccurate. We had reserved the freaking sushi bar for their most expensive omakase...made no difference whatsoever. They obviously overbook because the sushi bar was packed and nobody was anywhere close to the end of their meal. Totally inexcusable and it negates how good the food might be. After all, it's still just bait you're putting in your mouth...

                              2. This a version of another post I recently replied to.
                                A "West Coast" experience doesn't always mean Seafood, but should include some. If you are going to restaurants you should include some of the places a Chowhound would check-out. Anyone will tell you to go to Lumiere, Rain City Grill, "C" or West and I guarantee a good time (mucho dineros). Personally I think you should visit Bin 941; Vijs, Sun Sui Wah (order live crabs from the tank and let them do their magic), Pink Pearl for Dim Sum & La Regalade Sur Mer (way out in West Van). If money is no object, sit at the Sushi Bar at Tojo's and let Tojo San surprise you. You should visit Senova on a Wednesday when they do suckling pig and Banana Leaf (the original on West Broadway) any day. Two new restaurants with great buzz (I haven't been to them yet) are The Flying Tiger (they recreate Pan Asian Street Food) and Gastropod. Also there is this great new place called Salt Tasting Room, a wine, cheese and charcuterie bar in Blood Alley in Gastown. All my meat supplier friends are raving about it.
                                Da Cook

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Da_Cook

                                  thanks for a great post!

                                  so i'm committed to tojo's for friday night.. as a sushi fantatic, i can't pass it up. that will be my big splurge.

                                  bin 941 has also made my list, its gotten too many recommendations.

                                  i'm doing pink pearl saturday morning (anyone want to join me? dim sum alone kinda sucks) and my plan is oysters/ fish soup/oysters/fish soup each day for lunch (since a trip to paris last year, i am a sucker for good oysters).

                                  i so so love crabs, so sun sui might make that list as well...

                                  i looked at west, and while just a FABULOUS menu.... i think i'd rather find places with great regional flair, so I'll keep that as backup.

                                  1. re: hzp

                                    hmmm.....just how early Saturday ARE you doing that dim sum? I almost never get to eat dim sum where I live, and I love it....but I'm driving up from Seattle Sat. am and realistically won't get there until around 1 or 2.......Where is pink pearl?

                                    1. re: hzp

                                      I'll be down in Vancouver Saturday, I might be tempted to Dim Sum.
                                      What time will you be there? I'm a "Crack of Noon" kind a guy.
                                      If Oysters are your bag make sure you try the Holy 3 from Cortes Island. I'm talking about Stellar Bay, Chef's Creek and supremest oyster of them all... the tiny Kusshi.
                                      Da Cook

                                      1. re: hzp

                                        hey guys... wish i could stick around that long, but I'm driving down to seattle that day (but then, is it better to go through later in the day? no idea) I'd planned to "dim" about 11 or so, and then get on the road, but vancouverans, advise.

                                        1. re: hzp

                                          I'll do my best for 11Am if only to hear how TOJO'S went

                                    2. Great thread! My wife and I are also coming into Vancouver fairly soon and have been doing some planning. Definitely want to hit one of the Izakaya joints- I went to Guu on Garlic a few years ago and we have nothing like it as far as I know, in Toronto. Also very keen on trying Chambar and we're looking at West for our splurge.

                                      We were thinking of Vij's for our remaining night, though Bin 941 did look really good as well. Any thoughts on the two, in comparison? Also, for any of you out there familiar with the T.O food scene, is Vij's comparable to anything in T.O or is it completely unique and worth the (apparently) long wait?

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Ben Reiner

                                        Le Crocodile - very nice, a bit on the French side with the SW Canadian regional influence. Beautiful presentations, service was fabulous, and nicely romantic (was there with BF). Loved particular courses so much, I drew diagrams, made notes to flavours and ingredients and repeated at home.

                                        1. re: Ben Reiner

                                          Vijs is a "must do". There is nothing like it in Toronto. Vikram Vij is an original and so is his food. He's also usually there to guide you through. It's higher end then Bin 941, though I can think of no more enjoyable experience then sitting at the tiny counter overlooking the tiny kitchen at the Bin and witnessing the Ballet performed by 2 chefs and a dishwasher. Oh yeah, the food is amazing too

                                          1. re: Ben Reiner

                                            hello, we enjoyed both Vij's and Bin 941. My impression, Vij's is more unique, and there's more light/color to the ambience/decor. The owners take wine seriously, pretty unusual for an Indian restaurant, and when we went the long wait was much ameliorated by periodic rounds (every 20 min. or so) of free finger food amuses brought around on big trays, lending a festive cocktail reception vibe. We're also very partial to lightly cooked Indian food from vibrantly fresh ingredients and spices (like home-cooked if you've had that great treat). enjoy

                                            1. re: moto

                                              Thanks everyone for the advice.. Vij's it is. Too bad we don't have another day :)

                                            1. We have decided on Vij's for a Sunday evening treat after a drive through Stanley Park...my hubbie is hopeful that cricketeers will be out practicing even though its the middle of winter and could well be raining.....My friend who is our tour guide for the day has been wanting to eat there too, so that clinched the deal. The question is: Are they open Sunday?? I sent an email to the restaurant but no response. All the website says about hours is that they open at 5:30 "every evening" so I assume that means seven days a week. Also, if we do arrive at 5:30 on a Sunday evening, will the wait be too bad? (I can take up to an hour if we can sit in the bar, but over that and my tolerance wains......

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: janetofreno

                                                Two of us went on a week night last summer around 7pm, iirc, and got in quickly. Here's a link to my report:


                                                Also should note that there were complimentary apps inside at the bar in the back for those who were waiting.

                                              2. I've been there on a Sunday evening. I arrived at 5pm and only 2 others were waiting. I grabbed a drink at Rangoli next door and sat there for about 10 minutes. By the time we went back to Vij's, there was definitely a crowd around the door of maybe 20 different parties. Fortunately, we were seated at a table for two and enjoyed our dinner.

                                                I seem to recall there being 5 different servers at Vij's. Very different feeling than Bin. Bin is a lively narrow bistro while Vij's is more serene and warm, in a larger but still intimate setting.

                                                1. Any review of Imperial chinese rest. I understand this is pricey. Any tips on great food without high price tag

                                                  1. i still dream about the vegetarian cabbage rolls i had here: http://www.vancouverrestaurantguide.n...

                                                    the place is nothing fancy, but the food was delicious.