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Visiting Vancouver: need ultimate food experience

Hi. SO and I are coming at the end of March and want to experience the best of Vancouver. I've done some searches on this board, but am having trouble deciding what is the absolute "must" in the following categories:

Sushi (both in omakase and in inventive maki rolls)
Seafood (from street food to fancy places)
Chinese (especially seafood; any Taiwanese restaurants?)
Izakaya (I've read about Hapa and Guu; which has the best small plates and yakitori?)
Street food (I only know about Japa Dog)
Desserts
AYCE sushi (Why, after all the good sushi, do I want this? I can't help myself. I've heard good things about this in Vancouver, and I love limitless eating, sashimi with no bounds. Are these buffets, or do you order off the menu?)
Drinks (open to beer, scotch, sake, gin, cocktails, anything with an umbrella...)

Please fill me in on anything else that is must-eat in Vancouver. Any help would be deeply appreciated.

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  1. Sushi - Tojo's for omakase. It is debatable as to whether Tojo's is the "best" for this, but since you are an out of towner, Tojo's becomes a "must".

    Seafood - Blue Water and C are tops. I like Blue Water - C I found a bit stuffy.

    Chinese - Sun Sui Wah for seafood (get the King Crab, if your budget allows). Another "must" is a trip to Richmond BC (just south of Vancouver) for Chinese Regional - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478602 - Sea Harbour, Gingeri, Kirin, Shanghai Wind top my list. Aberdeen Center for the food court and Beard Papa's, perhaps.

    Izakaya - Hapa -- once again, which izakaya is the "best" is a matter of preference - look for my Google Map post on this board. One "must" is an izakaya crawl along izakaya alley (Robson and Denman) - book in advance, however

    AYCE sushi - for "quantity over quality" - Tanpopo's on Denman St

    Drinks - lot's of good drinking to be had here...I'll just recommend Chambar for the Belgian Beer collection -- though I actually prefer Stella's for just drinking Belgian - only because I live close by. More include Cascade, Chill WInston, The Lennox, The Opus Bar. Ginger 62, Crush....All depends on your mood - "loungey", "pubbey" or "clubbey".

    Desserts - Thomas Haas in North Van. La Casa Gelato in East Van for sheer variety of crazy gelati.

    You didn't mention tapas - which Vancouver does exceptionally well...Aurora (my fave), Bin 941/942, Nu, and Cru...I don't know why all these new Vacouver restos end with "u" LOL

    The one "must" is West. This is my personal favourite. I would go more often, but I have mortgage payments LOL.

    Oh...and how can I forget Vij's....and Rangoli....and Salt and...too many...

    1. Generally, I like most of fmed's suggestions, though, as mentioned, which izakaya is "best" is a matter of preference. I like Hapa for the trendy atmosphere and tableside seared saba... but I prefer Guu for the food and the casual/noisy energy.

      Personally, I think Go Fish! is a must for a visitor.
      I also like taking visitors to Aberdeen Centre in Richmond because that's a slice of the Greater Vancouver area that you don't see in many other cities. Also, the food court has some of the best chicken wings I've ever had.
      You could also go bubble tea hopping in Richmond, where some of the places serve Taiwanese food. I like Pearl Castle.
      Octopus Garden - they are a bit pricey, but they have inventive maki rolls and also offer omakase... but it's true, as a tourist, Tojo's becomes a "must"
      For non-omakase, non-izakaya Japanese - Ajisai, Okada, Yoshi... but I notice you post on the Manhattan board and as I recall NYC does Japanese pretty well (and does quite well with the sake selection too).

      Second votes for West, Bin 941/942, Cascade, Chambar (or next door to their waffle/coffee shop)

      6 Replies
      1. re: twinkienic

        Thanks for the suggestions! I've been considering many of the places mentioned. We're adding tapas to the list, and fmed, I'm already set on that izakaya bar crawl. Might as well try all of them. My favorite in New York is Sake Bar Hagi, so I hope there are similar ones in Vancouver.

        Manhattan does have great Japanese food, but Japanese here is quite expensive (too much of my food money is spent on rent!). Twinkienic, do you suggest we skip the regular sushi stuff? I keep thinking that the seafood is fresher and more affordable in Vancouver and that those might make good, mid-priced lunch meals.

        1. re: Gluttonous Prime

          >>My favorite in New York is Sake Bar Hagi, so I hope there are similar ones in Vancouver.

          I have been to Sake Bar Hagi. It seemed to have been a quiet night when I was there....not as frenetic as the Guu's on a good night. You will find food similar in quality and presentation. The sake lists in NYC are a bit longer than here.

          To avoid disappointment - make reservations...especially for the popular places like the Guu's, Hapa, Kingyo, etc. You can just typically walk right in to the others and get a table or sit at the bar.

          As far as sushi is concerned, you have the right idea - have it for lunch. To reiterate what twinkieinc and myself have mentioned - Tojo's is a good tourist destination - it is definitely very good, but a knowledgeable local will point you to Octopus's Garden and Shiro for sushi...there are many more, but those are my tops.

          1. re: fmed

            Thanks for the reservation tip. Believe it or not, I've waited 45 minutes for a table at Hagi before!

            All these places sound great. Thanks to both! My vacation can't come soon enough.

            1. re: Gluttonous Prime

              I did a crawl last night (Thursday night) and I didn't have to wait at all, actually...but it's best to play it safe.

              Some pics on the original Google map thead:
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478051

              1. re: fmed

                Thanks for the photos, fmed! The place with the grill looks awesome. We're huge yakitori fans. What time do the izakayas/bars/tapas places close? We're going to a concert at Richards on Richards (I think that's what it's called) on a Thursday night; is it possible to do some late-night bar crawl around 11pm?

                1. re: Gluttonous Prime

                  Most of the places at Robson/Denman are closed by 12:00 or 12:30. Alpha (closest to Richard's on Richards) closes at 1pm and Shiru-Bay in Yaletown (also close to RonR) closes at 12:30.

                  However, I have never been to a concert at RonR that actually ended at 11pm....they usually start at 11pm (despite what the promoters tell you).

                  BTW - the yakitori photos was at Zakkushi on Robson.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Zakkushi is actually on denman not robson

          1 Reply
          1. re: vandan

            Oops, yes -- 823 block Denman St - my mistake.