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Mar 29, 2008 06:51 PM

Best Bar dining in Vancouver

I'm heading to Vancouver in April from SF. I love dining at bars and sampling 2 or 3 restaurants in an evening. I've read the recent (1 yr +) posts on Chowhound re: Vancouver and think I have a working "list". My question is, which of these places would be realatively near one another and are good for 2 people dining @ the bar, sampling a few apps or small pates at each place? Can't wait and greatly appreciate any and all thoughts (feel free to add places or nix some too!). Ideally, I'd piece together 2 evenings of izakya focused and one more general

Bin 941 (or 942?)
Lumiere Tasting Bar (not regular restaurant)

Also, is Feenie's closed for renovations? Appears so....

Other items on the itinerary (we only have 3 dinners, 3 lunches) include dim sum (Sun Sui Wah or Kirin?)

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  1. For your Izakya tour I would do: Gyoza King, Guu and Kingyo - all amazing. Start at GK - then work your way west down Robson to Guu and then further west down Robson to denman where you will find Kingyo - it will be by far ou best eating on your trip! Enjoy.

    1. I would do a Gastown crawl one evening: Chambar (close to Gastown), Boneta, Salt, Cobre, Chill Winston -- then an Izakaya crawl another: Guu, Gyoza King, Hapa, Zakkushi, Kingyo. Both crawls are quite walkable.

      >>Other items on the itinerary (we only have 3 dinners, 3 lunches) include dim sum (Sun Sui Wah or Kirin?)

      They are both very good. If you are staying downtown, then Kirin's Alberni St location is more convenient.

      2 Replies
      1. re: fmed

        Your Gastown Crawl list is a good one :)

        1. re: fmed

          I keep recommending Kirin or SSW to tourists. I guess I expect them to want a high white-linen quotient on the dining experience....but (if you have been reading this board of the last couple of months)...let me just recommend Peaceful Restaurant. Low key, family run, excellent Northern Chinese cuisine that is addictively delicious and *incredibly inexpensive*.

          Peaceful represents what Chinese restaurant dining is becoming in Vancouver. Kirin and SSW are (IMO) part of the old guard.

        2. Just drove by Feenie's and there is paper over the windows...

          2 Replies
          1. re: grayelf

            This may not be quite what you're looking for but FWIW, abridged from April VanMag:

            Mysala Indian Bistro

            This 60-seat lounge, in the heart of the Granville bar zone, mashes urban cool with Indian flair: deep booths, flickering candlelight, groovy electro-Indian beats. The menu is streamlined to fewer than a dozen mains.980 Granville St., 604-688-2969

            1. re: grayelf

              I'm not sure if the OP is aware of the Daniel Boulud takeover of Feenie's...Feenie's and Lumiere are getting a "DB Modernization"....

            2. For lunch: Aurora and Boneta are my top picks.

              For your third dinner: I suggest Blue Water , Fuel, West, Aurora or Parkside.

              16 Replies
              1. re: fmed

                thank you! west certainly seems to be a very beloved restaurant. does it have a bar area for dining or best for a "stick with one restaurant" approach for that night? (we can do that too :))

                1. re: laaronson

                  I edited and added a few more recs after I thought about it a bit more so look at my post again...(I added Fuel, Aurora, Parkside).

                  West is a whole night experience...the dinner can last hours.

                  1. re: fmed

                    I am planning on writing up a complete review of the restaurants I tried when in Vancouver this past week, but I just had to write that my dining experience at Boneta (based on a recommendation from this board) was amazing. I ate by myself at the bar, and could not have had a better time. The host, bartender, and everyone else were super-nice, and the meal was superb.

                2. re: fmed

                  Boneta is only open for lunch on Friday's

                    1. re: fmed

                      ok...getting close on the itin!! (I will of course post and thank you for all this information. just curious b/c i read about Umami as well as Bin 941/942 but nobody mentioned these for the Izakaya / Gastown crawls (respectively). Is that b/c they are overrated / touristy?

                      last question, is sat or sun a better day to visit granville market and are there other farmers or flea markets you would recommend? we get in friday and will try to get over the granville friday as i'm sure it is less crazy but not sure we'll have enough time!

                      1. re: laaronson

                        I don't know about Umami but both bins are too far out of the way to include on a Gastown crawl (one is downtown, the other is over the bridge).

                        Granville Island is pretty crazy on both Sat and Sun. The secret (if you are not too zuzzed from one of your crawls) is to go early. Having said that, if you are not doing your actual grocery shopping as I usually am it could be fun to mingle with the hordes. Don't forget to take your cell phone and call ahead for pickup at Go Fish to avoid that line up at lunch, though :-).

                        1. re: laaronson

                          I haven't mentioned Umami only because I haven't been (yet). The Bins are great - cozy (or cramped - depends on your mood). Food and atmosphere are very good. It can get noisy though. But as greyelf mentioned - they don't fit within a crawl's distance.

                          1. re: fmed

                            thank you so much for your thoughts, everyone. here's the itin

                            fri night: Gastown crawl - made rezzies (just in case) at chambar, boneta and salt.

                            sat night: izakaya crawl - gyoza king, guu (rez hopefully at prime time) and kingo.

                            sun night: West (if not up for a huge meal, we'll do bin 941 instead)

                            lunches will be at Go Fish on Granville one day and dim sum (pink something or other?) the other. Definitely need to hit the coffee houses on Commercial as well.

                            then we come home and go on a cleanse....

                            1. re: laaronson

                              >> dim sum (pink something or other?)

                              Stop right there. Pink Pearl? Don't do it. It goes from "bad" to "OK" and is highly inconsistent. Go to SSW or Kirin instead.

                              >> sat night: izakaya crawl - gyoza king, guu (rez hopefully at prime time) and kingo.

                              The food may be better at Kingyo, but I kind of like the loungey atmosphere of Hapa better. See if you can end up at Hapa later that night.

                              >> Definitely need to hit the coffee houses on Commercial as well.

                              Prado, JJBean and Continental. If you aren't too buzzed after that, then you might want to check out the old-school espresso places like Calabria (their coffee-friendly Italian semolina pastries are utterly addicting), Abruzzo (for some soccer action), etc.

                              1. re: fmed

                                Starting to sound like Little Ms Echo here but gotta agree with Fmed on Pink Pearl. If you are from Vancouver and it was the first place you ever had dim sum when you were 11, it has a bit o' nostalgia appeal but the line ups can be whacky, it's molto-noisy (even for a dim sum palace) and it's in an unremarkable location, apart from being semi-close to Gourmet Warehouse. There are so many other places to get better quality rolling snacks. If Sun Sui Wah and Kirin don't appeal, try Golden Ocean in Kerrisdale or one of the Richmond dim sum dens (do a search, I beg you). I've read some good reports on Floata if you want to get a bit of the Chinatown experience coupled with the massive dimsum room without going to Richmond. If none of these ideas work for you, write back and we'll think up some more. But not PP, puhlease!

                                1. re: fmed

                                  fmed, love your suggestions for your great city, just curious about why you seem to prefer other Isakaya places to Guu? Have to admit, we got stuck on Guu (sorry) the first time we tried it, but now wonder if we're missing out on some other great options. TIA

                                  1. re: PolarBear

                                    I love the Guus! They (and owner Yoshinori Kitahara) are highly influential in the izakaya scene here. The Guus (esp the original and Garlic ) are the closest thing to a true izakaya experience you will get outside Japan. Without the Guus there wouldn't be an izakaya scene here in Vancouver. I'm sorry if somehow I made a different impression.

                                    I nearly always start my izakaya crawls at a Guu...and they often end at a Guu.

                                    Are you missing out on some other great options if you stick to only Guu? Yes indeed...Kingyo and Hapa take this rustic izakaya cuisine and take it to another level. They also have better sake lists than the Guus. You do sacrifice authenticity, however.

                                    1. re: fmed

                                      Thanks much, fmed, I can see on our next visit we'll have to limit ourselves on the number of times we hit Guu with Garlic and branch out a bit. Any dishes that are special standouts at Kingyo and Hapa?

                                      1. re: PolarBear

                                        I really like the kabocha dip and table seared saba at Hapa. I like the pork cheeks at Kingyo (they also serve some great local artisinal sakes from Osake - made here on Granville Island). Note that Kingyo is run by the former chef at Guu with Garlic (Minoru Tamaru... his chef is Koji Zenimaru, also from Guu)

                                2. re: laaronson

                                  If you want to fit Hapa in (as per fmed's suggestion), I'd personally use it to replace Gyoza King (not Kingyo).

                                  It's a shame you can't fit in Cobre on the Gastown crawl... I suppose it might be too ambitious to fit in 4 places in one event.

                      2. If you're in the neighborhood near West and Bin 942, Try Cru. Cru is much like the Bins, but a bit more upscale. Very nice small plates and excellent service--the people that work there really seem to enjoy it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: FAT Traveler

                          CRU is yummy and have an ever rotating wine list and (last time I was there) a knowledgable staff :)