Montreal to Vancouver (first time)
I'm heading over to Vancouver with my girlfriend in a few days, and we'll be staying for about a week-
I have a few questions which I hope the community will be able to answer. (Ok maybe a lot of questions).
We will be staying in central Vancouver near Powell and Carall. ( is this an ok neighbourhood, or are we in the infamous downtown east side?)
1- We're planning on having one "special" meal, and I was thinking Vij's. Does it live up to the hype, or should I be thinking of other options?
2- Dumplings, where can I find the best? (I'm looking for variety as well as quality)
3- Dim sum in central Vancouver, what are the top places?
3- Are there any Indonesian restos worth checking out?
4- What places would you recommend near the anthropology museum / UBC campus?
5- Regional chinese, please point me to the relevant threads.
6- For the first night, we'll be arriving around 9pm. Are there any good places that are open late near our Hostel?
I'm also obviously looking for any places that are unique to Vancouver. I also wouldn't mind finding a restaurant that specializes in Native food, if such a place exists.
Thanks in advance for all your help.
I will continue to search for relevant threads, but I find the Western Canada board a little difficult to navigate. (Too many major cities on one board)
Thanks all for the great advice. I just got back from Vancouver, very impressed.
My short summary of the trip:
Salt: A really great place, if a tad bit overpriced. We liked it so much that we kept meaning to return, but never go around to it.
Rangoli / Vij's: Excellent food at both, but Vij's hardly seems worth the wait with the cheaper and almost as nice alternative right next door. If I lived in Vancouver I'd probably be at Rangoli all the time, though Vij's was a nice "tourist" experience.
Lin's Chinese cuisine: Very good, but not great. I was glad to be able to try XLB though.
T & T supermarket: You people are so lucky to have this, when will they open a branch in Montreal? ( I can dream, no?)
Gyoza King: Wow!
Hapa Izayaka: Double Wow! a bit more expensive than Gyoza King, and slightly more "formal". If I was a Van. resident I would probably reserve this place for special occasions.
Wild Rice: Everything was excellent. I don't know how they make their plain rice, but I could have eaten just that and been happy. It was the perfect consistency and had it's own subtle flavour.
The fish place in Stanley Park (Not sure of the name) : Excellent prawns, reasonable lunch menu. This place didn't blow me away, but it's a very solid resto.
Scoozies (Breakfast) : The other stuff seems quite ordinary, but they have really good homemade yogurt.
Those are the places I can think of right now, I'll post again if I remember more details.
Here are my two (or more) beans...
1. Vij's. I echo a lot of what's been said. For mains, my favourite is the lamb popsicles. If you don't get around to Vij's, the recipe for lamb popsicles is in the cookbook "Vancouver Cooks".
2. fmed just did a crazy awesome post on Chen's in Richmond. I've haven't been to Chen's yet, but have been satisfying my dumpling cravings at Wang's Shanghainese in Crystal Mall in Burnaby. It's a food fair joint, where you can order xlb's, pain fried baos, and guo tiehs (gyoza). They also have nian gao, which is fried rice sticks. A steamer of 5 xlb's will run you $3.50. Crystal Mall is located in Burnaby (at Metrotown skytrain), on the corner of Kingsway/McKay, in the same building ast the Hilton.
3. If you want push-cart dim sum, there's Pink Pearl www.pinkpearl.com on Hastings and Clark (but they've kinda gone downhill in recent years), and Golden Ocean (W. 41st and East Blvd, 2046 W. 41st Avenue). There's also Floata in Chinatown www.floata.com, which is really close to where you're staying, but the place is monsterously huge and if you're not sitting close to the kitchen, good luck getting anything hot. For non-pushcart, maybe Kirin at City Square www.kirinrestaurant.com. But don't go to the downtown Kirin b/c it really sucks. I'm not a fan of Sun Sui Wah anymore. All their good chefs jumped ship and now the food is very hit and miss.
4. Besides what was already mentioned... none of these are within walking distance of UBC, but are a quick drive or bus ride away. Burgoo Bistro on 10th (www.burgoo.ca) has stews and other stuff. Mistral French Bistro at Broadway and McDonald (www.mistralbistro.ca) has nice lunch. Red Onion has good burgers (2028 W. 41st Avenue).
5. Sorry, can't make any recommendations outside of xlb's. I think in general, Chinese people get their regional fixings at home, and tend to go out for "banquet style" dinners (usually HK cooking) or for quick and dirty wonton/noodles/congee. My current Vancouver favourite for banquets is Golden Ocean - they make a great 2-way roast duck (skin/wrappers and meat/lettuce wraps) and for wonton, this place on Broadway and Main (sorry, have no idea what the name is... it's got a green awning, and is on Broadway, on the north side, one or two blocks west of Main) has good wontons, but I think they're cash only? Try going for late night Chinese eats (after 9:30pm), where you can get neat eats for cheap (salt/pepper chicken knees - sound weird but so good! - black bean clams, duck tongue, etc.). Most wonton noodle joints offer this. Ask for the "dah lung" or "xiao yeh" menu. It might all be in Chinese, though :)
6. Try something in Gastown. Someone recommended Salt. Good choice but warning: that they don't serve hot food. If you want hot food, maybe check out the Irish Heather, one of its sister restaurants www.irishheather.com. And Boneta has a nice bar and makes decent drinks. www.boneta.ca
Some of my Vancouver favourites... Lunch at Go Fish, a fish n chips joint, just outside of Granville Island (1505 W. 1st Avenue), closed on Mondays. Dinner at LaBuca, an Italian place owned by the same people as Parkside (also very good) www.labuca.ca. Drinks at the Cascade www.thecascade.ca. Food at Cascade is a bit meh, and they just tweaked their menu and took away some of the stuff I liked.
Powell and Carall is sketchy, but I think it also looks scarier than it actually is. People will generally leave you alone, but it's definitely not a neighbourhood Vancouver likes to showcase.
Hope you have a great trip!
We just returned from a 3 day stay in Vancouver. Here's my take on Vij's, and a couple of other tips. I don't know your travel dates; hope you aren't back already!
Vij's is a very popular Vancouver restaurant. No reservations, so arrive an hour before you want to eat, put your name down and have a drink at the bar. The $9 cocktails were a bit pricey, but they were both flavoured with Indian touches (garam masala in mine) and quite tasty. Staff will circulate with free snacks (lentil pakoras and Indian-spiced fried potatoes), but try to resist as you'll spoil your dinner.
We found the portions too large. After two tasting spoons of the Dungeoness crab (delicious) and a couple of starters (lentil pate with date chutney, and jackfruit in black cardamom masala), we'd had enough. The appetizers were amazing, inspired, novel, and beautifully presented.
The main courses were also tasty, but far more ordinary. We had the eggplant and papaya curry with black chickpeas and roasted almonds, and the cabbage, potato, and bell peppers in coconut, blueberry and cilantro with crispy noodles. This all sounds quite novel, but the flavours of all the vegetarian dishes are similar and all medium spicy; also they were all kind of soupy/saucy. More contrast of flavours and textures would have been nice.
For vegetarian dishes, we found the mains overpriced at roughly $23 each. Their whole menu is online at vijs.ca, so you can decide if the prices are reasonable to you.
Banana Leaf -- There are multiple locations. We ate at the one on Denman. The food was good but not great. I had the gado gado salad, which was a big mess of diced potato and bean sprouts drowned in peanut sauce. They forgot the boiled egg, and when I asked they brought three thin slices of egg that had a grey ring around the yolk (amateur cook who didn't cool them properly?). My main dish was a very tasty eggplant & green bean dish. My husband had a seafood soup to start, which was very tasty. His main dish was mixed seafood in coconut curry broth, which was tasty but the seafood was gritty. The banana fritter for desert was perfectly done, very crisp and big enough for sharing with a nice dollop of ice cream. The atmosphere was cosy/crowded. They don't appear to have any tables for two as we were seated beside another couple at a table for four. If you like your privacy, this is not for you.
1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA
>>The appetizers were amazing, inspired, novel, and beautifully presented.
Your experience at Vij's echoes some of mine -- Great apps, but lacklustre mains. Next time I have an opportunity to go, I'll order only apps.
>> They forgot the boiled egg, and when I asked they brought three thin slices of egg that had a grey ring around the yolk (amateur cook who didn't cool them properly?).
Believe or not, the green ring around the yolk is very common in Asian/SEAsian cuisine. I don't like it myself, but this is the "authentic" way it is cooked and served back in Asia.
Thanks for the report, BTW.
I'll give you my list:
1. Blue Water Cafe
2. Chen's Shanghai Kitchen (Richmond)
3. Spice Islands (I haven't been, but I was given a glowing review by someone I trust)
4. Not that close...but it's on the scenic route to UBC: Octopus' Garden
5. Richmond BC...Aberdeen Center - Northern Delicacies (not necessarily the "best"...there is a fairly extensive list.)
Powell and Carrall is definitely on the sketchy side, especially at night, but you should be fine if you go out together and keep your wits about you and your cash stashed safely.
1. I am a Vij's fan but am cognizant of its downsides, the biggest one of which is the ubiquitous lineup. For me that would take away some of the specialness and I would prefer a place where I could get resos. Perhaps Parkside, if you like Italianate?
3. Spice Islands is a nice Indonesian rec for three reasons: it is close to UBC (near 41st Ave entrance), it is good, and it has a slightly more "upscale" ambience -- you could even do this for your special meal.
3 (again): Sun Sui Wah is what I would consider central Vancouver, and I'm always pleased with their offerings, especially if you like seafoody dimsum which is their forte, and carts which can be fun.
4. There aren't too many real grabbers near UBC but for a nice lunch on 10th Ave you might check out Mix the Bakery -- great grilled sandwiches on their own bread, Joe's coffee and homemade soups in a modern bakery cafe setting. I have also heard Sage on campus is a good place for lunch (not open for dinner) but I have not tried it as it is not open on weekends. For dinner, there is the Provence Mediterranean resto, also on 10th; I've only eaten at their Yaletown outpost but this is the original so I think you could have a chow-ish meal there.
5. For snacky, soupy Chinese, I like Peaceful and Legendary (the one on Main) but I would defer to Fmed and others for regional reccos.
6. Cobre for sure, maybe also Salt? Both would have fun atmos for a late bite.
There used to be a Native resto on lower Davie but I think it closed several years ago and I don't know of any others. "Unique to Vancouver" seems to translate to "unique takes on food from other places" more often than not, and maybe setting might factor in a bit more than in some other locations (mountains, ocean blah blah). Is that the sort of thing you're looking for?
532 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z1E9, CA
52 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1E7, CA
L'Altro Buca Restaurant
1906 Haro Street, Vancouver, BC V6G 1H7, CA
Salt Tasting Room Ltd
45 Blood Alley, Vancouver, BC V6B 0C4, CA
Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar
1095 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 5T4, CA
Spice Islands Indonesian Restaurant
3592W 41st Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6N3E6, CA
Octopus's Garden Restaurant
1995 Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J1C9, CA
4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, BC V6X4J7, CA
1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA
Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant
3888 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3N9, CA
Mix The Bakery
4430 W 10th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6R, CA
Provence Mediterranean Grill
100 - 4473 West 10th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6R 2H2, CA
4191 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3P6, CA
Hi there - Jade Dynasty in Chinatown (137 East Pender) has a great "card service" Dim Sum menu, and several types of dumplings to try. My picks would be the Shu Mai and the Shanghai dumplings. My reivew and a link to a map of the area can be found at: