AZ Foodies in Vancouver
My wife and I will be staying the 4th of july at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver. Looking for pacific region cuisine that can't be found in AZ. Saw Tojo's mentioned in a guormet mag issue, but seems to be a lesser version of our Seasaw (www.seasaw.net).
we prefer asian influence, but wife does not like indian cuisine like Viji's. Any recommendations for a casual yet out of this world place to eat?
We will be staying at the Pan Pacific, so any place close to that would be great.
For a very Vancouver experience, go to an izakaya restaurant or do the izakaya crawl along Robson and Denman. Top recs are Guu, Guu with Garlic, Hapa Izakaya, Kingyo. If you are going to only one, go to a Guu. The Pan Pacific is a brisk 20 min walk away from this area.
Here's a Chow article on this scene: http://www.chow.com/stories/10980
Note that the Google Map link referenced in the article (it's my map) is currently broken. If you post more questions here, we can help guide you.
re: gourmet wife
Sean, I was just in Arizona (Phoenix, Tuscon, and Flagstaff) in May and had a WONDERFUL time dining out at the likes of Cowboy Ciao, Rancho Pinot Grill, Humble Pie, Cafe Poca Cosa, J-Bar, etc... So I figure I owe an Arizonan some advice.
First, re: Tojo's, I would not at all describe it as a "lesser version of See-Saw." Tojo is one of the eminent Japanese chefs in North America (he takes credit for inventing the California roll, though I understand this is disputed). Tojo's is about as good as Vancouver fine dining gets, and there are options: I believe 5 course, 8 course, and 12 course tasting menus? The seafood is as fresh as can be as Tojo is known to obsess over quality and freshness, and believe me, Vancouver trumps Phoenix in terms of availability of freshly caught seafood.
However, there are some other wonderful places to enjoy west coast dining. For a hole- in-the-wall where you can get a good inexpensive lunch, try Legendary Noodle on Main St. Their chef is famous for his noodle skills and has been featured on the Food Channel, not to mention having been written up in many food magazines.
For the best fish 'n' chips you may ever taste, or fish chowder for that matter, line up for Go Fish on Granville Island.
By the way, if you go to Granville Island, do not miss Oyama meats. He makes something like 15 different types of prosciutto, and all of his cured meats are PHENOMENALLY tasty. If the weather is decent, you could picnic on Granville Island.
Agree with izakaya recommendations.
Many on this board like Aurora Bistro for its emphasis on BC ingredients. I went there once and was mildly disappointed by its mild flavours, although I did have a spectacular blue cheese onion tart. However, I was there in winter, when BC ingredients are not exactly at their peak. If you go in summer, the menu will probably be much more exciting.
Many folks like C restaurant for seafood fine dining; I have never been, understand it is mucho expensive, but also understand that it is a complete experience and that the service is superb.
Vij's is a good bet for Indian food (widely considered one of the best Indian restaurants in North America). I just saw a news feature about a new menu item at Vij's: crickets! (don't worry, they serve a great deal of less intimidating fare). They do not take reservations, so your best bet is to line up right at 5 pm when they open (or slightly beforehand) so that you will be one of the first seatings. If you are looking for a more casual experience, you can try Rangoli's next door (the "sister" restaurant to Vij's featuring many of the same phenomenal curry sauces).
My favourite Vancouver restaurant is actually not specifically "West Coast"; Chambar is Franco-Belgian cuisine. However, as with most Van restaurants, there is a focus on local ingredients, including local seafood/oysters, and there is also a fantastic mixed drink selection and decent wine list. Check out their menu on-line. Chambar is also quite reasonably priced.
If you want a quintessential Vancouver experience (but definitely not the best food or service), check out the Naam vegetarian restaurant in Kitsilano. Some others on this board may blast me for recommending it, but the Naam is an institution of sorts; it has been serving wholesome vegetarian cuisine for more than 40 years! (As an aside, one of my best friends told me that his father used to deliver food for the Naam back in the '60s!) The Naam has always been a draw for youth and counterculture types; the drawback is the long waits for food and the erratic service. However, it is open 24 hrs/ day, and I think it would be an INTERESTING place for a tourist to check out, if only for a beer and a veggie burger.
There are MANY choices in Vancouver (it is a city with a metro population of about 2.5 million, after all). Do your research by searching old threads on this board; see what common recommendations pop up.
One warning: do not be fooled by the old myth that if there are many Asian customers in a restaurant, the restaurant must be good. There are many mediocre and even dive-y places in Vancouver's chinatown that are FULL of Asian customers. An analogy: if an Asian tourist came to North America and saw that the Spaghetti Factory was full of white people, would he be correct in concluding that the Spaghetti Factory must be a good place for Western-style food?
Good luck, and have fun!
Anewton, thanks for the recommendations and for pointing out that the key indicator for a good asian restaurant in vancouver is not just its asian patronage (in phoenix it is as they are so few and far between). I am not necessarily looking for Asian per se, as i lived in the SF bay area most of my life i do know what fresh seafood tastes like as well as i have had my fill of the standard asian fare (thai, vietnamese, japanese, etc..). What we are looking for is truly a one of a kind experience and the izakaya sounds like it is it!.
I'm surprised that when you were in AZ you did not visit the numero uno restaurant of choice - Binkley's.
Anewton, I acted on your recommendation for Chambars and I agree that it's wonderful. Food, service and atmosphere were absolutely top notch. We didn't have a reservation but, rather than being turned away as I expected, we were seated (wife and I) at a small table by the front door. This seemed like it was going to be uncomfortable at first, but we saw others nearby in the same predicament and they seemed pretty happy. We were happy, too, in short order. Thanks, again for the post. We're up traveling from NorCal and didn't plan in advance.
Thanks for this post and the replies - 2 New Yorkers will be in Vancouver the 4-6 and thanks to this board we've made a reservation at Gastropod for Friday and plan to hit the izakayas on Saturday.
West was another choice for Friday dinner. Any last-minute contrary votes on Gastropod?
Any lunch recommendations? Or breakfast in our neighborhood? We're staying at the Inn at False Creek, opposite Granville Island.
>>West was another choice for Friday dinner. Any last-minute contrary votes on Gastropod?
You are good to go. Angus An, the chef there, is very creative.
>>Any lunch recommendations? Or breakfast in our neighborhood? We're staying at the Inn at False Creek, opposite Granville Island.
Take the ferry boat to Granville Island and have your breakfast and/or lunch there. The food court has a great burger stand called Market Grill and over on the wharves to the SW of the Island is Go Fish - a highly recommended Fish and Chips shack. JJ Bean on GI serves excellent espressos.