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Jun 26, 2008 11:10 PM

Seeking Seafood in Vancouver

I'll be in town for a weekend next month and have been reading posts on Vancouver restaurants, but I'm confounded by the recommendations.

I would expect Vancouver to really specialize in seafood - salmon, halibut, cod, etc., but I'm seeing very few recs for a good seafood dinner. Many, many more recommendations for ethnic. So, what's up with that?

I've looked at online menus for so many restaurants, and it seems like their seafood offerings are pretty sparse - maybe one or two fish dishes at most. Even the Cannery - their menu has trout and salmon, period.

Maybe I'm used to more variety, even here in Philadelphia, where there are almost always several fish dishes on the menu. Is seafood just not that popular in Vancouver?

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  1. Seafood is popular. The ethnic recs are the result of active posters personal biases. A typical Vancouverite eats sushi about 3 or 4 times a perhaps going for seafood is seen as redundant. I should add that some of the best and freshest seafood can be had at the ethnic restaurants here.

    Non-ethnic seafood can be had at C and at Blue Water Cafe. Other seafood places include the Sandbar, Carderos, Coast, Monk McQueen's (which might be closing for pre-Olympic renovations soon), the Cannery, The Boathouse, Fish Cafe, The Fish House, A Kettle of Fish, Rodney's (Oysters), Joe Fortes (Oysters), etc. I'm sure I'm missing a whole bunch.

    My personal favourite is Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown. Is there a particular kind of seafood that you are seeking?

    4 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      You bring up something that has always mystified/driven me a bit crazy. I've lived here all my life (minus a few years in Toronto) and finding a really good non-ethnic seafood place that doesn't break the bank but still provides a bit of ambiance is a challenge. It usually comes up when we have visitors. As usual, fmed gives good recs but all of them come up a bit short for my ideal seafood place, bearing in mind I've not been to C, Blue Water or Coast and I don't eat oysters :-). My biggest kvetch is how hard it is to find a place that can consistently cook salmon properly. I've almost given up ordering it. But all this is not helping you. I'm wondering if places like Parkside, La Buca, Fuel (e.g.1/3 of its current dinner menu offerings are seafood based right now), Gastropod or Bistrot Bistro might be at least partly an answer, if you're looking for different kinds of fish/preps... possibly daily specials as well... just a thought.

      1. re: grayelf

        We certainly are not lacking in seafood-centric restaurants and we have a number that do it justice.

        >>Even the Cannery - their menu has trout and salmon, period.

        I just had a look at The Cannery's fresh sheet:

        And their Dinner Menu

        There is definitely more than just just trout and salmon on that list.

        I see Sole, Snapper, Halibut, Ling Cod, Ahi, Lobster, Prawns, Mahi Mahi, Squid, Black Cod, Scallops, Soft Shell Crabs, Salmon, Trout, Mussels, Clams, Oysters (a number of different kinds) and King Crab.

        Were you perhaps looking at an abridged menu from somewhere else?

        In any case, I stick my recommendation of Blue Water Cafe for seafood. The Cannery will get you a view too...and they also do a fine job with the food.

        1. re: fmed

          OK, now we're getting somewhere. Thanks to all for your suggestions. The Boathouse looks promising - I like a restaurant that has a daily offering of fresh fish, rather than a standard menu item. Kettle of Fish has a nice menu. I did look at Blue Water Cafe, but I think it's pricey for a fillet. I'd expect to pay in the mid-30s for a whole fish.

          We eat lots of lobster and Dungeness crab at home, so I like to order fish rather than shellfish when dining out. I had a whole branzino last week - exquisite, and I love arctic char, red snapper, halibut, etc.

          By the way, I've never heard of sablefish....what is it similar to?

          Things to consider: I'm traveling (and dining) solo, won't have a car, and am staying at the Hyatt.

      2. re: fmed

        I second Blue Water, but it is on the pricier side. Try Go Fish for excellent value.

      3. If it's fish you're looking for, Fish Cafe is a nice choice. It's very reasonable and surprisingly make a really good fish 'n chips. The original location is on 41st and West Boulevard but I know there's a second location in Kits as well.

        Vancouver has a huge variety of restaurants depending on what you're looking for. Even just by saying seafood, it's still very broad. Many restaurants will have specials of the day reflecting the seasonal fish or shellfish. As well, often menus online will not have the complete menu. You ask why all the recs on ethnic restaurants..........because they do good food including seafood and most times the specials of the day include various seafood items.

        Here are some other recommendations, Sockeye City Grill and Steveston Restaurant, both in Steveston Village. Pearl on the Rock is one of my favs in White Rock.

        My favorite ways to have seafood is at a chinese or japanese restaurant, where they have live seafood. You can't get fresher than that and they will make it however way you want.

        3 Replies
        1. re: gourmet wife

          << Many, many more recommendations for ethnic. So, what's up with that? >>

          Once you get here and have a look @ the faces on the street you'll understand, this ain't Philadelphia(!)

          ps-I'm off for Sushi tonight!

          1. re: Sam Salmon

            >>Once you get here and have a look @ the faces on the street you'll understand, this ain't Philadelphia(!)

            LOL Sam. Yes - there is definitely that!

          2. re: gourmet wife

            I have to disagree with the Sockeye City recommendation. Its a tourist trap. I was there in June and it was an overall terrible experience. The fish was bland and overcooked (I took it back, and the result was no better).

            The service was amusingly bad, there were many times were people at our table would just stare at each other after another service screw up. The decor and atmosphere is reminiscent of an ABC restaurant or a pre-renovation Moxies.

            Rodney's in Yaletown has a great happy hour ($1.50 oysters), or try the oft-mentioned Go Fish for informal freshness.

            As for fish, don't miss out on local trout (i.e. Sooke trout), lingcod and of course, salmon.

          3. As others have mentioned, seafood is VERY popular in Van—but there is a strong local bias towards that which is a) sustainably harvested, and b) of local origin. For this reason, restaurants tend to focus on what's swimming around at the time, rather than stuffing their freezers with exotic treasures. The menus you see online might not be updated with today's catch.

            Sablefish, also called black cod, is a fishy dream come true. I couldn't compare it to anything except to say it's well-marbeled with delicious fat:) Try it at a restaurant that prepares it in the miso style (a recipe that originated in BC I believe) or grab a smoked chunk from a fish market.

            Those soft-shell crabs from Philly ARE good:)

            9 Replies
            1. re: BobtheBigPig

              Thanks for the explanation of sablefish, AKA black cod. I'll have to try it.

              1. re: mommabear

                You may also see it as Butterfish.

                1. re: PolarBear

                  If you want to try sablefish done "plain" that is my favourite dish at the Fish House in Stanley Park. I would go for the Fish House over Kettle of Fish or the Boathouse, personally. Stick to the fish offerings and you will have a good meal. Avoid the desserts.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Thanks for the heads-up. I would have expected the Fish House in Stanley Park to be more of a tourist-y place.

                    1. re: mommabear

                      You're welcome but just to be clear, I would consider all three places I mentioned pretty touristy -- WRT the Fish House, we go often enough to say with reasonable vigour that there are also many locals who frequent the establishment. It is a comfortable place to dine, where you can feel equally at ease dressed up or in jeans, which may somewhat explain the mix of clientele.

              2. re: BobtheBigPig

                Fyi, black cod broiled with Miso paste is actually a traditional Japanese style of cooking black cod known as Saikyo Yaki" :-)

                1. re: vbabe

                  That is my favourite way of eating black cod but I know it as gindara saikyo.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Ghindara means Black Cod, Saikyo Yaki is the style of cooking with miso paste.

              3. Forgot to post when I got back....
                I had the sablefish at Joe Forte's and I could have gone back again and mouth is watering just thinking about it.....exceptional.

                In Whistler I ate at Bearfoot of the top 5 meals I've ever had. Amazing and innovative.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mommabear

                  Thanks for letting us know you did well! Glad to hear you found some good chow here, despite the somewhat odd seafood anomaly.

                2. The original comment has been removed