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Five nights in Vancouver

Our family is going to Vancouver for five nights in October, to visit my youngest son at the University of British Columbia. We love to eat and are willing to try lots of different restaurants, but especially like the little places that locals know but tourists might avoid.

My older son is a vegetarian who also eats sustainably fished seafood.

We'll be staying downtown but will spend time near campus. We do have a car.

Here are my questions:

Best Chinese restaurant?
Great places by UBC?
Great neighborhood places away from downtown?

Thanks for any help you can give us!

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  1. For sustainable seafood - look for the "Oceanwise" designation. Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown (which is a neighbourhood right downtown) is one such restaurant. They have excellent seafood. Go Fish on Granville Island has sustainable fish as well.

    For Chinese, the best right downtown is probably Kirin on Alberni. If you are willing to drive to Richmond, then your options open up. The choices are overwhelming.

    Great neighbourhoods away from downtown-- Not a neighborhood, but Granville Island is a must-see for tourists. I'll shill for my own Commercial Drive neighbourhood which is often described as bohemian and eclectic. Kitsilano which is on the way to UBC is very nice. Yaletown is also interesting - full of shopping and restaurants - and a view of the Olympic Village under construction.

    Have fun. I'm a UBC alumnus myself. It's a great school on a great site. Make sure to see the Museum of Anthropology there - excellent collection of Asian art.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      Just a side note, the Museum of Anthropology is closed to the public until March 2009 at the moment for renovations. It's too bad though, it really is a fantastic museum!

      1. re: peter.v

        Damn. Oh well. I guess one could eat instead.

      2. re: fmed

        >>We love to eat and are willing to try lots of different restaurants, but especially like the little places that locals know but tourists might avoid.

        My list would include (and show my Asian bias):

        Lime (sushi)
        Peaceful Restaurant
        Lin's Fine Chinese
        The Asian Food Courts at Crystal Mall and at Richmond Public Market.
        The Xiang
        Szechuan House
        Almost any pho or banh mi joint on Kingsway

      3. Go Fish near Granville Island is a great place for lunch. Their seafood is sustainably fished. They have fish n chips, scallop burgers, fish tacos - all very good! There are a few good restaurants within a 10 minute drive of UBC. There's La Buca for Italian and Mistral Bistro or Bistrot Bistro for French. Ajisai in Kerrisdale has great sushi, and Zest on 16th and MacDonald is also very good. Golden Ocean, also in Kerrisdale, is a great place for Chinese.

        Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant
        2046 W 41st, Vancouver, BC V6M1Y8, CA

        Go Fish Ocean Emporium
        1505 W 1st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J, CA

        Ajisai HD Ltd
        2081 42nd Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6M2B4, CA

        Bistrot Bistro Ltd
        1961 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M7, CA

        1. All the above suggestions are great, but if you want to be close to UBC try Provence Mediterranean Grill (my "parent place" while at UBC and after) . They have a lot of seafood dishes with the Oceanwise designation. Another place close to campus, also on "upper tenth" avenue, is Burgoo, a more casual spot but cozy. I'm not sure if they have much in the way of vegetarian items, but check it out. Five minutes further away are Zest (great sushi and other Japanese) and La Buca (which I prefer over the similar and newer La Quercia).

          6 Replies
          1. re: waver

            For a casual lunch near UBC: Mix the Bakery on 10th (near Trimble, Place links not working at the moment). Delicious grilled sandwiches on their artisanal breads, housemade soups that change frequently, funky but low key ambiance, Joe's coffee, all good.

            1. re: grayelf

              I second the Mix recommendation and prefer it over Pane e Formaggio (although I confess to spending most of my lunch time slurping noodles at Gold Train).

              Btw, re the rec below: does Montri's still exist?

              1. re: waver

                The resto's still there but I heard a while ago that Montri had gone back to Thailand. Was this just a "refresher" trip or has he moved on. Anyone know?

                We stopped going because it was so hard to get a reservation...

                1. re: grayelf

                  It has a new owner but he has kept everything the same as Montri did.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    I had dinner last night at Montri's. It didn't feel the same. The food was okay but the portions were very small and service was really slow. It took a long time for the courses to come out of the kitchen.

            2. It's too bad you don't want the downtown area. It's where I go, for a lot of delicious treats, where a lot of locals go, including myself. You can find everything downtown, from Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Italian you name it. I like Sand Bar from what I remember, in Granville island for seafood. There are a bunch of restaurants in that area, if you don't like sand bar. Here is the website. http://www.vancouverdine.com/sandbar/...
              Commercial Drive, is a very eclectic neighborhood with a variety of restaurants.
              Desserts, is a hole in the wall, but their chick pea and lentil stew is delicious, with a side of pakoras. My favorite italian bakery is on Commercial Drive Fratelli's bakery. Right next to it is a Italian deli, where they can make you delicious grilled sandwiches. My favorite is a mix of meats, w/ vegetables, Havarti cheese, and their pesto mayonnaise.
              Another great restaurant is Stella's, http://stellasbeer.com/
              it's a tapas restaurant with Belgium beer, etc.
              I really like Banana Leaf, here is the web site, you can find the locations on there as well. http://www.bananaleaf-vancouver.com/
              Malaysian food, my favourite items are the pineapple fried rice, the yellow coconut curry.
              You can also do the tasting menu, if thats what you prefer.

              If your son is a vegetarian, there is the Naam, which is near UBC. 2724 W. Fourth Ave.
              Vancouver, BC

              Some people like the Foundation, on main street, which is vegetarian.
              All India Sweets, is one of my favorite Indian restaurants, and there is a Indian Buffet, which is Vegetarian. Butter Chicken is what everyone loves. Have a mango lassi, its a yoghurty mango drink.

              If you do go for Chinese, definitely do dim sum. Get Har Gow, which is a steamed dumpling with shrimp inside. I like the spicey fried tofu w/ jalapenos and garlic. Shui Mai, is steamed with pork and shrimp. Pretty much any chinese restaurant in Vancouver really aint bad.

              Have some sushi, its really fresh in Vancouver, and much cheaper than anywhere else that I've been. Samurai sushi, is very affordable. You get a lot of bang for your buck. For Greek a lot of people like Stepho's on Davie street. Theres always a line, and they pile your plate high with food. The roast lamb is, pretty good. Sometimes its very good, sometimes its really crappy. But it seems to attract a lot of people !

              Hapa Izakaya (Kitsilano), I like their babimpap. This restaurant is a modern, Japanese

              1516 Yew St, Vancouver
              Tel: 604-738-4272

              PHEW, anyway, GOOD LUCK, and definitely have some delicious treats. Vancouver has a lot to offer, it is a multicultural city, with food from all over the world. Too many to list.
              You should check this web site out http://www.dineouthere.com/restaurants/

              It has pictures, and thoughts about the restaurants they have visited.
              Have FUN!!! and eat lots

              1. These are my recommendations -- taking into account that UBC is liekly your apex of travel and the need for a vegetarian friendly menu

                Best Chinese Restaurant:
                -Sun Sui Wah on Main Street
                -Kirin in City Square on Cambie Street
                -Shao Lin Noodle House on Broadway near Cambie (cheaper place in price and ambiance, limited to noodle dishes -- but freshest noodles you will ever have)

                Great Places by UBC:
                -Montri's Thai Restaurant on Broadway near Alma (one of the best Thai places in town)
                -Burgoo on West 10th (Casual Comfort Food )
                -The Eatery (very cheap decent sushi and classic university hang out experience)
                -The Naam on West 4th (oldest and best vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver and final remnant of Kitsilano's hippie past)
                -Chai Gallery: East is East: (good quality Middle Eastern and Indian food, decor reminiscent of an exotic national geographic photoshoot, Wednesday music and buffet in upstairs portion benefits children of war and World Vision)

                Great Neighborhood Places Away From Downtown (quality does not come cheap)
                -La Buca on MacDonald St. (amazing Italian food tucked away in residential neighborhood)
                -Zest Japanese Restaurant on 16th near MacDonald (creative and delicious Japanese tapas creations mixed with extraordinarily fresh and high quality seafood)
                -Sweet Obsessions on 16th Ave. for dessert (16th Ave near Trafalgar)
                -Me and Julios on Commercial Drive (great modern Mexican food - great for brunch, lunch or dinner)
                -Havana's on Commercial Drive (same as above except insert Cuban for Mexican

                1. There's also Quattro on Fourth. I've been going for over 15 years now and I find their food is always good. Their tenderloin (you can cut it with your fork with very little effort) with fois gras is the best I've ever had and their tiramisu is amazing.

                  Other areas outside of downtown, Dundarave Beach & Park Royal Village in West Van. Edgemond Village & Deep Cove in North Van, Stevestone in Richmond and don't forget White Rock.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: gourmet wife

                    Easily accessible from UBC with some outstanding vegetarian and seafood choices is Spice Islands Indonesian.


                    Since your son wants to stick to ethical seafood choices I doubt he'd want to visit the setting of gangland murders- Quattro on Fourth as mentioned was the scene of a gangland shootup recently, a number of people sitting in a window seat (themselves with gangland connections) were massacred.

                    As a long time neighbourhood resident who lives a few minutes walk from the place I'\d never ever darken their door again no matter how many changes they've made.

                    1. re: Sam Salmon

                      The Quattro rec is controversial for me not because of the shooting (although I can't say that wouldn't factor in) but because the last several times I went prior to that incident the quality had fallen off dramatically. That is the reason I hadn't gone for a number of months prior to the shooting. Quattro's used to be our go-to special Italian for years before that. Now it is La Buca, mentioned above.

                  2. Thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions. Here's what I'm leaning towards:

                    Banana Leaf
                    Stella's Tap
                    Bistrot Bistro
                    The Eatery

                    Another question for all of you - how significant is Thanksgiving in Vancouver? In the US all restaurants would be closed, except for those doing overpriced Thanksgiving buffets for sad sacks. Will we have a hard time finding places to eat or stores/museums, etc. open?

                    Thanks again for all your help.


                    7 Replies
                    1. re: dlgoldie

                      I would personally pass on The Eatery if this will be your only visit to Vancouver for a while - more of a college crowd type of place - more atmosphere than food, if you know what I mean. To fill your sushi slot - Octopus' Garden serves up far better sushi.

                      Also, while I am a big fan of Stella's (it's my 'local') I would not consider its food exemplary by any stretch....though the quality and variety are well above typical pub food. If you are looking to drink Belgian beer, then Stella's is definitely the place to go. If you want a similar, but more elevated experience, I recommend Chambar - the food is much better there ( ...though I prefer the Moule Frites at Stella's)

                      Now saying all that...for a five night visit, my list would look like:
                      Boneta, Fuel or Aurora (West Coast)
                      Vij's (Modern Indian)
                      Octopus' Garden (sushi) or Guu with Garlic (izakaya) or Hapa in Kits (izakaya)
                      Kirin on Cambie or Alberni (Chinese)
                      Pied-a-Terre or Bistrot (French)

                      Thanksgiving is a big holiday here. I would say look for a Chinese restaurant that is open. Try Peaceful on Broadway and Cambie. I think many stores will be open, but the museums may be closed. Might be a good day to do an outdoorsy hike.

                      1. re: fmed

                        Thank you! Got any suggestions for a nearby hike?

                        1. re: dlgoldie

                          I would do the Chinese dinner on Thanksgiving as even the nice places may be open on holidays. Give Kirin a call and see if they are open that day.

                          If you follow fmed's list, remember to prepare for a potentially long wait at Vij's, unless you go before 5pm. Personally, I am not a fan of waiting and I would probably recommend replacing that night with a 2nd Japanese night so you can go to both Octopus Garden and one of the izakayas. It's more difficult to get vegetarian fare at the izakayas though... maybe someone on the board knows if the izakayas serve sustainably fished seafood.

                          How nearby are you hoping your hike will be, and how strenuous? There are lots of trails in the Endowment Lands of UBC. The ultimate "Vancouver" hike is the Grouse Grind... it's pretty strenuous (read: stairmaster for 1-1.5 hours) but the view on top is nice. Also (not a hike) you can walk along the Spanish Banks / Locarno / Jericho / Kitsilano beaches as they are all connected for a lovely view. Octopus Garden is located near Kitsilano beach.

                          1. re: twinkienic

                            I forgot about the sustainable seafood and vegetarian requirement, actually. It's tough to get sustainable sushi in town (anywhere in the world, actually). Blue Water Cafe (where you can get sustainable sushi), Fuel and Gastropod are Oceanwise. Here is the entire list of Oceanwise restaurants: http://www.vanaqua.org/oceanwise/part...

                            For Vegetarian: Saravanaa Bhavan for South Indian, Vij's or Vij's sister restaurant (usually without a lineup) Rangoli. I mentioned Vij's only because it is a "must eat" place for a tourist to Vancouver. There is a lot of well deserved hype around the restaurant and Vikram Vij's hospitality.

                        2. re: fmed

                          Could you elaborate on experiences at Pied a Terre and Bistrot?

                          1. re: waver

                            I've only been to P-a-T...I mereley re-purposed the Bistrot rec upthread.

                            I've been to P-a-T 3 times - twice on a business dinner and once for lunch. The mains I have tried (let's see if I can remember correctly) were the Steak (Onglet) Frites, Duck Breast aux Fruits, and the Lamb Cheeks. Standouts include the Alsatian Onion Pie, and the Foie Parfait. The food is solid and classic. The ambiance is very bistrot - small, noisy, busy. Their $30 prix fixe is an excellent deal (I had the Onglet Frites when I had it.)

                            1. re: fmed

                              Thanks for the response - sounds good/fun.