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Jan 21, 2009 01:45 PM

Budget-Friendly Chowing in Vancouver

Hi, native Torontonian working in Alberta here. Planning on going to Vancouver for a few days and was wondering if you had any recs for budget-friendly chowing in the city. I'm especially looking for things that you can't find over there, such as a good Izakaya or good Ramen, seafood, etc. Also interested in Chinese recs for dim sum or a casual meal, breakfast places, diners, dives, etc. Finally, I'm also interested in going to a good mid-priced casual restaurant with good food... any style's good for me.

Looking forward to hearing your opinions.

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    1. For DimSum, this is my fave restaurant. Rich Ocean. Before 12 most all dim sum is $2.99 as you can see by the link & menu here - there are more on the menu not even listed on this website...We find the quality equal to the pricey Kirin restaurant here for dim sum. This place is awesome & a true bargain!

      1. For Ramen - the corner of Denman and Robson has three very good ramen joints (any of them will be worthy stops)

        For izakaya the board faves are Guu/Guu with Garlic, Hapa, Kingyo and Zakkushi. You can do them all in one long (and drunken) evening.

        If you are willing to venture outside of the downtown core:
        Diner - the Argo (which is in an industrial area)
        Dive - Hawker's Delight
        Inexpensive Ethnic - Peaceful, Saravanaa Bhavan, Prayag Raj, Crystal Mall food court (access by Skytrain...Wang's for XLB, Huaxi Noodles for Sichuan noodles)
        Ethnic - Phnom Penh (Chinatown - one of my favorite places), Alvin Garden (Hunan, Burnaby - access by Skytrain)...Richmond (which is a whole other universe of Chinese food).

        For a good mid-priced casual (my definition: $17-25 mains) - Campagnolo, Fuel (a bit on the upper end of mid-priced), Chambar, Boneta.

        We can help you narrow it down a bit.

        10 Replies
        1. re: fmed

          Are the izakaya places within walking distance of each other? It sounds like a great idea to spend the time. Also, what sort of food does Hawker's Delight serve?

          1. re: Blueicus

            Yes they are...most of the izakaya are in a row on Robson St towards Denman. Here have a look at this map I collected:


            1. re: fmed

              The Robson/Denman izakaya crawl would be a fun and different thing for you, methinks and as fmed says are most definitely within walking distance. Apart from using fmed's great google map, you could search on Guu with Garlic, Hapa (the one on Robson), Zakkushi (the one on Denman), Kingyo or just izakaya in Vancouver. Here is a Chow izakaya story link that is still relevant.

              Main Street from about Broadway to 33rd has a plethora of inexpensive and good dining options: the new Wallflower (which I haven't tried yet but looks good), Slickity Jim's (I mention this place because it reminds me a bit of some old fave TO spots for brunch/lunch; be warned that lineups can be ludicrous and some have complained of consistency problems), Toshi for sushi (this one's for you, mawson :-); Toshi's is the best known perhaps of Vancouver's budget sushi places but once again egregious lines for fish that doesn't get universal raves except value-wise), Cascade Room (drinks), Locus (funky, try the pan-seared squid if they have it), Hawker's Delight (Malaysian/Singaporean uber value in plain Jane space), Nyala (African, great veggie buffet on Wednesday??), new outpost of Zakkushi (haven’t tried this one but the one on 4th is my top spot for Japanese food on sticks), Legendary Noodles (the best of this mini-chainlet by popular vote, get the pea shoots for sure), Splitz (solid burgers and onion rings, don't order the fries!), Sawasdee (standup Thai but TO does so well in that dept), Sun Sui Wah for seafood-centric dim sum (controversial on this board; I've had all good experiences there over many years but others haven't; they recently changed to a la carte from carts); Helen's Grill for old time greasy spoon brekky (individual juke boxes, Naugahyde booths, beehives), Long's Noodle (watch what other people are ordering and ask for what looks good), Au Petit Cafe (celebrated bahn mi spot but go early as they sell out) -- a bunch more I've missed...

              For a fun and casual but elegant dinner/drink and snack, you might check out Cobre in Gastown -- pan Latin, interesting tacos. It is tapas-ish so you could modulate your ordering to keep things reasonable.

              For mid-priced Italian, Campagnolo (new and a real contendah) as mentioned, or La Buca (my favourite) and La Quercia (need to go again) if you are up for traveling out of the downtown core a bit. Note that reservations at the last two are a must.

              One word of caution for a Torontonian: brunch in Vancouver is not the same as in TO. The places that get a lot of mention tend to have unwieldy lineups after 9:30 for food that IMO is often less than stellar. I miss the brunch scene in your home city! Having said that, Cafe Medina is a board fave for interesting eggy dishes and Belgian waffles at a bit splurgy prices. The full Irish at the Irish Heather could keep you going all day for around a tenner. If you're feeling crepe-y check out La Bretagne in the West End. Argo works for diner brekky but I think really shines at lunch specials (do a search and you will see what I mean). Speaking of lunch, what could be better than a grilled catfish sandwich, crisp fries and a sleeve of Strongbow unless you are Foodfirst ;-) at Darby's if you're in my hood, Kitsilano. I love that sandwich...

              I have Toronto to thank for discovering the one-bowl Vietnamese wonder that is bun -- it was all still high-end French fusiony stuff in Vancouver back then. If you like that sort of thing there are endless options on Kingsway which are definitely budget. You don't mention if you will have wheels, so do be aware it is a bit of a hike from downtown. I've added Cuu Long just to give you an idea of location but there are quite literally dozens more.

              Hope this long post is useful -- as fmed said we can help you narrow things down if you give us a bit more info on what you like.

              La Buca Restaurant
              4025 MacDonald St, Vancouver, BC V6L2N8, CA

              Cobre Restaurants
              52 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1E7, CA

              Nyala African/Ethiopian Cuisine
              4148 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3P7, CA

              Sawasdee Thai Restaurant
              4250 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3P9, CA

              Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant
              3888 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3N9, CA

              Legendary Noodle
              4191 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3P6, CA

              Splitz Grill Main Street Ltd
              4242 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3P9, CA

              La Bretagne The Original Creperie Ltd
              795 Jervis St, Vancouver, BC V6E2B1, CA

              Cuulong Restaurant
              3911 Knight St, Vancouver, BC V5N3L8, CA

              Kitanoya Guu with Garlic
              1698 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G1C7, CA

              871 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L9, CA

              Zakkushi Japanese Restaurant
              823 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L7, CA

              Hapa Izakaya
              1479 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G1C1, CA

              Argo Cafe
              1836 Ontario St, Vancouver, BC V5T2W6, CA

              Cascade Room
              2616 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T3E6, CA

              Hawkers Delight Deli
              4127 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3P6, CA

              Long's Noodle House
              4853 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3R9, CA

              Au Petite Cafe (2005) Ltd
              4851 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3R9, CA

              4121 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3P6, CA

              Zakkushi On Main
              4075 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V, CA

              2420 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T, CA

              Slickity Jim's Chat & Chew
              2513 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T3E5, CA

              Toshi Sushi
              181E 16th Ave E, Vancouver, BC V5T4R2, CA

              Helen's Grill
              4102 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3P7, CA

              1020 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A, CA

              La Quercia
              3689 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6R1P2, CA

              Medina Cafe
              556 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B2L3, CA

              Irish Heather
              7 Gaoler's Mews, Vancouver, BC V6B4K7, CA

              1. re: grayelf

                Holy crap. That's a great summary of a lot of budget chow in Vancouver! Good work grayelf!

                1. re: peter.v

                  Thanks peter -- I guess I did get on a bit of a roll there. I find posts that are geographically centred within a city so useful, even if it is my own city. Sometimes it's nice just to amble along say Main and deak into a dozen places to taste and look.

                  I think most of the places are relatively budget friendly though you could certainly do some damage at say the Italian places I included. I'm sure the OP will do his due diligence in checking out menus though :-).

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Wow, thanks for that list! It looks amazing! We are planning a trip to the area this weekend, and this list will be very handy. Do you happen to have one for the Richmond area too?

                    1. re: doramicat

                      Here's mine (Budget Chowing):

                      Chen's Shanghai Kitchen
                      Fish and Chips at Pajo's or Dave's in Steveston
                      Richmond Public Market Food Court
                      Aberdeen Center Food Court
                      Golden Spring Szechuan
                      Master Hung BBQ
                      HK BBQ Master
                      HKYK Hotpot
                      A whole slew of HK Cafes
                      (Drive down Alexandra Rd for a good selection of cheap eats - it is called "Eat Street" by the locals).

                      If you are looking for just general recommendations, perhaps start a new thread and we will be happy to oblige.

                      1. re: fmed

                        Deferring to fmed on Richmond...

                        1. re: fmed

                          Hi! Sorry for the late reply, but thank you again for the Richmond list. Chen's Shanghai Kitchen was great! Plus we had some great bubble drinks at the Aberdeen food court. My Aunt also recommended Michigan Noodle and Congee house, which was fantastic - especially the beef tendon and dumpling noodle soup, and the salt/pepper chicken knees. So delicious! We went twice!

            2. My fave budget place in Vancouver is Nuba: Right downtown, cheap, and delicious Lebanese food, but not the typical stuff you might find elsewhere. And I'm with the others on Toshi Sushi, but be prepared to line up.

              2 Replies
              1. re: food_alice

                I read somewhere that the Hastings Nuba is moving... anybody know if that is the case?

                1. re: grayelf

                  Yup they've finished the move to a bigger location across the street. Pictures can be found on ... looks like a really nice space.