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Jul 12, 2009 12:28 PM

Looking for Vancouver hidden Gems

Weekly business traveller to Vancouver -- looking for hidden gems for my once a week == need to explore what cullinary gifts this town has to offer -- all your suggestions will be taken into advice.



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  1. Not a complete listing, but the gems along Kingsway are worth looking at:

    2 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      Let me add:
      Song Huong (Vietnamese)
      Tung Hing (Vietnamese - Banh Mi)
      Lime (Japanese - Sushi and Fusion...I was there just tonight actually).

      1. re: fmed

        LOL, we were just at Song Huong tonight, fmed, so needless to say I'll second that (and your other recs too).

    2. Ahh, that's the one this I miss the most of my home town. They've got everything you could want. And where you are staying....

      Sushi - Sushi Samurai, Minato, Tojo's, but pretty much any sushi joint (even more common than Starbucks) is good
      Thai - Thai House - any one is good
      Local stuff - Shambar, Cardero's, Monsoon, Bin 941, Bin 942
      To impress - Salt Lick, Cincin's
      Casual - Milestones, Cactus Club, Joey Tomatoes - chains but much better than what we see as chains here
      Hong Kong Style Cantonese - Hon's Wonton House - cheap, good, loud as the hawker's stands.
      Best coffee - JJ Bean

      The best chinese is in Richmond where you can't really go wrong anywhere but you need a car.

      Go to Granville Island for breakfast, weekend brunch.

      7 Replies
      1. re: mmmissv

        It's Chambar, not Shambar, and Monsoon is gone. I haven't been to Sushi Samurai but I wouldn't seek out Minato any more -- pretty bland now. In that price range, I'd maybe try Shiro on Cambie or Hiroshi's on Oak (but go early to the latter). Pied A Terre is a good bet on Cambie if you like straight up non-foofy French. Hawker's Delight on Main if you want cheap and cheerful Malaysian. Peaceful Noodle on Broadway for tasty noodles (duh!) and dumplings. I haven't heard of Salt Lick but there is kind of a pan on Cincin here on the boards just today...

        And mmmissv, you must know that citing a "best coffee" in Vancouver is fightin' words! JJ Bean is not bad, especially the one at Main and 14thish, but I prefer 49th Parallel flagship store, Elysian (2 locations), Wicked or Dolcetto, personally. Oh and anywhere that's serving Intelligentsia is worth a look too (Coco et Olive, new place on 4th and MacDonald called Momento to name but two).

        1. re: grayelf

          ah, points taken, it's been over 4 years since I moved away. 49th is new to me actually Cafe Artigiano is pretty good from when I was home last.

          1. re: mmmissv

            The Piccolos opened 49th Parallel after selling Cafe Artigiano. They still supply them with their beans.

          2. re: grayelf

            I second Peaceful Noodle on Broadway... esp for their beef roll... it was amazing...

            Long's Noodle house on Main St is good for their salty egg cripsy rice that fmed wrote about in this post... I really enjoyed it on my last trip to Van

            For xiaolongbao (XLB), I enjoyed Top Shanghai in Richmond on Ackroyd Rd.
            You've got to try the lemon and garlic chicken wings from Phnom Penh in Chinatown. I just can't get enough of it ever since I've been introduced to it earlier this year. Their butter beef dish is also very tasty.

            For sushi, I enjoy Ajisai in the Kerrisdale area because it is so fresh and really good quality. I also had a wonderful experience at Octopus Garden with their omakase. The most memorable piece of sushi I had at Octopus Garden was lobster, foie gras and mango sushi. I would say that Ajisai is for more casual dining (ie. a place I would go to frequently) and Octopus Garden is more for special occasions.

            On Main St, there's a caribbean restaurant called The Reef. Their johnny cakes are very tasty. The rest of the food was just ok... but I still crave their johnny cakes.

            1. re: miss.foodie

              Good call on Long's, miss.foodie -- I really need to get back there as it's been a while, and I haven't tried the crispy rice yet.

              Ajisai is my parents' "local" so a word of caution: it's really small and the lineups can be long -- going early is a good idea, or getting takeout. I love their avopara rolls (avocado and asparagus) and they have a nifty Japanese seafood salad. No deep fryer here so they use Japanese cornflakes to get the crunch in rolls etc.

              Another hidden gem is the Argo, which has recently started opening on Saturdays as well. Diner standards done well for low $$ but the real draw is the "gourmet" specials during the week. Tuna, shortribs etc for about a tenner.

            2. re: grayelf

              There is a SaltLik Steakhouse (I think an Alberta chain??) downtown on Alberni. Never been.

              1. re: fmed

                I don't know if I'd bother with the Saltlik. I've been to the one here in Calgary and it's nothing to write home about... it's basically an upscale version The Keg/Earl's. Nice decor... nothing all special with the food.

          3. Hi, please don't eat a Cin Cin. It is a tourist trap and a terrible waste of money. Here are some world class restaurants by cuisine:

            Italian: La Buca (4025 Macdonald). This small restaurant easily makes the best Italian food in Vancouver. Don't be fooled by the trendy places like Italian Kitchen or Il Giardino. Reservations are required but it is worth it.

            French: For bistro style, try La Régalade in West Vancouver, DB BIstro Moderne, Salade des Fruits, or Pied a Terre (La Buca's sister restaurant). For higher end, we have Lumiere, now run by Daniel Boulud and Market by Jean-Georges Vongerichten although the dishes are somewhat caribbean influenced which isn't a bad thing.

            Happa Izakaya for Japanese/Hawaiian fusion.

            Garlic Guu for Japanese tapas.

            Tojo's or Alpha for sushi.

            Moderne Burger for the juiciest classic burger around.

            4 Replies
            1. re: tiggerbrown

              I like your recs, tigger, nice first post :-). I've never seen anything Hawaiian on the Hapa menus, though I know there is a connection through the owners and I wouldn't classify Il Giardino as trendy though. But La Buca, oh yeah. I always forget about La Regalade in West Van too. And I second your Moderne Burger suggestion, but the OP should try to go early for dinner or late for lunch to avoid lineups.

              Another thought for the OP is to try one of the Zakkushis (Denman, 4th Ave, Main) for things on sticks.

              1. re: grayelf

                Thanks Grayelf. My understanding is that the Happa in the name is for the Hawaiian word for "half" or "mixed", which refers to the hint of Polynesian fusion in the otherwise traditional Japanese tapas. I may be mistaken.

                You are definitely right when commenting that Il Giardino is not trendy!!! I should have written over-rated instead! Just my opinion though.

                1. re: tiggerbrown

                  Veering off topic, with an answer courtesy of Jamie Maw in VanMag when the first Hapa opened:

                  “Hapa Izakaya (literally “Leaf Bistro,” although Hapa is also a common Hawaiian adjective meaning bi-racial – in this case, half-Japanese and half-Canadian) opened in late January."

                  Co-owner Justin Ault is the person in question, I gather.

                  We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming...

              2. re: tiggerbrown

                I absolutely agree about Cin Cin. Why it's so popular and receives such high marks with reviewers is beyond me.

              3. I found Gerard's at Sutton Place hotel to be lovely..very country club atmosphere with the walnut paneling and big leather chairs and the roaring makes a great cocktail and the food was outstanding..
                Living next door to a major movie star and being around them in So. Cal, I must confess that I have never seen so many stars in my life in one place then Gerard's..not that means anything but felt the level of service..along with the food and drink were, no one was asking for any autographs!
                I like having breakfast at the Fairmont downtown.
                Cafe Artigiano for lattes were outstanding and we really enjoyed Vij's...don't think that is a hidden gem but thought I would throw that out there.