Visiting Vancouver Next Week - - Appreciate Assistance with Itinerary
My husband and I arrive in Vancouver on Saturday, and will be there for four nights. I'd greatly appreciate your help with our schedule.
SATURDAY EVENING - - Sushi. We would like really fresh fish. Traditional sushi is preferred to more modern dishes. We'd prefer not to spend a ton of money (around $100 for two before booze). Octopus's Garden and Lime both sound nice. If you have a preference or a different recommendation, they'd be appreciated. I figure we'll be hungry super-early (we'll be on Chicago time and will have gotten up super-early to catch our 8am flight) and so won't make a reservation, hoping to have no problem getting two seats at 6pm. If you think we need a res on a Saturday for these sushi spots, please advise.
SUNDAY - - Breakfast at Medina, lunch at Japadog, and an Izakaya crawl for dinner.
MONDAY - - Breakfast in hotel (have restaurant credit), lunch at Kirin downtown, and dinner at Fuel.
TUESDAY - - Granville Island (coffee at JJ Bean, lunch at Go Fish, etc.), Dinner at Vij's.
WEDNESDAY - - Sun Sui Wah for dim sum in Richmond on drive south back to Washington State.
If you think any of these options are mistakes or think we should shuffle meals to different days, your advice would be appreciated. For example, for Chinese downtown Monday, should we go somewhere else? And for Chinese in Richmond on Wednesday, are there better options? Is Fuel not the best example of high-end local cuisine?
Thanks so much in advance!
All your choices sound great! Re best local high end, there is also Bishop's if you want a more "conservative" meal -- by that I mean every dish will be cooked perfectly, presented beautifully and satisfy you but perhaps won't change your world view. Fuel in my experience takes a few more chances which can lead to sublime dishes but has an element of risk -- that is why I think you see people reporting various levels of happiness with Fuel. My best meal ever was there in July so I'm clearly a fan, but I have had the odd miss there too, which is less of a problem if you're doing a multi-course meal.
My only advice would be on the sushi front. Blue Water and OG are my favourite high end sushi places in town. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I would have put only Blue Water in that category, but OG has blown me away, so they're now tied for first. I'd definitely recommend sticking to one of those two, although I'd lean towards OG only because Yaletown (where BW is located) is a total scene on weekends. And although you'll be dining early, you may not feel like dealing with the total ordeal that is Yaletown on a weekend. If you do decide to do BW, then curl up at the raw bar (still worth calling ahead). OG is a much cozier spot, IMO, and would be the perfect nook to tuck into if you're hungry, tired, in need of amazing sushi, and a quick cab ride home. Also, wouldn't hurt to make a reservation if you'd like to sit at the bar. You won't have a problem, but it never hurts.
Hope you enjoy your stay and let us know how it all goes. Btw, I'll be in Chicago from Oct 9-14 and can't wait!
re: sf toronto
Thanks so much for the great advice so far. Really appreciated. I've been looking forward to this first trip to Vancouver.
sf toronto, for Chicago recs, recommend you check out LTHforum dot com, and if you have questions, PM me (I post there as REB). And, if you want to meet some locals, you can pick a restaurant and time and invite folks to join you - - happens all the time. Favorite Chicago area restaurants right now are probably Mado, Avec, and Vie. Don't know from your screen name and the fact that you're posting on the Vancouver forum where you're located, but can also recommend stellar Mexican and a bunch of other spots.
Your itinerary is very pretty. I like it.
Sushi - While Blue Water is an excellent restaurant, but it will be hard to get out of there for under $100 for two.
Wow - you have set a fantastic itinerary for your trip. Have a great time, and be sure to let us know how it all goes.
Thanks again for the great advice. I'll be sure to report back. Here's one more question, if you don't mind . . .
If we get burnt out on upscale food and decide we'd like a more casual dinner (under $20/person), where should we go? We like all kinds of ethnic food, great bar food, and hole-in-the-wall spots. Probably don't want Mexican, Middle Eastern, or Thai, as they're all pretty great here in Chicago. Also, we have Chinese covered with two lunches in Vancouver, so we don't need more Chinese. Any tips? Where's the one can't-miss cheap eats dinner spot? We will have a car and are willing to travel a bit.
(For example, in Chicago, I could send you for amazing pizza, regional Mexican cemitas sandwiches, or shwarama on creamy hummos with $.25 falafel balls. All three would feed two people for $20-30.)
There's a lot of options in that price range. How's the Vietnamese in Chicago? Since you have a car, all of Kingsway is your oyster here. Banh mi, bun, fried chicken, pho... we could post specific recs if any of that appeals...
The Argo is a nifty place that offers classic diner food (good) but has the distinction of a trained chef who puts daily specials on the menu at low prices -- seared tuna, short ribs, stuff like that for around a tenner. Fun if you want to hit a local favourite.
Moderne for burgers -- always a controversial topic but still my favourite and not so crowded for lunch on a weekday (we nip down occasionally from work and don't have to wait).
Galley Patio and Grill for decent food (try the bison burger) but especially for the Vancouverness of the experience. Brilliant seaside view at a casual sailing club. Only an option if the day is fine -- you need to sit on the patio. Waterfront at Jericho Sailing Centre 1300 Discovery 222-1331
If you're nearby and hungry, Nuba on Davie and Seymour specifically for falafel with avocado or deep fried cauliflower for a spin on Middle Eastern even though you said not needed :-). These two items are the standouts for me and this HITW is clean and has a few wee tables.
Coco et Olive for grilled sandwiches, savoury tartes (quiches), croissant bread pudding and Intelligentsia cafe au lait -- this place makes everything fresh daily onsite including the bread. Very French but no attitude.
Finch's for sandwiches downtown; also Scuie (pizza too) and Social at Le Magasin (try their housemade potato chips if they still have them)
Saravaan Bhavan is an international chain but their South Indian style buffet lunch is a steal and good quality (veg only) with fresh items coming out to your table at regular intervals.
I don't know if you are dessert people but if so check out Sweet Obsession on 16th at MacDonald. Get anything with crunchy meringue in it.
If you are looking for a good neighbourhood to walk around in that has lots of inexpensive food options, here's an excerpt from a Jan 2009 reply I posted (edited to reflect changes since):
Main Street from about Broadway to 33rd has a plethora of inexpensive and good dining options: 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??), Legendary Noodles (the best of this mini-chainlet by popular vote, get the pea shoots for sure), Zipang for interesting rolls, decent tako and ebiyaki but avoid the "ordinary items" like gyoza, Sawasdee (standup Thai, much bigger portions under new ownership, same chef, avoid the pad thai), 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 no longer have carts); Helen's Grill for old time greasy spoon brekky (individual juke boxes, Naugahyde booths, beehives), newish outpost of Zakkushi, 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...
That's a start, and I'm sure others will chime in with many more options. Feel free to narrow things down a bit and repost.
thanks for the heads up on Chicago eats! I'm definitely going to try Avec as I've heard so many great things. I've got a list going at the moment, but I'll certainly check in with you later. I dream of Bongo Room pancakes.
As for the cheap eats in Vancouver, where do you like to hang out in Chicago? Are you Bucktown/Wicker Park folks? If so, I would emphasize exploring Main Street (see grayelf's post) and Commercial Drive. I'm not saying they're anything like either of the two Chicago neighbourhoods that I mentioned, but they are really great for wandering, and snacking. Hitting those neighbourhoods will give you a mix of great people watching, atmosphere, and also food.
One of my all-time favourite cheap comfort food spots is Rinconcito Salvadoreno on Commercial Drive. Everything (including the pupusas for $2.50) are made fresh, with mom in the back, and pop serving up front. It's tiny, cheap, and licensed...always a good combo, IMO.
Also on the Drive is a little Italian deli counter/cheese shop called La Grotta del Formaggio. You can walk in, buy a made-to-order sandwich, grab a coffee and walk over a couple of blocks to Brittannia park and watch the bike polo players get roughed up on the courts on a weekend, or just have an impromptu picnic.
Japadog is a favourite spot to hit in terms of street food, and last time I checked, there isn't anything like it in Chicago. The carts are spattered throughout downtown (a couple on Burrard) and you can get everything from okra and nori on those dogs.
Will you be exploring Granville Island at all?
Also, some of the best dives in Vancouver are live music venues/watering holes. Not all have food, but some do... Let me know if you are looking for a great dive bar with food; or great food at a bar? ;)
re: sf toronto
Thanks for all the great tips. Awesome, really.
Granville Island and Japadog are already on the list. I appreciate all the suggestions, which should allow us that night to pick a spot based on what we're feeling like.
I would appreciate a Vietnamese suggestion or two. My favorite common Vietnamese dishes are fried spring rolls and grilled pork. My favorite less common dishes are bun cha hanoi and a clam appetizer served with shrimp chips (aka clam nachos). If there's a place you think I might like given these favorites, that'd be great.
Yes, sf toronto, we do hang out in Bucktown/Wicker Park quite a bit, more because it's close to home than because it has the best food. For cheap eats in Chicago, I frequent Salam for Middle Eastern, Brown Sack for shrimp-avocado BLTs and shakes, Spring World for $4 Chinese lunches, TAC Quick for amazing authentic Thai, Johnnie's for Italian Beef, Cross Rhodes for great Greek fries, Guanajuato #3 for a carne asada burrito, etc. And, again, please feel free to consult me for tips as your trip approaches. I, too, like the Bongo Room, but don't go often because of the lines. If you get to the Bongo Room on a Sunday and lines are long, consider the nearby Bristol for a great brunch.
Alas I have not been able to find bun cha hanoi that is worth the effort here in town. (I have only seen and had it once here at an unremarkable Vietnamese joint on Fraser St). I have not seen Hen Xuc Banh Da (Clam Nachos) since one of the Hue restaurants called Co Do on Kingsway closed down.
You can get good grilled items at Cuu Long on Kingsway and Knight....Kingsway is the center of Vietnamese food in Vancouver with a couple of dozen Vietnamese food-establishments along a short drag along that road.
fmed, someone needs to open a bun cha hanoi restaurant somewhere closer than Hanoi. It doesn't exist in Chicago and I've found only slightly ok versions in Northern Virginia. EVERYONE I've met who's been to Hanoi longs for that dish. I only tried it once, but wow was it memorable. And, I can't complain about the giant crab spring rolls that were served alongside, either.
When I visit a city with a significant Vietnamese population, I try to find bun cha hanoi.
Hen Xuc Banh Da (thanks for reminding me of the Vietnamese name), on the other hand, can be found in Northern Virginia. Pretty tasty, too.
Thanks for the Cuu Long rec!
I think there are better choices than Sun Sui Wah in Richmond.
Red Star, 8298 Granville, Vancouver - actually not in Richmond but on the way from downtown to the border. Opens at 10A, excellant shrimp dumplings, shrimp balls, rice noodle rolls, bean curd wrapped shrimp , etc.
Gingeri , #323 Lansdown Centre, 5300 No 3 Rd, Richmond - go to the back of the shopping center away from No 3 to get to the closest entrance - very good Hong Kong style dimsum
Jade Seafood, 8511 Alexandra Rd, Richmone - big parking lot, great dim sum
Shiang Garden, Unit 2200 Empire Centrer, 4340 No 3 Rd,(actually on Hazelbridge),
Great dim sum, very elegant room
Or if you want to try non-Hong Kong style, my favorite is:
Shanghai River, #1100 7831 Westminister Hwy, Richmond - great XLB, fried wontons with shrimp, potstickers, sugar cakes, etc.
Have a great trip and enjoy Vancouver and all the great food there.
Thanks, Iona. Great tips. Too bad we are driving all the way to southern Puget Sound, because I'd be really tempted to go to more than one of these.
Do you think that given that we'll probably eat at Kirin downtown earlier in the week we should pick Shanghai River because it will be different? I am a huge fan of XLB.