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Apr 20, 2010 10:39 AM

Returning visitors to Vancouver - need updates and recommendations

My wife and I are regular Vancouver visitors from Calgary, but we haven't been able to make it out there for about 2 years now. We're coming out for a week in May and need some updates on which restaurants have fallen from their graces as well as some recommendations on new places to try... I'm sure a lot has changed.

Here's some of our past favorites:
-Stepho's (probably not the best greek restaurant, but a Kleftico entree in Calgary costs about $25 and is nowhere near as flavorful or filling)
-Crystal Mall food court (for XLB)

Other random things we like:
-Caffe Artigiano
-JJ Bean
-Granville island (for a picnic)
-Aberdeen food court
-Mondo Gelato

And our hit list for this trip:
-Alvin Garden

We want to know the best of every cuisine there is, white linen or hole in the wall... we're renting a car and will drive across the entire city for a great meal. Bonus points for things we can't get in Calgary (like decent XLB or ramen).

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  1. Hey Strider, welcome back to these parts. It looks like you are down with Asian food courts. There is a small one called President's Plaza that is worth a look for a jiao zi place and (especially) for one other booth. It is behind the T&T on 3 Road in Richmond, easy to get to by skytrain. The jiaozi booth looks like it only sells frozen but will cook 'em up for you, really thin carapace with tasty insides -- I liked the beef most. The other place is on your right when you come up the escalator. I'm thinking you could order anything there and be happy but perhaps Dylan or fmed will chime in with better info. This is a TINY food court so you will have no trouble finding these booths. And there is free parking (you have to go "through" the Radisson Hotel and turn right to the garage -- two hours free on the second floor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      The place just to the right of the escalator is called "O'Tray" in English, but "Tianjin Flavours" in Chinese. Order the Pork in Baked Buns ("roujiamo"), the cold Noodles (in bean sauce) and the Silky Tofu (savoury)...great stuff. The menu is all Chinese, but the proprietors are fairly fluent in English so no problem communicating. We talked a bit about it in the "Art of Roujiamo" thread:

      1. re: fmed

        Thanks, fmed, I've captured that info for my own files too. I remembered it was O' something (definitely NOT Irish!)

    2. For Italian try La Quercia on west 4th. Fantastic and reasonably priced. Book now for May though.

      1. -Guu - try toratatsu on denman

        -Kintaro - try santouka ramen

        -Stepho's (probably not the best greek restaurant, but a Kleftico entree in Calgary costs about $25 and is nowhere near as flavorful or filling) - try my greek in coquitlam

        -Crystal Mall food court (for XLB) - wang is still best value

        -JangMoJib - not a fan of jangmojib higher end try Sura (deepfriedfish+sweetsauce and beef stew with chestnuts) or value there are so many other choices including Ma Dang Goul

        Other random things we like:
        -Aberdeen food court as mentioned president plaza for otray(authentic tianjin cuisine), also richmond public market

        And our hit list for this trip:
        -Alvin Garden get the chinese bacon dish and 5spice heart

        3 Replies
        1. re: betterthanbourdain

          I think Santouka is closed right now. Is that the new place next to Guu With Garlic? Something happened (fire? ventilation?).

          1. re: Tinfoilhat

            I think it was plumbing, actually, that shuttered Santouka. Should be open again shortly, I'm sure I read somewhere (clearly spending too much time online).

        2. I just read through the entire roujiamo thread, those look tasty... I'll add it to my list.

          Thanks for all the suggestions, keep them coming.
          What are the latest/greatest coffee houses these days? I've seen a few names when the BC and AB boards were still together, but I can't seem to recall any now.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Strider

            Not a coffee fiend but here's a couple to consider: Elysian (two locations, I go to the one near Burrard on 6th -- best Gibraltar in town, nice room, and good hot choc if there are non-caff peeps in your group), 49th Parallel (the coffee shop itself on 4th Ave or various places around town that serve up the beans), Bump'n'Grind and Prado on Commercial if you want to try some new cafes (there are a number of old school Italian coffee places here too) or for a Frencher (is that a word?) approach, sample the Intelligentsia at Coco et Olive on West Broadway -- grab a piece of their bread pudding made of croissants is they have it and a bol and you are away laughing on a fast camel.

          2. If you like Korean, I like Insadong in Coquitlam or Han Woo Ri in Burnaby (10 minutes away form Crystal Mall)

            Robson & Denman, where Kintaro is, has turned into Ramen corner. There's Benkei, Santouka & Motomachi Shokudo (organic ingredients so a bit more expensive).

            Still in the same area , there's Guu with Garlic (next to Santouka) my favourite, Kingyo (my second choice) and Zakkushi (BBQ meat on a stick); all very yummy.

            Out of curiosity, what type of food/cuisine can you not get in Calgary?

            Crystal Mall
            4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

            Motomachi Shokudo
            740 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G, CA

            838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

            871 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L9, CA

            2 Replies
            1. re: moyenchow

              I wouldn't say that we're missing representation from any ethnicity as a whole, but there's certainly regional specialties (like the afforementioned roujiamo) that I'm sure we're missing.

              There's also a wide variety of cuisines that are cheaper and much better in Vancouver likely due to more competition and dare I say a more cultured audience. For instance, a reasonably good thai curry dish costs between $14-$20 here... I've had much better in Vancouver for around $8. And any rendition of ramen or xiaolongbao that we can get here is just plain sad.

              1. re: Strider

                If memory serves - I left Calgary in 2006 and have only been back a couple times since - there's little to no Latin American fare, apart from the handful of Mexican places (Salt and Pepper, whatever that place on 17th Ave was called, etc). So you might want to check out some of those options in the GVRD. Not a great deal more options, but at least a few more.

                I'll leave it to the rest of the folks to post their faves, but lately I've been hitting the Taqueria on Hastings and Cambie alot downtown, if only because they're within stumbling distance of me.