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10 weeks with a per diem ... staying in Coal Harbour

I'm here on a project at the international headquarters of my company. They've put me up in a condo at Broughton and Pendar, with a small pile of money each day for food. $55 Canadian, I think ...

I'm a NYC chowhound, looking for some good dining experiences here in Vancouver. Whadaya recommend that I can walk to. Looking for rec's on Omakase, BC wine, hand pulled chinese noodles, and anything else that will complete my Vancouver epicurean education.

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  1. I'm envious. You'll eat pretty well.

    Have a glance at this thread for some ideas...then post back:
    and this http://chineserestaurantawards.com/in...

    Scroll back through the last number of threads. Just keep posting when you are finally here and we can help you out with specifics.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fmed

      that's a great collection of info. Haven't had time to sift through all of it, but will (I've got until the end of June) and will be back for more specifics.

    2. Done OK so far, I think. Though with these ridiculous wine prices my per diem doesn't travel as far as I'd like.

      Guu with Garlic: loved the energy of the place. Best dish for me, the Tako Wasabi.
      Benkei Ramen Noodle Shop (on Thurlow) for lunch ... I'm well on my way to completing the card for a free bowl.
      Coast: lunch, had the "his" fish and chips/chowder combo lunch ... New England Clam chowder was excellent, as were the fish and chips.
      Irashiai Izakaya: it's across the street from my building, and I found it pretty good, though it seems quite empty ... kind of out of the way, not much foot traffic
      Crime Lab: for a bowl of seafood chowder, Caesar drink specials, and a Cannuck game
      O'Douls for wine and jazz ... pretty good selection of BC wines and the staff is great
      Transcontinental Restaurant at Waterfront Station: lunch with my colleagues, company picked up the tab ... mehh, nothing special.
      Go Fish: had Green Curry coconut seafood chowder and a grilled marinated scallop with wasabi mayo and caramelized onions sandwich ... spectacular.
      Legendary Noodle (on Denman) had a great bowl of soup.
      Maenam for Thai, lunch.

      Headed to Hapa Izakaya tonight, and Samba (a Brazilian Churascuria on Alberni) on Friday ... suggestion of a friend, though the reviews I've read are mixed.

      Still want to do Omakase (Octopus Garden???) and more seafood.

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

      O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar
      1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, CA

      Legendary Noodle
      4540 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X2C2, CA

      Crime Lab Restaurant
      100 - 550 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC V6G 3H1, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: Marine Engineer

        Your best bet for Omakase in or near downtown is Octopus' Garden. More seafood - how about oysters at Rodney's or Joe Fortes.

        Or (thinking out of the box here...) - Spot Prawn season is virtually here. It officially starts on May 8th. Buy a couple of lbs of live prawns from somewhere (eg T&T Supermarket or even Granville Island - you can get them now at $12.99/lb and it will go down to about $8/lb in a couple of weeks). Buy some beer or wine, then boil the prawns for a mere couple of minutes and eat.

        (You can of course have Spots at restaurants - watch for specials on Twitter. The most bang for the buck can be had at Chinese restaurants.).

        Keep up the great reporting!

      2. Making progress.

        Hapa Izakaya was great. Very tempted to do Omakase there.
        Samba the Brazilian churrascuria ... I ate too much, but it was mehhh, nothing special. The dancing girls? OK, I like hot girls in bikinis with feather headress things, but ... this ain't Rio here we're talking about. Meat was fine, salad bar was mediocre ... grilled chicken hearts were the best of the meats.
        Papaya Hut after church on Sunday with some new friends ... local, cheap, spicy ... beef red curry and I was happy

        12B at an undisclosed location ... this was a great meal. 5 courses, I brought some BC wine which went well with the food, Chef Todd's place is very cool. Trying to convince him to take his show on the road to NYC ... see if it happens.

        Joe Forte ... just some reconnoitering ... sat at the bar, had some BC wines and mulled over the menu, will give it a whirl one of these days.
        This, compared to the wine room at Joey Bentall 1. Across the street from my office. 60 wines with some nitrogen contraption, hot waitresses and no soul, no authenticity, an no return business from me. Met a friend for lunch there, which was fine if unremarkable, and thought I'd give the wine room a try ... but not my type of place.

        Next of importance on the list is Chambar.

        And doing a poutine crawl this Saturday, I think the venue of choice is La Belle Patate.

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

        Papaya Hut Restaurant
        2435 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6J3J3, CA

        4 Replies
        1. re: Marine Engineer

          Did you weigh yourself before arrival?

          1. re: Tinfoilhat

            this is a concern. Especially since, though I have a kitchen, it's barely outfitted and I have no seasonings/etc. to cook with, so meals are either out or prepared foods [Urban Fare, et. al.]

          2. re: Marine Engineer

            "doing a poutine crawl this Saturday"

            May God have Mercy on your waistline!

            1. re: Sam Salmon

              Can't wait to hear about the poutine crawl! I stood across from La Belle Patate on Saturday with a bag full of pastries I had just purchased from Cho Pain and had to say no... one day I will get to BP but looking forward to living vicariously in the meantime.

              If you haven't, you might want to take a gander at this poutine in Vancouver thread which I started expecting one or two responses: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6231...

              now_me_hungry's adventure is impressive as you will see...

          3. I did a quick pass through Salt Tasting Room and Judas Goat, the best of BC with wine pairings at Salt, and the Sweetbreads at Judas Goat, with a glass of the Syrah. Both places are great, I like the menu at Judas Goat (and the mural) but the venue at Salt. And hate the uncomfortable chairs.

            Did lunch at Brioche, absolutely brilliant. Asparagus soup with goat cheese, Caesar salad, and the ham, mushroom and brie panini ... their combo thing. Didn't eat anything else for the rest of the day.

            Did a mini wine crawl ... started at Uva ... nice space, mostly Italian wines, their specialty cocktails looked good as I sat at the bar and watched them being built. A glass of wine at Whino's, I walked past it early Sunday morning, thought I'd give it a try, but it was a pub more than a wine place, guys drinking bottles of bud while watching the Cannucks. In and out with a glass of the Zinfandel. Next, and this is a place I'll come back to for dinner, was Twisted Fork. I really liked the space, warm wood, a sort of farm house motif. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable ... the prices were good. If I remember correctly, their entire wine list is BC wines ... had a glass and also had a Brutus, their take on the Caesar, with a pickled brussel sprout, dill, pretty good.

            This afternoon is the poutine crawl, maybe 7 or 8 of us to La Belle Petate for a mix and match poutine tasting, then drinks at Sylvia's?

            Twisted Fork
            1147 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z1M1, CA

            1. Poutine crawl was fine. I had the "extreme" poutine at La Belle Patate, my colleagues had various poutines, and all were satisfied. It's pretty filling, and makes you feel sluggish an hour later, but at the time ... yum!

              we moved on to Sylvia's bar, where I had the Sylvia's Caesar, not as spicy as some others I've had but a pretty good cocktail.

              Today, after church, I had a bite at ReFuel. Sat at the bar. Definitely sit at the bar, you can watch the whole kitchen function. I had the broccoli soup, a watercress/new potato salad, and the roast bone marrow. The bone marrow was amazing ... I'm still thinking about it.

              Not sure what I have planned this week ... next weekend I'm headed to Seattle for a party with some friends, so mid week ... maybe the Koon Bo chowdown if work cooperates.

              And Chambar at some point.

              My GF is coming in from NYC for Thurs-Sun 20-23 May ... suggestions ?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Marine Engineer

                How about some dim sum in Richmond? Take the Canada Line out to Aberdeen Station and have dim sum at Sea Harbour or Fisherman's Terrace (inside Aberdeen Mall).

                How about the famous Vij's for modern Indian? (It's controversial here on this board).

                PS - on Koon Bo - I'm locking down attendance Monday. I hope you can make it!

              2. Chambar last night, and the food was amazing. GF in for the weekend, we had reservations for 10pm, got there at 10.15pm and still had to wait a bit for a table. Love the space, waitstaff was perfect, but there was a party of 8 to our right that was LOUD and we had trouble whispering sweet nothings to each other ... no matter, once the food came the time for conversation was done.

                Earlier we had some wine at Brix, which I really liked. Can't vouch for the food but the wine list was fine. They had a Spain/Portugal flight (for which they subbed an Italian) and then I asked if they do a "New World Red" flight for me ... no problem. The bar was very conducive to conversation, and we really enjoyed our time there.

                Did Salt and Irish Heather Friday night ... I want to like Salt, and it's pretty good, but the reputation I think is slightly higher than the product. Thursday night we started at The Twisted Fork ... this place is great and deserves your business. We split two appetizers and some wine, the staff was so friendly and engaging, the venue is inviting, it was perfect.

                We then had supper at Guu with Garlic, which wasn't the romantic dinner my GF was looking for (my bad ... but fried chicken knee cartilage? that's not romantic???) And then to O'douls for a flight of wine and some jazz.

                Had lunch at Finch's (Pender and Homer) and that is a great place. The house salad with the blue brie and the pear ... and their soup bowl and soup spoon, the curve of each was perfectly matched so you could scoop the very last bit of soup out of the bowl ...

                Had lunch at Town Hall bar. The pan seared Halibut cheek sandwich was wonderful. Place was a bit pretentious, trying to be a scene without succeeding, at least at lunch. They had a girl standing outside with samples of their flatbread pizza ... either desperation for customers or a good way to dispense with a wrong order?

                Returned to Coast for lunch, their smoked seafood chowder is fantastic. And I had another quick bite at Crime Lab for soup, salad and Cannucks ... I've had two bowls of soup at Crime Lab and haven't found better in the city.

                Oh, to finish Saturday night, we returned to O'Douls, just after 11pm. I'm sort of a short term regular there, the staff know me ... Asked to consult with the wine director. Said, "few weeks ago, had a 2004 Burrowing Owl Syrah, really liked it, want something new, but something at that level ..." he said, "OK ... let's get down to it. What's your price point?" "$100 including tip" and he said, "I've just ordered you a bottle of wine. add another $2 to that to be kind to the staff." and we got a bottle of Sandhill Syrah, a perfect conclusion to the evening. We closed out the bar, the jazz finished and then we finished our wine. O'Douls is a fantastic place, with educated staff and great service.

                5 weeks to go.

                O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar
                1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, CA

                Brix Restaurant
                , Vancouver, BC V5Y, CA

                Crime Lab Restaurant
                100 - 550 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC V6G 3H1, CA

                Twisted Fork
                1147 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z1M1, CA

                7 Replies
                1. re: Marine Engineer

                  I always recommend Twisted Fork, I like it too! The chowder was very good at Coast and I have a soft spot for O'Doul's too. When I was a teenager, my dad's gf at the time used to take me there for lunch and they used to have seating on the sidewalk and I still remember the breadsticks they served... felt like fine dining at that time. Good to hear about Town Hall too, it is relatively new. Thanks and glad you're still enjoying!

                  Twisted Fork
                  1147 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z1M1, CA

                  1. re: Marine Engineer

                    hey ME,
                    half way through your trip. thanks so much for reporting back.

                    what is your opinion of BC wine in general. did you manage to find a couple of wine to your liking? wines sold will be more expensive with the HST soon.

                    does O'Doul still have live music playing, piano bar?

                    O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar
                    1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, CA

                    1. re: betterthanbourdain

                      I've had a few BC wines that I thought were extraordinary (specifically the two bottles recommended by the wine director at O'Douls, plus some others by the glass here and there) but in general, at the same price point, you'll do better with almost any other region (except NY State Fingerlakes and the Niagara Reds). Australia, Spain, Argentina, with the BC taxes, I think are all better values than the local stuff. I'm only talking about reds here, I don't prefer whites, and I understand that BC whites are much better than the reds.

                      O'Douls has live music every night, from 9pm to midnite. Mon-Wed is just piano, but Thurs-Sun is usually a trio. Wish they would start the music at 7pm, but I don't think there's enough of a jazz culture here to support two musicians per night, and not enough local talent to support a late night jam session ... maybe one night a week they could do something like that. Lots of NYC jazz places have live music early then Jam sessions until 2AM, and the jams are usually just as good, if not better, than the scheduled artists.

                      Haven't been to any other jazz venues yet, want to get out to the Jazz Cellar but keep deferring. Was walking past some place on Davie Saturday night, around 8.45, north side of the street, somewhere around Burrard, and heard and saw some live musicians, but don't remember the name of the place; we were headed to Brix, and I made a mental note but lost it somewhere later in the evening. Any ideas who does live Jazz Saturday nights on Davie? A tapas place, maybe??

                      O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar
                      1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, CA

                      Brix Restaurant
                      , Vancouver, BC V5Y, CA

                      1. re: Marine Engineer

                        Bin is the tapas on davie and burrard but doubt they have space to have live jazz. i think lickerish is half a block on davie.

                        other options:
                        bacchus @ wedgewood piano bar

                        the central(denman)

                        i think ur right about BC wines in general. whites are better than the reds. i am always looking to learn more about wines. i cant think of any BC reds to recommend.

                        Vancouver does have world class caliber musicians. but not as many as a major city period. live music sadly is not well supported by the locals on a regular basis. and certainly not in the paying variety. so many musicians are under employed. imho, the talent is there but not recognized. certainly the closest to regular jam session would be at the Yale which is certainly more blues orientated. there are some great jam sessions when the jazz fest is in town. but never at a licensed venue.

                        1. re: betterthanbourdain

                          There are a couple of Jazz venues on Commercial Dr - The Libra Room - food is middling, but the house band is pretty good...they also have other performers. It is a small room with the the stage at the front of the restaurant. http://www.libraroom.com/the_music/de...

                          Lime (sushi) also has music - sometimes Jazz, mostly indie-acoustic. http://www.limerestaurant.ca/Music/in...

                    2. re: Marine Engineer

                      >>"and their soup bowl and soup spoon, the curve of each was perfectly matched so you could scoop the very last bit of soup out of the bowl ..."

                      Only an engineer would have picked up on that little detail. :-)

                      Thanks for the great reports ME. I have been to a previous incarnation of Crime Lab which was on the triangle on Pender at Jervis(?). The food back then was merely passable. Glad to see they seem to have improved. I haven't been to O'Douls in a very long time either.

                      1. re: fmed

                        I think it was where Pender and Georgia merge. I can only vouch for their soups and salads. I saw lots of plates coming out of the kitchen piled high with fries and burgers, looking just like an Applebees or TGIF's ... so I wouldn't plan on an epicurean feast there ... but their soup is top shelf, and after a vigorous walk through Stanley Park, to just appear like that right at the edge of the park ... it's a temptation worth submitting to.

                        The drink specials are a good value too, otherwise the wine list is marginal, nothing special.

                    3. BC wines you can look for: Fairview Cellars - bad label awesome reds, Stoneboat - good pinotage, Quail's Gate for foch, Cedar Creek does some decent reds, Mt Boucherie the Summit (bord blend),
                      Have you gone into a VQA store yet? There is one in Yaletown - Taylorwood Wines
                      VQA stores are BC wine only, they often have free tasting on the weekends too.

                      Cedar Creek Cafe
                      5709 6 Highwa, Winlaw, BC V0G, CA

                      1. Been awhile since I updated this thread. 10 weeks is now 12+ ... got extended a bit.

                        Tonight was Persian Immersion at Shalizar, West Vancouver. Meal was fine, conversation was great, thanks Vancouver Chowdown. But the meal ... started out really well, with the eggplant with garlic, and the yogurt with shallots as appetizers. The kebabs ... OK, not great. Everything was well done. I could see the potential in the cuisine, but Shalizar just wasn't there.

                        Last week was supper at Vij's with the Vancouver contingent of Cookstalk, formally of the forum from Fine Cooking magazine before they screwed it up and we regrouped at Delphi forums as CooksTalkClassic. Great meal. Everything was wonderful, Vikram was most gracious in making us feel welcome. I had the Punjabi heart attack and the Lamb popsicles, but we all mixed and matched ... goat curry ... jackfruit ... plenty of naan and rice ... all good all around. And thank God for freelance friends who can stand in line at 1630 with a good book and some patience, to get in at the first seating.

                        Last Friday had a corporate "team building" adventure with some speed boats at Horseshoe Bay and then a meal at The Boathouse. It was like meeting the inlaws ... and the inlaws don't like you. And the food ... they tried to be elegant, but the salmon tasted as if it had been cooked at 10am, then nuked, and nuked too long. Must have cost the shareholders dearly. Just because I didn't pay out of pocket doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

                        Szechuan Chongqing Seafood ... on Broadway by Pine ... dim sum, but by myself, couldn't taste very much but pretty good.

                        Had Dim Sum, another corporate lunch, don't even know the name of the place, it's downstairs at some center just south of the Burrard Skytrain station, on Melville, between Burrard and Thurlow. Mediocre at best.

                        Some more good wine at O'Douls, the wine director there is great. Very friendly, engaging, passionate about his job. Jazzfest coming up, and the jam session at O'Douls.

                        A lunch at Salam Bombay, Burrard and Georgia? Fine. Too much food. Nothing special, but satisfying.

                        I'm up to nine bowls at Benkei (Thurlow), my card is almost full.

                        Otherwise, not too much. Spent a lot of money when my GF was here, so trying to recover a bit ... lots of salads from Urban Fare.

                        Next week is Omakase at Octopus Garden, and Fmed says he's going to arrange a Chowdown in Richmond, something like a hot pot extravaganza.

                        Szechuan Chongqing Seafood Restaurant
                        1668W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6J1X6, CA

                        Vij's Restaurant
                        1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA

                        O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar
                        1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, CA

                        Shalizar Restaurant
                        1863 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC V7V1J7, CA

                        Salam Bombay Restaurant
                        755 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z1X6, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Marine Engineer

                          Nice meal at Shalizar - not destination quality - just competently prepared food. The Lamb was good and as was the beef kebab. The appetizers were the best part of the meal - I wouldn't mind working through that list (all vege friendly, I might add).

                          The dried cherries and rice was also good - too sweet on its own, but worked very well with the grilled meats.

                          They also had a concise winelist and we found a nice robust red that went well with the food (Gnarly Head Cab).

                        2. 10 weeks turned into 12. Almost done.

                          Did Omakase at Octopus Garden. There were 4 of us, 2 did the $60 price point, while I and another did the $100. It was good, we had a great meal. Go for the New Zealand Sauvigion Blanc. But I did a $100 omakase at Sushi Azabu in NYC, same price point but way better.

                          Did a VanChowdown at Nine Dishes, that was before I hit up Salizar at the Persian Immersion. That was a great meal. Go with a bunch of people and have an epicurean blast. The water boiled fish? was that what it was called? it was amazing. It was like Elijah and the widow with the oil, the fish seemed to never end.

                          During Jazzfest, I hit O'Douls frequently. Drank a lot of good wine. The staff there is great, the food is pretty good too. They totally took care of me.

                          Canada Day was spent with a friend at Tapastree. We had a spectacular bottle of wine. Daniel was our server (we sat at the bar) and we told him, "We want a great food experience ... what can you do for us?" Daniel ordered all the food (gave him a budget of $100 for food for two) and it was amazing ... they do this thing with crostini overlaid with prosciutto, then smothered with buffalo mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and salt/pepper. Everything was great, the service was great ... the bottle of wine was empty but the food wasn't done ... I suggested something like port/sherry/Madeira and Daniel gave us something ... it was great, appropriate with the desert cheese platter, and didn't show up on our bill.

                          Hons Chinese on Robson for a lunch ... nothing special but quite OK, good value. Santouka ramen on Robson ... very good. Cash only.

                          Some Chowdowns. Terracotta (52 Alexander Street). We had the downstairs to ourselves ... Wednesday evening. Said, $30/person for food (6 of us) and just "gimme what you got" and it was fine ... nothing special. I suspect a year from now they'll be out of business. Trying to be a Modern Chinese Nightclub, they don't excel at either.

                          Got there early to Terracotta, took a walk around the block. Judas Goat was packed, Salt ... crickets ... they have to innovate or they'll fail. My suggestion: add a fourth column to the chalkboard -- cheese, meats, condiments, and BREAD. Yes, find someone who can make a variety of kick ass breads, and let people choose the "german sourdough rye" or the "leinsamenbrot" or whatever ... see www,thefreshloaf.com for inspiration. Vancouvers bread is fair, not great, and Sean Heather could lead the way to a yeast revolution. He seems to get good press, but the actual product doesn't live up to the hype.

                          Went to Nook, and had a great experience. Sat at the bar, my server was Chris. He opened some bottles of wine that aren't by the glass, and served me by the glass. And for a reasonable price. Nook and Tapastree want people to have a good experience, not just squeeze them for every dime.

                          Had a burger at Whitespot with a friend. It was pretty good. Never would have went there on my own, but it was his suggestion, and ... comfort food is comfort food for a reason.

                          Friday night was another Chowdown at PinPin, Filipino food. It was great. Ethnic food. Good value. Little kids running around the tiny restaurant. In NYC, it would be a brilliant outerborough experience.

                          Saturday morning was Dim Sum at Jade, in Richmond. Very good. Thanks fmed for arranging things. Had a blast. Food was great.

                          Tonight was Bin 941. Started with the Navajo bread and hummus ... mehh, not great. The blue corn meal calamari wasn't great either. The duck breast with fingerling potatoes, that was delicious though very rich. Gotta go to that place with a few people. I sat at the bar, talked with the girl about wines, basically gave her carte blanche to order wine for me, but she was hesitant. If you're a tapas place with a wine list, you should take a customer like me, who's willing to pay whatever, and just give me a good experience. She was too timid to just take the reigns, unlike Tapastree or Nook or O'Douls. The place was fine, the food was good not great, the price was acceptable. But I wasn't wow'd. The Australian Pirramimma 2005 Petit verdot, brilliant.

                          OK, just about done here. Headed home late Thursday night. Had a great go of it. Vancouver is a great food city.

                          Tapastree Restaurant
                          1829 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G 1E4, CA

                          O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar
                          1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, CA

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Marine Engineer

                            Have you given Bao Bei a shot on Keefer in Chinatown? Great spot for 'chinese tapas'.

                            1. re: wgomer

                              have not ... but it'll probably have to wait for my next vancover expedition

                              1. re: Marine Engineer

                                Glad you are going out with a bang, ME. We'll miss you and your per diem, which inspired quite a few good Chowdowns! Please keep in touch and let us know when you'll be back in town. Good eating and have fun visiting the rellies on the way home.