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please help me narrow down choices for our 3 day, 2 night visit

doughnut May 31, 2010 03:18 PM

hi there, a small party of us is going up to vancouver for three days, two nights.

there are four adults, one grandma with a bad knee, one 7 yo and one 6 month infant. almost everyone is from korea (2 adults and the baby are living in the u.s.).

this is a food forum, so id like input on our meal options, but if you have comments on the rest of the itinerary, comments are definitely welcome (its my first time planning for ppl other than me and my husband, and im kind of stressed out.)

our base is in seattle.

i dont know how all our relations are with respect to food choices. i dont want to weird them out (had a bad experience taking them out to indian) but i want to enjoy my meals too. bil is kind of on the cheap side, so ive also tried to choose more budget minded options. for a real foodie trip, ill have to come back without relations.

i keep wondering if ive overbooked us. will we be exhausted with this itinerary? ive also tried to stay kid focused for the 7 yo.

anyway, here is what ive come up with so far.


breakfast somewhere in seattle (probably at bils home)

drive up to vancouver from seattle

lunch: crystal mall or
lunch: japadog

afternoon in stanley park OR
if its raining the aquarium, museum of anthropology

dinner at gyoza king, santouka, kingyo or shanghai river
(im really undecided about dinner obviously)

sleep at our hotel


breakfast: dimsum or something else in vancouver?

take ferry to victoria

lunch: red fish, blue fish

butchart garden
if its raining royal bc museum and butterfly garden

tea at white heather

if we're not pooped out, beacon drive in for soft i.c.

dinner: hernandez
dinner: pink bicycle

sleep at our hotel


breakfast at mole or
breakfast at shine cafe

take ferry back to vancouver

lunch: go fish

rest of afternoon in granville, kids only market

dinner: sea harbour or
dinner: empire chinese cuisine

drive back to seattle

  1. d
    doughnut May 31, 2010 03:56 PM

    oh, day one is thur, june 17. we will be back in seattle late sat night june 19

    1. d
      doughnut May 31, 2010 03:58 PM

      i also just noticed the dragon boat event... something to consider?


      1. i
        islandgirl May 31, 2010 04:13 PM

        My only comment on your itinerary is to note the taking the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria is approx 4 hours from downtown to downtown (assuming you have a reservation and the ferries are on time). You might want to factor this in and maybe plan to picnic on the ferry at least one direction (or eat onboard - the buffet is a pretty good deal and a nice way to enjoy the sailing, especially with kids).

        1. LotusRapper May 31, 2010 04:13 PM

          I think your plan looks fine as is.

          I would alternate venues and foods such that not a single day contains foods that are all too greasy/heavy/spicy or too loud/hectic in terms of ambiance. I tend to eat much lighter and less greasy when I travel to allow my body to adjust and make the most out of the changes in routines, amount of rest and activity, etc. Especially when it comes to sodium, MSG and water intakes .... I keep a close eye on those things.

          Yeah, while Vancouver is such a great foodie destination, it can make people too ambitious when visiting and they end up paying for it by getting ill from all that eating !

          The thing is, no matter what you plan, always be prepared to go to Plan B. Which you'd need if a specific restaurant has a long wait line, closed for the day, too loud, etc, etc. And especially if you have an infant, a 7-yr old and grandma with bad knee, even the ease (or lack of) of parking near your planned destination may affect the last-minute details.

          And something I always tell my US friends when visiting: "NEVER leave valuables unattended in cars !!!" Break-ins amongst US-plated cars are common here, so be careful.

          1. grayelf May 31, 2010 04:24 PM

            Hi doughnut! I'll give you my 2 cents on your itinerary --

            Day one I'd go for japadog as the carts (and the newly opened store on Robson) are all downtown and therefore more on the way to your planned afternoon in Stanley Park. Neither Crystal Mall nor Japadog are the best choice geographically for the Museum of Anthropology, though.

            Your first three dinner options (gyoza king, santouka, kingyo) are all downtown so again would make better sense than schlepping back out to Richmond to shanghai river (and for whoever's gonna suggest taking the Skytrain out, don't forget how many people are in their party -- cheaper to drive than to pay for two way transit IMO). The first three seem pretty comparable but Shanghai River is obviously quite different in cuisine and also in atmosphere. I'd stick with one of the first three as you all might be a bit tuckered out by then!

            DAY TWO: if you want dimsum in Vancouver your choices are somewhat limited (many more in Richmond but see comments above). Depends also where your hotel is. I like Golden Ocean in Kerrisdale which is a bit off the beaten path (though not greatly out of your way if going to catch ferry in Tswassen and coming from downtown) but great for your family situation and 20% off if you are seated before 11 am. They have carts, which is always a hit with the small people, and take reservations as I surmise you will not want to cool your heels in a big lineup with an infant in tow. Another option is Sun Sui Wah though I didn't enjoy it that much the two times I went after they stopped using carts as they really pushed us to order more food than we needed and it seemed less fresh. It is more expensive, as is Kirin which also gets some love on this board for the Vancouver and Richmond locations.

            There are of course a bunch of other options for breakfast if you decide not to go for dim sum... let us know.

            Unless you are early risers, getting your crew fed and watered and onto a ferry in time for an early lunch in Victoria will be a bit of a stunt (you probably know that the ferry is about 1 hr 40 min but there is waiting, loading and unloading plus a minimum half hour drive on each side, so factor in 4 hours travel time and BE SURE to get a reservation for the boat ASAP if you don't have one) therefore red fish, blue fish is an excellent idea for a late lunch. The lineups at regular lunch hours are legion so it is much better to go at off hours. Please don't eat anything except soft-serve ice cream on the ferry, even if you are really hungry, 'kay?

            If you've gone all the way into town for red fish blue fish it's going to be a schlep back out to butchart gardens, whereas Royal BC museum is good fun for old and young, and reasonable walking distance from the harbour. I've never been to the butterfly garden.

            tea at white heather -- you are definitely overscheduled for this day, I would say. The tea will be hard to squeeze in. I'd grab a cone at Beacon instead, especially if you've been to the BC Museum as they are quite close together (though not really easy walking distance esp if grandma's knee is getting tired :-) Also not too far from Beacon's is quite a fun petting zoo that might make the 7 yo happy, though kids that age may be too sophisticated.

            Hernandez and Pink Bicycle are both less than optimal to me for your group for different reasons. Hernandez is a weird setup (assuming you mean the one on Bay Street) that's in the middle of a mall, like a food court. The seating is quite limited and it takes a long time to be served after you line up to place your order. The food is tasty but not outstanding to me, and there are a lot of rules here, plus everything costs extra, including getting your meal on a plate (tacos are served on that brown wax papery stuff). Also not sure how late they are open as they are in the middle of a mall. Pink Bicycle I've only been to once as I was so unimpressed with the quality of the meat and the lack of value in the burger but it is quite popular on this board. Be aware that it can be very warm inside even if it is not that hot outside if that is an issue for any of your party (you didn't say when you are coming). It is also very small -- call to see if they can accommodate your group by moving tables, unless you're okay sitting separately.

            DAY THREE

            breakfast at mole or shine cafe: both good, both will have lineups esp on the weekends. Re your planned lunch at Go Fish, same caveat as before, unless you are super early risers and your breakfast place opens early you'll have a job of work to get back for a regular lunch. That might actually be an advantage if you choose Go Fish though as the lineups here are even more crazy than at Red Fish Blue Fish. I'd probably pick one or the other as they are quite similar (rfbf was started by people who worked at Go Fish IIRC), and I'd give a slight edge to RFBF as I much prefer their fries and they have DEEP FRIED PICKLES. You could easily spend an hour in the lineup/waiting for your food at Go Fish so do be warned. You can call ahead for takeout and that will help.

            Granville Island is a good choice, kids only market is fun if a bit brain batteringly loud. If you want another option close to Granville Island (not on a Sunday though) there is Patisserie Lebeau for Belgian waffles and sandwiches in a recently remodeled setting next door to an excellent cheese store, Les amis du fromage. Or you could pick up some charcuterie at Oyama, a loaf of bread at Terra (try the walnut), some cheese and dine au naturel on the water if you bring a knife and stuff from home. Just beware the seagulls!

            dinner: sea harbour or empire chinese cuisine -- I think Sea Harbour is excellent, especially with a group of your size, but I haven't tried Empire so can't compare. Just don't eat so much you fall asleep on the drive home! Have a great trip.

            Crystal Mall
            4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

            Patisserie Lebeau
            1728 W 2nd Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J, CA

            Shanghai River Restaurant
            7831 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC V6X1A4, CA

            Red Fish Blue Fish
            1006 Wharf St, Victoria, BC V8W, CA

            11 Replies
            1. re: grayelf
              Sam Salmon May 31, 2010 05:10 PM

              re: BC Ferries trips-Do Not eat the food-the picnic is a great idea.

              Keep the kid outside on deck as much as possible let him run around screaming if he likes it's a popular pastimes for Kids who've been cooped up in a car waiting

              1. re: grayelf
                doughnut May 31, 2010 08:41 PM

                hi everyone!

                thanks so much for your help.

                after reading your kind replies i started to realize that i wasnt really giving much thought to location, and the fact that we have a kid and a baby and a grandma to worry about.

                i talked it over with my husband and we decided to cut out victoria. packing up, eating bfast, driving 30+ miles to get to the ferry terminal, waiting in line, then getting off and then finding lunch and trying not to make 6 other people starved or angry...

                i am bummed about it bc i remember how lovely victoria was the last time i went (13 years ago). but i went alone and it was easy to just _go_ places.

                (i am also bummed bc of all the hours i spent looking up restaurants and things to do in victoria.)

                ugh. im redoing the schedule...

                i hope i havent pissed anyone off. i really appreciate the tips and help!

                i know i already said it, but im stressed about planning. after this trip, im not planning anything else for any other groups, esp for a place that im unfamiliar with.

                i also wished that we had an extra day or two for this trip. that certainly would have helped.

                ill write again with more questions.

                thanks SO much again for your input. its really sobering!

                oh and off topic, but in doing all this research, there are so so so many places i want to eat at in bc. vijs, all the guus, check out west coast poutine, hk diners (i have a soft spot for hk diners too, and im not sure i can indulge that on this trip). i think i need to convince my hubby that we need to spend two weeks on our own taking in vancouver + victoria (where we will enjoy white heather)...

                1. re: doughnut
                  LotusRapper May 31, 2010 10:13 PM

                  Absolutely didn't intend on raining on your parade, Doughnut. If anything, we want your BC trip to be as pleasantly memorable as possible !

                  It's ironic though, that as a foodie destination Vancouver can be (or is becoming) overbearing with choices. And good choices at that. Whereas a mere 20-25 years ago one could almost name the top 10 restos in town with, well, two hands but a few fingers to spare, hehehe.

                  IMHO if you scale your plans down enough to allow for leeway and the un-expected, you won't leave stressed and tired. Pick maybe 3-4 (or whatever #) of "must-eat" places this time and leave it at that. Call ahead to them, inquire about best times-of-day (ie: least busy) to drop in, make advanced reservations if you can (if you explain your family situation I'm sure they'll do their best to book you in advance, prepare highchair, etc.).

                  Quick example: a couple of years ago we celebrated my dad's 75th at Griffins in downtown Fairmont. Our toddler was just under 2 at the time and rather difficult to keep still quiet at a dinner table for more than 15 mins let alone +2 hrs. for a relaxed family dinner. We called ahead, made a rezo, explained our situation to the staff. Upon arrival, the staff warmly welcomed us, walked us to the best-possible table in the whole room, highchair all set up, crayon/doodle material and toys (yes, toys. It was very close to Xmas) ready to go, and all our menus laid out at our place settings. It was surreal. We practically ordered all our food well within 10 mins of arriving.

                  These sort of things can help minimize the fuss when you least want them.

                  1. re: LotusRapper
                    doughnut Jun 1, 2010 03:39 AM

                    okay. so i have eight meals and theyll all be in and around the vancouver area. no victoria this time. ive spent several more hours reading and thinking and heres what i have:

                    DAY ONE (theme stanley park)

                    driving up and arrival

                    lunch at japadog and whatever else is nearby if its not enough

                    stanley park for the day

                    dinner at santouka or gyoza king

                    DAY TWO (theme granville island)

                    breakfast at patisserie lebeau. thank you greyelf for the suggestion. LIEGE! cant wait to eat waffles!

                    go to granville island and spend the day there. if the weathers great, all the better, the kid would probably enjoy the water park.

                    lunch at go fish

                    explore granville island area more. just relax. (or any further suggestions?)

                    coffee at thomas haas (or maybe save this for after dinner)

                    dinner at peaceful restaurant

                    DAY THREE (theme richmond)

                    breakfast dim sum at jade restaurant

                    shopping and lunch at aberdeen centre: anything i would be sorry to miss? im looking forward to daiso!

                    dinner sea harbour (earlyish), then schlepp back home...

                    again, if anyone would be kind enough to critique the itinerary, i will listen!

                    ill try to plan as best i can: ill call all places and try to make reservations (thanks lotusRapper!). i know that things happen and i am very open to plan bs. messed up parking, crying babies, weak knees. if we go to mcdonalds, thats what we do. its all really about the company and the journey...

                    thank you all again (esp greyelf!!!) for making me think a bit harder about how crazy it would have been to cram victoria into such a short stay.

                    reading some more, i found even more places. wish i had five stomachs so that i could stuff it with food from mr pickwicks, song huong, saravanaa bhavan, crystal mall etc etc etc

                    1. re: doughnut
                      grayelf Jun 1, 2010 05:42 AM

                      Terminal insomnia moves me to reply to your revised list, doughnut :-):

                      DAY ONE (theme stanley park)

                      driving up and arrival

                      lunch at japadog and whatever else is nearby if its not enough -- if you go to the Robson Japadog they have more than just dogs, if you are worried about that.

                      stanley park for the day -- good call, so much to do rain or shine, if rainy you could spend most of your time in the aquarium, which is quite diverting (beluga whales will be a hit with 7 yo, seals and otters with baby)

                      dinner at santouka or gyoza king

                      DAY TWO (theme granville island)

                      breakfast at patisserie lebeau. thank you grayelf for the suggestion. LIEGE! cant wait to eat waffles! -- you're welcome; I'm a fan of this place and since the renos there are more seats so dining in is an option, though it still might be a bit squeezy with your group of six -- go early if you can (by 9ish) for best results. The various Liege options are worth trying but my favourite is actually the ham and cheese (the regular, not the stuffed). With six people you should be able to try an assortment :-). Don't forget to deak into Les Amis to drool at the cheeses... and there's a really nice cookbooks store right there as well called Barbara Jo's.

                      go to granville island and spend the day there. if the weathers great, all the better, the kid would probably enjoy the water park -- I'm crossing my fingers for you weather-wise. June can be a funny month here in the Pac Northwest but then you know that coming from Seattle :-). You will find lots to do on GIsle even if it rains. You've probably seen the threads on this but just a couple of ideas are Oyama, Edible BC, the salmon shops (which often give out samples of so-called Indian candy to small people), South China Seas and the pie place whose name escapes me. Non foodstuffs worth checking out are the area around the sake maker where the smalls will like the glass blowing and there is a place where they make neat wooden stuff (I recall a rowboat) and of course the kids' market. Oh and while you're walking around be sure to stop in to Lobsterman to show the 7 yo all the live crustaceans (they're down a different alleyway but easy to find/walking distance).

                      I don't know if it's worth flipping your Thursday and Friday but there is a small farmers' market in the parking lot east of the main market building on Thursdays, ends around 2 IIRC. Prolly on their website if you're interested.

                      lunch at go fish -- just remember the lineups :-). Example: we went at 11:30 on a Friday in early May, there were three small groups ahead of us and it took 20 min to order plus 20 min for the food to be ready. Lines get longer the nicer it is out, so either go right when they open or call ahead and get it to go. You will essentially be taking it away anyway as the chances of your party being seated on the tiny patio are pretty small, but there are little ponds in front of the condos just to the east of Go Fish where you can sit and snack if the weather behaves. If it is raining, Go Fish is not a great option for this reason, so you might want to have a backup plan. Also be sure to request a side of one of the mayos instead of the tartare sauce (unless you like tarragon). I am partial to the shrimp mayo myself. And if you try a tacone, get extra hot sauce on the side instead of the coleslaw, which it is stuffed with anyway.

                      explore granville island area more. just relax. (or any further suggestions?) -- if the weather pups out on you, you could hop in your car and zip over to Thomas Haas in the afty for treats; in fact this could be an alternate lunch option as they have lovely panini. Be sure to get a double baked almond croissant if they haven't sold out (I call ahead to reserve mine!). NOTE: T Haas is not open after dinner -- this is one of my bugbears about Vancouver, that all the good coffee places close so early.

                      coffee at thomas haas (or maybe save this for after dinner) -- see above

                      dinner at peaceful restaurant -- I love Peaceful but many report hit and miss experiences here so be sure to read the board entries carefully to maximize your success.

                      DAY THREE (theme richmond)

                      breakfast dim sum at jade restaurant -- haven't been to Jade yet (so many ds places in Rmd) but I hear it is good.

                      shopping and lunch at aberdeen centre: anything i would be sorry to miss? im looking forward to daiso! -- Daiso is fun, especially if you don't have anything like it in Seattle. Lots of bright colours and toys for the kiddlies. I don't love the food court at Aberdeen, partly because it looks exactly like a food court in any North American mall but with Asian options. But then I'm not a mall person -- I couldn't find enough to distract me for a whole morning here but you are close to lots of other malls here (maybe Yaohan?) or you could head to President's Plaza to check out a pretty good T&T store, and maybe grab Chinese crepes and roujiamo at O'Tray's upstairs. And there's also the Richmond Public Market which I like better than Aberdeen myself for snacking purposes -- it reminds me of indoor markets in Mexico with the food area upstairs and the stalls downstairs. On Three Road there are a couple of fun Asian supermarkets, Big Crazy (4955 No Three Road) and Kuo Hua Trading Co (4551 No Three Road -- all Taiwanese, and there are samples) that you might enjoy browsing through (fair warning: the latter has baby head sized lollipops at child eye level).

                      I'm still not sure you're going to have enough to fill in your day in just the retail areas but you are not so far from the dyke for a walk if it is a nice day, or you could go take a look at the Richmond Oval where long and short track skating took place during the Olympics (I think you can go inside but you might want to check that). Steveston is also not super far away and it is a nice little zone with small folk as well plus there are a couple of decent ice cream places and even one that sells fudge.

                      dinner sea harbour (earlyish), then schlepp back home... be sure to get the crab and kabocha dish (if crabs are in season, doh, not sure). We had a Chowdown there a while back that was a ton of fun.

                      again, if anyone would be kind enough to critique the itinerary, i will listen!

                      ill try to plan as best i can: ill call all places and try to make reservations (thanks lotusRapper!). i know that things happen and i am very open to plan bs. messed up parking, crying babies, weak knees. if we go to mcdonalds, thats what we do. its all really about the company and the journey...

                      thank you all again (esp greyelf!!!) for making me think a bit harder about how crazy it would have been to cram victoria into such a short stay.

                      reading some more, i found even more places. wish i had five stomachs so that i could stuff it with food from mr pickwicks, song huong, saravanaa bhavan, crystal mall etc etc etc

                      Doughnut, I like your idea about coming back again with the SO so that you can focus even more on *eating*; you'll have a great time with your new itinerary I think and like you said, this one's about family. Feel free to drop me a line at the email in my profile if you have any other questions about non-food stuff, or if you want a local contact :-).

                      1. re: grayelf
                        LotusRapper Jun 1, 2010 08:18 AM

                        Doughnut - if you come back with your SO on a foodie trip, there's this resource to tap into:


                        Hosted by none other than fmed himself. Chowdown anyone ?

                        1. re: LotusRapper
                          grayelf Jun 1, 2010 09:38 AM

                          Good point, LR! And we are having a Chowdown on June 17 the very day that Doughnut and Co arrive... coincidence? I think not.

                          The Chowdown is at Shalizar in North Van, Doughnut. Persian food, if you and your gang are interested.

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

                      2. re: doughnut
                        moyenchow Jun 1, 2010 10:40 AM

                        Hi doughnut,

                        Wanted to leave a few comments on your new itinerary as your fellow Seattle chowhounds helped me out when I went down to Seattle a few months ago.

                        Day One - If you go to the Japadog Restaurant on Robson there are lots of Asian options near by in case you are still hungry. My personal rec would be:
                        -Kushi Box (Grilled Meats on a Stick served on Rice), the P-toro Onion option is very yummy
                        -Beard Papas a nice dessert if the dessert dogs don't work for you at Japadog

                        If it rains, the Aquarium is in Stanley Park so it's great option.

                        There's Guu with Garlic which is right next to Santouka. I only mentioned this because the parking in that area during dinner is a bit problematic and Gyoza King is uphill from Santouka. Given you have an eldery grandma with you, that maybe something to think about. Also downhill from Santouka is Kingyo (about 3 blocks). Both Kingyo and Guu with Garlic take reservations but not on the same day.

                        Day 2 - Granville Island, greyelf mentioned the artisan Sake maker and I second that. They'll let you try their Sake if you ask and their Sake is excellent. It's smooth and fragrant.

                        Day 3 - Aberdeen Centre: I'm not sure if it's still there but there's a Daiso in Bellingham at Bellas Fair.

                        I'm not a big fan of the Aberdeen centre food court either but there are restaurants in the mall. There's Guu and Chef Hung Tawainese Beef Noodle Shop. The Guu at Aberdeen fouses more on Sushi.

                        Chef Hung's clain to fame is that he won national awards for his Tawainese Beef Noodles in Tawain. So when this big shot opened his shop at Aberdeen, there were 1 hour line-ups for a month.

                        The line ups are gone now and his noodle bowls are expensive but they are tasty. I think it's a good place to start if you want to see what Tawainese Beef Noodles are about.

                        Agree with Greyelf about the crab and Kabocha dish at Sea Harbour. Try to make a reservation at Sea Harbour because it gets busy.

                        I hope you have a great time here in Vancouver!

                        Aberdeen Centre
                        4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, BC V6X4J7, CA

                        838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

                        871 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L9, CA

                        Gyoza King
                        1508 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G1C2, CA

                        1. re: moyenchow
                          doughnut Jun 1, 2010 09:32 PM

                          thank you all for your further care...

                          im taking a little break from planning. burned out!

                          but with ~80% of the time planned for, i feel more at ease. tomorrow i will look more deeply into the comments and suggestions and try to fill in the gaps. i know that even with all this planning, something totally different may happen, but i still like to go with a solid plan in place.

                          i may ask more qs but i will DEF follow up with a report of our trip and what my relatives thought.

                          as for the meet up, i think i will have to decline, but i am thankful for it anyway. LOVE persian food!

                        2. re: doughnut
                          Florentine Jun 2, 2010 09:03 AM

                          Day three: Aberdeen Centre is worth visiting, but it's a little bit sterile in atmosphere compared to the other malls and food courts nearby. For a nice constrast (after you've visited Daiso), walk next door to Parker Place mall. It's a smaller mall, much more cramped, but it definitely has a more authentic Hong Kong atmosphere. I particularly like the ambiance of the food court because it's slightly chaotic! You can walk between Parker Place and Aberdeen in 5 minutes - they're literally next door to one another. You don't need a whole lot of time there, but if you'll be in the area, it makes sense to visit both at once.

                          Aberdeen Centre
                          4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, BC V6X4J7, CA

                          1. re: Florentine
                            LotusRapper Jun 2, 2010 11:19 AM

                            Aberdeen Center food court isn't bad. See this post:


                            And the ride-ons by the panoramic windows (good northeasterly view) will keep the two kids happy and occupied, very family-friendly food court in fact. Also the "dancing" water fountain on the main concourse is fun to watch. Plus several family-oriented stores like toys etc.

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