San Diego 'Hound planning Vancouver trip
- geekyfoodie Jun 20, 2010 10:36 PM
Hello all! I'm planning a trip to your fair city some time in August to celebrate my first wedding anniversary. I know absolutely nothing about Vancouver and I was there nearly 20 years ago with my folks. I only remember a wonderful Chinese outdoor market where we brought fresh lychees for our drive out to Banff.
I know the generic "Where do I go?! Plan my trip!" questions can be annoying, but I'm going to have to start with a fairly generic one:
Where would a 'Hound stay to be near good chow?
I'm looking at the Hampton Inn & Suites (111 Robson Street), which seems to have quite a bit near walking distance.
The other thing is I'm looking for is a variety of off-the-top-of-your-head recommendations. We'll have a car and are willing to travel for interesting chow. What is Vancouver known for? For instance, I'd tell anyone visiting San Diego that they should to try some non-Americanized Mexican food and sample awesome craft beers.
Things we might be interested in:
-Craft Beers (The Alibi Room looks awesome)/good beer or wine bars that are not complete meat markets
-Chinese food (especially Cantonese)
-Any other ethnic cuisine that Vancouver is known or not-so-well-known for (example: San Diego has a fairly large Ethiopian population and it's not obvious to a lot of casual tourist research)
-Street food (I will look at this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/705131 more closely to see where the carts are located
)-Fine dining, Vancouver-style (probably at least one meal for the anniversary shindig)
-Farmers' Markets and any permanent markets that are great to wander through
-Restaurants and other food businesses focusing on locally sourced products
-Bakeries and/or dessert places
-Anything uniquely Vancouver (doesn't matter if it's street food, fast food, or expensive)
Things we're not likely to be interested in:
Thank you! I'll have more specific questions as my research progresses. And, of course, there will be a full post-trip report.
Edited to add: Found this thread... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693772 ... was already thinking of Vij's or Rangoli because of the No Reservations episode. Unless someone wants to tell me they're overrated, then we'll probably stop by.
157 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A1B8, CA
Alibi Room is good for beer, less good for grub, though not bad either. Try their "bats" for tasting brews.
I like Sea Harbour (higher end) but there are so many Canto rooms to choose from, you'll need to do more research or at least give us a better idea of what kind of Canto you want.
Nothing really hidden in Vancouver (unless it is hidden from me, which is always possible!). I think (apart from Chinese) one of our strengths is Vietnamese but you are not interested in that. Maybe consider an izakaya crawl as we have many of these restos in fairly close proximity.
Street food will disappoint here -- limited to hot dogs pretty much at the moment, though that may be changing in the not so near future http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7051.... Japadog is fun but 'ware lineups.
Edited to add: just came across this that indicates there may be some more options as of July: http://vancouver.ca/engsvcs/streets/r...
I like Bishop's for fine dining but that is not a big interest of mine. There are a couple of recent threads on here you should be reading, so have another dig and ask about specific places.
Not too big on Farmers' Markets here though there are a few local ones in the summer, with the Trout Lake one being the biggest (Saturdays 10-3 IIRC). Hard to park near there though. The permanent market that gets the most mention is Granville Island Public Market, which is worth a wander, especially if you want to find BC products all in one place. You will pay a premium on most, however.
Vij's is likely worth the candle if only to say you've been. You'll be aware of the lineup situation which is a dealbreaker for some. I am very partial to his veggie preps, particularly anything that looks or acts like a dumpling. Not crazy about chicken or pork dishes. Many swear by the lamb popsicles but I don't like lamb much so...
Do post again with more specific queries, gf.
Grayelf, I will certainly be back with more specificity, but let's start with your thread on the Richmond Public Market:
This is the kind of Chinese food I love... food court, super cheap/casual, very tasty, and not necessarily Cantonese. San Diego has nothing like it. As for Cantonese food, I like the cheap stuff... wonton noodle soup, BBQ meats, etc. Dim sum is good, but I'm originally from LA and we can get dim sum whenever we visit the parental units.
Would it be worth the drive from Robson Street to No. 3 Road? How's the parking? Would public transit be easier?
My boss said to "park your ass in Richmond and eat your way down the main drag"
"Which street is the main drag?"
"I don't know! Just look for the HSBC bank."
Any chance you know where he might be talking about?
As for other types of Chinese food... Mr. Geeky loves dumplings and XLB. If there's any place that does those well, definitely let me know.
And since their Robson Street storefront seems to be open, I'll have to visit Japadog.
Ah, I think I've got a better picture of what you're after already :-). You sound like Hounds after my own heart. If you like the looks of what you saw in the RPM thread, deffo worth checking out but also try Parker Place (where I got the first set of roast pork) and President's Plaza (my current fave food court because it is less crazy than the others I've been too). Also Google up Crystal Mall food court on CH and look for reports from fmed. You could feed your food court and XLB joneses here, and there is a pretty decent market area belowdecks (better I daresay than the one at RPM). Crystal Mall is in Burnaby, an okay trip via Skytrain from downtown.
I am starting to have a decent handle on driving to Richmond, though I don't always have access to a car. It's definitely do-able, though many (including me) complain about the challenges of driving and parking out there. There is a lot of free parking if you know where to find it, it's more the volume of vehicles seeking it on most Saturdays that seems to be the issue. It seems to help a lot to go on Sunday if that's an option. Also be aware that the food courts don't really stay open late (6 or 7) and variety is better earlier. Public transit is deffo an option esp if your hotel is near a Skytrain station (ask the reso clerk when you make the booking) but it is $3.25 each way during the day ($2.50 after 6:30 pm) which can add up.
The main drag to which your boss is referring is likely #3 Road, above which the Skytrain travels . I do believe there is an HSBC thereabouts. The other food "main drag" is a much smaller one called Alexandra or locally "Eat Street."
XLB are a pretty hot topic of debate around here. Lin's, Long's, Wang's, Chen's -- they all do pretty decent ones but as for the best, that's kinda subjective. Look for fmed's posts to see some more detail.
I haven't been to the bricks and mortar J-dog yet just the stands. I love their kurobota dogs, especially the okonomiyaki, but at the end of the day they are just dogs :-).
Moyenchow's observations about where to stay seem sensible to me. I don't find any compelling reason to spend time in Yaletown eating (though to be fair, I don't like oysters, so can't comment on Rodney's; our dinner at Blue Water a week ago Friday was fine but not good value; stick with the raw bar and bring $$$ if you go ), so I'd go for something closer to downtown/West End. Moyen seconded the izakaya crawl -- do a search here and you will find several posts on same.
I haven't had much luck with the food at the Richmond Night Market myself, but I gather there are some new stalls this year. It is in an industrial area by the river away from other Richmond destinations.
I really enjoyed our recent Chowdown at Seri Malaysia that you referenced in that link. If you have no Malaysian in SD, may be worth a visit with the caveats about Jamal's unique approach and the seriously basic setting. I find it is a very quick trip from downtown to the area where Seri is (lots of parking too), and there are some decent food shops nearby for browsing if you go a bit early (Mocchia, Donald's Market). I think he is closed Tuesday, and deffo best to have an early reservation.
4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA
Seri Malaysia Restaurant
2327E Hastings St E, Vancouver, BC V5L1V6, CA
Hi again geeky -- a new place opening up July 26 which should probably be on your radar is BO LAKSA KING's Second Location BUBBLES & BITS ---2546 E. Hastings St just east of Nanaimo 11-11 7 days (604) 568-4593
I really like Bo's laksa, and his Burmese salads are, as they say, the bomb. The problem till now has been his first location is uber tiny (five seats in a convenience store) and his more extensive takeout menu was not available in my area of town. Both issues solved!
Ben at Chowtimes just posted the menu which I have a feeling may appeal to you:
APPETIZER & SNACK
FISH CAKE — 香煎鱼饼 — $4.75
Boneless cod fillet, coriander, green beans, red curry paste, served with sweet & spicy sauce.
SHRIMP CAKE — 香煎虾饼 — $4.75
Shrimp, coriander, green beans, yellow curry paste, served with sweet & spicy sauce.
ROTI CANAI — 印度手抓饼 – $3.99(small)$5.99 (large)
Authentic South-East Asian pastry pancake served with curry chicken dipping sauce or condensed milk and sugar for sweet Roti.
SATAY CHICKEN — 沙爹鸡肉串 — $3.50
Marinated chicken served with sticky rice, cucumber & spicy peanuts sauce. (3 skewers)
SATAY BEEF — 沙爹牛肉串 — $3.50
Marinated beef served with sticky rice, cucumber & spicy peanuts sauce. (3 skewers)
SATAY LAMB — 沙爹羊肉串 — $3.95
Marinated lamb served with sticky rice, cucumber & spicy peanuts sauce. (3 skewers)
SUMMER ROLL — 夏日卷 — $4.50
Rice noodle, carrot, black fungus, lentil pea, lettuce, rolls in rice paper wrap, served with Hoi Sin peanut sauce. (2 rolls)
SPICY SQUID — 酸辣鱿鱼 — $5.75
Blenched squid, onion, and garlic, cilantro, tossed in house made spicy lime vinaigrette.
CHICKEN STRIP — 甜辣鸡柳 — $5.50
Breaded baked chicken strip served with spicy sweat chilli sauce.
LAKSA – 椰香咖喱面/粉 — $7.50
Your choice of vermicelli or yellow noodle served with tiger prawn, fish ball, tofu puff, hard boil egg, chicken and house make authentic flavour coconuts curry broth.
MOHINGAR – 鱼汤米线 — $7.50 (THE NATIONAL DISH OF BURMA (MYANMAR))
Fish broth, onions garlic, ginger, lemon grass and tender core of banana stem, served with thin rice noodle, hard boiled eggs, and split pea fritters.
PAD THAI — 泰式炒粉 — $8.75
Thai rice noodle, eggs, shrimps, extra firm tofu, Chinese chives, dried chilli peppers, banana flower, bean sprouts, preserved turnip, stir fry in house made traditional tamarind sauce.
SINGAPORE NOODLE — 星洲炒米线 — $7.75
Stir fry rice noodle with egg, shrimps, BBQ pork, celery, green onion, cilantro, bean sprouts and house made curry sauce.
MEE GORENG — 印尼炒面 — $7.75
Spicy stir fry noodle with seasonal vegetables, chicken, pork or beef with house made sweet & spicy sauce.
NASI GORENG — 印尼炒饭 — $7.50
Wok fired rice with shrimp, rump steak, shrimp paste, chilli, shredded lettuce, cucumber and fried onion.
PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE – 菠萝炒饭 — $8.75
Wok fried rice with chicken, shrimp, mix vegetable, cashews, pineapple tidbits, and house made curry sauce
THAI BASIL CHICKEN FRIED RICE – 泰式香叶鸡炒饭 — $6.75
Wok fried rice with chicken, Thai chilli, Thai basil, julienne red bell pepper, garlic and cilantro.
DRUNKEN BEEF — 酒醉牛肉饭 — $8.75
Stir fry beef steak with lemon grass, ginger, garlic, hot pepper, basil, shitake mushrooms, and house made sweet soy sauce, served with rice.
BASIL EGGPLANT — 香叶茄子饭 — $7.75
Stir fried eggplant with basil, chilli peppers, and dried shrimps, served with rice.
BEEF RENDANG — 马来咖喱牛肉饭 — $8.75
Marinated beef slowly cooked with coconuts gravy and Bo’s special spice, served with rice.
CURRY CHICKEN — 缅甸咖喱鸡饭 — $7.50
Marinated bone in chicken slowly cooked with Bo’s special curry spice, served with coconut rice and spicy cucumber salad, served with rice.
BUTTER CHICKEN — 印度牛油鸡饭 — $7.95
Boneless chicken cooked in house made creamy butter chicken sauce, served with veggie, naan bread and rice.
PORK CURRY — 缅甸咖喱猪肉饭 — $7.50
Marinated pork belly slowly cooked in house made curry sauce, served with rice.
LAMB CURRY — 缅甸咖喱羊肉饭 — $11.75
Marinated tender lamb meat slowly cooked with Bo’s special curry spice, served with rice.
TOM YAM — 泰式酸辣汤/汤粉 — $5.75
Your choice of chicken or shrimp in clear soup make from lemon grass, kaffir lime, hot peppers, lime juice, and mushrooms. (Extra $1.00 for adding vermicelli)
TOM KHA — 泰式椰香酸辣汤/汤粉 — $5.75
Your choice of chicken or shrimp in straw mushrooms and coconut broth flavoured with galangal, kaffir lime, hot pepper, lemon grass, and lime juice. (Extra $1.00 for adding vermicelli)
LAHPET THOKE — 茶叶沙拉 — $7.50 (FERMENTED TEA LEAF SALAD)
Pickled tea leaf, tomato, cabbage, garlic chip, roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, broad beans, mixed together with fresh lime juice seasoning.
JIN THOKE — 姜丝沙拉 — $6.75 (BURMESE GINGER SALAD)
Pickled Ginger with cabbage, tomatoes, roasted peanuts, broad beans, sesame seeds, garlic chip and chick pea powder.
GREEN MANGO SALAD — 青芒果沙拉 — $6.75
Shredded Mango, cabbage, fried onions, garlic, crushed peanuts, roasted chilli flakes, dried shrimps, and mix with cilantro, lime, and vinaigrette dressing.
PAPAYA SALAD — 青木瓜沙拉 — $6.75
Shredded green papaya, tomato, onions, cilantro, crushed peanuts, fresh red chilli, dried shrimps, green beans, mix with garlic, lime, vinaigrette dressing.
PICKLE MANGO SALAD — 腌芒果沙拉 — $7.50
Pickled green mango mix with red onion, crushed peanuts, dry shrimp, fried onions, sesame seeds, garlic chips and chick pea powder.
Ben's post is what put Bo on the list. :) I love, love, love laksa. Tried making my own and wasn't incredibly successful. So, Bo's seems a little more accessible than Seri, which may make it a more likely destination for us. Between Granville Public Market, Rangoli's, and Bo's, Mr. Geeky and I are having a bit of a tug-of-war over what to eat and what to pack up for the drive to Whistler.
Gotcha, gf! Bo's will give you more options for sure. And it has very good air conditioning which may still be an issue when you arrive next week -- we are about to start another little heat wave here.
Not that you asked but I'd say skip Rangoli and get the new butter chicken at Bo's to go if you require a hit of Indian -- cheaper and prolly better -- and you can still get your laksa, and maybe throw in an unmixed tea leaf salad for variety :-). But deffo hit GIsle and grab some charcuterie and stuff for Whistler.
I would reconsider the Hampton Inns on Robson, you are close to Yaletown & Gastown but you are very far away from the Westend where the best Izakayas and Ramen places are. Also they are replacing the roof on BC Place stadium (Hamptons Inn is right next to the stadium), so it's noisy sometimes.
Not sure what your price range is for a hotel but something closer to Robson & Burrard would make you more central. Twenty minutes walking distance to everything dowtown (Yaletown, Gas town, Cole Harbour, West End) and you are close to the Canada line Sky train so you don't have to drive into Richmond.
I really recommend walking if you are in the downtown core as parking can be expensive and problematic especially on the weekends.
The Richmond Night market is great for all sorts of Aisan street food.
My cousin from LA seems too really like the oysters & sushi here. We always end up at Rodney's in Yaletown.
For fine dining, I always like Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown. Great raw bar and excellent cooked seafood.
For unique Vancouver, there's a great Izakaya scene in the West End (Robson & Denman Area). Guu with Garlic and Kingyo are my Izakaya recommendations.
Also Japadog is very Vancouver, and they have a store location at Robson and Richards.
If you are interested in cheap Cantonese Fare, like wontons etc Richmond is the place. You can ride the Canada Line Skytrain and get off at any of the Richmond stops and you find awesome Chinese food. I recommend looking at the chowtimes.com & shermansfoodadventures.com for recommendations.
838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA
871 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L9, CA
I'll preface my comments with the disclaimer that I'm not a Van local—yet—but go there every year and have spent entire weeks stuffing my face. Also, my dad, the O.C. (Original Chowhound) used to live in San Diego, so I'm familiar with the food scene there, mostly.
Your instincts in avoiding Mexican food there are correct. Many locals praise the fish tacos at Go Fish; I was not so impressed and think for this purpose you'd be crossing the wrong border.
The suggestions by Grayelf and the experts here are right on. I'd add Raincity Grill for a real localvore experience and stunning view of English Bay if you get the right table.
The Izakaya scene is tasty and a lot of fun but don't forget Vancouver excels at sushi as well, traditional or fusion. Miko on Robson is my favorite, but limited experience.
Coming from San Diego, I'd also be tempted to take in a first-class fish place like Bluewater, C or the Fish House as well. SD doesn't have the seafood scene it used to in its heydey (remember when Anthony's was good?) and even so, the available fish in Van are different: emphasis on halibut, salmon, black cod (sable), arctic char, oysters...
Getting hungry and eagerly anticipating my trip up there in August!
1193 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC V6G 2N1, CA
I tend to agree with BtheBP (hi Bob!) but I gotta say, Rain City Grill has let me down too many times to be able to recommend it with impunity. They seem to just be trying too hard. We still wind up going about once a year (visitors who insist) and I can't say I look forward to it. Maybe I'm just not ordering right...
I held off replying to do more research and start hacking out a battle plan. Mr. Geeky sighs resignedly whenever we travel and I have my list of restaurants to visit. Sightseeing... bah! I'm there for the food. ;)
Our trip dates are finalized and we'll be in your fair city during August 18-21. We'll be traveling to Whistler from the 21-24 and returning to Vancouver briefly before traveling back to Seattle. That's not a lot of meals, which makes me sad. We also won't have a car until we leave Vancouver for Whistler.
Taking Moyenchow's advice, we booked the Loden Vancouver, which puts us right by the Burrard Station Skytrain and on the edge of the West End. Here's my list so far:
Granville Public Market (probably for breakfast and coffee)
Japadog (afternoon snack)
Vij's (get there right at opening to line up for dinner... this one is negotiable)
Refuel (dinner... also negotiable)
Seri Malaysian (dinner)
Bo Laksa King Bubble and Bits (for lunch when we're leaving Van for Whistler... esp. important if Seri doesn't work out)
Alibi Room (beer)
Caffe Artigiano (coffee)
Guu with Garlic or another izakaya (likely for lunch... Guu serves lunch... might do an izakaya crawl in place of Vij's or Refuel)
I'm not sure where to go in Richmond, but we might just spend an afternoon there and visit a food court or two. I think the food courts might be my best bet to cover as many types of food in one or two sittings. Might have to skip dim sum, but LA has it, so I'm ok with that. President's Plaza and Crystal Mall sound like better options than Richmond Public Market. Been following Chowtimes.com, which is awesome.
The missing piece of the puzzle is a good dessert place or bakery. I'm a sucker for sweets and love to end the evening with dessert.
Haven't figured out where to go in Whistler yet, but so far it looks like Bearfoot Bistro is a must. Any suggestions?
1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA
4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA
838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA
157 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A1B8, CA
Bo Laksa King
4910 Joyce St, Vancouver, BC V5R, CA
Mr Grayelf refrains from sighing because he gets to reap the benefits of my obsessionality on the plate, but I bet there are a few eye rolls when I'm not looking.
Nice list, geeky! Sounds like you've sussed out the strengths and occasional weaknesses of your proposed targets, which is half the battle :-). Uber excited about BLK's new place -- so much more convenient to get to for me (and you).
On another thread, yuyu reports: "kingyo does a lunch menu now as well and it is just as impressive as their dinner. Go early though they have really limited quantities of their specials." I've never been to any of the izakaya in town that do lunch but I have heard their menus tend to be less extensive and not snacky so you might want to bear that in mind.
If you do hit Richmond, several of the food courts are within easy walking distance of one another, so you could try a couple things here and a couple there. PP is very small (8 stands?) and I've only eaten at three of them, one of which has since closed. It's worth the trip just for O'tray though -- search on that name to get the star dishes on your list. I like two of the booths at RPM and pretty much stick to them. They are right next to each other and one is called Xian. Here's a link to a recent chowdown we had there that was lots of fun (and we went on to President's Plaza, so there's a bit on that as well): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7152...
Crystal Mall has the most options of any of the food courts but it is in Burnaby and on its own (though there are other worthy restos nearby). I still find that most posts mention the same stands though, so it helps to have some of those to hand if you go. You can make your own dim summy experience by ordering lots of the small items like dumplings, and with most everything being under $5, you can probalby afford to kiss a few frogs!
Have a fantastic time
If you do go to the Crystal Mall Food Court (take the skytrain from Burrard Station and get off at Metrotown station, it's about 20 minutes), you must go to Wang's for the XLB's. Most of the items are very tasty, just don't get the wontons.
4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA
I think that might be the mall we're headed to... Mr. Geeky LOVES XLB. We're right by the Burrard Station, so both Burnaby and Richmond seem to be within our reach. We can only eat so much, so maybe an early lunch at Crystal Mall, then head to Richmond to walk around and grab a snack.
4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA
I applaud your intrepidness (intrepidity?), geekyf! Going from downtown to Crystal Mall and then to Richmond and back downtown by any means is impressive. It would be mucho fun to do the food stalls at Crystal Mall then Richmond Public Market or President's Plaza back to back though. Just bear in mind that walking around in Richmond is not hugely salutary. Even people that live there will likely agree that it is a good place to eat, not to be a tourist. It's mostly just one strip mall connected to another, attached to an actual mall. Though Daiso is kinda fun in Aberdeen.
4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA
Hahaha... I kind of figured any Asian-centric neighborhood would be strip malls and fabulous food. I want to just walk around and peek into bakeries and stuff. We'll likely end our walking with a fistful of those small plastic bags filled with baked goodies and takeout snacks.
I am not leaving without wontons, though! Hopefully the trip report will be a great one. :)
Since you aren't gettting much data on Whistler, I was just reviewing my very long "places to try" list and came across this cut-and-pasted post -- When you are in Whistler, definitely hit up Elements for breakfast/brunch. It is one of the best breakfast places I have ever been to, and has the best eggs benedict (tomato,avocado, aged cheddar, with pesto hollandaise) I have ever had. goatwind May 18, 2010 02:19AM
On the way to/from Whistler (dinner only I think) another possibility, this time for sushi:
For the anniversary dinner, you cannot deny the 100 Mile Tasting Menu at Rain City Grill. 5 courses of local fare and BC wine pairing for each course. Staff are classy and tactful; knowledgeable about the food and dishes as they come to the table; food is fantastically well prepared down to each ingredient carefully prepared to be perfect on its own, and together, a masterpiece. If it's sunny, enjoy the patio/deck to watch the beach-goers and celebrate all that is fine about great food from BC.