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Visiting from NYC, two nights, two lunches to plan, variety wanted

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My wife and I are thrilled to be back in your beautiful city for a dear friend's wedding. We are staying at the Westin Bayshore. We are both young professionals (early 30s) from NYC and we dine out very often. In terms of what we like, probably our favorite place in NYC is Momofuku Ssam Bar, but the usual "very best of the best" places like Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, etc. are also places we visit on special occasions. Which is to say, when we visit a new city (which Vancouver basically is; our last trip was just a stopover), the first consideration is the place being interesting and representing the community it is in. Typically we try to mix in a "nice" place (meaning, high end food, higher price point, good/interesting wine list and drinks- not necessarily white tablecloths) as well as other places that are simply well-regarded regardless of what they are. Hence, a place like Momofuku Ssam is special to us because it is "only in New York". Yes, it has communal tables, they play rock music, and they are casual, but that, combined with the superior food, makes it *more* attractive, not less.

At minimum, I want to go to one knockout Chinese restaurant for lunch, and one finer-dining PNW/Vancouver style place for dinner. Otherwise I am pretty open to suggestions. The list I have so far is probably a bit generic and based largely on a cursory review of this board and an article in the New York Times..

For Chinese, I got a pretty solid recommendation from a friend who went there for Ho Yuen on Fraser Street.

For finer dining/PNW, I saw a recommendation on this board for Bishop's that seemed to meet my criteria. The menu looked good, I thought.

The NYT article also recommended-
Chen's Shanghai
Vij's for no-reservation upscale Indian
Tojo's for high-end sushi/Japanese
The Pourhouse (which I may have actually been to) for something on the water... it is right by my hotel. Seems good for a drink or something.

Other than Ho Yuen I am not married to any of these places, and further, would feel pretty lame basing my entire eating experience on an NYT article.

Two other things:
My wife and I very much like **spicy** food. Not "white people spicy," but really spicy. She is Korean, and I can more than keep up. So nothing is really off-limits in that arena.

One of the meals would probably be with a friend who I think tends to go for sushi or "asian-fusion" more than I might left to my own devices. So the more "Vancouver/PNW" type place will probably just be a couple's dinner, and is probably the one I'd spend the most money on (I'm a sucker for a nice tasting menu with wine pairings, especially if they're local wines. I've had the wines of Eastern Canada, and sampled a few Okanagan wines at places that had both, but would love to try more).

Oh, and finally, any good bars (dive bars, cocktail bars, anything) and a wine bar that serves local wines would also be good to know about...

I hope this gives people enough to go on. Thanks in advance for your hospitality and help.

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

Ho Yuen Restaurant
6236 Fraser St, Vancouver, BC V5W, CA

Pourhouse Restaurant
162 Water Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2, CA

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  1. In my humble opinion:
    For a good upscale Chinese lunch Kirin at City Square is decent or Sun Sui Wah for reliable consistent dim-sum.

    Check out Cafe Medina for breakfast/brunch.

    For PNW food I like West, and Markets.
    http://www.westrestaurant.com/
    http://www.shangri-la.com/uploadedFil...

    Japadog for hotdogs.
    www.japadog.com

    Alvin Garden (in Burnaby) for spicy Hunan Chinese food.
    http://chowtimes.com/2010/04/13/8gtcc...

    For bars:
    Wine Bar w/ Good Cheese - Salt Tasting Room
    http://www.salttastingroom.com/

    You could also check out the Izakaya scene on Robson. I've had many an inventive cocktail at Guu and Hapa. Guu can get quite loud and interesting later in the evening.
    http://www.guu-izakaya.com/robson.html
    http://hapaizakaya.com/

    Personally I feel Vij's while inventive is very toned down in flavour. You guys have awesome Indian places in NYC like Tabla that I feel represent Indian food more genuinely. I also may be alone on this one but I wasn't wowed at Tojo's with anything other than the price.

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

    Guu
    838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

    Alvin Garden
    4850 Imperial St, Burnaby, BC V5J, CA

    City Square
    , Vancouver, BC V5Y, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: oiboy

      wouldn't be easier just to ask your friend, just a thought

    2. oiboy has you covered. I just add:
      The Diamond, The Keefer, Bao Bei for cocktails.
      Chen's Shanghai is good - but closer and IMO just as good if not slightly better is Long's on Main St.
      Bishop's for BC cuisine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: fmed

        I have (sadly) never dined in New York, but I have heard there is some great Italian there. If you want to try something that is both local and good in that line, but also very "community" you might check out La Buca. It's in a quiet neighbourhood that tourists don't usually make it to, and it's small. It has some of my favourite dishes in town with a muscular flavour profile and good honest cooking. Resos needed. Be sure to check out their specials, and if you know other wedding guests and can make up a six top, try dining a la famiglia.

        You are getting some great recs otherwise, so I'll just comment on a couple for fun. fmed's suggestion of Long's for lunch (I like Chen's a lot but Long's has better dishes for two to share I think). Try to go early or late to avoid line ups as it is small and doesn't take resos. I haven't been to Ho Yuen (which I think is the resto you mentioned) but if you have a solid recco it should be fine.

        I love Bishop's and would be interested to hear how it stacks up against NY spots. It is one of the few fine dining experiences in Vancouver I can recommend without hesitation. No pretension in a slightly old-fashioned, white table cloth venue in a great area of Vancouver to do a stroll before or after dinner (blocks from Kits Beach; on Fourth Ave which is a good shopping area). I've never heard of anyone having a bad experience there, and I love the consistency.

        Alvin Garden is top value and super tasty. You can easily melt your hair follicles here if you are so inclined. Bit of a schlep from the Bayshore even if you have a car but worth it. Again quite small and basic in terms of atmosphere.

        If you don't have much in the way of izakaya in NY, then deffo try the izakaya crawl if you can. Or just pick one you like the look/sound of and settle in for the evening. I bet your friend will have a favourite already!

        Have an awesome time, and I will do a sun dance for your friend's nuptials (well do I remember the nerves involved in planning a summer wedding in Vancouver, where you don't tan, you rust!).

        -----
        La Buca Restaurant
        4025 MacDonald St, Vancouver, BC V6L2N8, CA

        Ho Yuen Restaurant
        6236 Fraser St, Vancouver, BC V5W, CA

        Alvin Garden
        4850 Imperial St, Burnaby, BC V5J, CA

      2. I'd stay away from sushi joints as I find that the quality of the fish is nothing over and above anything that you can find in NYC (Masa, Morimoto, Nobu). The only thing that I would say is uniquely BC would be sockeye salmon but is it worth an entire meal for it? I wouldn't say so. If your friend is still a Japanese fiend, go izakaya crawling instead for a fun evening out with friends.

        Bishops's for PNW is excellent and if it's just a couple's dinner even better. John Bishop is always such a gracious host, great food, great service in a more intimate setting.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bdachow

          Good reply bdachow, I agree with everything you said, especially the Bishops rec. If you do an izakaya crawl (search the forum for more info), skip Zakkushi. It's not up to par w/ places in NY.

        2. If I was in your shoes, and I sort of am (live on the UWS), except I've had 3 months instead of 2 days, I'd do the following:

          Lunches:
          Brioche: They have soup, salad, panini, place gets busy at lunch, hectic, fun.
          Salt Tasting Room: Not so busy at lunch, but still quite good. Cheese and meat plates, with a good wine list. Comparable to a NYC place like Gottino.
          Go Fish: stand outside on Granville island and eat the most amazing seared scallop with wasabi mayo sandwich on incredible bread, while licking the green chili coconut seafood chowder from your lips, or some variant of that.

          Supper:
          Chambar: fantastic menu and food, good crowd (if a little trendy). Good beer selection. Comparable to say, the 'inoteca on 3rd avenue, with slightly more entre less small plate type menu.
          Bishops (haven't been, but heard it's great) for an authentic BC seafood experience.
          Hapa Izakaya: good food, fun place ... kind of the vibe of a place like Yakitori Totto, but very little yakitori items

          BC wine: if you want to taste good wine, you'll have to drop some dime. Their low end stuff is not very good, and not very cheap. I haven't found too many good wines by the glass here, but I've had some excellent bottles in the $100 range.

          If you like Jazz and pretentious wine bar atmosphere, I think O'Douls is great. Live music every night from 9-midnite (and during Jazz Festival the jam session from midnite to 2am is amazing).

          Have fun.

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

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