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Jul 8, 2010 01:27 PM

Well-Priced Ethnic Vancouver Restuarants

I'm fairly new to Vancouver, and my family is coming to visit in August. They are fairly adventurous eaters from San Diego. In general, we're looking for restaurants that are fairly casual, well-priced (entrees $20 or less). Since they get a lot of seafood and Mexican in SD, I want them to experience some unique things about Vancouver. So, I am looking for recommendations for various ethnic restaurants; they particularly like Thai and Indian. They'll be staying in North Burnaby and we'll have a car, but I;d like recommendations particularly for downtown, the Kits area, or Burnaby, since those are mostly the areas we'll be in. In terms of cuisine, I'm looking for recommendations for:
- Thai
- Malaysian, maybe?
- Indian (I've been to Viji's and Rangoli & wasn't all that impressed, although it could just have been the meal I had there)
- dim sum (I had good dim sum in Macau & Hong Kong, but I haven't tried in Vancouver)
- sushi (I was thinking an all-you-can-eat place, so if they don't like something, they can easily try something else, since my mom is very dubious about it)
- Korean (esp. bulgogi)
- Middle Eastern (I've been to Afghan Horsemen & wasn't impressed)
- any other cuisines that would be recommended?


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  1. Thai is weak in Vancouver, though you might like to try Maenam since you are going to be in Kits. I think we do much better with Vietnamese, and I've really been enjoying Green Lemon Grass on Kingsway for sitdown lately, though there are tons of options out that way (sort of on the way to Burnaby). Also worth hitting either Tung Hing or Ba Le (strip mall at Kingsway and Fraser) for some banh mi, if you like Vietnamese sandwiches, but they are both take away.

    Seri Malaysia has been getting a fair bit of love on the boards recently but you need to do your homework to see if this is the place for you. Getting out towards Burnaby...

    I don't love the Indian on offer here either but maybe try Saravanaa Bhavan (I don't think there is an outpost in SD) for South Indian veg buffet lunch which is a great value. Just east of Kits...

    In Burnaby, Crystal Mall for Asian food court fun or some home-style Sichuan and S&W Pepper House. A bit further along Kingsway, Anatolia's Gate for Turkish (this could be your Middle Easternish option) or venture a wee bit south and hit up Alvin Garden for some Hunan.

    Another option for Chinese would be Peaceful Restaurant. Large menu with lots of dishes, you need to do a bit of homework to find the best stuff to order. Just a tad east of Kits...

    If you can handle potentially slow service, Lin's has some of the best XLB in town and is very close to Kits (Broadway and Granville).

    The best selection of dim sum options is in Richmond and there are threads aplenty here on it. Nothing in Kits for sure (I wish, as that is where I live). A couple of possibilities downtown (Kirin comes to mind and I think there is one other) but you will pay more. Red Star on Granville might be worth a shot; it is not in your target areas but will be closer than going to Richmond.

    Your rationale for AYCE sushi looks good on paper but if you have a doubtful sushi eater in your midst, it may backfire. In my experience, AYCE places do not have the best and freshest fish. The one surefire way to put a newbie off sushi is to serve her old sea creatures. What about picking a resto that does sushi really well but also excels at the kitchen (cooked) dishes? If that sounds appealing, repost for suggestions. Another option would be to back off on the sushi and hit a couple of the slightly more sedate izakaya, though I took my dad to Guu with Garlic and he loved it (these are more or less all downtown, actually in the West End, though there are a couple in Kits).

    I'll leave Korean to others because despite eating it on numerous occasions, I still don't get it.

    I don't know that it is outstanding but if they are short on Peruvian in SD and want a funky dining experience you could try Mochika in Kits. It's inside a car detailing shop (!) but the owner/chef is very keen and the price point would be right for you. Only available on the weekends though and closes early-ish so possibly better for lunch and definitely good for sharing.

    Sorta ethnic (nominally Belgian) is Cafe Medina for hearty but kinda gourmet breakfasts downtown. In Kits, check out Patisserie Lebeau for a more casual atmosphere in which to snarf much larger but less "gourmet" waffles -- this is a great place to take a mix of people, and is really near Granville Island which has its own charms for tourists and locals alike :-). It's also a few doors over from Les amis du fromage if you have any cheese weasels in your group and from Barbara Jo's if you have any cookbook hounds.

    Again only nominally ethnic but I've been loving the grilled sandwiches at the newish Thomas Haas on Broadway near MacDonald in Kits. If you go, you will no doubt be tempted by his other stylin' patisserie and chocolates -- give in!

    For a somewhat unique Italian experience (since you say family), you could try dining a la famiglia at La Buca. You need six or more people to do it, but it is fun and v. tasty. Just north of Kits...

    Totally not ethnic (well, maybe North American is an ethnicity?) but in case you want something less exotic, two burger ideas in Kits: Moderne and Romer's, which is brand new and not in the Chowhound database yet (on Fourth just west of Burrard where Pinkie's used to be). Oh and if you want to show off Vancouver at its finest, try the Galley Patio and Grill at Jericho Beach. Not the most gourmet food but more than palatable and your folks will be so busy ogling the view they won't notice anyway :-). It can get very busy at peak times and the east end of the patio (you MUST sit on the patio) is reserved for sailing club members so don't sit there.

    You didn't ask for dessert but since you will be in Kits, Sweet Obsession comes to mind on 16th just east of MacDonald. Really excellent cakes and some more unusual offerings (lemon dacquoise, oh yeah) in a modern setting with outdoor seating.

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

    Peaceful Restaurant
    532 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z1E9, CA

    Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House
    1537W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6J1W6, CA

    Crystal Mall
    4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

    Seri Malaysia Restaurant
    2327E Hastings St E, Vancouver, BC V5L1V6, CA

    Red Star Seafood Restaurant
    8298 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6P4Z4, CA

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

    Saravanaa Bhavan
    955W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K3, CA

    1938 W. 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

    Medina Cafe
    556 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B2L3, CA

    Kirin Mandarin Restaurant
    1166 Alberni St, Vancouver, BC V6E3Z3, CA

    Tung Hing Bakery
    1196 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5V 3C8, CA

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

    Moderne Burger
    2507W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6K2E9, CA

    Kitanoya Guu With Garlic
    1698 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G1C7, CA

    S&W Pepper House
    4500 Kingsway #1812, Burnaby V5H 2A9, CA

    Mochikas Peruvian Cafe
    1696 W 5th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1N8, CA

    Green Lemon Grass
    1086 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5V, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      How is the Ethiopian scene in Sandy Eggo?

      Because both Fassil & The Red Sea Cafe on E. Broadway meet your criteria-a bit of a down hood but not outstandingly so.

      Red Sea Restaurant
      670 Broadway E, Vancouver, BC V5T1X6, CA

      1. re: Sam Salmon

        Red Sea, how I love thee.

        Definitely not fancy looking but the food is wonderful. There used to be another spot called "House of Salasi" but he closed up shop :( That was at the foot of Granville by Cheesecake Etc.

        Red Sea Restaurant
        670 Broadway E, Vancouver, BC V5T1X6, CA

        Cheesecake Etc
        2141 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6H3E9, CA

    2. Had some good skewers recently at an outdoor event from Thai Cafe in N. Burnaby

      Thai Cafe
      4160 Hastings St, Burnaby, BC V5C2J4, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: el_lobo_solo

        Good idea, lobo -- those were good skewers! I'm still getting my head around going to darkest North Burnaby to try other items on their menu, but the OP's family will be staying there so...maybe we will get a report from them :-).

      2. Thanks everyone for their many suggestions!

        grayelf, the AYCE sushi response is one I hadn't thought of. I've only done it twice in Vancouver, once at a place on Davie (whose name I can't remember, unfortunately) that was quite good, and once at a place that, as you say, didn't seem to serve the freshest stuff. So maybe suggestions for a place with sushi that also has some good cooked dishes? Also, what exactly would an izakaya serve? I've been to places called izakayas, but only in Korea, so I suspect they may have been Koreanized.

        Any suggestions for Korean food that's authentic (esp in the Burnaby area--even western Coquitlam/Port Moody would be okay)? I've seen lots of places around, but I haven't been to any. Insadong on North Road seems to get pretty good reviews, but there a lot over in the Lougheed Mall area.

        Are there any particular dim sum places recommended in Richmond? We very well might make it over there if we go to the night market.

        I haven't had Ethiopian food in SD, although I have heard good things about it (and, sadly, although I miss SD, I haven't lived there for 3 years). I will definitely be checking out the places in Vancouver, though :)

        Oh, and the recommendation for Anatolia's is an excellent one--I had forgotten about that place, but they have really delicious food (I particularly enjoyed the iskender kabob). We'll definitely make sure to take my parents there!

        2 Replies
        1. re: chp

          Thinking of Kits, I'm going to say Yuji's, which some people may disagree with. I haven't been for a bit but they always seem to have good quality fish, and they do a fair number of cooked things (or even cooked sushi) that might appeal to your mater. It's also a bright room with a bit of style, right on 4th Ave so you could coordinate it with a stroll there or along Kits beach.

          Two other options in the area: Kibune right beside Kits Beach has very fresh sushi/sashimi (try the usuzukuri if you are feeling naughty). It is more "old school" though very casual -- if there are a number of you be sure to call ahead and ask for one of the tatami or regular rooms; you want to avoid sitting at the front room by the window in the summer with the afternoon sun blinding you and heating it up. IIRC neither of these recs have A/C so if we have another little heat snap like now you might want to rethink :-).

          I'm no expert on izakaya but I've had mostly cooked dishes at the ones I've been to. My personal favourite is Zakkushi which specializes in things on sticks, grilled. Their menu is pretty accessible on the web -- maybe take a look and see if it appeals. It has outposts on 4th Ave in Kits (very small, resos essential and even then you will be either sharing a table or cheek by jowl), Main (this one is the biggest, I think) and Denman (I haven't been). The other izakaya option in Kits is one door over from Kibune at Hapa. I've only been to the one on Robson and didn't love it the couple of times I went, but the Kits one would be more convenient for you. There is also one that opened just before the Owelympics in Yaletown but parking is such a hassle down there (arguably worse than the West End). If you do decide to venture to the West End, you will find a concentration of izakaya along Denman and up the bottom of Robson. Some of the ones down there are a bit more sedate, but all izakaya are kinda meant to be pubby to a degree, with various interesting/weird beverages, depending on your perspective. I took my dad to Guu with Garlic and he loved it but my dad is a fiend for all things Japanese -- it may not be the ideal "parental" place.

          I've heard Insadong is really good (I believe fmed's fave?!) but I haven't been and so I will again leave that to more in-the-know types.

          I have yet to be really blown away by dim sum at any place in Richmond, not that I've been to hundreds or even dozens, so again I would defer to others. My favourite reliable spot is in Kerrisdale at Golden Ocean -- carts, discount before 11, reservations, fresh food and A/C! I'm not sure how you would combine the night market with dim sum as one is late and the other early...

          I love all the bready things cooked in the big pizza oven at Anatolia's plus most of their apps are well yummy but I was especially chuffed to try their sour cherry juice which goes so well with the food. I now buy it for myself at Parthenon.

          Have a great time with your family in town!

          1. re: chp

            In terms of AYCE sushi - I've tried Richmond Sushi, and was surprised at the high quality of some of the fish that came. I thought the geoduck and the toro was fantastic. The service was pretty mediocre. You order 5 things, and you may see 2 of them eventually...Some have also raved about Shabusen on Granville. It's actually a mix sushi and Korean BBQ buffet place, so that may be an advantage to a sushi beginner. For Shabusen, I thought they had better (still average) sushi than Korean BBQ, but my brother thought the exact opposite.

            The Guu website lists their menus if you want to check out their izakaya offerings. I've gone to the original and garlic and love them both to death. Another place nearby is Aji which is a little more old school (they still seem to unofficially separate the Japanese from the wide-eyed gaijin in different seating sections), but their stuff seems pretty decent.

            Haven't been myself - but my friends like Jang Mo Jib for Korean. I understand there are several of them - in downtown, Richmond, Kingsway, etc.

            Dim sum in Richmond - Kirin, Shiang Garden, Sun Sui Wah are the usual recs. Outside of maybe LA, SF, and Toronto, there's really no other place with better dimsum outside of Hong Kong.

            838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

            Shiang Garden Restaurant
            4540 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X2C2, CA

            Richmond Sushi
            8388 Capstan Way, Richmond, BC V6X4A7, CA