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Jul 23, 2010 07:21 PM

An innovative meal and some good chinese food

Hello All,

The wife and I will be in Vancouver next week for an anniversery trip. We were looking at doing one nice dinner - probably next Sunday. We are from the SF Bay Area and particularly appreciate innovative food. Basically we are always on the look out for a food meal that makes us say "wow haven't had that before." Also we like food that is local to that area - so fish is great! A tasting menu would be great but not essential. I would say the budget is around $100 US pp but can go above that for the right place. otherwise cuisine is completley open. Also can be fancy but doesn't have to be. And if there are any particular innovative or special cheap eats thats great to know about...

For other meals, my wife is from shanghai and we've heard that there is great shanghainese food here. any particular recommendations? especially within walking distance to our hotel near the convention center?

Thanks a ton,


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  1. I know there have been a lot of posts lately - but was wondering if there was any particular place that folks would recommend that was both innovative and quality with a focus on fish.

    Some of the runners seem to be, Blue Water Cafe, Rain City Grill and Bishops - but was wondering if anything else fit into t his category...



    17 Replies
    1. re: bennyscuba

      The only one that comes to mind is C but I have not been in years. For a very long time it was the best seafood restaurant in Vancouver. Hopefully someone else chimes in with a recent experience.
      I did however go to BWC last weekend and thought it was really good. Although, the prices were a tad high and the service a bit cold/sombre, the food was enjoyable.

      1. re: bennyscuba

        Hey benny, I've been thinking about your post and feeling bad you haven't got replies -- SF Bay Area is one of my favourite places to be, so I'd like to help out a 'Hound hailing from there.

        The thing is, I can't think of a seafood resto in Vancouver that is truly innovative (doesn't mean there isn't one, just that I haven't eaten there, obviously). Like selena I haven't been to C in forever but I have heard they are using different kinds of fish that are more sustainable (sardines etc), so that might be considered innovative.

        For so-called fine dining, I think Bishop's does a good job of fish, and everything else on the menu. There is a link between their approach and that of your own maven of local eating, of course.

        Usually when friends ask where to go for seafood in Vancouver, I steer them toward Chinese restos. There are many high end and mid range places who are taking whatever is swimming and putting it on a plate, fresh. Overall though I find myself disappointed by the level of offerings in seafood and fish here, considering how close we are to the Pacific Ocean.

        As far as Shanghainese food is concerned, there are many options for that here too. I've only been to Bund Shanghai in SF and I have to say based on a sample size of one, most any resto in Vancouver or Richmond will up the ante for you. Chen's, Long's or Lin's would be good bets for tasty offerings at very reasonable prices (all are more or less holes in the wall). Others on the board can help you out with higher end options but some of the usual suspects are Shanghai Wonderful, Suhang, Northern Delicacy, Shanghai Village, Shanghai River (Shanghainese cooks, HK management) and Dinesty (Shanghai/Taiwan mashup). I'm sure I've missed some ideas... can't think of any within walking distance of your hotel though.

        Here's a link to a similar question asked recently, in case you missed it:

        1. re: grayelf

          Thanks for the reply - I recognize it's a trickier question that just simply "good" food. C's does look like a good option. Perhaps I'll let the wife decide between that and Bishops - I hate having to make that call ;)

          Yes I did see the Richmond thread - though it seems Richmond is a hike from Downtown, correct? Though we do have on our list Long's Noodle House, Shanghai Village Wang's in the Crystal Mall and Lin Chinese Cuisine. Figure we'll hit a couple of those.


        2. re: bennyscuba

          I too am out of touch wrt Blue Water Cafe, Rain City Grill and Bishops seafood/fish offerings. I admit I tend not to order seafood at non-Asian restaurants (not a rule, but predominantly so).

          Two Japanese places came to mind for fresh seafood & fish:

          Kura (Burnaby, on Kingsway, west of Metrotown Shopping Center):

          Ajisai (Vancouver, in Kerrisdale, tucked in a residential/commercial alley between 41 and 42 Ave):

          "Gem" is a word often used to describe Ajisai. I discovered them shortly after they opened years ago, they haven't changed their formula, thank God !

          Otherwise, seafood is very well done at Sun Sui Wah (Vancouver location better than Richmond location).

          The famous Cannery is now sadly gone.

          As far as foods that make you go: "wow haven't had that before", that's tough because we don't know what you've had before, LOL.

          But izakayas are plenty in downtown (Robson strip and nearby) and I recommend Guu (any of their four locations), Hapa, Gyoza King and Kingyo. They tend to be "innovative" in different ways, but always fun and entertaining.

          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: LotusRapper

            Ajisai looks like a good one to add to the list as we are definitely sushi/sashimi people over fancy rolls. Is this the kind of place where one expects a long wait?

            We also plan to stroll down Robson one night and see what strikes our fancy. Do any of the Guu (or other) places stand above the others for quality robata (grill)? That is one thing that is surprisingly hard to find in the bay that we love!


            1. re: bennyscuba

              If you are looking for Robata & well executed sushi / sashimi then Aki's might be a good fit for you. It's located on Thurlow street between Robson and Albern, fairly close to the convention centre. You need to head down a set of stairs.

              They don't have fancy fusion rolls but they do authentic Japanese fare well.

              1. re: bennyscuba

                Ajisai might have waits later in the evening. But we always go early and get a table (or counter) before the rush which starts just before 7pm. Once you're in you're fine :-)

                I don't even know if they take reservations since I've never asked for one [blush]. But it's worth it, though.

                Note their hours (closed on Mon):


                1. re: LotusRapper

                  Nice call on the Japanese restos, LR -- I was thinking more of cooked seafood :-). Ajisai is a good rec though sort of out of the way. I have come to pick up takeout at 6 pm on a Friday and it's been slammed with a lineup (no resos) so the earlier the better, I'd say. And definitely hold out for the bar as the table seating is weirdly uncomfortable.

                  They don't have a deep fryer so they make things crunchy in different ways (corn flakes in the dynamite roll for example). Great sashimi, and the seafood salad is good value. Also be sure to try their avopara roll -- just avocado and asparagus but so good. Oh and they do lots of interesting veggie nigiri (red pepper, anyone?).

                  1. re: grayelf

                    "corn flakes in the dynamite roll for example"

                    Oh you gave away the surprise ! ;-)

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      I forgot: what happens in Ajisai, stays in Ajisai. Well, at least I didn't blab about the mountain yam... oops.

            2. re: bennyscuba

              Bishops does a great job with everything and it would be great/romantic for a anniversary dinner, but I don't know if I would call it innovative.

              As someone said below, C is probably the closest to that distinction and I would recommend it. Do your best to get a seat outside, as the setting on a nice summer evening is hard to beat.

              1. re: Cancuk

                I think Cancuk nailed it by throwing in the outdoor seating option at C -- much as I love Bishop's, it's an indoor resto (but it does have AC if that is important to you).

                1. re: grayelf

                  so made a res for C outside - expect a full write-up next week!

                  out of curiosity how formal of a city is Vancouver? I've lived in both SF & NYC so I've seen the gamut, but definitely prefer the more relaxed SF scene. Are slacks and a button down shirt appropriate for a place like C and jeans for most other places?

                  1. re: bennyscuba

                    wear you bestest fleece, and you'll be fine :)

                    1. re: vandan

                      vancouver sounds like it will be my kind of city! nothing ruins a wonderful meal more than having to wear uncomfortable clothing. if sweatpants were more socially acceptable i'd be in heaven ;)

                      1. re: bennyscuba

                        Vancouver's restaurants dress code is: "If you're dressed, you meet code" ;-)

                        Seriously, you can walk in with casual attire and a Gore-Tex jacket (and sandals) into The Chartwell, Bishop's, Le Garoche etc. and not be denied of service.

                    2. re: bennyscuba

                      Pants and a button down shirt is perfect. You could even do a nice golf shirt with khaki's. Jeans are appropriate everywhere:)

              2. Forgot to mention Bao Bei as a good Chinese (I am not sure what region) restaurant closer to where you will be staying (still a cab ride though as it's in Chinatown). I am not the expert when it comes to Chinese cuisine but friends I have dined with who have more experience with it have all really enjoyed Bao Bei.

                1. The other posters have you covered with the Shanghai recs. As far as "innovative" food is concerned...the food scene here is in a bit of doldrums. I'm hoping the industry can extract itself from the copy-cat syndrome it is in right now.

                  1. Had a good - no, great - meal at the new L'Abbatoir in Gastown recently. All involved ordered fish, though it's not the only focus of the restaurant.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: clutterer

                      Deets, please, clutterer esp on the fishy offerings :-).