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Oct 4, 2010 04:39 PM

4 hour layover at YVR, suggestions for easy-access weekday lunch?

Hello BC hounds! Wife & I will be on our way home (to Berkeley CA USA) from Japan in November, landing at YVR 11am & our flight home doesn't leave until 3pm.

The question: where can we go for lunch that is:
1) both easy & fast to get to, for people who are jetlagged, sleep-deprived & never been to Vancouver before
2) really good
3) on the cheap side (we will have blown our fancy eating dollars in Japan!)
4) not Japanese (presumably we'll have gotten our fill)
5) preferably different from what we can get in the SF Bay Area, but this is not a must

I hear wonderful things about the Hong Kong Cantonese food scene up there, so I would lean that direction, but open to any & all suggestions! I imagine we won't want anything too rich or complicated, what with the flying & all. In general we tend to eat pretty healthy anyway; good fresh veggies a plus.

I tried searching on "YVR" & saw hot pot recommended for someone else in a similar layover, but I don't want to cook for myself when I'm that tired ;)

Thanks in advance for all advice!

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  1. Have you considered DimSum.

    Jade, Viva, Empire Seafood - all on Alexander, Sea Harbour, Fisherman Terrace, Top Gun are good options. Though depending on the day. They do get busy on weekends. South Ocean and Lucky Tao for better value dimsum.

    Northern Chinese and Shanghainese cuisine is another option. Chen's is reasonably cheap.

    bare in mind if anything is Cheap and Good... it's gonna be busy and crowded.

    12 Replies
    1. re: betterthanbourdain

      I wonder if those little shuttle buses still go from the airport to hotels in Richmond. If yes, you could hop on one that goes to say the Radisson and hit up O'Tray for some soothing brain tofu or crepe at President Plaza. Very cheap, tasty and fast.

      1. re: grayelf

        Good call on the Radisson shuttles.

        With all the security measures in place at the airport, I don't really know how a 4 hr layover will translate in terms of actual eating time. (Just a caveat). There is a nice hotel restaurant right in the airport called the Globe@YVR.

        1. re: grayelf

          That sounds like a good idea... fmed, do you think we would be too tight on time to make this work? I mean... I don't mind eating in 40 minutes, but I also wouldn't want to get all stressed out about being late. Globe looks expensive for what you get (just like anything in an airport); I'd rather eat a boring airport sandwich for $8 than a good airport sandwich for $18... which reminds me, I should have stated requirement #6: accepts credit cards, because changing $ doesn't make much sense for a 4-hour layover. Or does it?

          1. re: indigirl

            Four hrs will be tight. Going through security can take 30 mins or more. If you are willing risk it, then go to a place like sea Harbour or Fisherman's Terrace both of which take credit cards and are acceisble by Canada Line skytrain.

            1. re: fmed

              i wouldn't be leaving the airport on a tight connection like that.

              come back! it is such an easy flight from mid cal (sfo)

        2. re: betterthanbourdain

          Dim sum would be great; would cheap & good be busy on a Thursday? Value is my middle name! Which is easier to get to, South Ocean or Lucky Tao?

          Lucky Tao Restaurant
          8077 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X1C3, CA

          1. re: indigirl

            If you have any US cash with you, you could just use that. The food court is uber cheap even with exchange :-).

            1. re: indigirl

              I'd echo Fmed's sentiments. By the time you clear Canada customs to get out and factoring in that you need to go through security (not sure if they pre-clear US customs for US flights) and adding in needing to be at the gate for 30 min before the flight to board, it could be kind of tight to be on the "no need to panic" stage of travel.

              Most dim sum places won't be rammed on a Thursday, not like the weekends. Lucky Tao is easier to get to by Skytrain as the train runs along #3 Road. However, both are very cheap by cab as well.

              Lucky Tao Restaurant
              8077 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X1C3, CA

              1. re: bdachow

                Oh, so sad... we definitely don't want to stress out over lunch... I guess we will plan to stay in the airport, but maybe will ask for further input from the airline people once we land.

                So grayelf, we could use US cash at the food court?! Really?! How about for the cab or skytrain?

                1. re: indigirl

                  You can use US cash almost everywhere here. For skytrain, cabs, etc - you can use your credit cards.

                  1. re: fmed

                    We even take US coins here, that is how much of a cultural mosaic we are :-).

          2. If you are flying from Japan and connecting to a flight to San Francisco (I assume on Air Canada or United) there is a quick sidestep during most hours of the day so you don't have to clear Canadian customs, and can just go straight to US Customs from within the International area. That said, the US cleared section of the airport is not a very fun place to spend 3 hours killing time.

            So you can go ahead and clear Canadian customs, and then see how your timing is working out. Just keep in mind that when you get back to the airport for the flight to the U.S. that you will have to go through multiple steps including security clearance, US immigration, and US Customs before getting to your gate.

            If you want to maximize your time, try to get your airline to give you boarding passes for the connecting flight before you board the plane in Japan. (Or print them out from an online check-in in advance.)

            If you are looking for a quick meal in Richmond that is easily accessible to the airport, you can hop the Canada Line train from the airport to Aberdeen Centre and then explore the food courts at either Yaohan Centre or Aberdeen Centre. The food courts will provide a faster meal so that I think you can make it back as long as you don't have a huge delay on arrival.

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

            7 Replies
            1. re: YVRChow

              That was what I was suggesting in my post above re President's Plaza and the shuttle buses, which I think are still free and go at specific times. Food court would deffo be faster.

              1. re: grayelf

                Radisson does still have their shuttle, but as I recall they ask for proof you stayed at the hotel to use it, as it is for hotel guests only. If they are available and you happen to hit them when they arrive, they would be a bit faster than the train.

                1. re: YVRChow

                  Fair enough -- I guess everyone is watching their pennies these days, even big hotel chains.

              2. re: YVRChow

                Oh wow... so much bureaucracy! Thank you for breaking it all down for me. Good info to know that the US cleared part of the airport is dull... so, which is the best part of the airport?

                1. re: indigirl

                  I think the best part to kill time in the airport is the Fairmont Hotel (which is right in the airport). Just go past all of the US check-in counters and take the escalator up to the Fairmont. They have a restaurant/lounge. But you are really close to Richmond, so if you have the time, I'd venture out honestly. After all, and airport is an airport!

                  There are several flights each day to San Francisco. Maybe you can get your airline to switch you to a later flight so you can enjoy a leisurely visit to Richmond? (Just a thought)

                  1. re: YVRChow

                    No chance of changing to a later flight w/ these cheapo plane tix! We will assess the situation when we land & then if too tired/overwhelmed/discouraged by bureaucracy, we'll hit the Fairmont! If signs say go we'll beeline for good Chinese chow! Thanks for the tips!

                2. re: YVRChow

                  this is true - first para - at least on the domestic side we get to have refreshments at milestones or earls or whatever that is down the westjet side

                  the "post usa customs and imm" at yvr is miserable in terms of food offerings ---- makes college food look great.

                3. The original comment has been removed
                  1. I can't figure out which is worse Chowhound etiquette, not following up w/ a report back, or bumping an old thread with a report back that contains no useful info? Sorry in any case.... we ended up trying to take naps & eating dumb soup in that most boring wing of the airport. Our flight in was delayed, we were exhausted, rain was pouring down like cats & dogs, & we had already had our fill of racing against the clock running for the Narita Express. All of which is to say, thank you for the advice that it might be too tight a timeframe, given the various bureaucratics involved. Will have to make a purposeful trip to Vancouver sometime....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: indigirl

                      So sorry things didn't work out, indigirl, but thanks for letting us know what happened. Do come back soon with more time to plan/chow and you can try out some good places for sure!

                    2. so i'm coming from san francisco and have just under 4 hours to kill from 830am-1230am before a very long flight to china/ but i do not want to chance leaving the airport and coming back. are there any delicious lunch options in the airport, or am i better off bringing my own lunch?

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: vulber

                        I guess you meant 12:30pm.

                        Take a look at the airport's offerings (click on each of the terminals):


                        Our airport is a very relaxing place to be, unlike many other metropolitan airports. You could take a Canada Line rapid transit line (airport station right at airport terminal) into Richmond for some eats along the #3 Road corridor, if you aren't encumbered by carry-on luggage.

                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          thanks, but that link doesnt' tell me how good any of those places are. that's why i'm asking on here :)

                          i eat everything, just want delicious food.

                          1. re: vulber

                            No it doesn't, just a directory. If you intend on staying inside the airport, then maybe looking those up on Urbanspoon Vancouver.

                            Your options increase by going into Richmond, but that takes a bit more time and walking.

                            #9 in Richmond (in Lansdowne Shopping Center Mall) is open 24/7. I've had some decent eats there and they have a diverse menu:


                            1. re: vulber

                              Hey vulber, nice to see your handle on our humble board! I fear delicious food is not really to be had at YVR. I've heard that Globe is decent but $$$, never eaten there. All the fast food places I've tried are overpriced and meh. I'm off to SF tomorrow and will be packing dinner :-).

                              1. re: grayelf

                                good to know - i'll probably pack a lunch then; i have an 8 hour layover on the way back and will actually have time to get in and out of vancouver

                          2. re: vulber

                            excuse my ignorance, but how does one pack a lunch which doesn't get confiscated at security? Other than granola bars and sandwiches?

                            1. re: KarenDW

                              I think as long as it doesn't contain a bunch of liquid or other restricted ingredients, they're pretty understanding. At YVR you can/could get special meals packed by Globe to take on the plain. I do a Spanish style tortilla with eggs and spuds that eats well at room temp. Best to check of course. ETA you can take a plastic fork or spoon on board, but not a plastic knife. Also this link is helpful for foodstuffs going from Canada: