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Mar 27, 2011 06:30 PM

Vancouver (3 nights) and Tofino (2 nights)

Hi 'hounds,

Ex-pat Canandian (F'ton, NB) visiting from San Diego, in Vancouver for 3 nights (Wed, Thurs & Sun) and Tofino (Fri & Sat), looking mainly for unique experiences in downtown Vancouver and YVR.
Will be staying in downtown, Robson and Burrard, for 2 nights and then probably one night (Sun) near the airport on the way out of town.

Aiming for great sushi without traveling all day long. I know downtown is not the best, from what I've read, but I don't want to spend my 1st trip to the homeland in 2y driving around an unfamiliar city. Thoughts on (based on posts): Juno, Tsunami, Toratsu, Kimura, Hapa, Honjin and maybe Santouka (we have one in SD, but ramen in the rain seems appropriate).
Thinking of Hidden for an arrival night fix or lunchtime meal...

Was a Montrealer for 5+ years before moving to San Diego - is La Belle Patate worth a meal (poutine)?
Would like to try Japadog for the hype - is it worth it?
A colleague recommended Tony's Fish and Oyster Cafe, but reviews seem mixed.

We're in town for a wedding on Sat (meal already determined), but Fri dinner and Sun breakfast are open options, so far.



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  1. Depending on your budget, you could stop by Blue Water Cafe and sit at the sushi bar. It's not cheap, but you won't find better sushi downtown.

    Very close to downtown (just across the Burrard bridge) is Octopus Garden. Again, not cheap, but outstanding sushi.

    My personal fav for cheap sushi is Shiro on Cambie (easy to find). It's very low key and no frills, but the sushi is killer.

    I'd avoid Tsunami. Kimura is very good but a little out of the way from downtown.

    1. Downtown Sushi - besides Blue Water I would go to Miku - my personal fave. Very unique Japanese resto that specializes in Aburi sushi (some of the pieces are lightly flamed before serving). They also have some amazing kitchen items (I love their warm soba preperation with garlic, chilies, and squid). Don't skip dessert.

      Japadog is interesting...and certainly unique. Worth a try, but remember - it is just a hotdog!

      I wouldn't bother with La Belle Patate.

      Other places to consider near you are Chambar (dinner) or Medina (brunch and lunch), which are two very good Vancouver experiences that are close by. Or, just walk a bit further and your in Gastown. There are lots of threads here about places there, but L'Abbatoir, The Diamond, and Pourhouse are all worthwhile (in that order).

      For Tofino, drive to Ucluelet (20 min. south of Tofino) for Norwood's. Far and away my favorite restaurant in the area, and maybe even BC. Small operation, so make reso's. Local, very talented staff (only 3 or 4 of them, working together for the last decade!), and a wonderful experience.

      Miku Restaurant
      1055 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9, CA

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

      1. Santouka here usually has a line, and since you do have one in SD, I wouldn't think you would want to waste time in a lineup for it here. The poutine at Boneta is excellent, and they have a great, varied menu. You could kill two birds with one stone there with a nice dinner.I never found anything like it when I lived in SD.

        1. Had a v nice meal at Juno lately but couldn't help thinking I could have spent the same at Kimura and had the omakase. I've tried that three times now and it hasn't disappointed, though it is a bit of a schlep to get there. I haven't been to Tsunami in a hundred years, Toratatsu and Hapa seem more izakaya than sushi to me, and I don't know Honjin. If you really want ramen, maybe try one of the independents downtown instead?

          Is Hidden the one in the hotel? I don't recall ever reading anything about it here so you could TOFTT. I note they have a seafood tower for $35 on their tapas menu which is a good price.

          Scary to think of an ex-Montreal denizen trying to find good poutine in Vancouver :-). I am no expert but I haven't been too excited about the poutine at Belle Patate. I do like their choucroute on a steamy though. If you're set on poutine and want to combine it with brunch, check out the breakfast poutine at La Brasserie. Not for the faint hearted but a bit different -- I'd share it with someone if I had it again.

          Japadog is worth a taste IMO. I frequent the bricks and mortar place on Robson now as I've become enamoured of their fries, especially the ones with butter (!). My favourite is the okonomiyaki dog. Per kroekerj, they are just hot dogs so YMMV.

          You can prolly find better than Tony's though to be fair I only went once and it was a long while ago. In fact, I'd suggest walking over to Go Fish if you're on Granville Island. Not far from Tony's and much more unique with regard to setting for sure.

          1. Thanks everyone. Unfortunately, by the time most of you responded, I was already on the ferry to Tofino and without internet until returning to Vancover (Richmond).

            We had a great time in Vancouver and were spoiled by great weather our entire trip, other than during our drives to and from Tofino.
            Here's what we had in Vancouver:

            This was really fun. Not authentic in any regard to the food, but very true to the izakaya atmosphere. We really enjoyed the small space, seemingly a trend in downtown Vancouver, and neighborhood feeling. Drinks were really interesting in a good way, using fresh fruit in sake cocktails. Especially fun were the kushiten - skewered items battered and fried - with playful combinations. The cheese tofu was quite literally a cheese plate and dessert in one. We also had a couple of rolls that did not disappoint.

            Hidden (Westin Hotel)
            Not in the mood for diner food at a premium price tag, we opted for Hidden and were really impressed! This is not a cheap breakfast, but apart from a bagel or Starbucks, I thought most places were overpriced for a simple greasy spoon breakfast. Hidden was the opposite of that. Nice, well executed food and, based only what the server told us, focused on local ingredients.

            Every town should have a place like Salt! We went in the middle of the day, so it was very empty and we got great, attentive service. There were 4 other tables and the one server seemed a little overwhelmed, but all the timing was perfect. We chose an all meat trio and all cheese trio and let them pair each combo with wines. Everything was spot on and we really felt among locals in the hidden alleyway location.

            La Belle Patate
            Just had a small poutine, but I thought it was well done. I read a lot of mixed reviews about this place, but, for me, it hit the spot perfectly. Gravy could have been a little saltier. Otherwise, it was very close to my memories of what a Banquise poutine in Montreal was like.

            Juno Sushi
            Had a little bit of a wait for a table, even at 9pm on a Thursday, but food was really nice and the service was very good too. Had a small sashimi plate composed of Yellowtail, Yellowtail toro, Pacific salmon and octopus, a nice bowl of seaweed with sesame seeds/paste and sake. Very enjoyable.

            Yaletown Alehouse
            I went here alone in the afternoon and brought my wife back for one reason - Rocket to Russia, a stout finished with Jack Daniels, that was out of this world! I had the two IPA's on tap in the afternoon, but compared to San Diego, they were pretty weak... The Rocket to Russia name caught my eye and the bartender hooked me up with a taste and I was impressed enough to make it back that night. No food was had

            In Tofino, we were recommended Norwood's by a Ucluelet native (who married our friends), but it was a day too late. The wedding was a potluck and we really only had one meal available that turned out to be:
            The Pointe
            Worth the view alone, all our food was fabulous. Maybe a little overpriced, but the splurge was not a waste. A starter of oysters followed by the salmon for her and beef with mushroom pasta for me. I loved the freshly made pasta and my wife said the salmon was fabulous (I don't care for cooked salmon) so I can't comment.

            Back in Vancouver, we had one meal in Richmond and opted for some closeby Chinese:
            Dynasty Chinese
            Had bao, spicy fried pork, beef and beans. This was all great! Way too much for two people, but the price was right and we gave the leftovers to a street person on the way back to the hotel.

            A great voyage to the homeland, all in all.

            735 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L6, CA