Quick Vancouver Trip Report
We were in Vancouver for a college visit to UBC, great school by the way. We've been to Vancouver previously and did some repeats of places we enjoyed, Victoria Chinese Restaurant for dim sum, Gyoza King for izakaya fare and Griffin's for Sunday brunch. All were fine as expected, no surprises.
The three restaurants I'll review are Kirin Seafood, Paul's Place and Il Nido. Our first night in I had been looking at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant, the Rose Garden Restaurant on Kingsway. It would have involved either a Skytrain ride and brief walk or a taxi to get there. Neither appealed to my wife so against my better judgement got talked into Kirin on Alberni by the hotel concierge as an alternative. Now Kirin was on my dim sum list as a possible place and the concierge who was Chinese, assured us the food was good so off we went.
Upon entering the restaurant I was happy to see quite a few Chinese family groups having dinner, the restaurant was full with many table having whole King Crabs. I would have loved to have had one, but it was just too big for our party of three. We asked about fresh fish and the waiter brought out a 4-5 pound rock cod which was more than we wanted, so we ended up ordering steamed flounder in ginger onion sauce, braised tofu with crab and beef with gailan.
The flounder had just a small bite of edible meat , only a taste for each of us the rest skin and bones and was just not worth the price. The sauce was tasty and on a meatier fish would have been good. The waiter then made an error and ordered us tofu with minced pork in a dark sauce. Being our first time in the restaurant and unfamiliar with the food we began eating only to notice there was no crab in the dish. At that point we told our server we would eat the tofu with pork. The beef with gailan was basic, neither good nor bad. Our final problem was being charged for both the rock cod and the flounder, as well as the tofu with crab. After adjusting our bill correctly, we left. My son then asked if we could have a cheeseburger at A&W as he was still hungry. So Kirin for us was a bust.
The next morning we stopped for breakfast at Paul's Place on Granville on our way to UBC. This is a nice cozy restaurant open for breakfast and lunch. My wife ordered the eggs benedict florentine, my son had an omelet with avocado, sour cream and cheese, I ordered the corned beef hash with poached eggs. Now this was a great breakfast! Everyone cleaned their plates and with hot coffee and toast, managed to wipe away the memory of the previous nights Chinese disappointment.
Our last dinner was at Il Nido on Thurlow. It was a toss up between here and La Brasserie which doesn't take reservations, so Il Nido won out. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. It is a intimate, warm, reasonably priced downtown restaurant. Service was friendly and the food delicious. We started with insalata mista then ordered the papardelle bolognese, spaghetti puttanesca and osso buco over rissotto. This is a restaurant we plan on returning to the next time we visit.
Thanks to everyone who helped us plan our trip.
Sorry about the Kirin, which normally does better. For some reason, the Kirin at Cambie always works out better for us than the Albernie location, even though the latter is just three blocks from our home.
And speaking of Kirin, we are planning a large banquet at the Cambie location in early July. After reading in Chow Times about a rather difficult banquet at Sun Sui Wah, I would appreciate any tips folks can pass along. We will be about 80 people, all non-Asian.
As I look back on our experience at Kirin, I wonder if being unfamiliar with the menu played a part in our poor meal. To be sure the waiter erred, but those tables ordering the live king crabs looked like they were enjoying their food. If only we had a few more people, I would have ordered one as well.