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Jun 17, 2011 12:35 PM

First Time Visiting Vancouver -- Suggestions/Comments About Itinerary

My wife and I are excited to finally get a chance to visit Vancouver and will be in town for 4 nights, 3 full days, and until about lunch time on the fourth day.

I've done some research on the boards and using some Vancouver press and have come up with the following tentative plan. Am I missing a gem? Headed for an overhyped, mediocre place?

Night 1 -- Tojo's: Seems like a great place to end on a travel day. Bao Bei is another option for us if we aren't feeling like full-on omokase madness.

Night 2 -- Vij's: I'm hoping it's a revelation. We were happy, but a bit underwhelmed by Tantra in NYC. That was the last high-end, fusion Indian restaurant we tried.

Night 3 -- La Quercia OR L'Abattoir.

Night 4 -- Chambar OR Boneta

I'd LOVE to get out to Richmond for some top-end Cantonese. Unfortunately, my wife's one and only flaw is a general lack of enthusiasm for Chinese food. I know. It makes no sense at all. I love her anyway. I do think I could convince her to do dim sum one morning. Any suggestions?

We are also skipping the truly high-end stuff (other than maybe Tojo's). Should we squeeze Blue Water Cafe or West in at the expense of one of the more casual places?

Thanks for any help!

Vij's Restaurant
1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA

La Quercia
3689 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6R1P2, CA

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  1. Based on where the majority of your posts are, I'm guessing you're coming from LA/area? If so I've heard that there is some great Asian in the San Gabriel Valley so perhaps you needn't repine too much :-). There are so many options for dim sum if you do decide to head out to Richmond. Are you looking for fancy or plain? New fangled or old school?

    The rest of your list looks solid, with the added attraction of being in different neighbourhoods, unless you go to both L'Abbatoir and Boneta. Nothing really overpriced (well, arguably, Tojo's, but only you can judge that). I'm sure you'll be aware that Bao Bei is essentially Chinese, albeit with a bit of a twist re your wife's "issue" :-).

    Overhyped? Vij's, maybe. Hoping for a revelation may be setting the bar too high; if you manage your expectations you should have a good meal. I prefer the vegetarian preps there and avoid pork and chicken, because I've had disappointing dishes of both (overcooked).

    For that kind of Italian restaurant (local/neighbourhood trattoria), I prefer La Buca over La Quercia but both have their strong supporters and both are a bit out of the way if that matters.

    Not a fan of Blue Water based on a single meal there (pedestrian preps, generic room/service, one overdone fish entree and of course the well-documented high prices, though I wasn't paying), and I understand the star sushi chef has left recently, but there are many fans.

    Have fun and pray to the rain gods before you come.

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

    Vij's Restaurant
    1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA

    La Quercia
    3689 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6R1P2, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: grayelf

      If overpaying for average food and mediocre service is what you want then Tojo's is the place.

      If not there are numerous other high end sushi places I'm sure you would like more.

    2. For Dim Sum closer to town I would recommend Kirin on Alberni St as an alternate to trecking all the way to Richmond.

      For my two cents, I would recommend Chambar over Boneta based on the many wonderful meals I've had at the first and only one visit to the second.

      1. Hi Grayelf: Yeah, I'm from LA. Should have mentioned that. We do have exemplary Chinese food, but I've heard the Cantonese restaurants of Vancouver in particular are not to be missed. Bao Bei was only begrudgingly added to our list because it wasn't the usual Sichuan dive I take her out to.

        I did try to mix up the neighborhoods a bit so we can check out the town more. I'll definitely look into La Buca and thanks for fair warning on Blue Water Cafe. West seemed more my style if I'm going to splurge anyway.

        Hi Sam: I'll take those suggestions for a better sushi restaurant, especially if Tojo's is regarded as average these days.

        Hi Islandgirl: Thanks for the tip on Kirin for a more sane dim sum location. Did you not like Boneta or is Chambar just flat-out superior?

        Thanks again, everyone.

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

        2 Replies
          1. re: Frommtron

            Hi Frommtron

            Hope this isn't too late:

            RE: Kirin, this is my husbands favourite for Chinese and he isn't usually a fan (sounds like your wife)

            RE: Chambar vs. Boneta, I've always been a fan of Chambar since they first opened. We've had many good meals there and the beer/cocktail list is definately a draw for us. I've read some not-so-pleased reviews lately . I will say that it's not as amazing as it was in the early days (the prices have all gone up significantly, service isn't quite as top-notch, etc) but we've always had a good time.

            My one experience with Boneta was several years ago and I remember it was nice but just not special enough for us to ever go back. I can't remember specifically what we ate or drank (again, for me not a good sign as I usually remember good food) Chambar has always won-out if we're in that area of town.

            That's my 2 cents for what it's worth.

          2. Some great choices!
            Skip tojos. Go to octopus garden.
            Go to blue water cafe...there is nothing generic about that room
            go to vijs, la quercia and labbatoir! they edge out chambar and boneta.

            Also consider Hawksworth...its the new hot spot in town.

            1. A couple of other suggestions for nights 3 and 4:


              newly opened offering some interesting takes on French classic technigues


              some of the best traditional French food in the city


              one of the first to concentrate on local ingrediants beautifully prepared.


              some of the best Italian food in the city but can be a bit expensive

              I would also second

              Have a great time

              2 Replies
              1. re: Philx

                Hawksworth may need to happen for us. I really like the look of West and it seems like at one time Hawksworth (the chef) was what made that place special. Thanks waylman and philx.

                1. re: Frommtron

                  You are right about Hawksworth and West - never been as good since he left INMO but better in the last year or so than we he first left.