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Jul 4, 2011 10:34 AM

Trip Report: Fritz, Peaceful, Dragon Ball, Elysian, Ajisai, Celine's, Market Grill, Kingyo

I was in Vancouver July 1-3.

The first thing I ate was poutine with Montreal smoked meat at Fritz European Fry House on Davie. I was a little embarrassed to stand in line with a dozen or so half-drunk clubbers (it was midnight on Canada Day), but I managed to live through it. The poutine was over-the-top indulgent, ridiculously delicious and well-made.

Thank you to everyone here who's recommended Peaceful on West Broadway! – it was great. I had the beef roll, chive pockets with vermicelli and egg, pan-fried pork dumplings, and dan dan noodles. The beef roll and chive pockets were amazingly good, as is often said here. I particularly liked the beef roll: the pastry was moist and layered like Burmese platha. The dumplings were stodgy and not very interesting, and the vinegar sauce they came with added sharpness but really nothing else. The dan dan was good but I was not a particular fan of the noodles themselves: I tend to like ramen style noodles better than the broad, flat kind. The service was fine. For some reason they wouldn't give me change for the parking meter: they're on a major street so maybe they have gotten tired of being asked. It was very cheap: about $30.

At Dragon Ball Bubble Tea, I had fresh strawberry with milk, half-sweet, with tapioca pearls. It was very good, but despite my sweet tooth even half was a bit too sweet for me. I didn't realize they open fairly late (at two in the afternoon), and when I first arrived they were closed; when I went back at three there were no empty seats, and a fast-moving line to the door.

At Elysian I had a mellow rich cappuccino and a terrific smallish croissant with turkey and cheddar. Service was funny and friendly. The space is calm and pretty.

Ajisai is tiny and I had to wait a half-hour for a table, but it was Saturday night so not surprising. Most patrons were Japanese. I had nigiri plus an asparagus roll and it was lovely --- the fish was high-quality and well-handled, moist but not dripping, and the rice was perfect: it held its shape but was very loosely-packed. A little more wasabi than I am used to, and the ginger was nothing special. The service was cute and giggly. I found it cheap – IIRC, about $40. I had read reviews that describe Ajisai as being in an alley beside London Drugs – that is true (and it's a little hard to find) but I would describe it more as a mews or laneway. It's landscaped and has seating for people waiting to get into Ajisai.

I had halibut and chips at Celine's at the Granville Public Market because Go Fish is closed, and it was stellar. The batter was really great: greasy, crackly and light.

Also at the Granville market, I had a Cajun burger with fries and gravy at the Market Grill. The burger patty was fabulous – charred crisp on the outside but with a hint of pink inside. And the bun was soft, lightly toasted and good. The fries weren't great though. They were wedge style, unseasoned and not interesting. The gravy was good but a little expensive at $1.50 for about a quarter-cup.

At Kingyo I had the black cod, kobe beef, tan tan noodles and bibimbap. The cod was good, although it came with a pale sweet fatty sauce that didn't add anything. The kobe beef is served raw alongside a hot rock for searing, which I figured would be kind of fun but actually was sort of stupid: the rock wasn't very hot -- it never really seared the meat, and it cooled down quickly and needed to be replaced. The tan tan noodles were great, much richer-tasting than at Peaceful, and with the ramen-style noodles I prefer. The bibimbap was great too. It's mixed into a sizzling stone bowl which is meant to scorch the rice. I'd read reviews complaining the rice doesn't successfully crust, but mine did and it was delicious. The service at Kingyo was charming and kind, and the restaurant itself was lovely: decently spaced tables, comfortable, and lively but not too loud. It was a little more expensive than I expected – about $75 before tip with two drinks.

Thank you so much to all the people here who've written about the restaurants I visited. I never posted any questions but I did a lot of reading, and your help was incredibly valuable: I built my whole trip around it :-)

871 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L9, CA

Fritz European Fry House
718 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6Z1B6, CA

Bubble Tea Cafe
952 King Edward Ave W, Vancouver, BC V5Z2E2, CA

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  1. Thanks for the great report! And thanks as well for doing your homework and not having to ask questions that already have answers. (We don't mind so much but it's nice for a change!)

    2 Replies
    1. re: eatrustic

      i'm also a visitor to vancouver, i liked fritz too. i like ajisai,

      i went to kingyo last night and the three of us found EVERYTHING too salty. i know its pub food meant to eat with beer but it was over the top.
      i also didnt like the sauce over the black cod. in fact. i didn't like any of the sauces. its also why i dislike tojos.
      similarly found the king salmon (white color) carpaccio over dressed.

      i thought the bibimbap was dul and yes, even though it was a dol sot bibimbap, the rice didnt crisp at all. the rice for the pressed sushi was pretty dismal. i wouldnt even call it sushi rice.
      service, decor and plating were great though.
      i prefered the straightforward more traditional food at guu. havent tried any hapa's yet.

      i havent tried peaceful yet, but the beef roll at kalvins szechuan was really good (touch too oily though), as was the smoked duck and other dishes i had.

      1. re: modernist

        If you liked the beef roll at Kalvin's, you will be happier still at Peaceful (provided they are "on' when you go).

    2. Yeah, super report.

      I have a soft spot for the poutine at Fritz, especially during film festivals.

      Only had the skinny noodles in tan tan at Peaceful, agree it wouldn't be as good with the wider ones, though I like them pan fried.

      Did you sit in the tiny "garden" at Elysian by chance? Their baked goods and sandwiches are surprisingly good I find. Wish we had more cafes that paid as much attention to the food.
      Will have to try Celine's. I'm generally not a fan of the prepared food at GIsle these days, though I don't mind the burgs at Market Grill (agree the fries are mealy and meh). I used to like their BELTCHs (bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato and cheese sarnie) for breaky but haven't had one in ages.

      So glad you got a good eating itin out of all the rambling we all do here :-).

      1. Great report! Definitely hit a bunch of my faves!

        Regarding the change issue, that's bizarre that they wouldn't for their own customers, but you would be amazed the number of times we get requests for change at our till for parking. Some are for customers, most are just for people off the street.