Weekend in Vancouver - Seafood meals
I am planning on traveling to Vancouver in the middle of September or middle of October (flexible as to the date) and am looking to plan my weekend.
So far I have planned out
Lunch - Ajisa
Dinner - Blue Water Cafe (Maybe Tojo? But there are so many negative reviews that it makes me wonder)
Lunch - West Restaurant or Kingyo
Early Dinner - Oyster Raw Bar (Do they do the 3-4 pm $0.50 oyster?)
For the Drive Home - Vijs Rangoli
As you might see from what has been planned, I am a fan of seafood in general and sushi in particular. If there are any other places to go for seafood, please let me know. Additionally, I did not really see any real suggestions on fine dining places to go in Vancouver. Are there any of note that has a seafood focus or just really good? As a guide, my top 5 favorite restaurants that I have been to are Le Bernardin (NYC), Meadowood (Napa, CA), Momofuku Ko (NYC), Per Se (NYC), and Cyrus (Napa, CA).
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Thanks for all the suggestions from everyone. I wanted to give a report on the places we ended up going.
Ajisai - Ajisai ended up pretty much exactly what I expected from it. It was a nice neighborhood sushi was above average food and amazing service. While it wasn't the best sushi I've had, it definitely was good quality for the price. Definite plusses were the lunch specials, the free parking, and the amazing service.
Octopus Garden - The restaurant was surprisingly good. While I thought it was strange that they don't list their omakase options on the menu, I'm glad I ordered it. We ended up ordering the $100 omakase which was definitely worth the price. While the first three dishes were average to subpar (the bluefin tuna skin was not very good), the rest was amazing. I can't rave enough about the lobster and their albacore tuna (I normally am not a fan of albacore tuna but it was definitely one of the best pieces of fish I've ever had).
Japadog - Cheap, fast, and amazing. On top of that, while they don't take credit cards, it was nice that they do take American Dollars and convert to Canadian for you.
Kingyo - Another nice neighborhood restaurant. The food was good and was price appropriately, but it isn't anything I would go out of my way for.
Vijs - I was actually disappointed by the restaurant. While it was quite good, I'm not sure why there is so much hype, or why the line is so long. I did appreciate the fact that you could order half plates of everything so that you could try more items.
Thanks for the report. I didn't know about the half plates fandango at Vij's -- good to know if/when I brave the lines again. I am constitutionally incapable of ignoring hype so I understand your disappointment. I had the exact same experience recently at a place in Portland, just did not get what all the fuss is about.
For fine dining I think the best places are Fraiche (in West Van, need a car or a taxi to get there) and The Pear Tree (in Burnaby, a bit closer but also a taxi from downtown). Chef Alvarez, Fraiche, has spent time at Mugaritz and Chef Jaeger, Pear Tree, has represented Canada in the Bocuse D'Or.
They aren't going to be at the level of your top 5, but the service is excellent, wine knowledge solid and food very, very good.
You could also consider Bishops for fine dining, but the longtime head chef left a few months back and her sous took over. Haven't heard what it's like since then, but John Bishop is the nicest man in the world and is considered the father of Vancouver cuisine.
I still think YEW is the best (non-Chinese) seafood restaurant. The atmosphere is deliberately casual, but they also do some nice stuff. Their wine list is also 50% off on Sundays (and they have a very good wine list).
Pics attached from a recent dinner at YEW: Albacore Tuna, the best crab pasta dish I've ever had, spot prawns (now out of season), a delicious scallop ceviche with jalapeño pearls, and a delicious black sesame and milk tea dessert with mango.
Vancouver is not IMO a fine dining city, though we do have a few restaurants that qualify for the category. I don't believe we have anything that would come close to your top five list.
I am not a fan of Blue Water (seems overpriced for relatively lackluster food in a somewhat corporate setting) and a recent dinner at West was underwhelming. Also as noted they are owned by the same group so the experience is kinda similar, though West is a slightly nicer/more interesting room. Both are loud when full.
Ajisai is very good, been for dinner dozens of times but never for lunch. Note that they have very little cooked food and no deep fried if that matters to you and that they don't take reservations. Miko downtown on Robson is also very good for "authentic" (sorry to use the A word) sushi, is open for lunch and takes reservations. Just be sure to order off the a la carte dinner menu, not the set lunches. Neither is cheap but I feel the value is there.
I believe Oyster has buck a shuck in the afternoon but they are a bit fuzzy on the timing. Best to call and confirm.
WRT cooked seafood here, I would seek it out at Cantonese restaurants and be prepared to pay $$$ wherever you go. Our proximity to the Pacific Ocean does little to lessen the cost of crustaceans et al. Otherwise for sushi, maybe take a look at Octopus' Garden omakase and see if that appeals. It could work for your Sat dinner if you don't mind having Japanese two meals in a row. The experience/atmosphere at Ajisai and OG would certainly be different enough.
Thanks for the information. I tend to avoid Chinese food when I travel because I am probably under the mistaken belief that we have among some of the best Chinese food here in San Francisco. Yeah, Octopus Garden may be the choice since that seems to be the other big place to go.
re: Sam Salmon
Agree with Sam that izakaya are kinda Vancouver despite being Japanese :-). Some seafood on their menus including a modicum of sushi.
WRT to a good place for Cantonese, and based on the price levels of the places in the OP, perhaps Kirin Richmond or Red Star Richmond for a seafood meal? The only issue at Chinese restos is dining alone or with just one person doesn't always work that well...
West is good but I think it is not as good as it should be. It is also owned company as Blue Water so I would recommend switching one or the other to somewhere else. Kingyo has a lunch special which you can book ahead of time (only 10 served per day) - 12 small dishes. My fiance loved it.
Tojo's is overrated and horrible and overpriced. I've been three times and regretted it every time.
Ajisai is one of my two favourite sushi restaurants in Vancouver.
Vij's Rangoli - My fiance loves their beef shortrib. I like the eggplant with chickpeas. Get their rice pudding dessert too!
(sidenote: I think I may have to go to Ko during my NYC trip in September)
Thanks for the information. As for new york, I think the two must hit restaurants for me is Le Bernardin (the food is really quite amazing and for a 3 start, the price is quite low) and Chicken and Rice food cart. I did not personally god, but my foodie friends who did go (they went to per se and other top restaurants that trip) said that chicken and rice was by far the best food they had.