A New Yorker's first visit to vancouver. Chinese - restaurants, dishes, other suggestions
Four new yorkers are heading to Vancouver for 3 days before boarding an Alaska-bound cruise. We love Chinese food and are very adventurous eaters. I heard that Vancouver has one of the best Chinatown areas ever - even questionably superior to those in NYC. Can anyone suggest some places for us to eat (4 adults) for breakfast, lunch dinner? We love Chinese food but are open to all cuisines. Please also suggest specific dishes! Vancouver, let's see what you've got! Thanks in advance.
There's Chinatown, and then there's Richmond.
Vancouver's Chinatown is NOT what you might imagine it to be. It's not a restaurant hotspot in any way. It's the historic Chinese district in Vancouver which has traditional Chinese medicine shops, traditional Chinese butcher shops, hair salons that cater to Chinese clientele, etc.
What it doesn't have is a good Chinese restaurant scene, or anything going on in the evening, really. It closes down and turns into a ghost town by evening. It's also fairly grungy and would not be on my list of must-sees for a short-term/first-time visitor to Vancouver. I always feel sorry for tourists that end up strolling over there for their one good meal in Vancouver, totally clued out that it is NOT a dining destination - almost everywhere else in Vancouver is.
If you're seeking Chinese, go to Richmond, the suburb city a 20 minute Canada Line (subway) ride south of downtown Vancouver. Richmond has a population of, I think, 200,000 people - 60% of them are Chinese. It also boasts hundreds of Chinese restaurants of all styles (predominantly Hong Kong, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Shanghainese, and hot pot) and THAT is where people go for Chinese food, especially those who are adventurous eaters. Richmond isn't visually appealing - most of these Chinese restaurants exist in strip malls, but they're the real deal.
My recommendation - contact Mijune aka: Follow Me Foodie. She doesn't advertise this, but she will take you on her own personal tour of Chinese restaurants around Richmond and will introduce you to the best dining secrets the city has to offer.
We've really enjoyed Kelvin's (Victoria near 38th) recently. Long's on 26th and main used to be a favourite of mine.
Although it is Vietnamese/Cambodian, I would really recommend Phnom Penh (Chicken Wings, Beef Luc Lac, Cambodian Stew, Butter Beef). I think it is somewhere that out of towners should not miss.
I'm not aware of other Asian night markets running in any other North American cities (if I'm wrong I'd love to know where), so this may be fun for you guys:
Note the post by TheCulinaryCircus differentiating between the "old" night market and the "new" night market (there are two running simultaneously in Richmond; plus a third in Chinatown in Vancouver that's not worth your time)
Here's a recent paper article:
And a local blogger review of the "new" night market:
The area that is called Chinatown near downtown Vancouver does not have, by and large, restaurants of note. Most people head out to Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, for their Chinese eats, although there are a few worthy spots in Vancouver proper. You either need to rent a car or take the Skytrain (Canada Line) on public transit to get there.
No clue how it will compare to New York City but there are some tasty things to be had. My latest dimsum happiness is Dynasty which is in Vancouver proper, at Broadway and Willow to be exact. Check out recent Chowdown report here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859993
For lunch, I'd hit up some of the Asian food courts in Richmond. Here's a link to a recent crawl to give you a few ideas: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859970
We recently had two very nice Cantonese meals, one at Big Chef (a bit higher end but not OTT), report here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859596 and at Excelsior, which I haven't reported on yet, great everyday Canto comfort food.
But there are literally hundreds of places so if you can give us some more specifics we can give you better choices. For example, do you want Cantonese? Shanghainese? Hot pot? Sichuan or Hunan?