5 days in Vancouver
Hello, I am visiting Vancouver for 4 nights, 5 days, and will be staying near East Hastings and Commercial Drive. I’ve been checking out the boards and have a long list of places that I’m interested in trying out, but can use some advice. Here’s my situation and interests: I will be on my own, and won’t have a car. I’m from New York, and love any type of food, but I have heard that Vancouver has some of the best Asian food in North America, and so am particularly interested in those cuisines. I know Cantonese food very well, and am open to trying anything highly recommended, but Chinese of course is less exciting if I am by myself. I’m very keen on having sushi, and have noted good value recs such as Miko and Ajisai. I’m not quite sure what I am going to be doing, but will surely visit the best known tourists spots such as Stanley Park and Granville Island, so any good lunch recs around those sorts of spots would be appreciated (I have already noted Go Fish). Not every meal has to be a gastronomic feast, but I do want to make the most of my eating time in Vancouver! On the other hand, I don’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on public transportation getting to and from restaurants. I am thinking so far: Miko for sushi, possibly Ajisai as well, Rangoli, and perhaps a dim sum. I would also love some recs near where I’m staying, particularly for the day of my arrival, when I am sure to be tired, and will probably want takeout. Any suggestions appreciated!
Thanks to everyone for your help. I had a great eating trip in Vancouver, and getting around was quite easy. I found google maps useful for travel directions.
I can't recommend the sushi and Chinese food I had in Vancouver enough.
I did make the schlep out to Ajisai (which was not bad at all), and it was worth it. The ikura was amazing, and the uni and amaebi were delicious. This was my favorite sushi place. I had: 3 pieces of uni; 3 ikura; 1 unagi; 1 kampachi; 2 hamachi; 1 tamago; 2 amaebi. It came to $35, and this was high quality fish. I got there at 11:50 am or so, and by 12 the sushi bar was full.
My second sushi outing was to Miko. I thought this was good, but I rate this the third out of the three places I went. I had 1 tamago, 2 kampachi, 2 ikura, 2 amaebi, 1 unagi, 1 hamachi toro, as well as 2 oysters that were on the half shell but in some soy scallion sauce. This came to about $45. The wait staff was nice, but although the waitress asked if I wanted the fried heads from the amaebi, and I said yes, they never came. I came by on a rainy Saturday at 6 pm, and there were only 2 people there.
The third sushi meal I had was at Kishimoto. I showed up at about 7:30 on a Sunday, and there were parties of 4 who had to wait a couple of hours. Luckily, as I was on my own, I got seated after about 45 minutes or so. The sushi here was really good, and again, came to about $35. Here I had 2 kampachi, 1 hotate (cooked scallop), 1 unagi, 2 uni, 2 amaebi, 1 ikura, 1 hamachi. This came to $34.
I had Chinese twice: once at HK BBQ Master, and although I've had char siu and roast pork belly my whole life, I've never had stuff like this before. I attach a picture for your viewing pleasure! That crackling is unbelievably good, and the meat is moist - just as pork belly should be. It is not usually like this at all. The char siu was very good as well. Since I got a three meat platter (and asked that duck be substituted for chicken), I think I got the bonier pieces of duck. It was okay, but I can get great duck in NY. The owner told me that if I wanted more meat the next time, I should order the breast. I was fine with what I had - plenty of other meat to consume!
The second Chinese place I went to was Kirin in City Square Mall for dim sum. I had planned to go to Dynasty Seafood or even Red Egg, but I found myself chatting with the woman sitting next to me at HK BBQ Master. She was eating with her elderly father, and I asked her where she likes to go eat dim sum, and told her of where I was thinking of going. She said she liked Kirin, and although the one in Richmond has a bigger menu, she often went to the one at City Square, and that what she liked about Kirin was that it is consistently good. I also trusted her opinion: she was Cantonese, as am I, and I got the feeling she's eaten plenty of Chinese food in her lifetime. The other place she recommended was Sun Siu Wah. The dim sum experience at Kirin is probably the most high-end I've ever had, and although "creative," the dishes still seemed authentically Chinese to me. Since I was on my own, I only ordered 3 dishes. I was rather annoyed with one thing though: one of the waitresses putting something on my table spilled a saucer of sauce all over my tablecloth. It was really quite messy, so much so that they probably should have replaced my tablecloth. Immediately upon her leaving, someone (I thought her) came and in a flash, plopped a platter of shrimp rice rolls on my table. I thought it was to make up for the spill. I ordered a few things, but I saw on my bill that I was charged for that shrimp rolls. Before the spill, someone had tried to put some har gow on my table, and I said that I hadn't ordered it. Anyway, the two other dishes I can recommend beyond the shrimp rice rolls (which were good, with huge, fresh shrimp, but I can get that in NY easy), was a rice roll filled with shrimp, preserved egg, and pickled ginger, then fried; and steamed dumplings with scallop, shrimp and pea shoots. I also had a clam spring roll, but I'm not even sure if I got the right thing - I could only see shrimp in the roll. The dishes are very expensive compared to NY, but of much higher quality, and of greater variety in terms of seafood used.
I did go to Rangoli one day for lunch, and although it was good, I would not recommend that anyone go out of their way - which I did. I had the lamb date yogurt curry with nan. It just wasn't special enough, and a tad more expensive than it should be. I would have been better off getting another dim sum.
I went to Granville Island one day, and although I didn't eat there, I got some Creamy Belgian Duck Pate which was delicious from Oyama.
Finally I tried the jerky at BKH Jerky. Note that they have moved, and google maps does not have the right address! They are on 16th and Fraser, and are open every day of the week. I will agree with their reviewers that the pork is better than the beef. Although the woman at the counter there assured me that I could bring some back to the US if they put a "100% Canadian meat" sticker on it, I felt a bit uncomfortable without a printout from the US gov site. It is now legal to bring in sealed packages of meat from Canada-there just needs to be proof that the meat is all Canadian (I could call up the page on my cell phone, but you're not allowed to have cell phones on in customs, and you never know how knowledgeable customs people are to new rules). BKH also has a contraption that looks to vacuum pack the packages. I recommend the spicy pork!
What a great summary Linus500. I enjoyed reading it (and got hungry at the dim sum part). Sorry the SSW lunch had a few bumps there. It sounded as if the waitresses just randomly tried to plop a dish or two at your table and charge you for it, even though you didn't actually order them. Unusual for sure.
Overall it sounds like your eating time here was a success, esp. so on the sushi front. Vancouver's eating scene is ever-evolving, creating new trends or re-inventing existing trends. Right now we have an emerging re-definition of more sophistiicated vegetarian/vegan scene. Our food trucks scene is still expanding (as it should) in scope, variety and geographic coverage. Latin American fare is still in its toddler stage, me thinks. Lots of locavore options too, as does ramen, Korean, SE Asian. Things never stand still here. So you come back real soon now, ya hear :-)
I really like Kirin City Square for dim sum but I understand there was a recentish change in ownership/management that may account for the service weirdness. And leaving stuff on the table you didn't order is just plain awful. But you did get that elusive deepfried roll with the preserved egg, ginger and sea creatures. It is my favourite and hard to find. I still haven't had it at Kirin.
So glad you liked Ajisai, Kishimoto and Miko. They are my three favourite sushi bars in Vancouver right now (not that I've tried them all of course).
Agree that Rangoli is not special enough for a detour. I used to like it better, actually.
Bee Kim Heng is my favourite jerky place, bar none. The pork really is superior but I'm sorry to hear that the address is wrong online as the original spot is about ten blocks away.
And you tried HKBBM, my top choice for roast pork and char siu also! Gotta get the latter "half/half" for me :-). And eat the roast pork in the car on the way home.
Linus500, the transit system in Vancouver (while not quite as good as NYC) is still good. Service is frequent and connections between routes are easy, and Vancouver (city proper) streets are laid out in a grid system (except for Kingsway which takes a diagonal swath through the middle of the city).
Here is the bus network map:
TransLink is the regional authority that operates the buses, SkyTrain (Expo, Millennium and Canada lines), SeaBus, community shuttles (mini buses) and West Vancouver's Transit system (West Vancouver, on the north shore).
Fare is integrated across all modes:
Every single bus is equipped with bike rack, bikes are allowed all day on the SkyTrain (during rush periods only permitted when travelling in reverse rush direction only).
To get to the city's west side (ie: Ajisai) you can hop onto the #16 Arbutus which starts out from Renfrew St on the east side and crosses town along Hastings and into downtown first in a horseshoe fashion. Many city routes operate that way, connecting an east side arterial with a west side arterial via interlining through downtown Vancouver (and allowing transfers to SkyTrain, Canada Line, SeaBus etc).
More direct east/west crosstown routes include:
Good luck !
You are near Commercial Dr where there is good sushi at Kishimoto. Ajisai is a bit of a transit schlep from where you are.
Stick to places near the Skytrain stations. Luckily, many of the Chinese places in Richmond are close. If you are by yourself, then you might want to stick to noodle houses and BBQ joints (eg HK BBQ Master, and Michigan Noodle House). If you want a higher-end meal, then maybe a place like Red Star will work as long as you order well. (All near Aberdeen Station)
Dim Sum - Dynasty Seafood on Broadway (near Broadway City Hall Station)
Granville Island - Go Fish.
Stanley Park - if you time it right you can go to an izakaya (eg Guu with Garlic) in the evening.