Vancouver Essential Restaurants- Can anyone point me to a list?
We'll be in Vancouver for 2 1/2 days next week. Taking the train from LA. Will be heading to Seattle for 5 days after.
In Vancouver, we are staying at the Westin Bayshore near Stanley Park.
We don't have any set plans yet. Granville Island, Stanley Park, and we'll see what else.
But most importantly, I need to know where to EAT. Is there a list of Vancouver essential restaurants/food experiences?
Thanks in advance, oh hounders of the great north.
Kinda depends on what you are looking for, and as an LA Hound be sure to manage your expectations :-). FWIW and at the risk of repeating myself, here's my list of tried and true favourites with top pick dishes -- three of them are quite near the Bayshore as marked by *:
Via Tevere (mushroom and prosciutto pie)
Big Chef (Chinese "chawan mushi" dish and Auntie Song's fish soup)
Zakkushi (Kits or *Denman St locations, things on sticks)
9 Dishes (water boiled fish and [lack of] ambiance
*Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (toroniku)
*Miko Sushi (a la carte sushi and robata)
La Buca (most everything)
Ajisai (nigiri and sashimi, sit at the bar)
Red Wagon (weekday breaky pork belly and pancakes)
Revolver and/or Matchstick for coffee (great pastries at the latter too)
Kirin on 12th (dim sum only)
Prolly don't eat on Granville Island (though I have heard the Edible Canada resto has taken a turn for the better, I haven't tried it out under the newish chef yet) but do pick up stuff at Oyama etc for picnicking in Stanley Park, where you also shouldn't eat in any restos . Go Fish just outside the market might be worth a look for the setting but expect long lines.
I definitely agree. Vancouver diners are like theme park versions of the real thing. The most laughable part is the hours--all the Vancouver "diners" keep the most ridiculously brief hours. To me, long hours, ideally 24/7, is a quintessential part of the authentic diner experience. I grew up in Pennsylvania and that's how diners are there.
Wait, Vancouver is not a great food town?! Are cuisine options focused on Chinese, Japanese and Italian?
What's the idea behind Pourhouse? I can't actually figure out what food they serve from their website
Salt Tasting Room?
I got these three off a food-oriented google map that I found.
Sorry for the vague post- I wasn't intending so much as for y'all to answer the question (but thanks for doing so), as much as thinking you could possibly direct me to a food critics list or some sort of compilation on the web of best eats Vancouver.
Sorry for the buzzkill but it's good to keep in mind the small size and relative homogeneity of the food scene here. There are good eats to be had (and I've hardly tried every restaurant so YMMV) but we are no LA or SF or NY or Portland or fill in the blank.
There are strong Chinese and Japanese options (though they may not compare to LA). Italian overall is weak IMO but I do like La Buca.
Pourhouse is more beverage-forward than food-oriented which is evidenced by their website. CinCin seems past its prime to me -- it's been ages since I've even had it on my radar, again FWIW. Salt Tasting Room is overpriced for what it is but is a nice idea in a sketchy spot.
Vancouver Magazine and the Georgia Straight do best-of type lists every year which might give you some ideas if you're googling.
An izakaya crawl as intimated by Lotusrapper is a fun thing to do and could work well for you given where you are staying. Most take reservations so you can stagger them by a couple of hours and make a night of it.
As for Red Wagon, it may not be worthy to an LA-er but ya gotta eat breakfast and it's a straight shot up Hastings. I think the pork belly with a side of their excellent 'cakes subbed out for the toast is a solid weekday-only proposition. Don't even think of going on the weekend as the lineups are stupid.
Salt's very overpriced for what you get - you're better off heading to Oyama (sausage/charcuterie) in Granville Island's market and making yourself a picnic from the goodies there.
Where Vancouver excels is craft beer - check out Alibi Room (food ok, beer excellent) - izakaya as previously mentioned, and of course Chinese. You'll get better (non-Chinese-style) seafood when you hit Seattle.
I'm a huge fan of the pastries at Beaucoup Bakery - if you like authentic French style (extremely flaky, dark brown).
Spot prawn season might be finished, but definitely seek those out if they're still kicking around when you're here.
Agreeing with reiney on craft beer. This city is emerging to be a major centre in this movement. The beer is getting better and better with each year. It still has a way to go in terms of overall range and quality compared to a couple of the top US cities, but it is getting pretty close. Tourism Vancouver/BC should pay attention to this trend and market the heck out of it.
Speaking of Granville Island and craft beers, while digressing somewhat, there's an artisanal sake shop there:
I drink very little alcohol as-is and no sake at all (yes I'm a cheap date) so obviously I'm missing out on this stuff, which I've heard from a few friends that it's very good. Apparently, they're the only sake maker outside of Japan who uses rice grown outside of Japan (their rice is sourced somewhere in the Fraser Valley east of Metro Vancouver, I'm told). Might make an interesting addition to your potential visit to Granville Island.
I think Vancouver is fine as a food city. You're not going to be hungry. Just like every city, there are strengths & weaknesses. With Cantonese and various types of Japanese being Vancouver's strengths.
My Food Loving Cousins from LA did just fine here in Vancouver. Here's where I took them:
-For Coffee: Elysian & Revolver
-We did oysters at Rodney's in Yaletown and Oyster (www.rawbar.ca)
-We crawled Zakkushi (Yakitori), Guu Kobachi (Izakaya) and Santouka (Ramen) since they are in bunched together in the West End. (Very close to your hotel)
-Sea Harbour in Richmond for Roasted Squab
-Aki's for Robata in particular the Miso Sable Fish (Cousins never had Sablefish before and loved it)
-We did a sake tasting (Artisan Sake Maker) and a beer Tasting (Granville Island Brewing) at Granville Island and picked up Salamis and Prosciutto at Oyamas.
-Macarons from Thierry
I'm not a beer person but one of my cousins enjoyed all the craft beers he found in Vancouver, when they went exploring without me.
Lastly, I think the Cantonese in Vancouver is still ahead of LA. I was in LA over Easter Long Weekend for a Chinese wedding and the gap is closing in comparison to my previous family visits but Vancouver still has edge.
My relative took me to high-end and hole in the wall Cantonese and they did more complaining than I did.
At some of the places there was a detectable sweetness to the dishes. My LA relatives thinks they do this to cater to the more affluent Taiwanese community in LA.
Given how expensive Lobster is in Vancouver, I wasn't going to complain about a plate of Lobster stirred fried in Black Pepper sauce for $17.99, even if it had a slight sweetness.
My relatives do look forward to the Cantonese in Richmond and I advise you to hope on the Canada Line to partake. Here's a guide for your review http://chineserestaurantawards.com/in...
Also if you are here over a weekend I think you should check out the night market as well, simply because it's not something that you have in LA (at least according to my family) Here's some info http://www.richmondnightmarket.com/ma...
Good and mid-range Cantonese within the city limits is tough (I hope moyen comes back with a good idea, cause I will steal it!). If you're looking for dim sum, that can be done well and without breaking the bank at both Kirin City Square and Dynasty in the Broadway Corridor. Dinner is too dear at either for my wallet.
You might try Good Choice on Fraser -- I've had some tasty meals there.
If you can stretch to Richmond, the options open up. I love Big Chef, personally.
For either lunch (dim sum or menu) or dinner, other good midrange Cantonese options within Vancouver city proper include:
Dai Tung (which also has a 2nd location about 3 blocks north of Red Star):
Sun Sui Wah (pricier than all above, approx. at par with Red Star, Kirin and Dynasty):
To put things in context, high-end options within CoV would be Imperial and Victoria, both in downtown business district.
I would deffo include both Red Star and Sun Sui Wah in the pricey category for dinner, along with Kirin and Dynasty as mentioned.
The last time I ate at Koon Bo I really felt like they were phoning it in. Even the much vaunted special salad seemed a little tired, as does the room.
Lok's is good, eh? That's right in the parentals' hood. Will have to check it out.
Do any of these compare to places in Richmond, or are we talking Vancouver-Canto good?
Hmm, I need to refresh my impressions some of them again :-)
Mind you, generally my dim sums or dinners at Red Star, Sun Sui Wah, Kirin and Dynasty (we seem to do musical chairs with them) are big family affairs a la knights of the round table (read: I'm not paying, LOL) so yeah, my impressions of their prices are not accurate, if to my own gain.
Lok's ..... quality is relative, but only if you do the more $$ set dinners, otherwise a couple of a la cartes won't blow you away. Mind you I'm comparing them to the only other Canto option in Kerrisdale, which is Golden Ocean, which cranks out decent dim sum and ok dinners, but I didn't recommend because their interior is needing a serious refresh/makeover.
I'd say Cindy's Palace, Western Lake and Dai Tung hold their own against Richmond's Cantonese places (ie: Lucky Tao, Hoi Tong) but I would not be authoritative enough to compare them based on what I've eaten at those places.
Oh, another good Canto in Vancouver is Bing Sheng:
I asked my parents as this is a category that is their area of expertise. I assume you are asking for dinner and not dim sum, my parents recommendation would be different for dim sum.
These are the restaurants they like to complain least about ;)
-Western Lake (For the last few years, my grandma's bday banquet has been held here)
-Happy Valley (I like their specialty chicken & parents love the beef in a bamboo bucket)
Hope you have fun in Vancouver!
My list of top places to go are:
Peaceful-excellent Chinese. handmade noodles
Vij's-unique high end indian and a pioneer in the Vancouver food scene/ The food is spectacular but pricey.
Meat and Bread
Miku-amongt the best sushi in Vancouver
Burdock and Co-very trendy 'Vancouver'
Thomas Haas Patisserie
Earnest Ice Cream
There are more, but thats a good start. Personally, I think the Vancouver scene is pretty top notch. All within the past year I have been to New York, SF, Portland and sought out the top places. Vancouver can compete with these cities. We should be proud of the food scene here, its very tasty and progressive!
Do you have the address for Peaceful Chinese restaurant? When I google it I get three listings, two called Peaceful Chinese Restaurant and one called New Peace (formerly Peaceful Chinese).
Right now I am thinking Vij's for sure, one Chinese option and something "Vancouver"ish, maybe some sort of craft beer gastropub.
Then filling in the blanks with various pastries, sandwiches and snacks.
Peaceful Restaurant's 3 locations:
1) 532 W. Broadway
2) 43 E. 5th Ave
3) 2394 W. 4th Ave (not yet open)
New Peace on Davie is not related to Peaceful, other than it was Peaceful's 2nd location before they pulled out of that space and other folks gone in and opened New Peace.
Word of warning, Peaceful is not what it used to be. It used to be a regular spot for me, being near my husband's work. Then it got featured on Food Network. Cue huge crowds. I believe the original owners, understandably, sold out, and the new owners are expanding at a rapid pace. I have not been back for a while, but a lot of the raves you will find about it date to before the major change.
Earnest Ice Cream- Is there a shop to get a cone or cup? Or is it just sold by the pint/quart/whatever? The website lists places to buy the ice cream, but I'm unclear as to whether these are places to go buy ice cream to take home (not an option as we'll be in a hotel) vs ice cream to consume on-premise.
And if you are feeling adventurous and happen to be heading out east of downtown towards the Strathcona neighbourhood (just east of Chinatown), there's La Casa Gelato on Venables St where you can try durian ice cream, one flavor amongst their +200 flavors:
The #22 Knight is one bus route that goes through downtown (and can be boarded at the Burrard SkyTrain Station), travels east through Chinatown and along Venables St, getting you right onto the doorsteps of La Casa.
Yeah, Earnest Ice Cream is a Vancouver gem. I would definitely recommend picking up a jar - as greyelf stated, you won't have any trouble finishing it in a sitting. I think the closest location to your hotel would be the Dirty Apron, but there's a complete list here: http://earnesticecream.com/wp/where-t...
Ok here's the plan so far, subject to change. Critiques welcome.
Arrive Vancouver 11:40. Clear customs & arrive hotel approx 1pm
Tableau Bar Bistro Brunch around 2-3pm
Cartems Donuts for dessert, pick up a few for breakfast next day
Vancouver on foot: Gastown & Chinatown
Followed by Chinatown Night Market
Breakfast Cartems Donuts & coffee in room
The Stanley Bicycle Tour 8-11 if possible (need to set up private tour)
Noonish- Light lunch Thierry Patisserie, pick up pastries for breakfast
Vancouver On Foot: Downtown, West End, and Granville Island
Snacks at Granville Market, pick up cheese/fruit for breakfast
Breakfast in room Thierry Pastries, fruit from Granville and perhaps cheese
Capilano Suspension Bridge, arriving at 9:30 via the 9:15 shuttle, visit for 4 hours, take 1:30? Shuttle back, getting off at Holiday Inn stop, walking to water, then water taxi. Walk from water taxi to Peaceful Chinese
2:15-2:30 arrive Peaceful Chinese Lunch, finish by 3:30
Pack up and head to train station, leaving Westin by 4:45
Arrive train station by 5pm
Does "water taxi" refer to AquaBus? and would you be going to the Olympic Village stop? Because if you are, and if you are inclined to imbibe, I liked Tap and Barrel for their beer flight options. Three tasters for a quite reasonable price (don't recall the price...) Also, there are several local-ish wines on tap. Food was totally acceptable, and watching the kids playing outside was fun.
Vis a vis Vij's: I was originally over-strategizing it, trying to work things so we'd get there right at 5:30 for opening. But then I decided: we're on vacation, we'll get there when we get there and wait however long. Whiling away an hour or so in the bar won't exactly kill us. We'll just plan on making a night of it.
I have to add a +1 on the suggestion for Go Fish. I take all visitors there. You can fit it in easily on your Granville Island day and it'll make a nice lunch or snack if the weather is nice.
For your ice cream fix, I would suggest Bella Gelateria, which is right downtown and, in my opinion, the best gelato in town. I personally don't think Ernest Ice Cream is that special, though it does have the hipster cool factor owing to the packaging.
For craft beer, I think Alibi Room has the best combo of atmosphere, good list with lots of local options, and passionate and knowledgeable staff. St Augustine's and Tap & Barrel may have longer lists and are good places too (but I don't find them as exciting in their selection of beer). You could also do a mini-tour to a couple of breweries as Parallel 49 and Powell St Brewery are located near each other and both have some great products.
I know the Chinatown night market is getting a revamp, but consider one of the Richmond ones instead as they're pretty large and will have a good selection for food. If you end up in the Chinatown market, you can stop for drinks nearby at Bao Bei.
I'd pick up pastries for Tuesday breakfast at Beaucoup Bakery, since you'll be near Granville Island on the Monday.
I love, love, love Cartems (and definitely get their Citrus Dust, as well as their Mole, if they have it available) but their donuts aren't nearly as good day 2. Instead I'd consider a stop at Theirry Monday morning en route for your breakfast (they open at 7) and then grab a different spot for lunch downtown somewhere.
The Richmond night market is definitely better than the Chinatown one, by a long long stretch, but given it looks like you don't have a car it will be difficult for you to get to.
According to their website, Beaucoup is closed on Monday.
We did book the bicycle tour for Monday am. It's a private tour because bicycling just made more sense logistically in the morning and the group tours go out in the afternoon. So we should have some influence on a tour stop. As I understand it, the guide's plan is to spend 2 hours in Stanley Park and then 1 hr looping downtown and the West end. I think the planned route goes within a block of Thierry. So maybe we can just make a cycle tour stop there for a little breakfast snack. We could either pick up pastries for the next AM or just go with fruit, cheese, bread etc picked up at Granville market. If we make a Thierry stop in the 11ish time frame, we'd probably just skip lunch in favor of nibbling during our walking tour.
I'm not sure logistically that we can really get to a Richmond night market on this trip.
Thanks for all the help everybody!
Logistics for Richmond night market shouldn't be too difficult if you're worried about transport. One of the night markets is right by the Bridgeport skytrain station, which is a straight shot from the Waterfront station downtown.
If it's hard to grab Cartem's, consider Lucky's donuts at 49th Parallel.
Beaucoup Bakery is wonderful at baking, but terrible at updating their website. I 100% assure you that they are now open on Mondays. Ah, actually, seems like this is now updated on their website too: http://www.beaucoupbakery.com/contact-us
I live very close to Beaucoup, and work very close to Thierry, and I prefer Beaucoup on pretty much every point.
If you're hitting the Capilano Suspension Bridge you might want to consider taking the gondola up Grouse Mountain if it's a clear day. (just a bit up the road from the bridge) The view covers all of Vancouver and is pretty sweet. You can grab lunch or drinks at the bar/restaurant at the top as well.
Getting in line between 4:30 - 5pm at Vij's will usually get you in the first seating for dinner. Highly recommend the lamb popsicles.
Some of my fav's not mentioned here are L'abbatoir and Wildebeest. They do whole animal and offal type stuff that I just love. And Fable which does FArm to taBLE type fresh stuff. Heard it can be hit and miss but always been great when I've gone.
Have an awesome time, looking forward to your impressions when you're finished.
Noticed that Japadog hasn't been mentioned -- I think of it as a very Vancouver thing (although there's a NYC store now). There are locations all over downtown, so maybe its an option for one of those in-between snacks?
Tableau Bistro brunch was tasty. I had the Mushrooms on Toast topped with a poached egg. Mr. H had French toast. We were both very happy after a rather trying experience on the train from Seattle. Extended Hawaiian family traveling together with much noise (post nasal drip, crying baby, adults yelling across train car to soothe baby (didn't work), father playing childrens songs to distract baby (didn't work), snoring, farting, toddler babbling, video games) and NY-relocated-Florida elderly couple kvetching relentlessly (and inanely). Then the Hawaiians made friends with the NYers and things tumbled downhill from there.
We walked down to Cartems. I got my much-anticipated citrus dust donut, which thankfully lived up to the hype. Mr. H went for the vanilla bean- simple and satisfying.
We are not up for any kind of mess of humanity tonight- the night market is out. Yakatori is in. Zakkushi bound.
Sorry to hear about the challenging train trip. But it's neat how (presumably) the Amtrak train "unites" folks from the Lower 48.
Tableau is consistent which I like. Cheapest good steak frites as well as moules frites that I know of in town (ok, by a few bucks, but still). Atmosphere can be equally casual or business-oriented.
Ooops, the Hawaiian passengers would be from the 49th state :-)
Back to the report:
Had a great time in Vancouver. Your city rocks. Beautiful and very civilized.
Sun night we went to Zukkushi. We had an awesome time. Pitchers of Sapporo were on special for $10, so we drank and ordered various skewers until we were stuffed. Everything was great. We even considered going back, but had much city left to eat.
Monday we took a bicycle tour of Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver. It was light so early that I woke up at 6am and walked down to Thierry to get some pastries before the tour, I picked up a ham and cheese croissant and an apple turnover and brought them back to the hotel room. They were good enough, I picked up a chocolate croissant and a second turnover for Tues am. Everything was good, but not great. If I were nearby, I'd go there again, but I would not go out of my way to return.
Some of you might remember, I had convinced the bicycle tour guide to stop at Thierry but when we started out, I let him know there was no longer any need. He mentioned that he also runs a food bicycle tour and he'd been meaning to check out an ice cream place on the tour route- as fate would have it, the ice cream place was Bella Gelateria. So we stopped and the gelato was GREAT. I had salted caramel, plus tasted Mr. H's two scoops of vanilla and mint chip. Tour guide had straticella- of course I did not taste his, but he liked it very much.
We were planning on wandering the city, then Granville Island,the Vij's. The noon ice cream would have held us til 5 or 6, but I had these visions of getting to Vij's at 6 and waiting 2 hours for a table. So we hit up Japadog. Which was a mistake vis a vis Vij's but we liked it enough at the time. Mr. H had the Love Meat and butter shoyu fries. I had the kurabota terimayo. Really I'm not a huge fan of hot dogs. And it was bigger than I expected,
Granville Island was very touristy and we spent less time there than we expected. Which put us at Vij's by 5, getting us into the first seating at 5:30. The place was great. But I was still full of Japadog. We started with curried chickpeas (good) with yam ricotta "cookies" (excellent). Then the lamb Popsicles (transcendent) and chicken in yogurt sauce (good). The setting and service was absolutely lovely, a very enjoyable evening and very reasonably priced for a dining experience of that quality. I was uncomfortably stuffed however. It made me very sad to leave behind some of the potatoes and sauce from the lamb.
Today we were supposed to head out to Capilano suspension bridge but the weather was iffy. In the end, we rented bikes again and did a lap of Stanley Park, then rode along the sea wall out to Peaceful Chinese for lunch. We got the Cumin Lamb noodles (too spicy and cuminy for us but the noodles were great), the Peaceful beef roll (excellent!) and the pan fried pork buns (excellent!).
We stopped again at Bella Gelateria on our way home- Mr, H to the same and I tried The salted hazelnut. Really great again.
Gotta run, but thanks again! We LOVE Vancouver!
Aha, didn't scroll down far enough to see you had already finished your trip. :)
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Peaceful after all. The beef roll actually was one of my favorite dishes back pre-Food Network. Maybe I should give them a try again. (My other favorite was the cat's ear noodles.)
I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and spent significant time as an adult in O.C. I think you would do well if you stick to the different regional Chinese variations in the city. Szechuan and Hunan kicks a$$, The lowliest of Taiwanese restaurants kills the best in San Gabriel, Arcadia, Rowland Heights, or - God forbid, Irvine. The Cantonese gives Hong Kong a run for its money. Remember, Sea Harbour originated in Richmond...and its doesn't even serve the best local dim sum!
Fine dining is a lost cause in Vancouver
Head to Tail, Offal, heart n' soul dining is just beginning to blossom.
Food trucks may or may not serve you better food than other mid-to-small-sized North American cities.
Local Korean is on par with L.A.
Sushi - as much as everyone tries to convince you - is not even close to the quality of Socal sushi places. If you're expecting anything close to Urusawa locally, you'll be SORELY disappointed. Don't go to Miko or Ajisai, they won't even rank in the top 50 of L.A. sushi restaurants. If you're open-minded and not a traditionalist, Miku or Minami would probably be the only places worth visiting...but, then again, they are mere imitators of Matsuhisa.
Chinese. Chinese. Chinese. You can't go wrong with Chinese in Vancouver.
Great post fiopo, I love the insight and comparisons into the SoCal area and tend to agree completely except for the Sushi.
"Head to Tail, Offal, heart n' soul dining is just beginning to blossom." - I still thank FSM for this as I've been eating and cooking this way for 20 years and it's awesome to hit places like Wildebeest and L'abattoir for some new ideas on a very old theme.
Korean and Chinese (and Vietnamese IMO) are definitely standouts for me as well. Indian is pretty decent in many places as well. More hit and miss than the others though.
Fine dining isn't really my thing so I can't comment on it too much except to say I think I lot of people feel the same as I do which is why it probably has trouble in Vancouver.
I appreciate your perspective as my wife and I are from LA (and Taiwan) and are very well acquainted with the regional Chinese cooking of the San Gabriel Valley.
We may be coming to visit over Halloween weekend and would love to try some food that is not well represented in Los Angeles. Hakkanese food, for example, is pretty non-existent in LA. Taiwanese food is everywhere, but if the quality of cooking is higher in Richmond, I'd love to know where you'd recommend.
In LA we have many multiple restaurants cooking foods from Beijing, Shanghai, Hunan, Henan, Chiu Chow, Qingdao, Yunnan, Sichuan, Shandong, Guangdong/dim sum, Shaanxi and even Xinjiang. I'm sure I'm missing some. So rather than repeat things that we can get good to excellent versions of here (no xiaolongbao recs, for example), I'd love to know specific recommendations for food in Vancouver/Richmond that 1) exceeds quality available in LA (dim sum & Taiwanese for example) and/or 2) we cannot get in LA (i.e. hakkanese)
This question is obviously intended for those who are familiar with SGV Chinese dining scene. Thanks for your insights.