3 Days, Need Seafood & Asian, Vancouver from SF
- Pei May 8, 2014 06:45 AM
I'm trying to round out a 3.5 day trip to your beautiful city, and wanted some help with the food situation. We're visiting from SF, and want to focus on Pacific Northwest seafood, high end Chinese, high end Japanese, and casual can't-get-in-the-states anything. We're adventurous eaters, but not big eaters. It's much more important that food is unique and exquisite than anything else. And we're happy to graze all day long.
Bonus points for:
1. All things seafood, especially GEODUCK.
2. Anything uniquely Canadian/local to Vancouver.
3. Food souvenir ideas.
Friday: getting to the hotel around noon, we're downtown on Burrad
-Lunch? Dim sum at Kirin?
-Wander Robson/Yaletown in the afternoon. What should we snack on?
-Reservations for Chambar for dinner
-Granville Island - lunch/snack/coffee/dessert options appreciated
-Kitsilano Beach - lunch/snack/coffee/dessert options appreciated
-We have reservations for Tojo's based on friends' recs, but reviews don't look too hot. What can we do instead? Guu? Is there high-caliber Chinese or Japanese, on par with LA/SF/Hong King, in the city, that doesn't involve 10-person banquets?
-What to do for drinks after dinner?
-Guu for lunch?
-Richmond for lunch/dinner? I have a ton of flexibility here. What am I missing?
-A quick stroll along the water plus brunch, or dim sum in the Richmond, then off to the airport. Where?
Last question: Vij's. If I'm coming from San Francisco with our plethora of Indian options, do I need to stop by Vij's?
Suggestion for Saturday lunch - take a stroll along the seawall to Go Fish - a little shack on the water that serves great fish and chips and fish tacones (my fav). If you want to stay on Granville Island then stick to Edible Canada.
Off the top of my head I'd suggest Miku for higher-end Japanese.
For drinks, I'd be inclined to stroll Robson Street - there are a ton of coffee/dessert spots as well as several restaurants and hotels if you're looking for a nightcap. The Shangri-la for an drink would be nice as well (and it's near Robson Street). Good luck.
Hey Pei, welcome to the BC Board! I've gotten lots of tips from you on SFBA Board so thanks for the chance to pay it forward.
Food souvenirs are at Edible BC. Can be a bit pricey but good selection of quality stuff in a place you're already going. I can't recommend the restaurant, however. Agree you should go off Island and try Go Fish, if only for the setting (I'm not as big a fan of the food).
Or bring a Swiss army knife and load up on tasty sliced meats, pate and cheeses at Oyama with an epi baguette from Terra Breads and do a little picnic by the water (just watch out for marauding seagulls; they are really cheeky here).
Geoduck and I are not friends so I'll leave those reccs to others :-).
Kirin downtown is prolly a decent bet for dimsum. I only go to the Kirin on 12th and they are different owners so YMMV
If you like ramen, try Santouka on Robson for lunch (go at 11:30 to avoid the inevitable line). Order the toroniku. You're welcome :-).
If you're willing to leave downtown for Japanese, Octopus' Garden seems a better bet for sushi/omakase these days than Tojo. You'll save a pile of dosh too.
Hit Chinatown and/or Gastown for after dinner drinks. Lots of cocktail forward places.
I think the Guus are better for dinner, ideally a progressive meal with a few other izakaya thrown in. Richmond is fun if you know where you're going. You can do another progressive meal, stopping at a couple of Asian food courts for different snacks. Email me if you want a tour guide, as it is much easier with a car :-).
Chinese is deffo more challenging with two. Let me know if you want to try and organize a Chowdown for your visit. Otherwise maybe Ningbo with judicious ordering if you like Shanghainese. Some of their apps are smaller and you can make a nice meal of a couple and one main.
Brunch is not a strength in Vancouver the way it is in the Bay Area so you might want to do another dimsum. Dynasty on Broadway is getting a bit of love lately. It's prolly my second favourite and would save you another trip to Richmond as the good dim sum out there is not all that close to the airport either.
I think Vij's is sufficiently different from any other Indian I've tried to consider it as long as you're okay with either a long wait or a very early dinner. I'd pass on Rangoli next door.
Japadog is pretty uniquely Vancouver (although they do now have a NYC location) and have a number of stands on Burrard and throughout downtown, including a bricks and mortar location on Robson.
There are many Chinese hot pot restaurants in town, who would also try to have fresh(-er) seafoods on hand than the average restaurant. Whether you choose to eat your geoduck as part of the HP format (ie: served raw, cook it yourself) or prepped/cooked in a dish, I see little chance of getting a bad geoduck experience.
Personally I doubt Vancouver will even be on par with SF in terms of fine dining and food quality. We're such a small city compared to SF. I'll say instead of focusing on some specific restaurants, why not focus on some Vancouver's own local ingredients.
Salmon: it would be my first choice in no doubt. I think sockeye salmon is considered the best.
Spot prawns: It is a MUST EAT item if in season, and I believe the season just started. so if you're visiting soon, you're in luck.
Dungeness Crab: I'm not sure about SF, but according to my relatives in LA, dungeness crabs are much more expensive there than Vancouver. I assumed it's similar in SF.
Oysters: Oysters from Vancouver Island are good choices, too.
King crabs: Technically it's not local, but when it is alive and in season, it's just pure awesomeness. Not those frozen legs you see in Vegas buffet, there's just no comparison between frozen and live ones.
Sea urchin(umi): Not really a popular food among the western restaurants, most are offered in Japanese ones. When it's fresh, just order it, you won't regret.
That being said, there are still some places I would recommend.
Thomas Haas: Personally I think it's one of the must visit place in Van. The owner used to be the Executive Pastry Chef at Daniel in NYC.
Instead of Guu, I'll say Kingyo is a better choice for lunch. Both are good, but Kingyo just tastes better.
In Granville Island, if the weather is good, I would highly recommend sandbar, but not for the food, it's for the view. Their patio on a good sunny day has an amazing view over false creek. One of the best in Van.
For dim sum in Richmond, I would recommend The Jade Seafood Restaurant and Empire Chinese Cuisine.
I shoulda copied/pasted Dynasty's award dishes in my post above for clarity.
However upon contemplation I feel geoduck is one ingredient better not deep fried, but gently and expertly blanched to perfection and served immediately, with a light dipping sauce of scallion, ginger, light soy with a touch of Chinese red vinegar. But NO sesame oil ! That is a very Cantonese way to prepping and eating it, and for many seafood dishes too.