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We're not quite done with Vancouver, but here are a few notes:

XLB at Shanghai River are very good, though I think that I prefer the more gelatinous broth from Shanghai Deluxe in NYC.  The rest of my family preferred the crab to the pork version; I preferred the pork.  The spicy wontons are very good, much bigger than A&J's tiny little comet versions. There was a pleasant texture to the filling; possibly water chestnut for a bit of crunch.

On the recommendation of Vancouver Magazine, we tried Landmark Hot Pot House for a seafood hot pot.  This establishment has been around for 25 years and they offer more than half a dozen different broth options.  Just be aware that the Fresh Shrimp are LIVE prawns threaded lengthwise on individual skewers.  We had been a bit sad about not ordering these as we saw them whisked from table to table, until at the end of the meal, my 13 year-old noticed that they were still moving, which we all confirmed to be the case. She is not into killing her own food, so it would have been a bit of a disaster.  Also, cuttlefish shrink down by a factor of at least 5.

The major disappointment so far has been one Chendgu Szechuan Bistro, which deserves a false advertising award.  Food was acceptable as generic Chinese food, but the menu was not what we expected at all and had nothing to do with Chengdu cusine as we know it.

And finally, while sushi is cheap and plentiful, be aware that the rolls are HUGE everywhere.  Order less than you are accustomed to ordering.  The option to have local salmon rather than farmed Atlantic is a novelty we're enjoying while we can.

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Today we finished our trip on a high note.  We went to Dynasty Seafood Restaurant for a very good dim sum.  We focused in part on items we had not seen before, such as their shrimp roll with preserved egg and pickled ginger and their ginger fried milk.  Quality was very good and the seafood tank was full of actively waving geoduck clams, crabs, lobster, and spot prawns.  We seriously considered returning for dinner.

But instead we went to Kitsilano Daily Kitchen, where we opted for the 6 course tasting menu for $68 each (the one drawback is the whole table has to opt for this).   KDK features a menu that changes daily depending upon what the chef found at the market.  For the tasting menu, the server double-checks for food allergies or intense dislikes before the chef starts cooking.  With the exception of dessert, all 6 courses were well executed and consisted primarily of a simply prepared protein on a bed of more intensively prepared vegetables and a starch.  For example, the first course was a sunny-side up quail egg over a slice of big-eye tuna, resting on a rissoto that was studded with fresh peas.  Dessert was a flourless chocolate torte served with tart currants that was just too dry.  We were stuffed by then and it was the only course we did not entirely finish.  We really enjoyed the meal and the servers provided detailed information about each dish.

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If I'm lucky enough to go back I'll interrupt my ramen binge long enough to go to Blue Water again and maybe get in another dim sum.  And more gelato.

And it looks like I might be lucky.  It's a long shot, but there's a chance to go in early November, for not much money (long story).  Question for anyone who's spent alot of time in Vancouver: what is the weather really like then?  Solid rain and highs in the mid-40s?

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http://www.accuweather.com/en/ca/vancouver/v5z/month/53286?view=table is Accuweather's 45 day weather forecast through late November.  If you go don't overlook the White Spot's handful of drive ins with curb service which are the literal Canadian equivalent of In-n-Out Burger dating to the 1920's.  Specifically you want to go to North Vancouver which still has car hops and order a Double Double with Triple O sauce, grilled onions and everything else.  Fries are made from fresh potatoes.

Also, if it's clear, the top of Grouse Mountain, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Kelowna which is the heart of B. C. wine country.  Last the road to Whistler is one of the most beautiful drives on Earth.

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And it looks like I might be lucky.  It's a long shot, but there's a chance to go in early November, for not much money (long story).  Question for anyone who's spent alot of time in Vancouver: what is the weather really like then?  Solid rain and highs in the mid-40s?

That's a misapprehension about Vancouver.  It's quite overcast but the rain is far from constant.  On average, you can expect a light rain a few times a week and not much sun if any.  Mid 40s to low 50s.  I guess that's a bit chilly but it's not a dry cold, so not as biting as say, Toronto :/

What Joe said about the drive to Whistler.

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Thanks, Joe, but guess what?  I hate hamburgers. Since Mr. P will be in a conference most of the time, I plan on bingeing on ramen.

I was not planning on renting a car, but if there's a clear day I could always rent one and go for a drive.  Come to think of it, that sounds like a great idea.  Whistler, ho!  And jasonc, thanks for the weather info.

The trip is actually on.  And to think, I had to skip a conference at the Comfort Inn in Pittsburgh to make it happen.

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Few if any Americans go to Kelowna-it's 200 miles outside of the city, up in the Rockies.  But it's beautiful.  It'salso B. C. wine country and one of the most beautiful places on earth.  As we, as Americans go to Napa and Tuscany and Provence, so do those in 'Vancouver go to Kelonwa.  It's a big deal with excellent wine and well worth the very easy trip.

I would also dirive across the Bridge to West Vancouver and North Vancouver and  explore, winding my way up sidestreets and darting in and out of strrets near the shore.  Incredible surroundings, breataking views at the top of hills; take a ferry ride to nowhere on the far side of West Vancouver.  When you land, get lost and explore.  There's a real adventure in exploring the edge of the everdeveloping Vancouver metro area as it spills into literally the wildback.  A third of the way to Whistler, on the side of the road, is a waterfall almost 1,000 feet high set back from the road.  This is breathtaking!  It wasn't wiritten about in books ten years ago-we just found it, mouths struck wide open in awe!  Up the road were rock climbers with hundreds of cars pulled over on the side of roads, watching them.  All of the side of the road outside of North Vancouver on the way to Whistler.

I write this having spent 23 years of my life as SR VP of sales for a major Vancouver company:  I love the Vancouver area-it is one of the most beautiful on earth.  But don't limit yourselves to the city.  Get out!  Get out and explore the countryside.  Be adventuruous.  This is one place on earth that usually rewards risk and effort with a jewel like find.

From panaramas that literally rival any on earth, to superb local food to natural adventures almost within walking distance of a city hotel Vancouver offers very real fantasy and adventure up close.   It is a young, weathy educated adventuruous international city where people take chances.  Chances that usually are rewarded with memories that last a lifetime.

Remember:  for a Canadian Vancouver has roughly the appeal that Hollywood, Santa Moinca and Marina Del Rey did in the '70's.  Now.  Hundreds of thousands of people are giving up everything in Canada and elsewhere to move to Vancouver to follow a dream.  Right now it is ground zero for that dream.

Last, Vancouver is a VERY easy city to consider moving to.  There are reasons that numerous magazines and polls have annually named Vancouver the #1 city in the world to live in and move to.  Not Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Seville, Barcelona, nice, Hong Kong, Singapore but Vancouver.  Vancouver!!!!!

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I'm no stranger to the joys of getting lost and finding my way out again, and since we never got out of the city proper last time I'm looking forward to doing so this time, but Mr P won't be with me, and as someone who gets physically ill after about 8 oz of beer or wine, I'm unlikely to drive 4 hours each way by myself to go wine tasting.  However, a solo dry drive to Whistler looks totally doable, and I see that one-day car rentals from downtown are not much more money than a bowl of ramen, so thanks for the idea!  And the enthusiasm.  I love reading your posts when you're in love with something.

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Back from Vancouver.  Don hates unsubstantiated writing, and so do I, but I'm not feeling inspired so I'm going to say it in pictures.  (Sorry about the quality; I try to be as unobtrusive as possible, taking pics as fast as possible and without flash.)

Blue Water Cafe: seafood tasting (smoked sockeye salmon terrine, albacore tuna carpaccio, dungeness crab and shrimp)

Revolver: pour-over coffee

Diva at the Met: lamb tartar with green olive tapenade, sorrel puree, cracked wheat

Flying Pig (Gastown): 3 pea soup, crispy brussels sprouts with capers, pulled pork poutine, mushroom terrine, 4 cheese gnocchi

Fable: lamb terrine

L'Abattoir: cardamom cake with poached pears; coffee; wild mushrooms with poached egg and parmesan foam;

bread basket (parmesan-anchovy twist, bacon brioche bun, and flatbread); steak tartare tart (in a páte brisée shell with pecorino foam);
Tableau: wild boar terrine; steak tartare

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A few comments since I can't seem to place them around the pictures where I want them.

Diva at the Met was voted one of the most underrated restos in Vancouver by a group of restaurant industry insiders (as reported in Georgia Straight), and indeed I had a delicious salad of greens, apple, candied almond, and maple balsamic vinaigrette (an excellent balance between sweet and bitter), but although the lamb tartar pictured tasted great, I almost laughed out loud at the presentation.  I'm all for creative but this was ridiculous.  The food may be underrated but I left with the impression of a resto that's trying too hard.

In contrast, L'Abbatoir also served very creative food, but never seemed to be over-reaching, and the ambiance was low-key and understated rather than the "hey, look at me!" vibe in Diva.  If you like a see-and-be-seen scene, go to Diva.  If you want an intimate experience, go to L'Abattoir.

Heck, go to L'Abattoir anyway.  It's just better.

If you want something lower-key, warm, comforting, filling, excellent, tasty, fun... go to Flying Pig.

Caffe Artigiano has great coffee, at least at the Hornby street location, where they have a Clover.  The barista there hinted that perhaps Revolver really did have the best coffee program in town.

Tableau was also voted one of the best underrated.  It has a hotel resto vibe but the food was very good.

Fable ("farm to table", get it?) was very low-key, with a convivial neighborhood vibe, and emphasis on local and seasonal.

edit: "tartar" or "tartare"?  It's not that I can't decide.  When writing about a particular dish, I use the spelling the resto uses on its menu.  At Diva, "tartar".  At Tableau, "tartare".

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A little more... jasonc, you were right about the weather.  Monday and Friday were mostly clear and in the 40s; in between it was in the 40s and drizzly or outright raining.  Thanks to you and JoeH for suggesting Whistler: I rented a car Friday and drove there and strolled around a bit, then drove on to Pemberton just for the scenery.  Monday at the last minute I decided to take a seaplane tour, which may be stupidly touristy but I loved it anyway.  I was like a little kid on a carnival ride, grinning the whole time, and when it was done I felt like jumping up and down and asking "can I go again?"

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The OMG experiences so far: everything we ate at Bao Bei (bean curd skin in a truffled vinaigrette, taiwanese sausage, beef tartare, chickpea tofu, mantou, truffled pork dumplings, fried rice, halibut, bok choi, and crispy pork belly), cream puffs and chocolate from Beta5, frissants (aka cronuts) from the Swiss Bakery.

Very good: sesame pastry with 'grounded' pork, sheng jian bao from Chen's Shanghai Kitchen. Salmon sashimi at Hapa Izakaya. The XLB and fish with green beans at Shanghai River. Duck two ways and cannoli from Cioppino's. Gelato from Bella Gelateria. Hangover Hash and a Caesar (served in a glass boot!) from Eight 1/2 fixed me right up after a night of debauchery. Lebanese food and fresh-pressed juices at Nuba Cafe.

The XLB from Chen's were tragic; all but one broke. Probably worth trying again though.

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Can there be too much of a good thing when it comes to food?  The answer is obviously yes in the absolute sense, but for the first time since I've gone down the road of fancy eating, I'm also pondering about it in a relative sense.  We've eaten at so many great restaurants on the trip already and I'm wondering if my plate is getting jaded or my mind is getting exhausted at exclaiming the wonderfulness. I feel just a little numb emotionally, as though I'm getting a little too distant from my food now.  In any case, we've already splurge enough on this trip that the rest of our summer will likely be very quiet, so there is time to recover the hunger and wonder.

In Vancouver, we ate at Araxi, Blue Water Cafe, Hawksworth, l'abattoir, and Dynasty Seafood.  A subjective best to worst.

Araxi in Whistler - Wins out because they had a fantastic $39 4-course prix fixe on Sun-Thur nights.  The food was great all around (fresh, creative, Pacific Rim) and the service was quite good.  This is really a great deal and a great way to cap a daytrip to Whistler.

Hawksworth - Very creative and tasty, Pacific Rim/Asian Fusion done right.  We liked it much better than Spago in Maui.

I'abattoir - Everything we tried was tasty and well conceived, but eating/enjoyment fatigue had started to set in for me, so it's hard to gauge how good it really is.  I suspect that I would prefer Spur Gastropub over l'abattoir though.

Blue Water Cafe - Rather disappointing for me.  Maybe my expectations were too high.  The seafood was indeed fresh and mostly quite tasty, but not as well prepared or well selected as places like Roe, Shiro's, or Walrus and Carpenter.  The preps were pretty boring.

Dynasty Seafood - A much cheaper disappointment (free parking and 15% discount for pre-11 AM customers).  Our dim sum snacks is only a bit better than what's available in DC.  Maybe there's much better dim sun on offer in Richmond (which we missed due to time and convenience factors).  What we tried here pales to what I'm used to getting in Shanghai or LA.  We did notice that other tables (all Chinese people on a weekday lunch) ordered congee and noodles and not much dim sun, so it's also possible that we simply didn't order to their strength.

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I'm sure that was an aberration Astrid.  Having lived in Vancouver, LA, and Hong Kong, and spending a week in Shanghai, I'd say Vancouver/Richmond's Cantonese is world-class and often offers a better value than Hong Kong and parts of LA.  

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We went on a weekday morning and chose Dynasty based on convenience factors, so that's a definite possibility.  The dimsun at Dynasty Seafood wasn't bad by any means and the price was quite reasonable, just not much elevated from what I've had around Montgomery County. 

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Quick hits from a recent solo trip, in more or less chronological order:

Straight Out of Brooklyn Pizzeria--Arrived late and hungry and plenty of fans leaving the soccer game at BC Place were lining up at this slice spot on Robson Street, so I joined them. Slice of white pizza just out of the oven was a good start to the visit. Seemed like a place that was born to serve slices to drunk people late at night, but they actually closed quite early, about 10 PM on a Saturday night.

Solly's Bagels--still-warm sesame seed bagel, what's not to like? Supposed to have good cinnamon buns as well.

Footo Croissant--Footo apparently stands for "Fresh Out of the Oven", which was not in evidence during my visits. Plain croissant was okay. Garlic croissant, which I'd never had before, wasn't that garlicky. They have some more ununsual flavors including maple bacon and something with pistachios. Decent breakfast pastry option if it's near your hotel.

Pacific Centre Food Court--Needing a quick early lunch before meeting someone, I thought I'd grab something here, but all the options looked nasty, so instead I grabbed a donut from Tim Horton's, which is no better than Dunkin' Donuts but still has to be done at least once on every Canada visit. The Oreo donut with the Stanley Cup logo on the frosting was amusing in light of the struggles of Canadian teams this season.

Banana Leaf Malaysia (Robson St Location)--Sambal Tiger Prawns were a bit more belacan-forward than I would have expected in a North American restaurant, but flavors were muted overall. I like the version from Cradle of Flavor better.

Granville Island Market--Glazed sour cream donut from Lee's was excellent. Room temperature rosemary rocksalt bagel from Sigel's was demanding on the jaw.

Salam Bombay--Paint-by-numbers Indian lunch buffet downtown.

Bubble Tea--I liked Shiny Tea (locations at Crystal Mall and Aberdeen Square) better than Chatime on Robson Street.

Nicli Pizza--You don't go to Vancouver for the pizza, but the Diavola pizza was very good. Place was dead at 6:00 on a Monday evening, maybe one table occupied and a couple solo diners at the bar.

Beer--lots of places heavily focused on "local micros", with 20+ taps but not much variety of styles. It struck me that Canadian craft beer hasn't made much of a mark south of the border, maybe Unibroue but that's been owned by big breweries for a while now. Didn't make it to Alibi Room.

Saboten Express--In the food court at Aberdeen Centre, I think this is the only North American location of the Japanese Tonkatsu chain. I'm not a Tonkatsu connoisseur but it was great for food court food.

Dinesty Dumpling House--Robson Street location, not to be confused with the Dynasty Seafood Restaurant discussed in above posts. Steamed pork soup dumplings were good, short ribs in black pepper sauce also good but I'd probably get something else next time. The guy at the table next to me was complaining to the waitress about his chicken dish.

Bella Gelateria--Belgian Brownie and Burnt Caramel both hit the spot. The Yaletown location is also a proper restaurant with pizza and other Italian offerings.

BC Place--Concession options weren't very inspiring. There was a Vij's stand with a couple offerings including a lamb curry but I figured it wouldn't be representative of their best efforts. Ended up getting a smoked brisket sandwich which was overpowered by the cabbage-based topping.

 

 

 

 

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We spent a week over Memorial Day in Vancouver and loved it so much.

The two places we enjoyed enough to go twice were Meat & Bread (mostly for the porchetta sandwiches) and Thierry (chocolate marquise cake).  They're not the best the city has to offer -- we didn't try any fine dining -- but were both fast with lots of seating, even if no high chairs.

Although we stayed in Richmond one night, we ended up having more sushi and ramen throughout the week.  Make no mistake though, the Chinese food in Richmond was great.  It was like being in a suburban Hong Kong, both visually and by smell.  We had planned on walking to Aberdeen Centre from the Westin but saw several families lining up before 9 am for dim sum at Tin Tin Seafood Harbour on No. 3 Road.  So we joined the line on a whim and didn't regret it.  Huge, fresh portions with innovative preparations.  For example, the fried taro dumplings had curry powder in the filling and the radish cake was enclosed in a fried noodles (like a bird's nest) and topped with mayonnaise.  Dim sum is 20 percent off at many places in Richmond if you eat before 11 am.  We had soup dumplings only twice unfortunately.  First was at Shanghai River.  Not Din Tai Fung good but with delicate skin and a rich broth.  Second was at the R&H kiosk in the Lansdowne Center food court.  More broth, thicker skin, still decent overall.

Neither ramen place where we ate in Vancouver was memorable but both would be top 5 in DC easily.  The Ramenman's version offered a rich chicken broth, and their chicken karaage was perfectly fried.  The broth at Kintaro was merely fine but their char siu pork slices were sublime and the noodles had exceptional texture.

We went to two neighborhood sushi joints, again neither was memorable but still quite good.  Loved the special sashimi platters at both places, especially the sockeye salmon.  The sushi rice at Kaide in Yaletown was especially fluffy and well seasoned, and we loved the scallop and broiled black cod at Ajisai in Kerrisdale.

Kingyo is a popular izakaya on the West End, with a notable bento box on the lunch menu with a dozen items for only $20 CAD.  Their beef tongue appetizer is "cook your own" on a hot stone and superb.  We arrived 15 minutes before they opened and there was already a long line.

The burrata at Bella Gelateria in Yaletown was ginormous and one of the better versions we've had in recent years.  The margherita pizza wasn't bad either.  We enjoyed our dinner so much that the gelato was almost an afterthought, though it justified the hype.  

One of the best dishes we ate all week was the chicken wings at Phnom Penh.  Perfectly fried with an addictive dipping sauce.

Finally, I gained several pounds just from all the desserts.  Most notable were the wide variety of cream puffs at Beta5 mentioned upthread, the soft serve with yuzu marmalade at Soft Peaks, the London Fog cake from Cadeaux, and the matcha cake with yuzu at Thomas Haas.

P.S.  The currently very favorable USD/CAD exchange rate made everything seem like screaming deals.

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On 6/11/2017 at 8:39 AM, silentbob said:

We spent a week over Memorial Day in Vancouver and loved it so much.

The two places we enjoyed enough to go twice were Meat & Bread (mostly for the porchetta sandwiches) and Thierry (chocolate marquise cake).  They're not the best the city has to offer -- we didn't try any fine dining -- but were both fast with lots of seating, even if no high chairs.

Although we stayed in Richmond one night, we ended up having more sushi and ramen throughout the week.  Make no mistake though, the Chinese food in Richmond was great.  It was like being in a suburban Hong Kong, both visually and by smell.  We had planned on walking to Aberdeen Centre from the Westin but saw several families lining up before 9 am for dim sum at Tin Tin Seafood Harbour on No. 3 Road.  So we joined the line on a whim and didn't regret it.  Huge, fresh portions with innovative preparations.  For example, the fried taro dumplings had curry powder in the filling and the radish cake was enclosed in a fried noodles (like a bird's nest) and topped with mayonnaise.  Dim sum is 20 percent off at many places in Richmond if you eat before 11 am.  We had soup dumplings only twice unfortunately.  First was at Shanghai River.  Not Din Tai Fung good but with delicate skin and a rich broth.  Second was at the R&H kiosk in the Lansdowne Center food court.  More broth, thicker skin, still decent overall.

That Porchetta Sandwich at Meat & Bread is *so good* (it has green sauce if I remember correctly) - I think I went to one in Vancouver, but it might have also been Seattle - all the branches are supposed to be wonderful.

Many people won't realize that Richmond, BC, is the North American city with the highest percentage of Asians (over 50% of residents identify as Chinese).

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Just popping in to say how much I appreciate this thread and the others in the travel section.  We'll be in Vancouver for a few days before we go to Alaska and it is reassuring to find solid advice here.  I had focused on the tourist stuff first and now I need to figure out the food.  (Stanley Park, Calipanio bridge, Grouse Mountain, Aquarium, Fly Over Canada and Minor League baseball..)  Looking forward to it all!

 

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We were in Vancouver at the worst of the smoke from the California wildfires and the inland BC wildfires.  We still did Capilano and Grouse (loved both) but we cut our time at Grouse short because the smoke was awful.  

We stayed at the Pan Pacific for ease in getting on our cruise.  Mediocre food and disappointing service on the club level. 

Afternoon tea at the Fairmont was fun and charming.  They were doing a Great British Baking Show inspired menu.  

Poutine at Steamworks was excellent. 

Gelato at Bella was nothing special and we have its equal locally. 

The winner, especially for BL-6th grader, was Wildebeast.  He has been eager to try horse for ages and when he spotted the horse tartare on the menu, he was sold.  We all liked our meal there but he would go back in a heartbeat.  (They also offer a blind tasting menu which he wanted to try—the thought of turning over decision making to the chef made Mr. BLB twitch.)

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6 hours ago, bookluvingbabe said:

We were in Vancouver at the worst of the smoke from the California wildfires and the inland BC wildfires.  We still did Capilano and Grouse (loved both) but we cut our time at Grouse short because the smoke was awful.  

We stayed at the Pan Pacific for ease in getting on our cruise.  Mediocre food and disappointing service on the club level. 

Afternoon tea at the Fairmont was fun and charming.  They were doing a Great British Baking Show inspired menu.  

Poutine at Steamworks was excellent. 

Yet ...You were all over the place in terms of "Best Restaurants," and you were The One, bookluvingbabe.

Thank you so much for all you've done here!

We love you, we do, we really do.

Kind regards,
Don

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