My college girlfriends and I met up recently for our yearly reunion in Vancouver, a long weekend filled mainly with food, to the point that we ate more than three meals each day. Thanks to Chowhound, we got a great taste of what Vancouver has to offer, and I thought I would share my thoughts on some old favorites and a few places that I haven’t seen mentioned on this board.
Sun Sui Wah for dim sum: Even though I’d heard it pooh-poohed in favor of Fisherman’s Terrace and Shiang Garden, we decided to try it because it was in walking distance of our first night’s hotel, the Four Points Sheraton by the airport. (It turned out the other places were also in walking distance, we just didn’t seem them first. FYI, Four Points Sheraton is a great location if all you want to do is check out Asian malls and eat Chinese food.) All I can say is you Vancouverites are spoiled if this is your second-tier dim sum place. What I would give to have something like this in NY, fresh ingredients, imaginative dim sum, high-quality food for just a little more than I would pay at the run-down mega-halls in NY. The har gow was so-so, but the chives dumplings were excellent, and we especially enjoyed pumpkin rice rolls with pea shoots and pork. The rice rolls didn’t have a pronounced pumpkin taste, but the color contrast with the green pea shoots was lovely. I especially liked the baked tapioca pudding. One of our friends just came back this summer from a year in Hong Kong, and was so happy to feel back “at home.”
Mak’s Noodle Restaurant: Also in walking distance, good simple but rich-tasting wonton soup. I had the beef brisket tendon with skinny noodles and wontons. I wish NY had places like this.
Excellent Tofu: tofu pudding with sweet black rice for me, tofu pudding with maple syrup for another friend. Soft and subtle tofu flavors.
The food court at Aberdeen Mall—I just loved seeing fish balls and tripe being sold in a mall food court. That would never happen in the U.S. And the Daiso $2 store was a blast, as were the Asian clothing boutiques in general. Reminded me a lot of shopping in Seoul, Korea.
Guu with Garlic (Robson St.): good with fresh ingredients, but not as mind-bending as I thought it would be, probably because there are good izakayas in NY.
Vij’s Rangoli: A bunch of us wanted to eat at Vij, but one of us doesn’t eat Indian food period, so we had two dinners that night, starting with a light meal at Vij’s Rangoli. Really, truly excellent. Vij’s Rangoli seemed less fusion-y than Vij, but the flavors were still original to us in their complexity. Stuff like pakoras and samosas, which I rarely order because they’re generally things that are pleasing simply because they’re fried, were much tastier here. The tile mosaic inside the restaurant is beautiful; what a great place to get an affordable meal.
The Sandbar: We ended up here after finding out that Go Fish! closes at 6:30. Fancy, upscale seafood place at Granville Island. I was pretty full from my first dinner, so I shared some raw oysters (Malpeque and something else), which were excellent, delicate and smooth, and had a cup of okay clam chowder. I had a local beer, Sleeman’s Honey Ale, that was delicious, sweet but with a slight kick, and apparently brewed right on the island. My friends seemed to enjoy their meals. They loved the chocolate pudding and chocolate torte they had for dessert. I wish they’d had more fruit or dairy-based desserts. Beautiful space.
Terra Breads at Granville Island Market: I loved this place. Hearty, artisanal breads that reminded me of Acme in the SF-Bay Area. We had the green olive roll, the fig-anise roll, a grape focaccia, this amazing apple sesame roll, buttery scones that broke off crisply (what I always like best). Nothing was too sweet, letting the flavors of the grains and other ingredients shine through.
Delany’s Coffee House: right around the corner from our hotel, the Sylvia. It had a good vibe, very neighborhood-y and friendly, but the coffee was weak for my taste and the scones a sad, floppy bunch compared to the ones at Terra Breads. I would have liked to try Caffe Artigiano but didn’t have the time.
Kirin (at City Center at Cambie Street) for dim sum again: Again, delicious. We had to wait 2 hours, but we went for a nice walk around Mount Pleasant, and I worked up an appetite snapping pictures of the colorful houses. The har gow and siu mai were especially good. The pork neck with sour vegetables, which I had never tried before, was tender and a great combination of flavors. We had a spirited discussion about why NY doesn’t have high-quality dim sum, with my Chinese friends arguing that the population there isn’t willing to spend money on it, which I couldn’t understand because our bill only came out to about $14 (Canadian) per person. The thought of eating greasy, sloppily prepared NY dim sum is more depressing than ever.
Go Fish!: Went back the next night before it closed, and agree with everyone on this board. Great chips, too.
Wafers at Granville Island Market: I can’t remember the exact name, but they are these big round wafers that look like giant communion wafers, but with a crunchy sweet filling sandwiched between the two layers. I liked them, but my friends REALLY liked them and bought a bunch to take home.
Mondo Gelato: several good flavors, mixed reviews from the girls. I loved the taste of my Fior di Latte gelato, but the texture was grainy. Indian Mango was lovely.
And this isn’t a restaurant review, but thank you Vancouver, for giving me a taste of delicious mangosteens in the Granville Island Market, which I haven’t had since I was 16 in Thailand! I bought some in NY’s Chinatown recently, and was so sad to discover they were rotten or frozen. I thought I would just have to live with my 12-year-old memories for many more years, but now I have some fresher memories to live with :)
What a beautiful city! Thanks for all the food memories...