(Originally posted February 2, 2012. Updated in November 2013.)
I like food.
Other than some ethical concerns with veal, I’ll pretty much try everything. I don’t like sea urchin, I don’t drink coffee and can’t handle diet pop.
In February, a friend is coming to town and I happen to be out of town! But I wanted to leave him a list of must-try foods in Vancouver.
Something absent on this list: Pho. Frankly, I have no idea what makes good Pho. I’ll pretty much eat it at any sketchy hole-in-the-wall. And I seem to like it all.
Also, the best breakfast under $3: Yummy Sushi. Wait, what?! I’ve never had sushi there. In fact, I don’t think they even do raw fish. But the hole-in-the wall has all day breakfast and is across the street from my home.
I’m not a big fan of breakfast, thus its relative absence on this list. Same with sweets. I’m a savory girl for the most part.
So far I haven’t been truly wowed by any Thai, Malaysian, Cambodian, etc. restaurants in Vancouver. That’s not to say there aren’t any really good ones. There are. I eat at Pad Thai regularly, though it is more cheap eats than authentic meal.
If there’s one thing you’ll notice about the list is that nothing is over $16. I’m not one to go for those $30 per plate meals. So, this isn’t fine dining. I’m sure there is lots of very fine dining in Vancouver, but that’s not me.
Anyways, enough rambling, if you’re like me, you just want the list. These are restaurants I really like… not just the menu items below.
Top 20 things you must eat in Vancouver:
(Updated in November 2013 to reflect restaurant closures)
Banh Mi at Big Lou’s
Carnitas Taco at La Taqueria
Chicken Wings at Phnom Penh
Chili-Garlic Eggplant and blade sheared noodles at Peaceful Restaurant
Choriqueso Sandwich at Las Tortas
Fish and Chips at Go Fish
Garlic stubs with pork at Zakkushi
Grilled Cheese at Burgoo
Ice cream sandwiches at Chocolate Arts
Kimbap at HMart (Korean Grocery Store)
Le Grand Feast at Nuba
Peruvian Seafood Chowder at Mochikas
Pasta at Lombardo’s Ristorante
Pizza at Zaccary’s
Polenta Fries and mixed drinks at Cascade Room
Rib ends at Memphis Blues
Salted Caramel Blondie at Beaucoup Bakery
Steak Frites at Les Faux Bourgeois
Sushi and Okonomiyaki at Zipang
Tonkatsu at Suika
Waffles at Patisserie Lebeau
Five best sushi restaurants in Vancouver:
5. Samurai Sushi House – ENORMOUS. Seriously. The fish is decent and the cuts are massive.
4. Toshi – The fish is superb, the lineup is annoying, but the fish is superb. If you know anything about the sushi scene in Vancouver, you’ve heard of it. But honestly, I’m just as happy going to my top three. (All surprisingly nearby.)
3. Sushiyama – How dare I place something ahead of the renowned and line-up oriented Toshi? Sushiyama never disappoints.
2. Shiro – Get ready to sit uncomfortably close to someone else, with bustling servers running past you. They jam everyone in, which is a good thing because otherwise you’d be waiting a long time. A great mix of price, quality, speed, and homemade wasabi – and you get pocky at the end.
1. Zipang Sushi – After recently taking out of town guests here over any other place in Vancouver, I realized it is my number one. The quality is always amazing, the menu is extensive and the prices totally reasonable. Plus I like the random decor.
Five more restaurants you should try:
Three places I wish I had gone to before I left:
Paul’s Omelettery – Repeat visits have proven no one makes a better omelet in town.
Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe – random things in or on a pancake
Red Wagon – Busy hipster spot, but for good reason. Go on a weekday to avoid waiting in line. Known for their giant pulled pork pancakes.
Swiss Bakery – Just get a loaf of bread here and have toast. Known for frissants.
Best deals in Vancouver:
(Previously mentioned) Yummy Restaurant for $2.99 breakfast
(Previously mentioned) Samurai Sushi House for the biggest pieces of sushi I’ve ever seen
Bistro 101 – The local cooking school does a three course lunch for $20, dinner for $25. Half price wine Wednesday means the bottle is as cheap (or cheaper than buying at the liquor store).
Kitsilano Daily Kitchen – Chef’s tasting menu for $65 – which doesn’t seem like a deal but for 6 fantastic courses of food, it’s worth it
Pad Thai Restaurant – Definitely not the most authentic thai restaurant, but their lunch deal of $6 is a huge plate of food.
The Patty Shop – Jamaican patties. That’s it.
Great Han Mongolian Barbecue – Throw food in bowl, they cook. Good deal! (Not by weight!)