So you’ve decided to come to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics to experience the best athletes in the world compete in the hallows of winter. You plan on taking in all the sights and sounds that this super, natural city has to offer. While the beauty of the mountains, or the sounds of the outdoors make wish you moved here 10 years earlier, don’t make the mistake of leaving out your poor taste buds from indulging alongside you. Yes, Vancouver is your destination for ensuring that your stomach chimes in to say, “I, too, want to heart Vancouver.”
Don’t bother with guide books to provide you the way to abdominal enlightenment. When it comes to consuming true local delights. The best thing to do is to find a Vancouverite who can lead you to the right direction. What? Me? Why… I thought you’d never ask. So let me help educate you in the details of experience some of the finer restaurants in Vancouver.
What food do most people think of when they think of Canada? It’s either Maple syrup or Canadian ham, right? Um, yah, if you believe everything that’s on TV. To really indulge in the Vancouver experience, you definitely have to grab a burger and milkshake at White Spot. Established in Vancouver, this is truly comfort food to visitors with a West Coast splash to your tastebuds.
Tim Hortons is woven into the fabric of Canadian culture, interwined with hockey and communities above the 49th parallel. Donuts and coffee reign supreme here, but make sure you grab some TIMBITS before you head out to watch your next event (word is that foreign delegations have been served Timbits)
Chinese – Better Than the Real Thing
So, as most Washingtonians already know, Vancouver is the home of some of the world’s best Chinese food. “How’s that possible?” you may ask? Well you can thank to the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese who have immigrated to Vancouver over the last 30 years. Cooks from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China have made it easy to find good eats in basically all regions of the Lower Mainland. The general rule of thumb is that if it’s Chinese, it’s generally pretty decent (that’s because crappy places wouldn’t have survived in this competitive market), but I’ll point out a few worth treating yourself to.
Chinese Fine Dining: Kirin prepares some of the best seafood the Chinese have to offer. You’ll be spending a pretty penny, but you’ll get what you pay for.
Dim Sum: What eating extravaganza is complete without Chinese Dim Sum? Sun Sui Wah and Kirin (see above) serve up some of the tastiest. If you don’t know what dim sum is, take a look here and get ready to indulge!
24hr dining: So you’ve just finished your apres-party and your stomach is growling. Not to worry, No. 9 Restaurant in Richmond serves it up 24/7.
Bubble Tea: If you thought the cafe market was strong in your hometown, well, you’ll be right at home in Vancouver, with a twist. Bubble tea is the de facto drink in Vancouver. Brought over from the Taiwanese, and combined with the availability of fresh fruit here, you’ve got some of the best in the world. My favorite is Dragonball Tea House. Don’t let the small interior fool you. Drop by here at 10pm and you’ll see a lineup of people stopping by to take out after their evening activities. In Richmond, just drive down Alexandra Road, close your eyes, spin around and point. You should see a bubble tea store in front of you.
Japanese Food – The Chinese Way
Vancouver’s downtown is home to more Japanese sushi bars and ramen noodle houses than Starbucks. Go figure. Sitting in the Georgia Strait seafood can’t get any fresher. And who else to capitalize on this? Yes, the Chinese (and honorable mention to the Koreans) have done it again! There aren’t many other places in the world where you’ll find so many sushi buffets at where you can eat to your heart’s content. You’ll also find sushi in downtown on almost every other corner. While the majority are pretty tasty (how can pieces of raw, succulent fish not be??), finding ones run by the Japanese would be a plus. I’ll comment on one in my next section later.
Fusion: Japadog, you’ll find this located downtown, and you’ll finally get to experience what all the publicity has been about their special hotdogs…
Located in the southwest corner of Richmond was once a fishing village and cannery and has now become one of the best places to get good eats while enjoying the ocean view.
For years this place has been famous for its fish & chips. Pajo’s serves its fish and fries the way it was meant to: wrapped in newspaper. Many of the other restaurants nearby also serve similar offerings (with indoor seating and better ambience). And if you have a hankering, walk less than 3 minutes to get to Timothy’s frozen yogurt which has been a cornerstone in Steveston for years.
Steveston was also home to one of the earlier Japanese settlements, so, guess what? There are some pretty authentic japanese restaurants such as Ichiro that are worth enjoying after an afternoon stroll.
La Casa Gelato – if you had to go to one place for ice cream, this is it. Not a franchise by design, with over 508 flavors in stock and 218 available at any one time, this is as close as you get to dairy heaven. And yes, they also have a fine selection on non-dairy ice cream as well. Oh, and by the way, did I mention free tasting before you buy???
Of course, Vancouver isn’t without other fine dining. Cioppino’s serves wonderful Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Vij’s serves modern Indian food takes no reservations, so get there early to get a seat.
Chop is also a favorite for fine steaks. Ambience inside is amazing, and the sirloin and prime ribs will make you wish you could have both in one sitting. Or I could be wrong, and you can…
Well, I hope that gives you a good overview of how to blow a gastric gasket during the Olympics. For more dining ideas, please check out dinehere.ca for more restaurant reviews and descriptions. Or leave a note on what you think is worth going to! Bon appetit!