Tommaso and I spent a week in rainy Vancouver and while the weather was a little undesirable, we had a great time exploring the city and eating all of the amazing food!
We stayed at JW Marriott Parq which was a modern hotel with spacious rooms and had the best hotel gym I’ve ever seen. A huge reason why I chose this hotel was its central proximity and the fact that they had a legit gym with multiple squat racks and various machines which is unheard of for hotel gyms! We took full advantage of the gym every morning before shoving our faces with food.
Since we arrived late afternoon, we relaxed at the hotel before heading out for a laid back dinner at a ramen place called Danbo. I read that Danbo is popular and sure enough there was a line outside the restaurant when we arrived (they don’t take reservations).
Since we had to wait in line, I walked a block away to grab us some donuts in the meantime for a snack. This was my first time trying the iconic Tim Hortons, a fast food Canadian donut shop.
Since Danbo is a pretty small restaurant, we waited around 30 minutes which isn’t terrible considering it was a Saturday night. Their menu is concise with a few ramens and side dishes. Both ramens hit the spot and the chashu pork was super tender and scrumptious.
Our night wouldn’t be complete without something sweet. While we were walking we stumbled upon Thierry Chocolates, a dessert shop that happened to be one of the places on my list. I guess it was destiny! Surprisingly it was quite busy but they still had a large selection of desserts left.
All three desserts were stellar. The tiramisu had a Mascarpone sabayon and the ladyfingers were soaked in coffee and Kahlua. I liked the addition of the chocolate shavings and chocolate plaques around the dessert. Calamansi is a type of tart citrus with flavors of kumquat, lemon, lime, and a little orange. The cake had an almond sablée on the bottom then calamansi crémeux, calamansi mousse, and finished with a calamansi gelée. Lastly, the chocolate marquise was the epitome of decadence. On the bottom was a hazelnut dacquosie with salted caramel and crispy praline and then chocolate mousse. So good!
The following day we took a quick ferry ride to Granville Island where they have a public food market which is right up our alley. From fresh fruits and vegetables, to seafood and meat, to cheese and baked goods, and everything in between, you’ll definitely find something to your liking here.
I couldn’t go to the public food market without trying Lee’s Donuts which made an appearance on Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner on Netflix with David Chang and Seth Rogan. They had quite a selection of flavors so we ended up getting 6 to share with a mix of cake and regular donuts. They would have tasted even better if were were high like David and Seth on the show!
For savory goodies, we got bagel sandwiches and of course the lox was superior.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon at Science World which was a little underwhelming and pretty packed since it was spring break.
That night we had a fantastic prix fixe dinner at St. Lawrence, one of our favorite meals during our trip. Highly recommend.
The following day started off with trying some street food. First stop was Fritz European Fry House, a tiny shop selling fries with a plethora of sauces and poutine! We got the poutine with smoked meat and it was hearty and delicious. Perfect for this weather.
On our way to our next stop we encountered our first Shiba Inu sighting, yay!
Japadog is a popular chain where they serve Japanese inspired hotdogs. We shared the okonomi which was a kurobuta pork sausage with cabbage, okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes. Pretty tasty!
We walked around downtown and encountered another Shiba Inu! Such a cutie.
We spent the majority of our afternoon at the Vancouver Aquarium which was a lot more entertaining than Science World.
After the aquarium we walked around Stanley Park, a large public park that’s almost an oasis from urban city life.
Dinner was at Miku, a popular Japanese restaurant where we enjoyed every morsel of food and fresh seafood.
The next day, after our workouts of course, we had an early lunch at Lunch Lady. This Vietnamese restaurant doesn’t take reservations for lunch (they do for dinner) so we got there right when they opened to ensure a table as it’s not a large restaurant.
Both non-alcoholic drinks were phenomenal. Pandan, a green leaf used in South Asian cuisines, has a sweet vanilla and coconut flavor and went perfectly with the creamy milk tea. The Vietnamese iced egg coffee was sweetened with condensed milk and topped with a condensed milk sabayon.
We loved this vibrant salad filled with various textures and flavors where chicken, cabbage, and banana blossoms were tossed in a truffle chili lime vinaigrette. The rice crackers added that airy crispness. Overall, a really solid dish.
Grilled pork collar was perfectly cooked with that beautifully browned exterior. Fresh vegetables, steamed rice, and an egg finished off the dish.
Pho seemed appropriate to order since the weather was also cold and dreary on this day. Comfort in a bowl.
After lunch we ran into Earnest Ice Cream, another spot on my list to try! While it definitely was not ice cream weather, we shared a small scoop of chewy pretzel blondie (they had lots of fun flavors).
With all that food in our bellies, we had to do some walking. We walked around Gastown, a historical neighborhood with lots of cute shops and restaurants. With beautiful old brick buildings and cobblestone streets, this area was so charming. We also visited the Steam Clock which was built in 1977 and is powered by steam and whistles to tell the time.
We finished our afternoon at FlyOver Canada, a really cool simulation ride where you sit suspended and watch a 20 meter spherical screen with images. During the simulation ride, you’ll feel wind, mist, and various scents of nature as you move with the flight motion seats. It was pretty cool and not scary at all.
Our day finished off with a lengthy dinner at Published on Main, a New Canadian restaurant where the food was overall delicious but wasn’t my favorite during our trip.
The next day started off by getting sandwiches and pastries at Trafiq Café & Bakery. We got the green goddess on grain bread (chicken, Brie cheese, avocado, pumpkin seed pesto, arugula, and lime mayo) and the California club on cranberry pecan bread (chicken, bacon, avocado, and sprouts). Both sandwiches were delectable and we saved some for an afternoon snack. We also got the chocolate Nutella cake and the schnecken, a German style pastry similar to a cinnamon roll.
We spent the remainder of the day exploring the VanDusen Botanical Garden, a wonderful botanical garden with even a hedge maze! So cool.
Dinner this night was at Japanese Italian restaurant, Kissa Tanto, where ingredients from both cultures were intertwined to create fun dishes.
Vancouver is known for Chinese and dim sum restaurants so we had to try at least one of them. I had several places on my list so choosing just one was challenging. We decided to try Western Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant for lunch and I’m so glad I made a reservation as it was packed for even a weekday.
So we definitely got a lot of food considering the portions were bigger than we expected. Everything was really delicious and flavorful. My favorites were the pan fried shrimp and chive dumplings, the chicken wings, and the fried rice. Definitely would recommend coming here for some great Chinese food.
After a scrumptious early lunch we headed to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s a suspension bridge that crosses over the Capilano River and originally was built in 1889. Since then there have been multiple renovations and this bridge attracts around 1.2 million visitors per year!
After spending a few hours at the park we headed back to the city and stopped by Mello, a cute donut shop that specializes in brioche donuts with fun fillings. They all looked so good and we got 6 to share which was overkill but totally worth it. Flavors we got were strawberries & cream, Nutella, pb & j, matcha, lemon, and cereal. The dough was super fluffy and airy which made the donut seem lighter even though they were stuffed. So yummy.
Since we were pretty tired from the day, we stayed in this night and relaxed at the hotel.
Our last day in Vancouver was very chill. We walked around the shopping area for a bit before getting lunch at Saku, a popular tonkatsu restaurant. We got the cheese katsu (deep fried bread Mozzarella wrapped with thinly sliced pork loin) and the hire curry (deep fried breaded pork fillet with curry and rice). Yum!!
We ended up renting a tandem bike after lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon biking through Stanley Park which was really fun. Don’t mind my haggard appearance!
Our final dinner was at AnnaLena where we had a delightful prix fixe dinner. The perfect ending to our week long trip.
Vancouver is a beautiful city, a great mix of urban city life and nature intertwined. We really enjoyed our time here as we didn’t feel rushed to see everything which made for a leisurely trip. All the various restaurants we dined at were also spectacular making this city a foodie’s paradise.