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BryanZ

Planning 5 Days in Vancouver and Whistler

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I'm heading up to Vancouver and Whistler for about 5 days in early March, the 10-15 to be precise. As per usual, I'm obsessive when it comes to planning and am looking for insights from the locals. I'm especially concerned about the latter destination because it is, be definition, a tourist town, and I usually don't like tourist towns. I'm hoping to have my impressions favorably changed.

Now I'll admit--much to the chagrin many here, I'm sure--that Vancouver was first put on my radar by No Reservations. I know people have said the episode lacked a bit of substance, but it was so pretty and the food looked pretty delicious.

With that said, I don't feel the need to follow in Bourdain's footsteps. I think I'm interested in eating at the likes of Tojo's and Vij's, but can be persuaded otherwise. As I've written in all of my numerous travel-related posts, I'm not concerned with absolute dollar amounts but rather value. I'll drop a couple hundred or more on a meal with no problem if I can be assured it will be distinctive. I won't pay $50 for generic, "restaurant food" crap. Guide me to your very favorite eating spots, cuisine and price are of no concern, but I would like some variety.

I do, however, want to eat some killer Chinese food. Obviously Richmond seems to be the answer, but if I only have 2.5 days in Vancouver is it worth taking a day/half-day trip down there? I'm interested in dim sum and also traditional dining.

As for drinking, sedate lounges and bars with crafted cocktails are my preference. Based on some cursory research the following spots seem interesting: The Cascade Room, Chill Winston, Bin 941, and George Lounge. Opinions, other suggestions. If it's the kind of place where people are standing around I'm generally not interested. That goes for double if it's loud. And if there's anything resembling a DJ, I'm running away screaming.

With all the food-type stuff out of the way, what else should I do. Vancouver Island, Stanley Park, are there any good markets like Pike Place in Seattle? I realize this veers into "touristy" territory, but I'm okay with that if there is stuff that's especially cool.

I'm thinking of staying on Robson St. as it seems to be centrally located? Is this the equivalent of staying in, like, Time Square or something equally banal? My hotel options are, how can I put this delicately, budget, but I'd love to get opinions if any of you have heard of them. Right now the Blue Horizon, Listel, and Pacific Palisades are the front runners.

Many of the same questions can be said about Whistler. What is there to do besides ski (and as an aside where should I ski)? Eats, cheap and expensive; drinks, sedate and well-crafted; diversions, non-culinary. The hotels I'm looking at for Whistler are The Summit Lodge and The Mountainside Lodge.

I now present a couple Googlemaps for, like, spatial purposes.

Vancouver Map - Hotels, restaurants, color-coded

Whistler Map - Just hotels for now, but is one location better than the other?

Oh, one more question, do you think I'll need a car for this trip or can I rely on public transportation? I'll be starting in Seattle and there's a shuttle up to Vancouver and I know there's a shuttle from Vancouver to Whistler. With two people, is a car necessary or advised?

Thank you so much for the help. If anyone wants to meet up or anything for drinks or a snack I'm probably game. My social circle has increasingly become people I meet through the internet. Is that weird?


Edited by BryanZ (log)

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I'm not a local, but I live in Seattle, which is almost local :P

I think Hiromi and I were pretty happy with Elements, as Whistler dining options go, and Bavaria, for the whole burgerliche mountain resort fondue experience. Everything else I've tried (we didn't make it to Araxi, but we've been to the sibling West in Vancouver) in Whistler has been pretty sad.

Most restaurants in Whistler strive for undifferentiation, as far as I can tell, as 80% of restaurants seems to serve the same mix of burgers, pizza, pasta, and pseudo-Mexican dishes, usually with a French, Italian, or Irish theme.

I don't know about cheap accommodations in Whistler, as I've never had any luck with that, except an ostensibly inexpensive room at the Westin in late summer. But you should consider widening your search to condos and timeshares that people (and sometimes entire hotel-like operations) rent out. If you don't mind staying about 30 minutes away from the slopes you can probably expand your options a bit. We stayed in the Whistler Village area, just for the walking distance advantage.

If you will have a car, staying south of Vancouver or close to the airport can save you about $40-100/night. However, walking around Robson or Broadway is much more comfortable for me than constantly battling the roads and searching for parking several times daily, so I typically just eat the additional expense now. There are some decent restaurants in the near-Robson area, but it seemed to us like Davie and Yaletown were more interesting as downtown dining goes.

In Vancouver, Hiromi and I loved our meal at Cru (thanks eGullet members LauraF and Karen for putting up with us, and Mr. EatBC himself for treating us so well). We also had a very good experience, though not a flawless one, at West. (My Blog has some commentary on both). This time around, we missed out on Richmond.

We had very, very decent cocktails at, I think, George, which was unfortunately crowded and noisy but we found a little hidden nook that worked well for us.


Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Some quick recs from me:

Yes it is worth the trip to Richmond for Sea Harbour, Chen's and Shanghai Wind. Even some HITW's like Prata-Man. Be forewarned - the traffic is crazy and confusing due to the Skytrain construction (even for me who grew up there and still visit regularly).

Tojo's is a bit of a tourist destination. Octopus's Garden over Tojo's for me.

Granville Island is worth the visit.

Aurora, Bin 941 (it gets a loud, though).

Izakaya. An NYC resident will be familiar with the scene in East Village/St Marks). Our version of that is Robson and Denman.

Some maps of my own for your perusal:

Food Tourist Map

Izakaya Crawl

Noodles and Dim Sum

edited: spelling etc.


Edited by fmed (log)

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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fmed, I actually used your Google maps to build mine and have yours saved in the "Created by others" heading. I am very familiar with the EV scene, but I'm interested in checking out an izakaya or two. for comparison's sake. The prob with most of the St. Marks izakaya is that the quality isn't really there even if the fun is and scene is. Perhaps Robson/Denman will better blend the two.

If I have 4 nights, should I do 3 in Vancouver and 1 in Whistler or split 2 and 2? This former option saves money and is probably better for the food-related pursuits, but with time it takes to get from Van to Whistler I won't have a full day skiing.


Edited by BryanZ (log)

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f...I am very familiar with the EV scene, but I'm interested in checking out an izakaya or two. for comparison's sake.  The prob with most of the St. Marks izakaya is that the quality isn't really there even if the fun is and scene is.  Perhaps Robson/Denman will better blend the two.

Then you'll find the same sort of deal at Robson and Denman - a few standouts, however: Kingyo, Hapa, Gyoza King, Shiru-Bay (in Yaletown) The Guu's are fun, but the food isn't stellar and the sake list is short. The scene is about the overall gestalt. If you take the quality of the food in isolation, then the whole izakaya scene would be lacking --- even in Japan, IMO. Still - it is a whole lot of fun.


Edited by fmed (log)

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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fmed,

If I have 4 nights, should I do 3 in Vancouver and 1 in Whistler or split 2 and 2?  This former option saves money and is probably better for the food-related pursuits, but with time it takes to get from Van to Whistler I won't have a full day skiing.

If skiing is a "must" then you pretty much have to stay 2 days at Whistler....especially with the sketchy traffic on the Sea to Sky Highway. I don't go to Whistler much (...I'm not much of a snowcat) - I don't have any food recs.


fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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The Robson street location that you've chosen is a good one and there's a relatively good number of places to visit without needing a car.

Coming from NYC - I don't think there's the need for you to hit high end places.

Vij's is good - incorporating alot of local ingredients with Indian technique.

I've found Tojo's a little disappointing - though the food tasted fine, the sashimi and sushi work was a little sloppy. Not a big deal - except that the clock was ticking on a $150 omakase. Along with Octopus' Garden - I'll also suggest Zest - popular with Japanese expats.

Among the Izakaya places around your hotel - I think Kingyo is by far the best. The cooking and attention to detail is much tighter vs. the other izikaya's.

Where Vancouver does excel is Chinese food - I think easily the best in North America. Very cantonese focused. Unfortunately - this will mean a trip to Richmond for you. Even multi-branch places like Kirin and Sun Sui Wah are better in Richmond because of the fierce competition.

Stay away from Chinatown. Transit here is nowhere as good as NYC - a one day car rental may shave alot of travel time for you.

As noted above - Sea Harbour is a favorite - particularly during dinner. You will be in town during King Crab Season - many of the better restaurants - Sun Sui Wah, Kirin, and Jade will all be featuring King Crab on their menus. Prices are about $14 a pound - with the legs being steamed with garlic and the 'knuckles' being stir fried with a spicy peppercorns.

For dim sum - I think Gingeri in Richmond is excellent, but if you want to stay in Vancouver - Kirin on Cambie is quite good also.

There are a large number of Shanghainese places in Richmond. The most popular right now being Shanghai Wonderful - which is doing a killer business with PRC Expats.


Edited by canucklehead (log)

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It's totally worth it to spend 1/2 a day in Richmond. If you decide to rent a car for only a day, that'll be the day to do it. There's very little in terms of sightseeing to do in Richmond, so you can just make the trip for a meal or two. Nothing (other than dim sum restaurants) is open earlier than 11 a.m. anyway.

For dim sum, a place that isn't mentioned too often here is Empire Seafood restaurant. If you like egg tarts, this is THE place for them. They come straight out of the oven - the molten custard, scented with coconut milk, is soft & jiggly; the crust, flaky. All their other dim sum & dishes (fried rice, etc.) are great, with the exception of the rice rolls ("cheung fun"), which are just ok (not smooth enough). Plus, if you arrive (order?) before 11 o'clock, there's a 20% discount. I think they open at 9 a.m.? I was there with my family last Saturday, and I think they advertised king crab at $8.99 a pound. I don't know how they serve it though.

If you have a little extra time in Richmond and if you love roast pork, there's a Chinese BBQ place in the Superstore complex that has the best roast pork. Crunchy skin & half-fat/half-lean pork = *drool*

As for izakayas, I agree with canucklehead - Kingyo is the best. Plus, you won't have to wait ONE HOUR for a table, as is the case at Guu with Garlic.

For markets similar to the Pike Place Market, try Granville Island. There's great fish & chips to be had at Go Fish.

I think you'll have to save Vancouver Island for your next visit, as that would be a day trip.

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If you have a little extra time in Richmond and if you love roast pork, there's a Chinese BBQ place in the Superstore complex that has the best roast pork.  Crunchy skin & half-fat/half-lean pork = *drool*

HK BBQ Master - their Honey Glazed Char Sui is the best in the lower mainland.

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Wow man, you have done a lot of culinary travelling in the last year. I went to Paris shortly after your write up last year and hit up L'ami Jean based on your your photo of the rice pudding!

For good cocktails with great food, I would recommend Boneta which has a very interesting and adventurous drink menu and very good food in a slightly edgy part of town (but not too far from downtown, where you are staying). Another good choice in this category is Nu, which has a great room overlooking the water and is walking distance from Robson.

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One of my favourite things to do is take out-of-towners out for a meal or two, as I was lucky enough to do with JasonTrue. PM me, I'd love to show off some of our great restaurants!

Trust Canucklehead on the Chinese food rec's, for sure, he's an absolute expert. Granville Island is touristy, but also popular with the local consumers and restaurant chefs for its incredible year-round culinary bounty - I think you'd find it worth a visit.

Do get a car, unless you make very good friends with someone local to drive you around :raz: . If you want to try some of the best Chinese, you will need to get out of the downtown area, and the drive to Whistler isn't all that bad despite the construction. Whistler is very cool to see, and ski at - the debate between doing Blackcomb or Whistler is a long one, and since I haven't skiied for awhile, I leave that to others. If you are dining at Whistler, your best blow-me-away dinner options are Araxi or Bearfoot Bistro, both outstanding, frequent winners of local restaurant awards. For casual? There's a handful of cafes that are pretty good, but if you are skiing all day, you won't be coming down to the village for lunch - it'll shave some precious time off your ski day - so pack a snack, or grab something at the restaurant(s) up the hill, and save your time and energy for an exemplary dinner experience.

You'll find more dining diversity in Vancouver, so drive up to Whister early one morning, ski the hell out of you, have reservations for a great dinner, and come back the next morning. By the time you've done that, you won't care what hotel you are staying at - all you will want is a hot shower after skiing and a warm bed after eating!

In Vancouver, wow, aside from Chinese options, Vij's (South Granville) is definitely unique and worthwhile; Tojo's (mid-town) I find overrated for what you will spend; Boneta (Gastown) is a great choice for not only innovative cocktails but killer food at a pretty decent value; Salt (Gastown) is a hip space for the best charcuterie and cheeses with excellent beer, whiskey and wine pairings; an old stalwart like Ciopinno's (Yaletown) is the best high-end Italian in town, in my mind, though Cincin (Robson St) plays a close fiddle; C and Blue Water are excellent high-end seafood places; and Go Fish! (near Granville Island) is an experience in truly fresh-off-the-boat seaside kiosk lunching.

I have at least a dozen other spots to recommend, but you only have five days!

Cheers,

Laura


Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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Thanks for all this info. I've poured over all of it and have made some progress. Unfortunately my time is short, so I'll not be able to visit all of these spots.

A few questions to piggy back off of what's been posted thus far.

How do the Chinese restaurants in Richmond "work"? Do most offer dim sum in lieu of lunch, in addition to lunch? Is dim sum cart service or ordered from the menu? Can I order dim sum and lunch items at some of the places mentioned?

How much crab is a good amount to order? I always get confused when ordering seafood by the pound.

What's the difference between Canto and Shanghai cuisines?

I've also heard that Aberdeen Center is an interesting cultural experience. It, like, an Asian mall, right? Worth stopping by?

Roasted pork will be had like whoa.

What should I seek out on Granville Island? The Public Market obviously, but what else, what part is best? What's this Loft I'm reading about? I can't find a clear description? It seems like there's a lot there. With regards to Go Fish, it seems like a nice lunch spot. Is it walking distance from the Public Market? It's not clear on Google Maps how the roads work.

Stanley Park, worth checking out?

Does Nu have the worst website design ever? I'll answer this one. Yes. Many of these restaurants don't list their hours. What's up with that?

I'm thinking of doing like a post-dinner Gastown crawl hitting Salt, Chill Winston, and Boneta one after the other. Does this make sense?

I'm looking for a couple lunch spots. A Japadog will be had as a snack because I'm a Bourdain whore like that. I have three lunches but only two dinners, most likely, so how can I maximize my daytime eating? But what other spots are lunch-y and good?

George Lounge has probably the most interesting cocktail menu I've seen but the scene-y-ness scares me. Will it be annoying and loud early in the week, Monday or Tuesday? If so, will I be safe if I go early?

I have a couple hundred dollars in Relais Gourmand gift certificates I can burn. Should I go to Lumiere, the Tasting Bar? I know Feeney got the boot late last year, but is it still one of the top tables? It just seems rather expensive and I'm worried I'll be bored to death by it.


Edited by BryanZ (log)

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I'm in the middle of a Van trip right now and just wanted to add the following comments:

-I stayed on Robson last trip and it was fine. Mostly be close to the SkyTrain station if you can. But there's lots of restaurants on the west end of Robson that you might want to hit -- the izakayas fmed mentioned, and Motomachi Shokudo too.

-Japadog is good but you don't need to "allocate" a meal to it. They have 3 "Japa-style" hot dogs and unless you eat all 3 in 1 go it won't be a meal. I've been hitting them as a snack each day, with a reasonable metabolism you should be OK here.

-if you go to Granville Island, try to avoid Monday/Tuesday so you'll catch the artisanal sake maker on a day they're open. I learned the hard way...

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How much crab is a good amount to order?  I always get confused when ordering seafood by the pound.

I've also heard that Aberdeen Center is an interesting cultural experience.  It, like, an Asian mall, right?  Worth stopping by?

What should I seek out on Granville Island?  The Public Market obviously, but what else, what part is best?  What's this Loft I'm reading about? I can't find a clear description?  It seems like there's a lot there.  With regards to Go Fish, it seems like a nice lunch spot.  Is it walking distance from the Public Market?  It's not clear on Google Maps how the roads work.

Stanley Park, worth checking out?

I'm looking for a couple lunch spots.  A Japadog will be had as a snack because I'm a Bourdain whore like that.  I have three lunches but only two dinners, most likely, so how can I maximize my daytime eating?  But what other spots are lunch-y and good?

I think the amount of crab depends on what else you're planning to eat. When I go out for crab with my family, about 7 people will have a good amount of crab when we order about three 3lb crabs. We usually get a few other items so if you're thinking of going crab only maybe you'll need to up the ratio.

I think there are a lot more malls in Richmond that are more "Asian" but I do like Aberdeen. You can grab a puff at Beard Papa, take a look around Daiso (a Japanese $2 store), grab a plate of shaved ice at Frappe Bliss, grab some snacks from Candyland or try out a place in the foodcourt or the various restaurants scattered in there. I wouldn't go to Richmond just to go to Aberdeen if time is limited but if you're in Richmond it might be worth to drop by.

If you're talking about The Net Loft, the stores I know of include a book store, Paper-ya (a lot of neat stationary and paper products), an eyeglass store, a coffee shop and various craft stores. I think Paper-ya is worth taking a look into has a few neat things to look at and maybe take back as souveniers.

Stanley Park isn't a bad place to go but I wouldn't say that you have to go there. It offers some nice views, a lot of trees, water and some totem poles; but if you're not into that you might want to skip it.

As for Japadog I personally like the Miso Mayo with the pork brawtwurst. If you don't plan on going to Japadog more than once, select wisely. I've snapped a pic of all of the Japanese style hot dogs here. Nothing wrong with being a Bourdain whore, he's made me want to visit a few places like Montreal, Osaka and Portland just to name a few.

I've been to Tojo's twice last year. I have a few pictures from my first and second visit. Although both visits didn't exactly blow me away there are a few dishes like the smoked sablefish have stuck with me. I won't say that it's the best sushi place in Vancouver but I haven't regretted going.

As for other suggestions I think there are many more people in this forum that are better able to point you in the right direction. You might consider taking a look through this thread. Endy_'s currently in Van and has been happy with a lot of the suggestions he's gotten. I believe there's a link to his previous visit which has some input about Lumiere and Tojo's. Good luck.

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>> How do the Chinese restaurants in Richmond "work"?

Dim Sum places will also have a regular menu. Some places have carts and some do not - you order from a dim sum menu. Carts are fun and some dishes can handle being pushed around for a while and cooked on the built-in stoves. However, some can't handle it so well - the steamed dumplings, etc. for example. Carts are also often indicative of Cantonese/HK Dim Sum. Chen's Shanghai Kitchen is an example of a place that sells (Shanghai) Dim Sim - they make it fresh at the back. The place is too small to have carts.

Resident Dim Sum expert canucklehead will hopefully provide some more insight soon.

>>How much crab is a good amount to order? I always get confused when ordering seafood by the pound.

I can eat a lot of crab given the opportunity. We usually save it for special occassions so we order an entire crab. Ask your server how much you should order - they will size you up.

>>What's the difference between Canto and Shanghai cuisines?

That is a large topic. I'll just point you to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_cuisine

>> I've also heard that Aberdeen Center is an interesting cultural experience. It, like, an Asian mall, right? Worth stopping by?

I like visiting with my kids. Don't make a trip to Richmond just to go to Aberdeen, though. There is a major Asian Food zone - actually two zones - one around Lansdowne Mall and northwards towards Aberdeen (there is a street there called Alexandra Rd that is nicknamed "Eat Street" by some locals because of all the restaurants around there). Another Food zone is east of Richmond Center around Park and No 3 Rd.

Richmond is worth a major meal (maybe lunch/dim sum at Sea Harbour). Then perhaps Aberdeen for snacks and Daiso. Then drive around the two zones for a bit af shopping, pork, etc.

>> What's this Loft I'm reading about?

It's a collection of art shops. Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks is there....excellent bookstore. They offer cooking classes at their other location.


fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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For Whistler, the chef at Bearfoot Cafe has been doing well for herself in the Canadian competitions.

Also, check on Quattro to see if they've got any visiting chefs in. I caught Vivalda from Piedmont there two years ago just after his place in Italy took a second star. Plus, the hotel there isn't a bad price, and it's easy walking about the village. (Araxas wasn't bad, either, but we just did lunch).

For Vancouver, part of it is picking out places that will fit in with touring around the city.

Nibbling around Granville Island is always good, and, if you're travelling over 2nd Narrows (rent that car) to go to Lynn Valley or Deep Cove or one of the other scenic parks cum film sets, then you could always stop in at T&T Market on 1st to ogle the fresh seafood and pick yourself up some good food for the drive. And the Raven over towards Deep Cove is a nice pub (but not quiet).

Back in Kits, I am fond of Moderne Burger, but they always seem to be closed for renovations. also in Kits, I like Kibune (down by the beach) for Japanese. The regular assortment is good, but ask for what's on the boards for the evening. Aurora at Broadway and Main can be good, as the guys there look to try different things. And Argos Cafe on Ontario is a handy location if you're moving across town. It's only open for lunch, but the chef there is having fun. Plus, you get a happy kitty waving its arm up and down.

For cocktails, I'd recommend you check with dipsophilia.com They're Vancouver based and try to cover the cocktail scene....

Darn! I just remembered! The Waldorf opened up the Tiki Room again! I don't know if it's every day, or just on weekends.

Beware, I haven't been back since summer of 2006, so I'm a little out of date on things (Feenie still had Lumiere then).

For really good Chinese, you are going to have to go across the bridge to Richmond. I shudder at the thought, though.

Have fun, and let us know what you find.

Peter

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Abderdeen's ok, but it's not a tourist destination or anything.

Things that may interest you about Aberdeen:

- the food court's not bad - there's a place that's famous for their "wind sand" (that's a literal translation from Chinese - there's ginger & other Chinese spices in it) chicken wings. Lightly battered, deep-fried, piping hot. I can never remember the name of the place - canucklehead? It's to the left of the escalator anyway, past Beard Papa. Great snack! Their milk tea & other drinks are almost the cheapest in Richmond. And good too, not watered down.

- at Daiso, you can find almost anything you can think of & even stuff you didn't know existed. From muddlers to charcoal to umbrellas - really random stuff.

- there's a Japanese pottery place on the lower level (near the parking lot entrance, I think?) that has some really great items. You could pick some stuff up for your Kitchen.

- if you wanna get some dried Asian snacks, go to Kwong Leung Hing on the top floor (NOT Taiwanese Dried Food, which is on the middle floor - it's pricier & the product is inferior).

- I hate parking at Aberdeen. Warning: people in Richmond are bad drivers.

Granville Island:

- everything's within walking distance - it's quite small. Go Fish is technically not on the island. As you're driving in/walking towards Granville Island, it'll be on the left hand side before the bridge. Follow the winding seawall - you won't be able to see Go Fish from the bridge, I think.

I'm sure you've found it already, but here's Japadog's website. I like the flavours of the oroshi, but the grated daikon makes the bun kinda soggy and is a little overwhelming cuz there's so much of it.

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- I hate parking at Aberdeen.  Warning: people in Richmond are bad drivers.

I wholeheartedly agree. Aberdeen's an award-winning mall, architecturally, but the parking lot is a dog's breakfast. Plus it always seems to be under construction. What's up with that?!

But my wife loves Daiso and the dessert tofu in the food court, and I like to yoyo next to the water fountain. :laugh:


album of the moment: Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling - 2008

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- I hate parking at Aberdeen.  Warning: people in Richmond are bad drivers.

I wholeheartedly agree. Aberdeen's an award-winning mall, architecturally, but the parking lot is a dog's breakfast. Plus it always seems to be under construction. What's up with that?!

But my wife loves Daiso and the dessert tofu in the food court, and I like to yoyo next to the water fountain. :laugh:

Richmond is a driving and parking nightmare...I'm sure you have all experienced the "satellites" - the spouse jumps out of the car to get takeout at Yaohan (or someplace) while hubby drives around endlessly until she comes back out with the goods.

A good strategy might be to rent bikes - park away from the craziness (perhaps at Lansdowne Mall) and bike to all the places.

I love to go to Daiso to stock up on Japanese candy and kitchen gadgets. I give my kids ten bucks each and they buy all sorts of crazy stuff. Fun!


fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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I find midweek (when everyone is at work) parking not so bad in Richmond..I wish there was a commuter or even an easier walking option there but really that is the only place we actually drive to when we come for visits ..and as long as we do that town mid day mid week (trying to avoid the lunch rush too is kind of a feet in itself but that is a narrow window) 9-11am and then 1-4pm Mon-Fri...(unless we go for dinner and honestly that is not as often as I would like because of the parking and traffic) we seem to be fine..otherwise ...yes it is really hard to get around and find places to park that are in reasonable distance to where you want to be..


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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re cocktails, George is not that bad re scene-y-ness, especially early on weeknights. Another unassuming but quite good place I like for cocktails and some good desserts as well is Diva in the Metropolitan Hotel on Howe street. They do some innovative cocktails in a relaxed, quiet lounge in front of their dining room.

Unless you are hell bent on the Chinese, I would avoid Richmond. Lots of traveling time and not much in return. Perhaps try something different like Wild Rice. Not classic Chinese but a nice modern lounge style Chinese inspired restaurant.

If dining takes priority over skiing I suggest a local mountain. They are very weather dependent but if you get a good snow day, Cypress can be spectacular. And it takes 30 mins to get up there from Vancouver. But for the world-class skiing experience Whistler is a must, crappy under-construction highway and all.


Stefan Posthuma

Beer - Chocolate - Cheese

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I'm especially concerned about the latter destination because it is, be definition, a tourist town, and I usually don't like tourist towns. I'm hoping to have my impressions favorably changed.

You won't, but if you are a skier, it won't matter. Whistler isn't even a tourist town--it's a ski resort development. A land of time shares, overpriced restaurants and ski shops. BUT, who cares. The skiing is fantastic. Just don't go thinking the "town" will be interesting at all. Definitely give yourself a full day there so you can be in line when the lifts open. Another thing, and maybe since you're from NY you won't be surprised, but some of the nicer restaurants and bars have dress codes. Mostly just "resort casual," but if you're like me (okay, you're a guy, so you're not) you don't necessarily pack a skirt on a ski trip.

What is there to do besides ski (and as an aside where should I ski)? Eats, cheap and expensive; drinks, sedate and well-crafted; diversions, non-culinary.

If you're only there a full day or two, just ski. There's other snowy stuff to do--dogsledding, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, but you can do that stuff a lot of places. You don't, however, get 8000 acres of skiing with 5100' of vertical just anywhere. As to where, it depends on your ability level. Here's a good guide to get you started:

Whistler Blackcomb trail guide

Also, the resort offers free mountain tours for intermediate or advanced skiers from the Roundhouse, at the top of the Whistler gondola.

I asked about cocktails in another recent Whistler thread and was given a few recommendations, if you search.

Since you mentioned budget--I think most of us stay in condos at Whistler. They are more plentiful and often less expensive than hotel rooms. Having a condo, of course, means you can cook your own food (and for me, it means more time on the slopes, since I'm not wasting time waiting for someone else to serve me eggs in the morning). There's an expensive but nice grocery in Whistler, or a cheaper one in Squamish on the way up. One great site for condos is alluradirect.com. I can give you a specific recommendation if you like.

I'll be starting in Seattle and there's a shuttle up to Vancouver and I know there's a shuttle from Vancouver to Whistler. With two people, is a car necessary or advised?

The drive is fairly annoying right now--its 50 km/h for much of it, due to construction. You don't need a car there and it seems like most visitors that aren't locals take a shuttle (we're in Seattle, so we drive). If you're coming from Seattle, and planning on going straight to Whistler, you might see how long the shuttles take, and then compare how long it would take in a car (4.5 hours as long as there aren't bad border delays AND you use the truck crossing and skirt the east/north sides of Vancouver. Google maps will point the way).

All the lodgings you marked are quite central. The only thing I would caution you about is noise if you are in the very heart of the village (the two bottom lodgings on your map). Last weekend when I was there they had hip hop, djs and live rock in the Village plaza all day until, I think, 10pm. You might love that, but if not, you might want to check to see if there are events like that going on while you're there.

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Will all apologies and respect to Chocoholic - I cannot, in good conscience, let the Wild Rice recco stand. If you were here for a month then maybe, but for 3 days or less, just... don't.

Go to Richmond, and try say Chen's for dim sum / lunch, then Aberdeen or wherever to kill the afternoon, then Sea Harbour for dinner. All Lower Mainland drivers are bad, so what the hell. It's only one day. And it will be an experience you will not be able to recreate in NYC, or anywhere else in North America for that matter.


Edited by BCinBC (log)

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Will all apologies and respect to Chocoholic - I cannot, in good conscience, let the Wild Rice recco stand.

Whew! I'm glad someone said it. (Again, no disrespect).


fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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We stayed at the Blue Horizon in December 2007. It was well priced and the view was great. Pretty basic overall, a little dated, but fine. Good location.

We came from Seattle and really enjoyed Christmas Eve at the Granville Market (we didn't have to buy anything, so the crowd was manageable.) I wanted to try Go Fish, but couldn't find it - it is off the island as mentioned upthread.

Good to hear Wild Rice wasn't really a destination to seek out - I thought about it, but it started snowing. Can't add any great finds...turned out to be less a dining trip than expected.

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