Pros pick Vancouver’s most underrated restaurants for 2011


WhenStraight staffers called up over 100 restaurateurs, chefs, and floor managers and asked them to name the most underrated restaurant in Vancouver, we got a long list of answers. Here’s a sampling of places they singled out as great, under-the-radar spots that deserve more attention.

We’ve also included several quotes from those willing to go on record about lesser-known restaurants that they voted tops in other categories, such as Best Indian and Best French.

Ajisai Sushi (2081 West 42nd Avenue)

“It’s a small joint with the freshest sashimi in Vancouver. It’s some of the best quality sashimi, too, on par with Tojo’s.”
—Desmond Chen, director of operations for Thai House Restaurants and owner of Urban Thai Bistro, Charm Modern Thai, and Chilie House Thai Bistro

Octopus Garden (1995 Cornwall Avenue)

“I like it there because of the detail of care that goes into every single dish. It’s not a big corporate place, it feels like home...And you always see the same people, familiar faces, and the same chef is always there taking care of your food.”
—Maria Huynh, owner of Chau Kitchen and Bar

Pied-í -Terre (3369 Cambie Street)
La Buca (4025 Macdonald Street)
Cafeteria (2702 Main Street)

“I’m a huge fan of Andrey [Durbach]. He’s one of the most underrated guys”¦.What I love about Andrey is he says it how it is, does it how it is, and makes really solid food. He needs more recognition than he gets, but he doesn’t care about it.”
—Rob Feenie, food concept architect, Cactus Club Cafe

“It’s [Pied-í -Terre is] far and away my favourite restaurant in the city”¦.The service is outstanding. The product knowledge is outstanding. The menu is incredible. Andrey Durbach has done good work at presenting a very simple but high-end menu at very, very reasonable prices. You’re not going to get cuisine at quality at those prices in many places in the city.”
—Eugene Vassilev, manager at Dockside Restaurant, who voted Pied-í -Terre Best French restaurant

Bandidas Taqueria (2781 Commercial Drive)

“I can’t say enough about Bandidas, especially for the way they cater to vegetarians and vegans, and I’d also pick them for the cheap eats category, too.”
—Alissa Stewart, manager at Radha Yoga and Eatery

Shang Noodle House (350 Gifford Street, New Westminster)

“It’s a casual Asian restaurant. There’s the stereotype that a Chinese noodle place is dark and dingy and not too clean, but Shang defies this stereotype. It’s clean, classy, but not too expensive. You definitely get the value, and the quality is top notch.”
—Jason Chan, executive officer at Kirin Restaurant

Al-Watan Tandoori Halal Restaurant (6084 Fraser Street)

“It’s not fancy dining. It’s cheap. The food is always delicious. Delicious food! The place is run by a very unassuming Pakistani guy. There’s no décor. All the money, care, and love goes into the food. It’s consistent. It never disappoints. It’s always hot. If you just want something to eat, it’s unbeatable.”
—Andrey Durbach, co-owner and chef at Cafeteria, La Buca, and Pied a Terre, who voted for Al-Watan in the Best Indian category

La Brasserie (1091 Davie Street)

“I love the fact that I can go and get a delicious French-German flavoured dinner which is always fantastic. Two courses. It’s always under 80 bucks”¦It’s fun. There’s no snobbery. It’s what it is—great food in a fun atmosphere.”
—Jeff Hansen, restaurant operations manager at Yew Restaurant and Bar

Dona Cata Mexican Food (5076 Victoria Drive)

“Their food’s really fresh. They have the best guacamole maybe in Vancouver. The flavours are great. Almost everything about every time I’ve been there has been great. Great hot sauces, prices, great service.”
—Mark Thompson, owner of the Foundation

Other restaurants voted as underrated include:

West Coast




Comments (1) Add New Comment
Loretta R
Last night I searched out Shang Noodle House (350 Gifford Street, New Westminster) which was promoted by Jason Chan, executive officer at Kirin Restaurant. It was next door to Kirin at Starlight Casino in Queensbourough. Perhaps there's some other affiliation here?
Was an ordinary modern cafe with nifty lighting and friendly prompt service. 1/3 full at 7pm Sat. and didn't smell like food when I walked in.
Ordered BBQ duck and spinach ramen soup. There was plenty of meat but my tongue is still burning from the chemicals. Spinach ramen was an unnatural bright green, broth was flavourless. Nothing special. Filling in a pinch, nothing I would want to live on.

I did enjoy the dessert which was a steamed rice, lotus seed, and dried fruit pudding. Would be OK to share the dessert on the way home after a movie, but nothing to go out of your way for.

Rating: -9
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