Vancouver, BC Photo Diary + reader favorite eats

vancouver gastown rainy day winter outfit

We were back in Seattle last week for my first work trip of the year, and we made the most of it by driving up to Vancouver for the first time! It was very wet and chilly our entire trip (Boston was warmer in comparison!), so I basically wore some variation of my trusty rubber chelsea boots (also styled here & here), fleece lined tights, and favorite waffle sweater on repeat for practicality purposes.

Thanks so much to everyone who shared Vancouver recommendations on this post! There were a few clear local favorites that got mentioned again and again, so I added them into a custom map for anyone planning a visit. I’ve always heard it’s an Asian-food haven there, so was delighted by the number of recommendations that included sushi, noodles, and dumplings and am salivating just writing this recap! We didn’t get to try any of the outdoor activities due to the weather and just had to stay indoors and eat…oh well 🙂

Your Top Family Friendly recommendations

mommy and me asian food dim sum sweatshirts

Dim sum in our matching sweatshirts (also comes in baby onesies!)

Quick sidenote about our dim sum sweatshirts from Nick’s Cheerily collab! So many of you requested adult sizes in this, they just added it in time for lunar new year. Nori is in size 2T (she’s 17 months) and I’m in size XS which shrunk after I machine washed and dried it. The cut is a slightly shorter, petite-friendly casual fit with dropped shoulders and sleeves that hit right at my wrists post washing, so size up if you’d like it looser.

Where we ate
  • Marutama Ramen (multiple locations; no reservations) One of our favorite, most satisfying meals from the trip. We’ve eaten our share of ramen over the last few years, and all them honestly blend together in my memory – but this stood out as the most delightful bowl we’ve had in a while. Their signature Tamago ramen comes with tender pieces of pork, a perfectly cooked marinated egg (the tamago), and thin but texturally nice noodles in flavorful, milky chicken broth. I asked what made it so milky without dairy, and they said it’s just from the chicken bones, collagen and hours that they simmer the broth. If you order it spicy, the broth is still light in color but with a definite kick from Thai chillies. We went at 3pm on a Saturday and waited around 15-20 minutes.
  • Phnom Penh (no reservations) This was the #1 most recommended restaurant by you guys, and I could tell it was a great local hangout to go with family and friends and share some plates. Everyone recommended the garlicky crispy chicken wings and marinated butter beef (did not get as I’m not a fan of rare beef). The wings were indeed very good, but to be honest I didn’t love the other popular dishes we ordered (dry noodles and luc lac beef with egg over rice). We went around 4pm with no wait at all, but it was packed by 5pm.

Vancouver best eats Marutama Ramen
Vancouver food recommendation phnom penhon
Spicy vs regular tamago (egg) ramen at Marutama Ramen // Phnom Phen wings

  • Miku (takes reservations) the #2 most recommended spot by you guys! This one is a little fancier, overlooking the waterfront. They’re known for their aburi sushi (flame seared), so Nick and I both ordered the 9 piece aburi prime plate. Some of the pieces on there were better than the others but overall it was very good with some new, surprising flavor combos. My mom kindly watched Nori, and we got her aburi takeout from Miku’s sister restaurant Minami which had a very similar menu and was a little less busy. Several of you also suggested Green Leaf Sushi as another great sushi spot.
  • Kirin Seafood (multiple locations; takes reservations) was your most frequently mentioned dim sum spot, but each location may not be created equal. This is an upscale and slightly pricier dim sum experience. I struggled ordering here with no pictures on the menu, and the items you guys suggested were not available since they said the menu changes regularly. We got a few items that were pretty good, but I personally prefer traditional dim sum rolled out on a cart. With our limited time in the city, I kinda wish we went to Dinesty Dumpling House (multiple locations) for a more casual meal, or drove to the Asian-food heavy Richmond area if we had more time.

Vancouver best food Miku

Aburi Prime set + half order of salmon aburi at Miku 

More of your favorite food Recommendations

Each of these spots were recommended many times by you guys. We didn’t have a chance to visit this time, but have them bookmarked on our map below for future trips!

  • Jam Cafe (two locations; no res) – yummy looking breakfast and brunch, but plan to go early because when I walked by the line was around the block! (Also, Chambar got several mentions for their brunch)
  • Medina Cafe (no res) – for brunch / Belgian waffles
  • Ask for Luigi (no res) – it was suggested to go around 5 (they open 5:30) to avoid long waits for good Italian
  • Meat & Bread (multiple locations) – for their signature porchetta sandwich
  • Saku (two locations; no res) – Japanese katsu (lightly fried pork, chicken, or cheese cutlet) meal sets. We had initially planned to eat here, but the line was much longer during an off-peak time than Marutama ramen around the corner!
  • Suika (res accepted) – Japanese izakaya / tapas style food
  • Guu with Garlic (res accepted for bigger groups) – Out of the multiple Guu locations, this was the most suggested one by far. We popped in during lunchtime but they were not serving their main izakaya-style menu that you guys had recommended.
  • Kingyo (res accepted) – small plates, bento boxes, and several mentions of their uni miso udon!
  • Anh and Chi (no res) for Vietnamese but supposedly long lines
  • Earnest Ice Cream (multiple locations) for unique flavors
Where we stayed

We got lucky and loved our clean, family-friendly home rentals in both Vancouver and Seattle. If you’re new to Airbnb, here’s a referral code if you need one to save on a first stay. We Uber regularly to get around Seattle but there’s no similar service in the Vancouver area just yet. However, public transit was close to our rental, and we mostly walked and also had no problems finding parking (as long as you don’t forget your Canadian coins – thank you to the friendly reader who helped us out with the meter!).

Our Vancouver Apartment Rental (sleeps 5 adults)
A very urban location, right in downtown Vancouver in one of the many glass high-rises (multiple Airbnb listings in this same complex). It’s on one of the top floors so we loved the natural light and the view from every single room! Many of the good food spots were less than a mile away, so we walked often. For little ones, the airbnb had a pack n play, high chair, a shower with handheld attachment head and a bathtub. Nori also enjoyed the playground right across the street, and the Science World play area that was about a 10-minute walk away.

Our Seattle Apartment Rental (sleeps 8 adults with sofa bed; ideal for 6 adults or less)
A super family-friendly townhouse rental on a quiet residential street that’s still close to downtown Seattle. We never had to see the host but he was SUPER responsive and helpful. He had baby safety gates set up prior to arrival, a pack n play, both a high chair and booster chair (which we brought to restaurants that didn’t have high chairs), toddler dishware, as well as other safety gadgets like cabinet locks and outlet plugs. We took Nori to the nearby children’s museum and space needle playground (both walkable). Multiple grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants are also all in walking distance. But the area does feel a little more spread out and the streets felt a little too quiet/dark at night for walking alone.

For some of our memorable Seattle eats, check out this blog post from our previous visit! I just updated it to include our airbnb info from this trip, plus our latest favorite restaurant from this visit at the bottom of that post (oh my word, the sushi omakase platter was so yummy)!

Vancouver baby friendly airbnb rental
Vancouver family activities Science World
our Vancouver airbnb had views from up high // Nori playing outside Science World

Leave a Comment

15 Comments

  1. Diana K wrote:

    Hope you enjoyed your stay in Vancouver despite the weather. January was a pretty dreary month! ….I recommend coming in late May or July/August/Sept if you visit again. If you’re looking for trendy-hipster eats there is a good blog called the scout list with plenty of Vancouver food reccomnendations, broken down by neighbourhood.

    Next time you should certainly check out richmond too if you want good asian eats. A few of my Vancouver faves: Peaceful Restaurant (northern chinese food), Penang delight (malaysian), shao lin noodle house (hand cut noodles), jinya (ramen), savio volpe (italian), botanist (upscale west coast), nightingale (rustic seasonal creations/european-northwest fare), chewies (casual seafood, down south style).

    We’ve also got a pretty great coffee/bakery scene – cult favourites are 49th Paralled/Luckys Donuts, Matchstick, Revolver, Nemesis Coffee, Beacoup (french style pastries), Butter (delicious baked creations), Secret Garden (high tea) and many more.

    For ice cream Earnest and Rain or Shine are the big ones, but my personal fave is Eaphant Garden Creamery (with flavours like mango/cocunut sticky rice, HK Milk tea or cereal and milk crunch).

    Japanese souflee pancake places also seem to be the newest thing on the scene here like Fufu pancake.

    Anyway, hope you enjoyed your stay and come back again! It’s been a pleasure following your blog over the years. I also was on my own personal fertility/IVF journey just before you shared your story, and it was so refreshing to see that. I now also have a 21 month old daughter myself. Have always loved your blog and wish you and your family all the best!!

    Posted 2.22.20 Reply
    • Diana K wrote:

      oops…favourite ice cream spot is Elephant Garden Creamery (excuse my typo).

      …oh and some great local shopping spots – the latest scoop, Hills, all the little shops along main street and for all things kids and babies – Westcoast Kids (my fave kiddie clothing brand sold there is Whistle and Flute)

      Posted 2.22.20 Reply
  2. Elizabeth wrote:

    Ahhh you visited so many great places! <3 🙂 Hope you had a great time in Vancouver!

    XO, Elizabeth T.

    Posted 2.1.20 Reply
  3. Maureen wrote:

    Sorry my fingers were faster than my computer! 🙁 What I was trying to say was that your trip looks like a lot of fun and you guys made the most out of it even though the weather didn’t cooperate. I also love both your and Nori’s sweatshirt. I totally agree on the message! I hope your day is off to a great start and happy Monday!

    Maureen

    Posted 1.20.20 Reply
  4. Debora wrote:

    Jean! I’ve been following your posts for so very long and have benefited from numerous recommendations. I love the white Zara skirt you are wearing and wondering if you could help share any similar white ones out there? I’m headed to London and would love to bring a similar outfit that would keep me somewhat warm. I looked briefly at the brands you typically recommend (Loft, Express, BR, AT) and no such luck. Please help!

    Posted 1.19.20 Reply
  5. Ahhh that food looks so amazing and is making me hungry!

    Super excited about the dim sum sweatshirts – getting one for myself tonight! Also ordering the “Lil Dumpling Is My Rap Name” for my toddler!! 🙂

    Posted 1.19.20 Reply
  6. Carla Krae wrote:

    In spring or summer with enough time, go to Butchart Gardens in Victoria. I saw them when I was 5 and I’m 42 now and still remember it.

    Posted 1.17.20 Reply
  7. MM wrote:

    Your matching sweaters with Nori…aaaahhhhh!!! So much cuteness!

    Posted 1.17.20 Reply
  8. Mireia wrote:

    Thanks for the recommendations!

    Mireia from TGL

    Posted 1.17.20 Reply
  9. Erica wrote:

    Those dim sum sweatshirts are a MUST but I just know my husband will feel left out lol, any chance that the women’s xl may fit like a men’s large?

    Posted 1.17.20 Reply
    • Janine wrote:

      All those restaurant recs made me hungry haha 🙂 your airbnb in Vancouver looks amazing!
      Xx Janine

      Posted 1.17.20 Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Hope you enjoyed your visit! Too bad Vancouver weather wasn’t cooperating for you this week though – but do come back again during our beautiful summertime if you can!

      Just FYI that Phnom Penh actually does take reservations for groups of 5 or more 🙂

      Posted 1.17.20 Reply
    • Nick wrote:

      What a good sport for being willing to match the whole family! A women’s M fit me (snug, but wearable) and I usually wear a mens S for crew neck sweatshirts, but can’t guarantee an XL would fit and don’t want your husband to be disappointed.

      Posted 1.18.20 Reply
      • Erica wrote:

        I did order the XL to give it a try! I figured it would be better to have ordered and show him I at least tried to get him to match with us lol – good intentions right? Would you know if I wash on cold and hang dry, will it still shrink? This is a fantastic collab Nick, I love everything in this collection!

        Posted 1.20.20 Reply
  10. Veronica wrote:

    For your next visit to Vancouver, I would suggest Savio Volpe for Italian, Western Lake for Chinese, Hoang Yen for pho, Pink Peppercorn for seafood, and I think you’d enjoy the atmosphere at Kissa Tanto.

    Posted 1.17.20 Reply

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