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Vancouver’s Chinatown is a neighborhood in transition, where contemporary Chinese restaurants, as well as an eclectic array of non-Asian options, are joining the traditional Cantonese eateries.
A good choice for classic Cantonese dim sum is the modest Jade Dynasty Restaurant (137 E Pender St.), where popular dishes include niangao (chewy rice noodles that the English menu calls “stir fry rice dough with XO sauce”) and the stuffed eggplant with shrimp paste. Another long-standing Chinatown favorite is Phnom Penh (244 E Georgia St.), which serves Cambodian and Vietnamese fare.
For contemporary Chinese-inspired cuisine, the go-to joint is the cool Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, which pairs innovative cocktails with small plates designed to share. With dishes like wok-charred octopus, served on a salad of watercress, daikon, apple, and pickled Sichuan peppercorns; pork jowl with a chili bean-plum glaze; and “kick ass” fried rice, you’ll know Bao Bei is not your grandmother’s Chinese restaurant.
Another modern Chinatown eatery is The Union, where the friendly staff serve up fun pan-Asian eats like peanut noodles, Thai green papaya salad, and Vietnamese “cha ca” fish (cod served with fresh greens and rice vermicelli in a turmeric-ginger-coconut broth).
You’ll even find some of Vancouver’s best pizza in Chinatown – at the tiny Pizzeria Farina. Go early in the evening, since they close their doors as soon as the dough runs out.
Award-winning Bao Bei is a Chinese brasserie and "the best place to eat in Chinatown.” The restaurant opened on old Chinatown's up-and-coming fringes a few years ago with a menu of French-influenced Shanghainese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese dishes. Expect free-range meat, organic produce and no MSG! Isolated in Chinatown, this late-night, trendy restaurant is worth the short taxi ride for a meal full of foodie goodness! Please note they do not take reservations. Hours of operation: Tuesday - Saturday 17:30 - Midnight. www.bao-bei.ca