Vancouver Chinatown restaurants have been serving locals a taste of the Orient for over a hundred years – long before blogs like ours steered diners away from greasy culinary landmines.
Back then the area’s exotic culture, vibrant colours, and rich history were an easy distraction but today there’s no excuse for bad food – especially now that you’ve found our list!
Here’s the top restaurants in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Vancouver Chinatown Restaurants
Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie
If fortune cookie Cantonese restaurants evoke guilty pleasure memories of MSG, fried rice, and chicken chow mein you’re not alone – but maybe it’s time to move into the now.
One way of ridding yourself of all that guilt and grease is at Bao Bei Brasserie.
The deliciously elevated Chinese small plate feast here is inspired by flavours from Taiwan, Shanghai, and Sichuan – perfectly paired with some of the tastiest cocktails in the city
Their schnacks section rolls out finger foods like Chinese pickles, marinated eggplant, and crispy tofu but it’s the petit cadeaux menu that shines with its handmade dumplings, wontons, and potstickers.
And they do it all with sustainably sourced seafood, hormone-free meat and no MSG!
Sai Woo is another restaurant meshing modernity with the cultural heritage of Chinatown.
The result? A contemporary Asian Fusion menu in a stunning modern dining room within one of the neighbourhood’s oldest heritage buildings.
Sai Woo, one of the city’s original Chinatown restaurants dating back to 1925, was almost as famous for its garish neon rooster sign as it was for its food – so the current owners couldn’t help but restore it.
Their east meets west kitchen pumps out excellent casual pan-Asian fare with freshest of local ingredients like pork and kimchi dumplings, confit duck low mein and szechuan black pepper beef.
There’s also a 100 seat lounge in the basement to sup back their tremendous after dinner cocktails.
Most people’s immediate reaction upon hearing the words Japanese/Italian Fusion is quite simple: why?
However, executive chef Joel Watanabe, who is of mixed Japanese and Corsican extraction, has boldly dared to ask a different question: why not?
The results? A restaurant that has captured national attention, and is perennially ranked amongst the best in the country.
Kissa Tanto’s imaginative decor recalls a 1960’s Tokyo jazz-club, known as a “kissa”, and will immediately remind you of time gone by.
However, it’s ultimately the food that sets Kissa Tanto apart. The pairing of delicate Japanese flavours with the rustic warmth of Italian cooking is a home run.
Start out with the daily fish crudo, with shiso vinaigrette, capers, Castelvetrano olives and mustard greens. Fancy a pasta? Then how about the duck agnolotti, with Japanese leeks and a grainy mustard brandy sauce.
For the main event, the whole fried fish served tempura style with a daikon soy dipping sauce has become the restaurants signature dish.
You’ll just have to trust us. Being aficionados of both cuisines, and spending considerable time in both countries, some how it works!
Phnom Penh Restaurant
Perennially ranked as our city’s best South-East Asian eatery, this one-time hidden gem has evolved into a Vancouver Chinatown restaurant institution.
After one bite you’ll begin to understand why Vancouverites and visitors alike are willing to line up around the block for a taste of their sumptuous Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisine.
No visit is complete without the Phnom Penh deep-fried chicken wings, a true Vancouver right of passage. Other favourites include the various Cambodian rice noodle dishes (priced at less than $9), and the Vietnamese butter beef.
The restaurant stays true to balanced South East Asian flavour profiles such as fresh and crispy, salty and sour, and spicy and sweet. As a result, Phnom Penh is able to give each dish an authentic flair rarely encountered on this side of the Pacific.
Factor in the generous portion sizes and reasonable prices, and a trip to Phnom Penh is a no-brainer for any visitor to Chinatown.
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations.
Gain Wah Restaurant
$ | 218 Keefer Street | Cuisine: Traditional Cantonese
Vancouver’s Chinatown is an emerging neighbourhood with a wealth of award winning restaurants representing a veritable United Nations of culinary styles.
Some are resistant to these changes – Gain Wah is one of them.
They’ve been serving delicious traditional Cantonese fare for close to four decades.
With close to 300 items on the menu from classic siu mei dishes like roasted duck and soy sauce chicken to Western-style favourites like chow mein and chop suey there’s something for everybody.
With many meals coming in at under $10.00 this is also the top budget meal in Chinatown.
Jade Dynasty Restaurant
One of the favourite activities of any Vancouver foodie worth their salt is to dim-sum.
For many of us it’s more than just a meal – it’sa social activity and an experience in and of itself.
While many of the most popular dim-sum joints are now found in the suburb of Richmond, Chinatown is still home to a number of great dim-sum joints.
One of our favourites is long-time neighbourhood institution Jade Dynasty Restaurant. This local favourite serves good honest dim-sum with large portions and reasonable prices.
Favourites include their har gow, siu mai and char siu bao all served with your choice of sauces, including the popular Hong Kong favourite XO sauce and a spicy chilli sauce that is so good you’ll wish you could by it by the pint.
This was recommended to me by the people at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
This traditional Chinese BBQ joint made it into my must eat Vancouver dishes for capturing the historic spirit of Chinatown like few others.
As soon as you enter you will instantaneously be seduced by the sweet smell of the caramel roasted duck and crispy pork belly hanging tantalizingly in the window in front of you.
With all chefs trained in traditional Chinese cooking styles, you’re guaranteed to receive delicious, affordable and authentic old-school barbecue done right.
Favourites include the honey–glazed barbecue pork, the award winning beef brisket curry and crispy–skinned pork belly all served over rice with a variety of sauces.
Popular with neighbourhood seniors and tattooed hipsters alike, this top Vancouver Chinatown restaurant manages to expertly blend the area’s historic past with it’s hopeful future.
Best of all? You’re guaranteed some of the best Chinese BBQ anywhere for as little as $9.00.
Juke Fried Chicken
If sifting through this list of Vancouver Chinatown restaurants hasn’t got you pumped up for flavours from the Orient then don’t worry – we’ve got you covered crispy batter here.
Juke Fried Chicken has quickly become Vancouver’s most popular spot for finger lickin’ good fried chicken and sticky Southern style pork ribs.
It’s so good in fact, that you’ll quickly forget that their fried chicken is actually gluten free! This is Vancouver after all!
After making the difficult choice between the ribs and fried chicken (original or spicy), you’ll have the option to choose from an assortment of finger lickin’ good Southern-style sides.
Favourites include the fried brussel sprouts with preserved lemon, East-Asian peanut-slaw and the cornbread.
If you choose to dine in, you can add charred greens with double-smoked bacon and Juke’s famous mac and cheese to the list.
Good, simple, honest and cheap. What more could you ask for when you’re travelling.
Fat Mao Noodle Bar
There is just something about the combination of a hearty, rich bowl of noodles and an ice cold beer that perfectly breaks up your day when you’re travelling.
While downtown Vancouver is chock full of fantastic ramen spots, when we’re in Chinatown we like to head to Fat Mao Noodles to satisfy our cravings.
Run by chef Angus An, the owner-operator of Maenam, arguably the best Thai restaurant in the city. Fat Mao offers a selection of Pan-Asian noodle bowls with fresh, local ingredients and house made noodles.
Popular options include the hot and sour pork noodles and Chiang Mai curry noodles, but I usually opt for the succulent braised duck noodles with free range duck leg, Asian celery and bok-choy.
You can pick amongst four types of noodles, the Shanghai wide-noodle, rice sheets, wonton noodle and vermicelli. Grab a local craft beer, and you’re good to go.
New Town Bakery
This Chinatown mainstay has been serving their famous steamed buns and dim-sum to eager Vancouverites since 1980.
While there is a restaurant in the the back that serves a selection of Cantonese favourites as well as dirt cheap western style breakfasts, for me it’s the bakery that’s the star of the show.
Just be warned, there’s usually a line!
To circumvent this they use a number system. Once you enter look to your right and grab a ticket. Then use the time decide amongst the 13 different steamed buns!
The most popular seem to be the BBQ and spicy pork, though there is also a selection of chicken, beef and vegetable filled options. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there are three dessert style buns as well.
And with prices ranging from $1.25-$2.50, you can have a meal to go with the change that is rattling around in your pocket.
Vancouver Chinatown Restaurant Tours
Would you like to learn more about Chinatown’s colourful history? All while meeting new people and sampling the best of the neighbourhoods incredible cuisine?
Then I’d highly recommend taking one of the amazing local neighbourhood food tours. Here is a list of a few of our favourites.
Wok Around Chinatown
Duration: 3.5 hours|Cost: $113.00
Spend a morning exploring Chinatown with an off duty chef as your guide on this culinary and cultural walking tour.
Learn where local chefs and foodies find the crispiest old-school BBQ, freshest produce and most sumptuous savoury delights. Moreover, you will learn numerous compelling stories about Chinatown’s historical landmarks.
Visit local teas shops, apothecaries and cookware stores to learn more about traditional Chinese cuisine and medicine.
- Admission to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Garden
- Full Dim Sum lunch at a local restaurant
- Complimentary tea at a traditional tea shop
- Off duty professional local chef as your guide
Private Food & Walking China Tour
Duration: 3 hours | Cost: $131.05
You’ll receive personalized attention on this private culinary and historical walking tour with a talented local chef leading the way.
Begin with a private lunch at an authentic local Cantonese restaurant. Then explore the neighbourhood on foot to learn more about it’s culinary offerings and unique history.
- Lunch in an authentic Cantonese restaurant
- Chinatown walking and food tour
- Dedicated professional local chef as your personal guide
The Dim Sum Adventure
Originally a Cantonese family tradition involving a variety of small dishes served family style, Dim Sum has become a favourite of foodies everywhere.
However, there are few places outside of the Orient that offer such a wealth of “Dim Summing” options as Vancouver. Consequently, the meal has become ubiquitous, with each Vancouverite having their own favourite spot.
One of the best ways for a visitor to take advantage is to take the The Dim Sum Adventure. The tour allows you to go on a culinary adventure through Chinatown with knowledgeable and entertaining locals as your guide.
You’ll first receive an Introduction to Dim Sum booklet, which provides descriptions and traditional Chinese characters for over 50 menu items. You’ll be guaranteed to return home as an expert!
Then visit hidden neighbourhood gems and sample popular favourites such as har gow (steamed shrimp dumpling), char sui (steamed pork buns) and xiao long bao (steamed dumpling with pork and broth filling).
- Delicious hand-picked dishes
- Complimentary tea
- Knowledgeable local guide
- Introduction to Dim Sum booklet
Vancouver Chinatown Restaurant Map
Keep the Discussing Going
If there’s anything else you’d like to know about Chinatown’s restaurant scene, don’t be afraid to use the comment section below or hit us up on our Facebook page.
I’ll do my best to holla back as soon as possible.
Bon Appetit 🙂