Dished Neighbourhood Gems: Vancouver's Chinatown

Sep 8 2022, 4:30 pm

Vancouver is home to some amazing gems, longstanding classics, and under-the-radar establishments when it comes to stellar food and beverage. 

We’re doing the digging for you by highlighting the best local destinations to check out in each neighbourhood (if you haven’t already).

Here are our Dished Neighbourhood Gems for Chinatown.

Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the few culturally-distinct neighbourhoods in the city, and is also home to some of the best eats around.

The historical neighbourhood was first established in the late 1800s when the first wave of Chinese immigrants settled here. Chinatown continued to grow throughout the early 20th century, with opera houses, dim sum restaurants, and other establishments making this place home for many.

While Chinatown has certainly changed drastically over the years, one thing has remained the same: it’s a destination neighbourhood for locals and tourists alike looking for a fantastic meal.

From hole-in-the-wall spots to food court kiosks, long-time restaurants to new-school establishments, Chinatown is full of gems, hidden and not.

Here is our guide to the places in the neighbourhood you should know about and eat at as soon as possible.

Chicken karaage bento boxes: Manpuku Bento


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This little spot is tucked along Pender Street and, except for those in the know, is pretty off-the-radar. The lunch-time set in Chinatown know, though, that this is the place to go for delicious and filling take-out bento boxes, like karaage, tonkatsu, mix fry, and saba-misoni (mackerel). You can also grab a selection of this tiny spot’s don offerings, noodles, curries, and even a few burgers – a surprisingly large and varied menu for such a nook! Grab some lunch and head to nearby MacLean Park.

Address: 288 E Pender Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-687-0849


The most tender BBQ pork: Chinatown BBQ


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If you’re looking for traditional Chinese-style BBQ, look no further. This family-owned spot has all the charming vibes of a retro diner, but with some of the finest soy sauce chicken, BBQ duck and pork in town. The BBQ items come with a generous portion of steamed rice or with noodles in soup if you need a warm-up. Grab a table with some pals here and try a few dishes to share – we recommend the BBQ pork or crispy pork, gai lan with oyster sauce, and some bottles of Tsing Tao to wash it all down.

Address: 130 E Pender Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-428-2626


Ilocos pancit and halo halo: The Filipino Noodle Joint


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This must-try spot is hidden inside the mostly-empty mall food court at Chinatown Plaza but is so worth seeking out. This place serves a variety of dishes, including Filipino-style spaghetti (with a rich, sweet and savoury sauce) and Baon boxes (which include two pork spring rolls, an eggplant omelette, noodles, rice, and your choice of meat), as well as halo halo or coolers in flavours like pandan and cantaloupe.

Address: 180 Keefer Street Unit 111, Chinatown Plaza, Vancouver
Phone: 604-630-3820


Handmade take-home dim sum: Kam Wai Dim Sum

This retail storefront in Chinatown specializes in frozen and prepare-at-home dim sum classics. Grabbing dim sum out is always a good time, but having some incredible frozen ones at home, ready to go at any time, is next-level. In addition to its frozen offerings, you can also grab steamed bao, ready-to-eat dim sum, and seasonal offerings, like moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival or brown sugar new years cakes.

Address: 249 E Pender Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-683-2333


Savoury and warming beef noodle soup: Red Beef Noodle


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On the corner of Main Street and Keefer Street, you’ll find this spot known for its deeply savoury beef noodle bowls. This is peak rainy-Vancouver-in-the-winter food, and we crave it anytime we need something warming and comforting. The broth is slow-simmered for 12 hours with Chinese spices, the beef is braised and tender, and the noodles have just the right amount of chew. Many of the dishes are served with pickles, Taiwanese-style, which lends an unexpected brightness and acidity to the otherwise deep flavours.

Address: 550 Main Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-423-5500


Cheap and delicious banh mi: Ba Le Deli and Bakery


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Sure, there’s a couple other Ba Le locations around the city, but this one’s out favourite. Run by the same couple who make the sandwiches every day, this unassuming spot serves a seriously satisfying (and cheap!) banh mi. With only a small menu pasted to the wall, with photos accompanying the few sandwiches on offer, you can choose from shredded chicken, pork, tofu, cold cuts, or classic pate. While you’re at it, grab a can of mangosteen juice from the cooler and you have the perfect picnic.

Address: 633 Main Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-662-8108

Oysters on the half-shell: Oyster Express

Only opened limited hours from 4 to 8 pm, this little joint specializes in one thing: oysters. The wood interiors are charming and cozy and kind of makes you feel like you’re on the ocean (like, literally on a boat), which makes for a great setting for seafood and very cold, very dry martinis. This spot has happy hour from 4 to 7 pm, too.

Address: 296 Keefer Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-684-3300

Jars of creme brulée: Crackle Creme


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If you’re looking for a cozy local spot for dessert, look no further. Crackle Creme serves creme brulée, liege waffles, and macarons in the shape of anime characters. Crackle even has vegan creme brulée options, including cocoa and sea salt, passionfruit, durian, and ube.

Address: 245 Union Street, Vancouver
Phone: 778-847-8533

BBQ chicken leg: Ming Fong Fast Food


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While you’re in Chinatown Plaza checking out Filipino Noodle Joint, stop by Ming Fong Fast Food. This kiosk serves “authentic Cantonese comfort food” like beef pan-fried rice noodles, BBQ chicken leg, and Singapore-style vermicelli. This place offers a rice or noodle combo with two items for only $7, making it a serious no-brainer when it comes to cheap lunch (or dinner) in the city. They deliver, too!

Address: 180 Keefer Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-687-8223

Butter beef and legendary chicken wings: Phnom Penh Restaurant

This longtime spot nearly always has long lines wrapping around its front, most likely filled with people waiting to order the restaurant’s legendary butter beef and chicken wings. While pretty much everything is great here (especially if you’re with a group and can order a bunch of stuff to share), those two items solidify Phnom Penh’s iconic status in this city.

Address: 244 E Georgia Street, Vancouver
Phone: 604-734-8898


If you have a neighbourhood gem in or around the city that you want to shine a spotlight on, let us know at [email protected]

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