Neighborhood Guide: The Best of Chinatown (Eat, Drink, & Shop)
Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest in Canada and very famous for its vibrant food scene. So of course, if you share a special love for Asian food and treats this is the one district downtown Vancouver you do not want to skip. Close-by is also Gastown where you can as well enjoy great restaurant options and a taste of local Vancouver history.
Chinatown is historic, too. For instance, it’s the home of the Sun Yat-Sen Garden, the first Classical Chinese Garden that was built outside of China.
Dig through our guide to see which are the best Chinatown spots–restaurants, coffee shops and stores you should check-in as you stroll through its bustling streets.
Be sure to find some exceptional Asian food in Chinatown. Vancouver’s Chinatown stands for a fusion of both traditional and modern Asian cuisines, but there are also plenty of other places where you can find fancy fusions of Japanese + Italian let’s say. To make your foodie trekking easier around we’ve compiled a list of best restaurants you should visit once in Chinatown.
For some more fusion of Asian flavors and some of the best dim sum you can find in Chinatown, head to the Jade Dynasty restaurant. They serve dim sum all day long, it’s always fresh and appetizing and when you eat it, it just pops in your mouth.
The place is spacious so it’s great if you look for some privacy. Or you can just catch up with some of the latest Cantonese soap operas shown on the several screens placed at the restaurant. Don’t miss the BBQ pork buns–they’ll leave you speechless. The pork adds a tangy juice to the bite while the crust is sweet and luscious. Their fried durian balls is also memorable as is their sesame custard buns with egg yolk.
Location: 137 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T6, Canada
For some of the best Asian food in town, don’t think twice but go to Chinatown’s Phnom Penh. This is where you can get some of the best Cambodian and Vietnamese dishes. We highly recommend it and we also have it featured in our ultimate Vancouver food bucket list.
A visit to Phnom Penh doesn’t count if you don’t get some of the so-called “Holy Trinity”. That is the trinity of Buterbeef, Deep-Fried Chicken Wings, and Beef Luc Luc. So, the butterbeer is clean and tastes great with the greens. The chicken wings are life-changing experience and the Beef Luc Luc takes you to saucy beef heaven.
Location: 244 E Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z7
Torafuku is an award-winning modern Asian eatery that experiments with and fuses different cuisines on their menu. It can get busy at their premises so book your table before coming here. It’s a good place for bringing a date or going with friends for some shared plates and drinks.
They serve their rice bowls with their special Kickass rice, cooked with sake, butter, and dashi + poached egg, pickled cabbage and herbs. A win-win combination is if you take a Kickass Rice Bowl with Pork Belly. The dish is flavorsome and the pork belly will melt in your mouth. Combine with some of their fancy octopus dishes or the Crack Salad which is a real marvel of Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and other ingredients.
Location: 958 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2W1, Canada
Jam Cafe is a popular Chinatown brunch spot. Their menu offers some really delectable home-style recipes, from tasty house-made cornbread, buttermilk biscuits to yummy fried chicken. Everything is so very tasty so don’t be surprised when you see the huge lines all day through (there are no reservations).
If you have a small stomach you’ll definitely want to split some of their generous-in-size dishes. Such as their fantastic enormous French toast with chicken or apple cinnamon. It floats in a savory syrup on the bottom of the plate, so this is far from your average French toast.
Also highly recommended: their Eggs benedict or the Charlie Bowl. The Charlie Bowl is topped with some appetizing fried egg, cubed ham, bacon, meaty sausage, and melted cheese + some crispy biscuits and hash browns on the bottom. Have the sweet tooth – get their crunchy and fluffy waffles or some of their luscious pancakes.
Location: 556 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2L3, Canada
Another ultra-popular spot in Chinatown is Chambar, an award-winning restaurant that first opened in 2005. This is your go-to place for fine dining. Entering the restaurant, you’ll notice a pair of Insta-worthy fowls painted on the wall, guarding the venue in between its wine cellar and dining room. Look forward to a quiet and soothing ambient, and a menu that screams deliciousness with top-notch choices of wine.
You have to try the Moules Frites and the Lamb Shank. The mussels disappear fast served with cream and bacon lardons, plus the thick-cut fries on the side. Combine this dish with a glass of white wine. And the braised lamb definitely comes in an unexpected combination; it includes features such as honey, figs, almond couscous, cinnamon, and cilantro. Combine it with a glass of red wine.
Location: 568 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2L3, Canada
For a flair of the Caribbean + live music along with your dine, head to Chinatown’s Calabash Bistro. If you haven’t tried Caribbean food before, this is the place where you can do so. The bistro can get crowded during the night, so make your reservation if you decide to check-in.
Don’t miss the Coconut Dumplings with guava butter. They are like baked shredded coconut balls, and the shell is crispy. Other menu highlights include the Jerk Chicken and the Jerk Beef Stew Roti. The first is a slow-braised, tender and flavorsome oxtail, soaked in a delicious sauce. The second comes in three containers of beef stew, rice, and salad. It also combines so well with the coconut dumplings and their Jamaican patties.
Location: 428 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J7, Canada
At Juke Fried Chicken you’ll find some of the best-fried chicken downtown Vancouver. They are quite famous and if you are looking for comfort food this is some of the best you can get in the city.
You can take the chicken in different combinations. The meat is nonetheless juicy, tender and crispy. If you are a spicy food person take the spicy chicken here. There is a special kick to it and goes well with the Asian slaw salad on the side. The Juke Box option is another great deal as you get 2 pieces of fried chicken, quarter slab ribs and any side you choose with it.
Location: 182 Keefer St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X4, Canada
If you stick to a more plant-based diet, one of your go-to vegan places in Chinatown is the Virtuous Pie. Order pizza or ice cream–everything is made from plants. You might doubt the taste of vegan pizza, but after you try what they have at Virtuous Pice your doubts will disappear in the instance of your first bite.
A highlight of the menu is the Stranger Wings, which combines spicy buffalo cauliflower, crisp fried shallots, blue cheese drizzle, and scallion. Or, you can get the Ultraviolet one, with walnut + arugula pesto, cashew mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes, kale, caramelized onion, and pine nuts. And the names are pretty fancy, you must admit.
Bonus option for if you return and especially if you like a touch of Indian: get the Curry mile pie with butter chickpea curry, kale, mint raita, roasted cashews, red onion and a side of mango chutney.
Location: 583 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2V1, Canada
Another popular eatery to check-in while in Vancouver’s Chinatown is New Town Bakery. This is a family-run bakery that has been serving delectable Chinese and Filipino baked goods and pastries since the 1980s. Their Apple Tart is award-winning and their fluffy, hot, pork-filled Steamed Buns are world-famous; shown in a movie with Ali Wong.
There are different variations of the bun, such as their talk toasted pork bun or their standout pineapple and coconut buns. Whatever you order comes out hot from the oven, much fresh and appetizing. Have some cash if you go since that would be the most convenient way to pay here.
Location: 148 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3, Canada
Get some of the best ramen in Vancouver at Ramen Butcher. They always have the latest, most popular Tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen flavors, brought straight from Japan. They also serve many kinds of gyoza, all prepared and cooked in-house.
Have the red ramen, a spicy version of the regular ramen. It’s rich with vegetables, roasted garlic, ginger, and noodles that have a really nice texture and are chewy and flavorful. The black ramen is also rich and flavorsome. The gyoza is crispy and goes very well with the pork inside.
Location: 223 Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z6, Canada
Kisa Tanto, also dubbed the House of Plenty, is a restaurant that fuses both Italian and Japanese cuisine. You’ll find it on the upper floor of one of those modest-looking, outdated buildings that nonetheless are giving all the more charms to districts such as Chinatown.
Expect real food extravaganza on the menu. Their crispy Octopus Salad, a dish that is always on demand here, is perfectly seasoned and the octopus tastes yummy. Another must-have is their always fresh Fish Crudo, deliciously combining shiso vinaigrette, radishes, Tokyo leeks, capers, almond, and olives. For the main course try the crunchy Whole Fried Fish and you’ll notice fast there would be no meat left of any of the fish bones.
Location: 263 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T8, Canada
For getting a taste of genuine Chinese barbecue, head to Chinatown BBQ. This restaurant serves traditional Chinese BBQ meats and it has a great vibe to it–as if it is family-run with a contemporary twirl. What you get is tasty, affordable Chinese food that almost vanished from Vancouver’s Chinatown during the 1970s.
Order roast or BBQ pork, soya chicken or roast duck. All taste yummy and incredible. But if you have to narrow down to just one, get roast pork; it’s wonderfully paired with ginger scallion sauce, and the meat is delicious and really crispy. They also serve fresh wonton soup and curries.
Location: 130 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3, Canada
For a great deal Japanese bento shop, head to Chinatown’s Manpuku. You’ll be surprised at what kind of tasty meals you can get for like $10. This is also the perfect place if you are up for take-away food. All you have to do is skim through their Bento or Don menu and find your favorites.
Try their Chicken Karaage (Japanese style deep-fried chicken) – it just might be the best Karaage you can get in Vancouver. Combine with Curry Rice or their Tonjiru soup, which are also oh so very tasty.
Location: 288 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T7, Canada
Hunnybee Bruncheonette is a cool restaurant where you can sit for a healthy brunch time along with a nice cup of coffee. It’s run by the same owner as Gastown’s Birds & Beet.
There’s a lot of green in most of the dishes you order here. Get a Miso Farro Bowl, a veggie dish with a poached egg or tofu, mushrooms, spinach, baked crispy broccoli, pickled radish, and a very intriguing curry. Or get some of their avo toast with thick sourdough bread, poached egg and radish.
This restaurant is one of those real gems located at the International Village Mall in Chinatown. It’s a family-run restaurant and serves authentic Hong-Kong style dishes.
Congee dishes are somewhat missing downtown Vancouver but this place is here to compensate for that. You’ll find plenty of congee options on the menu, from sliced fish to house specials with scallops, mushrooms or squid. Don’t miss their tender and flavorful Beef Brisket Tendon Noodles. Nor their amazing BBQ duck and Lai Fun (Thick Rice Noodles).
Location: 88 W Pender St #1021, Vancouver, BC V6B 6N9, Canada
If you are looking for a place with an exceptionally contemporary vibe to it, you’ll find it at Sai Woo. It’s a spacious room with bright lights, a long bar and cozy booths for sitting, great for get-togethers with friends who love Asian food mixes.
Their Chinese Paella, which stirs braised squid, prawns, Chinese sausage and vegetables, coconut broth and jasmine rice, is a real hit on the menu. Their yummy Pork Kimchi dumplings are stuffed with marinated pork and house-made kimchi. From their vegetable dishes try the Fried Cauliflower + Tofu with Korean fermented chilli, crispy shallots, herbs and scallions.
Location: 158 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3, Canada
Chinatown might at first seem like an unlikely place to find a good spot for coffee. Nevertheless, you’ll be surprised how good coffee can get around here + there are some great spots where you can grab your laptop and send those pending emails at work or draft that project proposal your colleague has been waiting for you to send a week now (Hi Jake, I am sorry, I have been busy exploring Vancouver!).
Prado Cafe is a super cute coffee shop that crafts perfect coffee brews. So, sip in some warm coffee or tea and enjoy the coziness of the place. It could be the perfect spot to take a rest after a long walk in the city, or you can also use this place as a work spot. There is a lot of natural lightning coming inside + the wifi signal is strong.
Get the London Fog. They really prepare it well here. It’s sweet and milky just right. Try also their Latte, which is award-winning. If you need something sweet get the vegan apricot cookie. If you get hungry, there are many baked items you can order from the counter.
Location: 100 W Hastings Street Vancouver, BC V6B 1G8
This is an Italian-style neighbourhood cafe where you’ll also see a grocery store attached. So besides you can get some exceptional coffee or tea at Dalina, you can also buy some groceries or get some nice sandwiches for a snack.
From caffeinated beverages: the Americano has a nice bold flavor and tastes perfect. The Bicerin is their mocha mix with a dark chocolate twist and oat milk alternative. It’s a clean, simple, and beautiful mocha. Or their BeetRoot latte, it’s pretty pink yes, and yummy. Dalina’s signature Italian roasts are also available for purchase. Food is housemade.
Location: 687 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2V4, Canada
For some more specialty coffee and tea in Vancouver’s Chinatown you can drop by at Propaganda Coffee. This cafe is bigger than most in the area. It’s a modern comfy coffee shop, with a great atmosphere, and is also work-friendly.
While there, try some of their filter coffee and espresso. The coffee comes from various roasters such as Phil & Sebastian, Detour, Monogram. Get some of their cappuccino, latte or iced matcha. They are all delicious with nice foam and you’ll also enjoy the artwork.
Location: 209 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T8, Canada
Whether you need a vitamin boost, head to Caveman Cafe. It’s a great spot especially for folks that are trying to get on Keto or Paleo diets. So, expect plenty of healthy and much tasty food to choose from.
You can order non-dairy paleo pizza with smoked salmon and jalapeno garlic sauce or with chicken, veggies and light cheese. The meat they use for the meals, whether it’s chicken, beef or lamb, it’s always unmedicated. The salmon is wild BC caught.
Besides coffee, you can get some healthy beverages, too. Such as a cup of kombucha or a cup of tangy but not bitter, extra-refreshing ginger blast.
Location: 88 W Pender Street Vancouver, BC V6B 6N8
If you are skeptical about trying non-dairy sweet treats, Chinatown’s Umaluma is here to change your mind. This is a cute little dreamy hipster spot that prepares splendid vegan gelato, entirely plant-based, and you won’t even tell the difference there’s no milk inside your treat.
Gelato flavors include classics such as Vanilla, Sicilian Pistachio or Hazelnut, but also more experimental ones like their bourbon-soaked Amarena cherries. Yet, the most popular is their luscious and creamy Dark Chocolate Truffle flavor twirls of truffle in the ice cream. And the dark chocolate is just right.
Location: 235 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T8, Canada
For those looking to enjoy a cup of joe AND want to make some new furry feline friends at the same time, Catfe is your spot. This cat cafe is a temporary foster environment for over 20 rescue cats. All the cats are adoptable and a space for cat lovers to play and interact with a range of sleepy or super active cats.
Catfe also has a bunch of cat-themed “meowchandise” and drinks that are MADE for crazy cat people.
Chinatown is not short from good places to get a drink with friends or celebrate your birthday either. See our top 3 picks for where to get a nice drink in this area of Vancouver and find the cocktail that suits you.
Some of the best cocktails you can nab down in Chinatown are at the Keefer Bar. This place has a fabulous vibe and is a favourite cocktail bar for many Vancouverites. If you are coming for the weekend here, be prepared to wait, as it can get crowded quickly. If you are coming in a group of eight or more, do make your reservations in advance.
The Keefer Bar serves splendid apothecary-style cocktails. Their cocktail menu is award-winning and abundant enough with options. Order a gin-based Rosemary Gimlet, to make you chuckle and giggle half-way through the glass; it’s one of their greatest hits. Or get the Opium Sour that comes with Wild Turkey bourbon, grapefruit, tamarind, lemon and poppyseed.
Location: 135 Keefer St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X3, Canada
It’s as if time stands still at Brickhouse, a dive bar within a walking distance from Main Street-Science World SkyTrain. Expect cultured and friendly folks, plus some great many travelers. So, it’s easy to start chatting with someone while here.
There’s strange decor to the place and you’ll quickly catch some old school anthems playing as background music. Get a glass of 420 or get a glass of Pilsner–the two must-have beers from the bar. Cash only. Don’t mind the fish tanks. If the bartender starts playing “Hit the road Jack” it’s time for you to leave.
The Sai Woo lounge bar is just downstairs from the Sai Woo restaurant. What you can do is come for dinner at Sai Woo and descend to the lounge for the after drinks. It’s also a great spot to host a birthday party or just any party with your group of BFFs.
Food is also served at the lounge bar, and it’s as amazing as in the restaurant. But the real deal at the lounge bar is the variety of drinks. Get some of their sweet & sour cocktails such as the Sai Woo Sour with Bombay Sapphire gin. Mocktails? Yes, please. You can order Lychee lover with lychee, grapefruit and lemon served straight up. They also serve sake and soju. Enjoy!
Location: 158 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3, Canada
From shops that sell frozen dim sum or dim sum for take-away to an all-vegan-store where whether you are vegan or not time will fly by fast. Below is a list of 4 shops you should not miss while cruising Chinatown for some gifts and treats.
Kam Wai Dim Sum has been around for almost three decades now (thanks Papa Lui!). And yes, here you’ll find dim sum, although it’s different how this place works. Indeed this is a shop that sells out dim sum. It sells to restaurants and retailers alike, however, if you have dim sum cravings yourself, you can come here and get ready-to-eat, take-out dim sum. You’ll also love the prices.
It can work perfectly in case you are hosting a family dinner and want to have dim sum on the table, or if you are hosting a home party and want to surprise your guests with something special. They always have you covered at Kam Wai Dim Sum.
Location: 249 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T8, Canada
Until a few years ago, Vancouver lacked a store that would have all vegan items and groceries in one place. Fortunately, that’s when the Vegan Supply Chinatown opened on Pender Street.
There’s a huge array of vegan products you can purchase from here: vegan cheese, ice cream, beef jerky, vegan chocolates and nutella, sweet and sour chips, frozen tofu, Korean BBQ chicken, or cosmetics, essential body mists and natural deodorants. You can also find t-shirts or other gift items. And if you are not sure if they have a particular product you are interested in buying, you can always browse them online.
Vintage, second-hand, and consignment shops are all the rage these days, and one awesome shop you can check around Chinatown is at Hunter & Hare. This is a high-quality consignment shop where yes, you can take stuff you’re no longer wearing and set a deal with the shop vendors. Or, where you can also find top-notch pieces for very affordable prices.
You’ll be surprised by how stylish clothes they sell in here. You can also purchase jewelry and accessories from local artists and designers. One warning though, currently they are working with and reselling female apparel only.
Location: 227 Union St, Vancouver, BC V6A 4C3, Canada
Your Chinatown shopping round would be incomplete if you don’t make a stop at Treasure Green Tea Company. It’s a lavish tea shop worth the visit for any Chinese tea enthusiast out there. Enjoy the eastern charm of the shop and look for any tea accessory or tea you can possibly think of.
They sell high-quality Chinese teaware, tea supplies, traditional Chinese leaf teas, teapots and porcelains. All for affordable prices. You can also purchase premium organic iced teas and green tea oil camellia. And they also have some exciting bubble tea variations with pleasant flavors such as Green Mojito.
Location: 227 Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z6, Canada
Now you know that Vancouver’s Chinatown is a glorious urban area that always has something to surprise you with. Whether it’s a new dish, a new recipe, a tiny sweet food court or coffee shop, life is bustling around good meals, good tastes and good smells in and around Chinatown. We hope you find this neighbourhood guide handy no matter if you are a local or first-time visitor to Vancouver. Enjoy and have fun exploring and re-exploring!
See also our neighbourhood guide with handpicked restaurants, coffee shops and other places to check in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant.
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