Vancouver BC: Cooler Than Seattle

I promised my friend and co-worker from Vancouver that I’d lead with that statement so I did it even though I love Seattle dearly. Don’t be mad. The truth is that Vancouver is cooler than most of your favorite cities. There are several reasons why, and some of them don’t even have to do with food.

Vancouver is a pretty town. This is because it has that whole city plus water plus mountains combination going on:

psu_20100429-02066

You can even take mass transit and get a good view:

psu_20100429-01929

The mass transit system is also better than most cities I’ve been to. It goes to a lot of useful places, and the ticket checking system is surprisingly laid-back. There are no oppressive gates and turnstiles that you must navigate. Instead, every once in a while there is a nice person checking tickets. It’s a semi-honor system, which surprised me because the transit systems I’ve used in the USA were all much more paranoid about freeloaders and deadbeats perpetrating fraud. This lack of gates contributes to the excellent wheelchair access in the train system. In fact, access all over the city is great:

1. The buses are great.

2. There are a ton of ramp-van taxis.

3. Most of the buildings in the city have flat ground level access. We even went to a dim sum joint out in Richmond, the suburban Chinatown, and had no problems. It was a second floor place with an elevator and a ramp in the parking lot. Excellent!

As a matter of record, access in Seattle (and most other American cities) is by comparison a disaster.

All of this access made it easy to wander all over the place and eat cool food. Vancouver has to be right in the running for the best food town in North America.

There is coffee:

psu_20100427-01633

This sort of cappuccino can be hard to find in Seattle.

There is Chinese breakfast:

psu_20100427-01647

There is Ramen:

psu_20100429-02195

There is fancy Northern Chinese food:

psu_20100427-01763| psu_20100427-01773
—|—

There is fancy sushi:

psu_20100428-01838

And of course, there is the inexplicably brilliant Japadog:

psu_20100427-01740

There is also a ton of dim sum, but I neglected to get a good photo of the best stuff we had. Here is a picture of the second-best stuff we had: the shrimp and pea shoot dumplings at Sun Sui Wah. It was only disappointing in that it was only as good as anything I’ve ever had on this continent.

psu_20100426-01565

Later in the week we went to the Jade Seafood Restaurant in Richmond. This place was so good that even the completely clich├ęd Crystal Shrimp Dumplings were really really good like nothing I’d had before. About two blocks away was another dim sum place called Empire that was the size of two city blocks. The only other place I’ve seen Chinese food on this scale was in Hong Kong.

Ok. Enough of the dedicated restaurant food. Let’s talk about shopping malls. The first day there we took the train to the Aberdeen Shopping Mall. This is just like a typical high-end mall in a more affluent suburb of any major city. Well, except for the fact that you can get hand made Shanghai Soup Dumplings in the food court:

psu_20100425-01469 | psu_20100425-01484
—|—

The food court also had Pho, Taiwanese food, Chinese Beef Noodles, Vietnamese subs, and Beard Papa. It also had wireless Internet. Half the dorks in North America could just set up a tent and live there.

The mall also has a fountain and light show on the weekends. Great for the kids!

psu_20100425-01501

So that’s pretty much all we did in Vancouver. Eat and shop. Oh wait, no it isn’t. We also took advantage of two fantastic pieces of green space right in the city. There are the Van Dusen gardens:

psu_20100427-01694

and there is Stanley Park, where you get a great view of the harbor and the city at the same time.

psu_20100429-02163

Oh, and if the outdoors bores you, you can always go to the public library. I think the Vancouver library is probably cooler than the one you have too:

psu_20100426-01553

OK. That’s all I got. We will have to go back to find some of the other cooler things there. There is a whole area of the city that is nothing but outdoor stores. There are some sea kayaking tours. There are a lot of bike shops. There are more gardens. And we have to slowly work our way through the Chinese restaurant food awards page and go to every place that is listed there.