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Cali Viajera

Family friendly Chinese restaurant in Chinatown

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We will be staying in Gastown before our cruise in July. Any recommendations for family friendly/family style restaurants in Chinatown?

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I'm assuming you mean in Vancouver... but since e.g. the Gaslamp district of San Diego is also frequently misnamed there's a lot of scope for error in that assumption, so do please clarify which city! I'm also assuming that when you say family/family friendly you do mean under-drinking-age kids. Age can be quite relevant in Vancouver, as a) older 'kids' by US standards might have no problem boozing here (19 vs 21), b) transit has age brackets for cheaper fares, so <14yr olds benefit from the same discounted rates as Seniors and <5s ride free.

 

First - there's nowhere in Gastown I'd recommend a family with kids stay as it lacks hotels entirely (there are a handful of VERY low quality hostel type accommodations that masquerade as hotels) and AirBnB etc. are far more often than not also illegal under the current licensing requirements of the city - and anyone willing to lie about the legality of their home is also pretty unlikely to be doing things like have their smoke detectors, escape routes etc. verified as being up to code. Very brief summary - any Host with 2 or more homes listed, any whole home rented for 6 months or more each year, these are 100% illegal rentals. Folks have been getting around the requirement to get a license by simply lying and inputting a fake number to fool AirBnBs crappy automated system, or getting one license and reusing it across multiple homes.

 

Enforcement is now funded, so while the primary reporting method is still p*ssed-off neighbors calling the City about illegal rentals, the multiple-units and too-long-each-year places are also being weeded out by city staff - even a Superhost with 5* reviews can have their units all suddenly disappear as the city catches up to them... and AirBnB insurance coverage does not apply when the host lies, so you're on the hook to find a hotel at potentially very short notice.

 

Much of Gastown is also in the Downtown EastSide, so there are some pretty gnarly sights happening in broad daylight, let alone after dark, so even if you are happy to take the risk of an AirBnB or are happy to stay in a very basic hostel, unless everyone in your family is very experienced with the grittier side of urban life I would also strongly suggest looking for accommodation elsewhere instead (unless you want to explain the sex and drug trades to your kids of course...)

 

Pretty much every Chinese resto in Chinatown handles big family tables, it's the normal expectation (very few have a separate bar at all, so kids can usually sit everywhere during all service hours). The others, even our pubs, also tend to be fine for kids. Typical local model is to run two separate operations - so kids may be unwelcome in the Bar area, but are fine on the Restaurant side. Some licenses instead allow kids until Xpm (9pm is relatively common, so unless you're late diners there are very few 'no Minors' restos).

 

Budget and types of food you love/hate are far, far bigger factors in resto choice unless you have an enormous family and want to make resos (few Vancouver restos take groups bigger than a dozen, especially on weekends, without prepayment/private room bookings).

 

TL;DR - we need much more info to give you any relevant suggestions!

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Sorry, Gastown in Vancouver. Our 'kids' are 20 somethings and would like a reasonably priced Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. 

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Not sure if there are a lot of great options that really fit "classic" Chinese Chinatown if  that's what you're looking for.  Part of the reason is that Chinese shopping has kind of decentralized from Chinatown to the burbs and via specialty supermarkets like T&T and Chong Lee. 

There's modern, hipper brasserie type places like Bao Bei and Sai Woo which serve tasty dishes but with modern takes on Chinese and Asian dishes (check hours).  But if you're looking for classic Cantonese, one option is maybe Floata which is a big restaurant which is more known for adequate dim sum during lunch and weddings.  It's food is ok but kind of pricey as it's more of a restaurant, restaurant/banquet dishes than casual spot. 

There is a recently renovated place called Jade Dynasty (across the street from NewTown Bakery that we frequent for buns and snacks) that we've been meaning to try but haven't yet.  It looks like it has good reviews though.  This might be your best fit.  

 

Other options might be:

Chinatown BBQ:  Doesn't have a huge menu but focuses on... BBQ pork, duck, etc. on steamed rice and does it really well with a few simple side dishes.  

Phnom Penh:  As the name implies, it's not Chinese.  The menu is not completely Cambodian either but mixes in Vietnamese dishes.  Really popular place with a some really standout dishes (chicken wings, pepper squid, butter beef).  It's kind of a hole in the wall though and can get really busy.  

 

It's probably further than you'd want to go but our go to place for cheap Cantonese is Congee Noodle House on Broadway and Main.  They don't just serve congee but the full range of Cantonese dishes one would probably expect during dinner at a very reasonable price (Cash Only tho!).  Their sister restaurant is even cheaper.  (While they have a couple of items that might be considered dim sum, they don't really serve dim sum).  

Neptune Chinese Kitchen on Alberni downtown might also be an option.  They have a typical Cantonese menu with reasonable prices.  The food is kind of meh tho.  

Edited by Milhouse

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I agree with basically everything above from Milhouse about all the listed restos; in short, Chinatown doesn't have anywhere near as much Chinese food as it used to, and the only good traditional spot is Chinatown BBQ (which is ironically the newest resto, but was designed from the ground up to be like the Cantonese-Canadian restos of yesteryear, including pricing, and their primary clientele is Chinese Seniors still living in the 'hood). The same lady who started it has also been promising to reopen Foo's HoHo, but as of last week there's still no sign of that actually happening... check back before you come, because if it does reopen before your visit, based on how well the BBQ has been done it should be really good (Foo's was the last of the old-school restos to shut).

 

Floata does look the part of the kind of Chinese resto you'd see Indiana Jones running around in, but size has always been their selling point (they can seat a thousand people) not food quality; so if you want Dim Sum like in the movies with little carts rolling around in a huge room it's worth going to, but if food quality is most important skip it. The best Asian food in Chinatown though for quality/value is Phnom Penh - well over 30 years of surly service on plastic tablecloths at long shared tables and yet still there's a queue for seats almost every dinner time shows just how good the food is for the price!

 

Personally I'd point you to Hon's (who were a staple in Chinatown until about 3 years ago, but now have just Robson Street and Village branches in Vancouver - the latter is a Hon's Wonton House with a different website, but seems to still be a franchise of the original) for value Cantonese, or Peaceful if you want to try Northern Chinese food (noodles rather than rice as the mainstay carb), who have a few branches scattered around. The nearest to Gastown would be the Mount Pleasant or Seymour locations, depending exactly where you're staying. If dumplings are your thing (it's not all they sell, but it's their main bag) Dinesty are well worth visiting - their downtown branch is on Robson - and I've yet to hear anyone say anything other than "We stuffed our faces with really tasty dumplings and I cannot believe how low the bill was!" after a first visit. If you're on Robson you can also try decent and good value Szechuan food at ChongQing - it's one of the better places to try Ginger Beef (which was invented in Alberta and is rarely found anywhere except Western Canada), but Peaceful do this dish pretty well too. Even relatively mediocre Chinese food in Vancouver would be pretty good just about anywhere else in the world, so you can't go far wrong with any of these.

 

Also, depending how reasonable you mean by reasonably-priced, bearing in mind that you'll be getting the CAD vs USD discount, you may want to upgrade some for better food. The best Chinese food in Vancouver isn't in Chinatown and hasn't been for years: Dynasty Seafood on Broadway has racked up a ton of awards since it opened, they're probably the best Cantonese kitchen in the city and on par with the best of Richmond too; Sun Sui Wah invented the King Crab Feast (and are also justly-famous for their other house specialty, roasted Squab) and their original location is in Vancouver, though a transit ride away down Main Street from Gastown; Kirin has two Vancouver locations including one right in the downtown core, and all their branches are consistently well-reviewed purveyors of higher end Cantonese.

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On 10/14/2019 at 8:07 PM, Cali Viajera said:

We will be staying in Gastown before our cruise in July. Any recommendations for family friendly/family style restaurants in Chinatown?

 

There's a ton, but if you're looking for simple, inexpensive authentic, something you wouldn't get at home, Peaceful would be my choice; with ChonQing being my #2 (#1 if you like spicy food). 

 

Peaceful (at the least the one I go to on Broadway) is tiny though, so there can be a bit of a wait.

 

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Thank you all so very much for all your great suggestion! I really appreciate it and will begin my research on the links you all sent!

 

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Great suggestions mentioned... my thoughts.

  • Floata for Dim Sum in Chinatown, but I prefer Dynasty (Broadway) or Kirin for higher quality.
  • Peaceful for a Northern Chinese experience
  • Dinesty on Robson for soup buns on Robson
11 hours ago, martincath said:

Floata does look the part of the kind of Chinese resto you'd see Indiana Jones running around in, but size has always been their selling point (they can seat a thousand people) not food quality; so if you want Dim Sum like in the movies with little carts rolling around in a huge room it's worth going to, but if food quality is most important skip it.

 

Note, Floata ended cart service about 3 years ago.  Richmond's Continental is one of the last offering cart service. 

 

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Not sure if referencing the same Hon's on Robson but I think their big location in between Ramen Danbo and Stephos is now closed down.   Been wanting to try the Hon's on 2nd by Olympic Village for noodles and potstickers to see if they're essentially the same but haven't been able to convince the missus yet.

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10 hours ago, xlxo said:

Note, Floata ended cart service about 3 years ago.  Richmond's Continental is one of the last offering cart service.

Dagnabbit, I even knew about that - you posted it three years ago! Thanks for the catch. That means there's now zero reason to visit Floata unless invited to a big wedding!

8 hours ago, Milhouse said:

Not sure if referencing the same Hon's on Robson but I think their big location in between Ramen Danbo and Stephos is now closed down.   Been wanting to try the Hon's on 2nd by Olympic Village for noodles and potstickers to see if they're essentially the same but haven't been able to convince the missus yet.

B*ggeration - I didn't even notice they closed the Robson branch this year, so thanks for the info.

 

I can confirm that the Village is the same old, same old in terms of the potstickers etc. (they're still all made in the Alexander factory then supplied to the restos - which are now all franchises, none left owned by Hons themselves) though it is a much-reduced menu and served in much slicker surroundings (if you enjoy the 'B-sides/deep cuts' like offal dishes you may want to stick to Congee House). I've been making use of Hon's village since it opened, it's way closer than Robson was and the reduced menu made no impact as it's always been potstickers, wontons, and a bowl of noodles when in Hons for me. Given the scruffiness of the original resto in Chinatown near the end, even if it was still open I'd actually be ordering from the Village location anyway.

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I whole heartedly agree with Peaceful - it's heaven in your tummy.   But you could also look at Kirin on Alberni Street - it's northern chinese and is amazing.  

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