Gourmet Corner N° 33


British Columbia – Canada

The Most Honest Taxis in the World …

By Freddy Santamaria

An Introduction to the city of Vancouver

My first contact to Vancouver was in 1967, after a visit to the World International Expo in Montreal. General de Gaulle, by then President of France, said in one of his speeches there, "Vive le Quebec Libre!"

Following my visit to Montreal that year, I crossed Canada by bus on the Trans-Canadian Highway. On the last of my journey by bus, from Banff to Vancouver, I met a family who very kindly invited me for a BBQ at their home at the edge of the bay. On top of that, they gave me the keys of their car to visit the city and the surroundings.

Well for me, that was the best hospitality I ever had in my trips, by then, around North America, a gesture I never forget.

Unfortunately after 42 years, I have lost their address and forgotten their name. As we say in France: "C’est la vie" – That’s Life.

It was with this "Positive Remembering" that I visited Vancouver for the first time since 1967 this past summer. Unfortunately, my expectations become a little less enthusiastic about the people with the "very cold attitude" I found there. With one major exception: the kind and honest behavior of the "Vancouver Taxis", so far the best service I have ever had by a taxi in any of my trips around the world.

On my five-day visit to the city (complete with rain, fog, and cold), I needed to take a taxi three evenings to go to the restaurant for dinner from my hotel.

The city center of Vancouver was in turmoil due to work on the streets, and the taxis need to make "big detours" to arrive at the restaurants located in the city center.

Well! Again to my surprise, the "price asked" for the trip "was lower" than the "price on the taximeter", by around 3 to 4 dollars.

When I asked, why the difference? the taxi drivers (the 3 of them) answered that under normal conditions (without the street work) that was the fare from my hotel to the restaurant: First time in my life!

Some History of Vancouver

Archaeological evidence shows that coastal Indians had settled the Vancouver area by 500 BCE

- 1775 – Admiral Quadra sails from Mexico to Alaska and claims the Pacific Coast for Spain.

- 1778 – Captain Cook sails up the West Coast and becomes the first European to set foot on what is now the western shore of Canada.

- 1791 – July 5, Spanish explorer Narvaez anchors off Isla de Langara now called Point Grey. The first European to explore the coastline of present-day Point Grey and part of Burrard Inlet was José María Narváez of Spain.

- 1792 June 12, Captain George Vancouver arrives, charts and names Point Grey, the Strait of Georgia, Point Atkinson, English Bay and Burrard Channel. George Vancouver explored the inner harbour of Burrard Inlet and gave various places British names.

- 1792 – June 14, Spanish Explorers Galiano and Valdes arrive at Point Grey and meet Captain Vancouver upon his return from charting Howe Sound and Jervis Inlet. This occasion was marked by the naming of Spanish Banks.

- 1870’sVancouver was founded as a sawmill settlement called Granville in the 1870s.

- 1886The city was incorporated in and renamed after Captain Vancouver.

- 1954First cocktail bar in Vancouver opened at the Sylvia Hotel.

- 2004 – Condé Nast Traveler magazine voted Vancouver the "Best City in the Americas" at its annual Readers' Choice Awards ceremony held in New York.

- 2005 – Annual Quality of Life survey released by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, placed Vancouver third out of 215 cities, Vancouver 3rd in the world in quality of life survey. The only two places that beat the West Coast city were Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland

The first Vancouver City Council meeting after the 1886 fire.


Vancouver, of course has an extensive list of more than one hundred hotels and B & Bs to choose from. Be aware that the majority (99.9%) of the hotels in Vancouver are total "NON SMOKING" facilities, and it can cost the traveler an extra additional price on top of the cost of the room, so you pay "double" cost for your room – your room tariff, plus the same amount as the smoking tariff . (If they found out!)

Of course some hotels have a smoking floor, but not many!

Among the list of top hotels in Vancouver:

* Century Plaza Hotel & Spa
www.century-plaza.com + 1 (604) 687-0575

* The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
www.fairmont.com +1 (604) 684-3131

* Four Seasons Hotel
www.fourseasons.com + 1 (604) 689-9333

* Metropolitan Hotel
www.metropolitan.com + 1 (604) 687-1122

* Pacific Palisades Hotel
www.pacificpalisadeshotel.com +1 (604) 688-0461

* Sutton Place Hotel The
www.suttonplace.com + 1 (604) 682-5511

* Wedgewood Hotel
www.wedgewoodhotel.com +1 (604) 689-7777

* The Listel Hotel
www.thelistelhotel.com +1 (604) 684-8461

* Sylvia Hotel Built in 1912, the Sylvia Hotel is a city landmark, with first cocktail bar!
www.sylviahotel.com +1 (604) 681-9321

View of the Pan Pacific Hotel

My favorite Hotel in Vancouver:

The Pan Pacific

The best location, and the best view (nobody in front of you) – just the sea & the mountains.

Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, a downtown waterfront Vancouver hotel, offers 504 luxurious rooms and suites with panoramic vistas of the harbour, mountains, Stanley Park and the city.

The Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel is luxuriously appointed with a wide selection of modern hotel amenities, with its waterfront restaurants and lounge providing an award-winning selection of West Coast Cuisine over Vancouver's magnificent Harbour.

The Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel also offers a comprehensive range of elegant meeting and event facilities for business and social gatherings of every description.

A "smoking floor" with superb views is available.

300-999 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC V6C 3B5,
+1 (604) 662-8111

The Concierge Team recommends.....

1950 Street Flavor


Vancouver has a large array of restaurants to please everybody, with a variety of prices. Of course, the best restaurants are expensive.

Following advice from "Vancouver Best" Magazine – May 2008 and my taste: The award to the "Best Restaurant" in town goes to:

2881 Granville Street – Tel: 604 738 8938
> "Nodding to trends but never dictated by them"

Followed by:

1133 Hamilton Street – Tel: 604 688 7466
br>> "Pino Posteraros Chef rustic Italian dishes", like Pappardelle with braised veal cheeks & porcini mushrooms.

1095 Hamilton Street – Tel: 604 688 8078

"Lively open kitchen & row bar with oysters & fresh seafood"

New "Fine Dining"

1944 W Fourth Ave. – Tel: 604 288 7905

"Fuel from the earth, Fuel for the soul" – Seasonal Menus

3121 Granville Street – Tel: 604 608 2469

"Organic West Coast Seasonal Cuisine"

200 Burrard Street – Tel: 604 662 3463

> "Northwest Cuisine"

New "Informal"

52 Powell street – Tel: 604 669 2396

"Nuevo Latino Cuisine" – Ceviche – Taqueria – Tapas

"Bar Lounge"

* NU
1661 Granville Street – Tel: 604 646 4668

"Best Room with a View" – Jazz Sunday Brunches

"Regional Restaurants"

2420 Main Street – Tel: 604 873 9944

Commitment to local ingredients – Northern BC Bison Carpaccio

1193 Denman Street – Tel: 604 685 7337

Overlooks English Bay – Local organic vegetables

2183 W Fourth Ave. – Tel: 604 738 2025

West Coast cuisine – Organic regional produce
"Formal Italian"

1382 Hornby Street – Tel: 604 669 2422

Authentically Tuscan – Chef Umberto Menghi’s own olive oil

1154 Robson Street – Tel: 604 688 7338

Italian inspired wood fired cucina

1088 Cambie Street – Tel: 604 899 4449

Italian dishes to a new level by working with local ingredients.

# 1 Lonsdale Avenue (North Vancouver) – Tel: 604 924 4444

Chef Nicholas Lim homemade pasta

"Other European Food"

562 Beatty Street – Tel: 604 879 7119

Belgian Restaurant – "Moules Frites" – Great Beer Choices

Some specialties of Chambar Restaurant

1864 West 57th Avenue (Vancouver Kerrisdale) – Tel: 604 266 8643

Portuguese fine dining

217 Carrall Street – Tel: 604 688 9779

100% Irish – Bangers ‘n’ Mash – Corned Beef

"Formal French"

100-909 Burrard Street – Tel: 604 669 4298

Alsatian Michel Jacob – "Onion Tart" – "Tomato & Gin Soup"

* BACCHUS RESTAURANT at the Wedgewood Hotel
845 Hornby Street – Tel: 604 608 5319

Chef Lee Parsons marries French technique with local ingredients

4121 Village Green (Vancouver – Whistler) – Tel: 604 932 3433

Chef Melissa Craig- Wild arctic caribou loin with black truffle jus
King Crab Trio coconut chili soup, croquette, soy pop rocks
2008 Canadian Culinary Championship Gold Medal Dish

1616 Alberni Street – Tel: 604 685 3924

Chef Ferreira’s – Mi-cuit salmon, ginger coulis, papaya, mango
Duck magret with star-anise, peach & orange

"Bistro / Brasserie"


3369 Cambie Street – Tel: 604 873 3131

Updates bistro classics – Table d’hôte at only C$ 29.50
Feels like an "Après-midi à Paris"

103- 2232 Marine Drive – Tel: 604 921 2228

Lusty ragouts & terrenes – Lapin à la Povençale

2153 W Fourth Avenue – Tel: 604 731 5020 (Closed Mondays)

Salad of frisée, lardons & poached egg – Steak frites peppercorn

2585 West Broadway – Tel: 604 733 0046 (Closed Mon. & Sun.)

Excellent Menus at C$ 19.00 – 20.00 – 21.00 & 24.00


2-1600 Howe Street – Tel: 604 681 11 64

Vancouver's most well-known seafood restaurant is routinely praised as one of the best in Canada (Chef Robert Clark)
Business Lunch 4 Course Tasting Menu at C$30.00 per person

1257 Hamilton Street – Tel: 604 685 5010

Appetizer Platter by Chef Josh Wolfe

(No website)

1505 West First Avenue – Tel: 604 730 5040

Gourmet Fish And Chips – at the edge of the water
A Shack With Class – Open: Tue -Sun: 11:30 AM- 6:30 PM
May be a shack by the water, but it’s a classy shack

Char grilled rare albacore tuna sandwich – Deep-fried halibut
"Tacone" – these fish tacos come with grilled salmon, cilantro- spiked salsa, chipotle crema, and their Pacific Rim coleslaw wrapped in a soft tortilla

2423 Marine Drive (West Vancouver) – Tel: 604 922 1155

Award-winning neighborhood restaurant – Fish & Chips
You can select your desired delicacy direct from the market showcase and the expert chefs will prepare it in the sauce or seasoning of your choice

Hand-peeled Shrimp Quesadilla – Daily Fresh Fish Taco
Thai Style Mussels – Seafood Ceviche  



1133 West Broadway – Tel: 604 872 8050
(Closed Sunday’s)
In Japanese, omakase literally means ‘entrusting’. Here it means that you are entrusting Tojo to arrange your meal. It is similar to a French Degustation or Tasting menu, only perhaps a little more personalized. The Maitre D, will listen to your likes and dislikes, allergies and dietary restriction, if any, and your budget target, and they will draw upon the best and freshest ingredients this day to create your meal.
Omakase dinners may be enjoyed for C$ 60.00, 80.00, 110, and up

4422 West 10th Avenue – Tel: 604 730 0330

The city’s Japanese fusion restaurant

689 Denman Street – Tel: 604 738 8226

Chef Yoshinobu Kobayashi Special’s:
Home made buckwheat noodles (Soba, Udon, Nyumen)

Kaiseki (8 courses C$ 100.00) & Mini Kaiseki (C$53.00) Menus

888 Nelson Street – 2nd floor – Tel :604 899 3266

Sushi & Red miso soup with nameko mushrooms


For many people Vancouver City has a "Chinese Flavor" since the Chinese community is very important. Well! In one way that is true, in another way, that is wrong. To start with, the Chinese flavor – Vancouver China Town is the last on my list of "China Towns" around the world to visit. No soul, no atmosphere, no nice restaurants, no good Chinese shops, nothing at all, about this Chinese flavor that the travel guides promote!

To follow the Chinese restaurants in town (China Town included), I say they are zero. If I compare them to San Francisco, New York, Sydney, Auckland, Paris or London – not a good experience. Nonetheless, here I enclose two of them if you need to eat Chinese:

102-1166 Alberni Street – Tel: 604 682 8833

The restaurant advertising says: "The best Chinese restaurant in all of Vancouver, a must for tourists." That’s it -- for tourist only!

388 Main Street – Tel: 604 872 8822

Cantonese Cooking


1480 West 11th Avenue – Tel: 604 736 6664

"Grilled pork tenderloin & back ribs in a fennel-seed coconut curry & roasted cashews"
"Duck breast & spicy mango & sautéed yellow/green zucchini"

1643 West Broadway – Tel: 604 742 0622

"Lamb rogan josh" – "Angoori prawns, fenugreek & cilantro"


(No website)

244 East Georgia Street – Tel: 604 734 8898

"Lemon pepper squid" – "Deep-fried chicken wings"
"Green papaya salad" – "Prawns, carrots, cilantro, strips of beef"

3592 West 41st Avenue – Tel: 604 266 7355
(Closed Sunday’s)
"Samble Babi" (Pork shoulder slow-cooked spiced coriander)
"Opor Ayam" (Chicken flavored with nutmeg & coconut cream)

1096 Denman Street – Tel: 604 683 3333

"Peel & eat freshwater king prawns, butter, garlic & peppercorns"

2958 West Fourth Avenue – Tel: 604 737 7529

Chef Tina Fineza Asian Street Food
"Roti Canai" (Malaysian fried bread & Malaysian yellow curry)
"Hawker Street Noodles" (Chicken, prawns, squid, bok choy
"Humba Style Braised Pork Belly" (Filipino style pork)

4063 Main Street – Tel: 604 873 3133
(Closed Monday’s)
Chef Charlie Dizon Modern Filipino Cuisine
"Bulalo Batangas" (Beef in annatto broth, bok choy, tamarind)

(No website)

888 Burrard Street – Tel: 604 683 7999

Thai Restaurant, food ok, service ok, price ok, avoid center tables


615 Seymour Street – Tel: 604 605 8282

Canadian Prime Beef – Vancouver’s tastiest filet mignon

* MORTON’S Steak House
750 West Cordova Street – Tel: 604 915 5105

Steaks & Iceberg salads drenched in blue cheese dressing

"Wood Fired Rotisserie"

200 Granville Street – Tel: 604 683 5599

Waterfront Dining on Vancouver’s Harbour
Seafood Wood Grilled Trio (Wild Salmon, Prawns, Sablefish)
Meat Wood Grilled Trio (Lamb Chops, BBQ Ribs, Spit Chicken)

Touring Vancouver

After this introduction to all your possibilities in Vancouver for the "Lodging" & "Food Scene", let me give you some advice for your City tour:

Vancouver’s Downtown:

All the action is around Robson & Burrard Streets with shops, shops & shops & "fast food’s" outlets, nothing special, San Francisco is ten times better.

Gastown: www.gastown.org

Heritage meets hip in the oldest part of the city, reaching east from Richards Street to Maple Tree Square. Historic Water Street boasts "Native-art galleries" & restaurants, many housed in distinctive late-Victorian buildings. The Gastown Steam Clock sounds the Westminster chimes at the corner of Water & Cambie Streets.

Granville Island: www.granvilleisland.com

It’s a lively collection of renovated warehouses transformed into theatres, artists’ studios, craft & marine-supply shops and a thriving "Public Market" (Open 7 days a week: 9 AM – 7 PM) known for fresh seafood & produce. The island is, in fact, a peninsula connected to downtown by the Granville Street Bridge & the "mini-ferries" Aquabus Ferries (www.theaquabus.com) across False Creek, from Hornby Street’s South foot to the Public Market.

Stanley Park: www.vancouverparks.ca

Vancouver’s 400 ha (1,000-acre) park was named for Lord Stanley in 1888 when he was Governor General of Canada. Great for walking & biking on the "seawall" (8-Km / 5-mi) and taking in the spectacular scenery – the impressive beauty of the North Shore mountains across Burrard Inlet and the distant haze of Vancouver Island, seen from English Bay. To see the Vancouver Aquarium & the Lost Lagoon, a free shuttle bus (not a guided tour) circles the park (mid-Jun. to mid-Sept.).

  Gastown Steam Clock

North Vancouver:

With the "Lonsdale Quay" market & Shops (www.lonsdalequay.com). Accessible from the Waterfront Station next to Canada Place via the "SeaBus" to Lonsdale Quay Bus Station, the gate to visit Vancouver’s oldest attraction: "The Capilano Suspension Bridge" (since 1889), the swaying planks above the Capilano River (www.capbridge.com) and the panoramic "Grouse Mountain" (1,130 m/ 3,700 ft) above the city, via the Skyride aerial tram. Visit ONLY if it is a clear fine day.


Vancouver Island & Victoria City

Two ways to travel to Victoria for one journey:

With "Harbour Air Seaplanes" (www.harbourair.com) (From downtown Vancouver to the downtown of Victoria) for a flight of around 35 minutes, at the cost of $260.00 Round Trip.

With "Bus & Ferry" (www.pacificcoach.com) (www.bcferries.com) a ride of 3 hours & 50 min. from the Vancouver Bus Terminal to Victoria Bus Terminal, including a 95-minute ferry ride though the scenic gulf islands. If you don’t want to start the journey very early (Departures at 5:45 AM or 7:30 AM) the better schedule would be departure at 9:45 AM and arrival 1:30 PM, leaving time to have a nice lunch in Victoria and visit the city. With a return to Vancouver at the sunset [5:45 PM – 9:30 PM]. The "Round Trip Fare"Adult C$78.00 (Bus & Ferry), plus an extra C$9.52 Supplement on "Seawest First Class Seat"

In Victoria the best place to have a light lunch is the licensed "cappuccino, bar, grill & fish a chips":

* THE BLACKFISH CAFE … on the water
950 Wharf Street – Victoria – Tel: 250 385 9996
Located on the Terminal of the Harbour Air Seaplanes.

> If do you like a more up-scale restaurants:

110-911 Yates Street – Victoria – Tel: 250 360 1171

1715 Government Street – Victoria – Tel: 250 475 6260

944 Fort Street – Victoria – Tel: 250 383 0009

225 Quebec Street – Tel: 250 388 4255

1307 Gladstone Avenue – Tel: 250 388 4222

View of Government Street facing Victoria Inner Harbour

And that’s all!

Discover Vancouver!

For more Information:

* www.tourismvancouver.com

* www.where.ca/vancouver

* www.bigbus.ca

* www.bigbusvictoria.ca

* www.graylinewest.com

* www.attractionsvictoria.com


Freddy Santamaria "The Smooth Operator"


Paris, France – March 20, 2009

For EDA Confidential: www.aycinena.com

Copyright © 2009 Freddy Santamaria

All rights reserved.