Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dining the Line - Part 1

A while back I mentioned the construction fiasco along Cambie Street that was part of the rapid transit expansion in Vancouver. Thankfully Cambie Street is back together and the Canada Line opened for business on August 17th.

Stretching from Downtown Vancouver all the way out to Vancouver International Airport and Richmond, the new line is a great new addition to our city.

I new it would be a great help to travellers, speeding folks out to YVR (25 minutes from Downtown!) But how would it help me?

In the interest of research, I'm going to "dine the line," visiting each station along the Canada line and eating as close to the station as I can. For now, coffee chains and convenience stores located within the station don't count (although at this stage of the game those facilities aren't completed) but anythng else is fair game

Our plan for day 1 was to visit the Richmond portion, riding from Waterfront out to the Richmond-Brighouse, and then working our way towards the airport. First impressions of the new stations and cars? Clean, simple designs and quite spacious. In a way, they were quite similar to some of the newer stations in the Paris Metro

Stop #1 - New Town Bakery (Richmond-Brighouse)

I am NOT an expert on Chinese food. I know what I like, and I'm open to trying almost anything. My friend Lee is educating me to its finer points, but I still feel really nervous when dining alone in a part of the city predominantly Chinese, like Richmond. Lee was not with me today, so I was flying blind.

So I was really pleased when about a block away from the station we found New Town. Lots of steamed buns (BBQ Pork, Duck, Black Bean, Sesame, etc.) and other pastries (Egg Tarts and Chinese Donuts!) to chose from. In a way it was a shame we came here as part of this trip because I could have easily filled up here.

Our total bill for 8 items: $6.50.

Stop #2 - Neptune Wonton Noodle Restaurant (Lansdowne)

There are several better restaurants in this area (which I'm sure some readers will point out) but I wanted to keep things simple and visit the first place I found, hopefully discovering something new and delicious. I've had better food than at Neptune, but the fact that I found it on my own and was able to order on my own without making any obvious faux-pas' was a real achievement in my books.

We ordered from the "Select 3" lunch menu ... 3 categories with several items. $12.99 for 3 items.:

Chicken/Ginger/Spring Onion Congee

Shredded Chicken in Noodle

Siu Mai

Stop #3 - Osaka/T&T Supermarket - Yaohan (Aberdeen)

If you're ever looking to experience real culture shock in a sort of Blade-Runner-meets-shopping-mall kind of way, Yaohan Mall is a great place to start. As soon as you walk through the doors it's as if the Western world you knew only minutes before has vanished. Very few signs are in English, products on the shelves are very unfamiliar.

Fortunately for us, exposure to Asian culture over the years has made this feel less strange, exposing us to one of the world's great cuisines. T&T was my first introduction to Asian foods. I mean REAL Asian foods ... where you have absolutely no idea what you're looking at until you find the English langauge decal on the back of the package.

Their Osaka branch is the cornerstone of the Yaohan Mall and any future visit to the Aberdeen Station will include a shopping trip here. We picked up a couple packages of Pocky-like cookies, and these:

Mosak (Mosaic?) Cookies!

Stop #4 - River Rock Casino (Bridgeport)

Sorry. I couldn't do it. River Rock Casino, and the attached hotel, is a magnificent facility. But I HATE casinos. Something about throwing away my money while overstimulated by bells and lights makes me want to curl up in the corner and curse Wayne Newton's name.

In fairness, I've been told by several people that the buffet in the hotel is very good. But after touring the casino floor I had the shakes and really needed to leave.

Stop #5 & 6 - (Templeton & Sea Island Centre)

Nada. Not even a vending machine. These stops are designed to serve the long-term parking lots and the employees of the airport and supporting businesses. I suppose there is a coffee shop lurking in amongst some of the buildings near the Sea Island station, but it was Sunday, and I wasn't about to go searching for a stale sandwich.

Stop #7 - Fairmont Hotel (YVR - Airport)

This is the reason why this line was built. With the Olympics coming next year, thousands of people will be coming through this airport and making their way into the city. The connection is terrific, and it should also be noted that at various stations along the line, their are check-in kiosks for several airlines, so you can be checked in even before you arrive.

Our last stop was the Lounge in the Fairmont Hotel. Snacks and a beer ... a perfect way to end the day. Of course, YVR is full of many other dining options, and thanks to it's fair pricing policy you're paying the same in the airport as you would out.

Next up on "Dining the Line", South Vancouver.

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