Japadog, serving Japanese style hot dogs, is a veritable Vancouver institution operating a sit down restaurant with associated food carts and food trucks. The product is just as good at any of them, but I will steer you to their brick and mortar downtown location on Robson St., just a couple blocks from Granville Street. Everything is good here and you can even substitute veggie hot dogs for any of the real meat sausages. Perhaps the best deal on the menu are the Japanese style shake fries (start out with the sachimi and garlic- you won’t regret it!). The best sausage is the negimiso, which is for some strange reason currently off the menu in the process of a retrofitting. If you are in town for a little while, I recommend coming here a few times and exploring the menu.
2) Benkei Ramen
This small Vancouver based chain delivers fantastic Ramen and several curries for a song of a price. My favorite location is in East Vancouver, located just off Cambie Street on East Broadway. Go in for the miso ramen. If you are on a tight budget the secret here is to split a ramen and pay a dollar for extra noodles. You will not leave hungry!
3) Congee Noodle House
The Congee Noodle House, specializes in congee, which is essentially a Cantonese style soupy rice packed with whatever ingredients one can imagine. In some ways it is not a cheap place, unless you are buying your dishes in bulk, but I have hacked the menu and recommend the budget traveler to order either the large hot and sour soup for 7.50 or a couple orders of Cheong Fun, which are listed on the side dish menu as various “rice rolls”- the $4.50 shrimp rice roll is the best. Otherwise, order the $3.00 green onion and dried shrimp, asking to have the horrible dried shrimp omitted. If you have a little extra, wash it down with a cold soy milk or better yet a Dong Lai Cha- iced milk tea. It’s not quite as good as Hong Kong, but it’s pretty close! This place is located on East Broadway, one block west from the corner of Main and Broadway, about 600 feet from where I am currently writing these words.
Yeah, they are everywhere, and people may make fun of you for liking them, but for people like me, they are often an oasis. Although they recently raised their prices, one can still get pretty full on a well-stocked burrito bowl. Some of my chipotle hacks, well known as they may be, are to: order both types of beans, always order the bowl, ask for extra rice (get the brown), smile, be thankful, and don’t shy from asking for a little extra protein. For my beverage (if you aren’t following the tenets of Ayurveda and abstaining from drinking while eating) I simply ask for cups for water and then squeeze as much juice into my cup from the lemon wedges as lemon water is one of thehealthiest beverages you can take in your body. Chipotle is located in the heart of downtown near the art museum and downtown Chapters bookstore.
5) H-Mart Food Court
H-Mart is itself a pretty awesome bargain-laden Korean owned international grocery store chain located downtown on Robson Street about a block from Japadog. What makes this place even more awesome would be its first floor bakery featuring variety after variety of green tea pastry and the second floor food court which has some pretty fantastic Korean and Japanese food all at very reasonable prices.