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Best of Dine Out Vancouver 2013

We recommend five restaurants worth seeking out for the annual food and drink festival
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Bistro Sakana's Etsuko Needham has mastered the art of flame-torched (aburi) sushi Milos Tosic

We recommend five restaurants worth seeking out for the annual food and drink festival

It's on—two weeks of restaurant frenzy. Dine Out offers the perfect way to try rooms you haven't yet experienced, and while deals abound across town, there are five rooms at the $38 price point (exceptional value for a three-course meal) that we recommend seeking out. But please mind your manners, folks: be patient with your server (it's a crazy time of year) and don't forget to tip!

At Bistro Sakana in Yaletown, helmed by chef Etsuko Needham and her husband Peter, the entrée platter features an excellent selection of aburi (flame-torched) sushi and Needham's freaky but delicious Teppan roll: fresh tomato, hotate scallop sashimi, fresh bocconcini mozzarella and shiso-basil pesto, rolled up with sushi rice, lightly sauteed, and plated with a rim of aged balsamic reduction and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. Yup.

Chef Hamid Salimian's modernist dishes at Diva at the Met reflect a delightfully inventive approach to local ingredients—French technique meets the vibrant flavours of his Persian heritage. Go for the Humboldt squid served with Moroccan sausage, poblano pepper, and olives.

Twenty-five years have done little to slow the Kirin Restaurant Group, which offers world-class Cantonese cuisine at its four Lower Mainland locations. At the Cambie spot, flaming conch shell is stuffed with assorted seafood; follow that with a smoked live Boston lobster (half per person) served with stir-fried noodle.

Chef Lee Cooper's cooking at L'Abattoir nailed the Best Casual prize in our 2012 Restaurant Awards competition. From the Dine Out menu we'd especially highlight the confit of Albacore tuna appetizer and for dessert, fizzy raspberry lemonade: raspberry frozen yogurt, meyer lemon, and basil granite. And, of course, barman Sean Layton's excellent cocktails.

In a city teeming with seafood, Yew at the Four Seasons offers a fresh, exciting take. Roasted arctic char with yams, wild mushrooms, and brown butter, please, or the lobster and saffron risotto with brioche crumble.

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But wait! Dine Out isn't the only way to save. A handful of excellent restaurants have created their own set-menu program called FeastVan where $1 from every dinner sold will go to the Vancouver Inner City Back Pack Food Program (it helps kids who do not have reliable access to nutritious food by sending them home from school with healthy snacks that help see them through the weekend). East Side favourites like Au Petit Chavignol, The Acorn, Bao Bei, Campagnolo Roma, The Cascade Room, East of Main, Eight 1/2, El Camino's, Habit, Harvest Community Foods, Les Faux Bourgeois, Nicli Antica Pizzeria, The Parker, The Union, and more are participating.

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