How Is Everything? Are You Happy?


Last night I took Sarah to Hy’s Steakhouse for dinner. Hy’s is an old boy’s steakhouse. Founded in 1956 by Hy Aisenstat in Calgary, Hy’s Encore (as it was call back then) open it first Vancouver steakhouse in 1960 at the Sands, located on Davie Street. In 1962, Hy’s moved to its current location at 637 Hornby Street, and has remained there ever since.

Hy’s was the place for Vancouver’s elite to do business. Stock traders, captains of industries, and lawyers would lunch at Hy’s while signing multi-million dollar deals. In the evening, they would return with their wives, or “niece”, for dinner. Political correctness and Hy’s don’t go hand-in-hand. During lunchtime, all the servers are female to give the dealmakers a lot of eye candy. At dinnertime, all the servers are male so the wives or girlfriends don’t get jealous. Hy’s is very discreet at night. The lights are turn very low to make sure no one sees you with someone you’re not suppose to be with.

Not much have changed at Hy’s in the last 40+ years. The lights are not as low as the last time I dined there, but the dinner staff is still all male, which Sarah really liked. Anyway, this is what we had.

Cheese Toast For Two


This is Hy’s signature appetizer – melted cheese on white bread. It’s super soft and really tasty. It’s also as fattening as it looks. I’m sure there’s like a thousand calories in that bread.

Dungeness Crab Cakes


As crab cakes goes, this one was OK. I’ve tasted much better at Gotham Steakhouse, which is also own by Hy’s. The lemon dill mayonnaise worked very nicely with the dish however.

Tuna Tartare


This dish wasn’t at all what I was expecting. By far the worst Tuna Tartare I ever tried. The Tuna Tartare at Feenie’s blows this one away by a country mile.

12 oz Filet Mignon


This was Sarah’s steak, the Filet Mignon. When the steaks come out at Hy’s, it’s carefully orchestrated. One server will put the steak down at your table, another server will follow with the selection of toppings for the potato, and another server with a pepper grinder follows to ask if you want any pepper on the steak. Then five minute later, the original server who took your order will come to your table and ask, “How is everything? Are you happy?”

The Filet Mignon was tender and very tasty. However, it was too big. We should have just gone with the 8 oz.

14 oz New York Strip


I didn’t asked for it, but I think my New York Strip got a “Chicago” treatment. That’s when they char the steak with very high heat to lock in the juices. Personally, I don’t like a Chicago steak. I order the steak medium rare, but they overcooked it a bit. The steak wasn’t too bad, but I’ve tasted better steaks at the Keg, which is also own by Hy’s. The quality of the steaks at Hy’s is no higher than the ones served at the Keg. The main difference is the price – Hy’s is a lot more expensive.

Sautéed Mushroom


It says on the menu that accompaniments like sautéed mushrooms are extra but a plate came with our meals at no charge. I’m not sure if that was a one night only deal or if this is the current practice. The mushrooms were good, much better than that overstuffed potato.

Hy’s Famous Cheesecake


I wanted to try a different dessert by Sarah wanted to try the cheesecake because it’s Hy’s signature dessert. Sarah liked it but I didn’t care too much for it.

Dinner at Hy’s Steakhouse came to $150 with tip. Hy’s is position between the Keg Steakhouse at the low end and Gotham Steakhouse at the high end. However, the pricing puts it almost at Gotham level. Given the choice, Gotham wins hands down. Hy’s and Gotham are aimed at different groups. Gotham goes after the young money who want to see and been seen. Hy’s attracts old money and is much more discreet.

If you want get a taste of the food quality at Hy’s without spending $150, then just dine at the Keg. You won’t get to experience the same level of service or the power broker feel the room gives off, but you’re save quite a bit of money. I think it will be while before I go back to Hy’s Steakhouse. And if I do, it will be for lunch. 🙂

Hy's Encore on Urbanspoon

29 thoughts on “How Is Everything? Are You Happy?”

  1. Eduardo says:

    Hey Bro, thats a cool pic with you holding the knife and the food just looks really yummy, I am hungry now!


  2. Matt says:

    mmmmmmm. I’m starving now. That food looks amazing.

  3. Nomar says:

    Chow, On that picture (with the knife) it seems that you are right out a Jacky Chan movie.. Nice 😀

    by the way, nice restaurant, just baked myself 2 eggs, so im not hungry at the moment 😉

  4. Ron says:

    John, I’m not insinuating anything here but I thought I’d seen this pose before.

    Keep up the good work otherwise! 😉

  5. John Chow says:

    Ron – Pose or post? If you think you saw this post before, you may have it mixed up with this one: If it’s pose, I don’t think I ever posted a picture of me holding a steak knife.

    The Hy’s steak knifes are forged from one solid piece of steel.

  6. Ron says:

    John, I was referring to your “knife pose” above and comparing it to this somewhat similar image:

    Strange coincidence, eh?

  7. Carl says:

    1) You’re gonna have a heart attack tomorrow
    2) You’re crazy if you think The Keg is any good
    3) Try Stone Grill for a steak! They are slightly different, and as long as you buy a quality cut, you could potentially have one of the best steaks ever.

  8. Carl says:

    4) That cheesecake looks REALLY good. You can tell it is a good cake, with a lot of real cream cheese. This is coming from the CHEESE CAKE MASTER 😉

  9. HAHA. I love it when you take pictures of your meals.

  10. Man those steaks look goooood!

    Looks like a nice night out and a great place to eat. It also looks like you know how to use that knife too! 🙂

  11. Derrich says:

    You always seem to post these when we’re all starving, John. Thanks.

  12. Gdog says:

    I love food pics–keep them coming!

  13. Dave says:

    Wow, you are making me hungry looking all of this.

    Question though, what kind of camera do you use? My fiancee has a food blog and she is wanting a camera that can take good close range pictures.

    Keep up the good work John!

  14. Josh says:

    I just realized that I drooled all over my keyboard. Thanks!

  15. Ryan says:

    I love your food postings. The bad thing about it is that it makes me hungry.

  16. Cofo says:

    I went to Hy’s a few weeks ago in Ottawa. That place is how do we say…”balllerrrrrrr” , Saw a few politicians and such. Nice place! I have no food pics though 🙁

  17. John Chow says:

    Dave – The camera I use is a Canoon SD300: It’s nice and small and can be taken anywhere.

    Ron – Man, that’s a big knife!

    Cofo – You want to see baller, you should check out Gotham! But there’s only one and I don’t think Hy’s plans to open any others.

  18. Doug Karr says:

    I left Vancouver 20 years ago and haven’t been to a Keg since. 🙁

    If you ever visit Indianapolis, check out Morton’s for a superb steak or the local St. Elmo’s for a great steak but hair raising shrimp cocktail with fresh-ground horseradish.

    I’m hungry.

  19. John Chow says:

    We have a Morton’s in Vancouver. It’s one of the two places where you can get a USDA Prime steak. Gotham is the other place. Both are really good but if I had to choose, I would say Gotham is better.

  20. Peter says:

    Why do you post pictures of food when visitng a restaurant? Don’t you find it embarassing? Your acting like a poorman visiting a richman’s eatery for the first time.

    Typical Chinaman…

  21. John Chow says:

    Peter – Being embarrassed is what keeps you from achieving what you want in life. And no, it’s not embarrassing at all. The chefs take it as a compliment and even go out of their way to make the food look good for the picture. If you’ve ever been to a real high-end restaurant, you would know that.

  22. Michael says:

    Like I said in your Keg post (or at least I think I did), I was sorely disappointed with Hy’s when I went some time back. Gotham and Morton’s are head and shoulders about this place, maybe not in the service department (they’re all great), but definitely in the quality of the food.

  23. G says:

    In Calgary Caesar’s (downtown location) is definitely the best steak, and perhaps the best overall restuarant. It is like Hy’s but kicked up a notch or two. The Keg is far, far behind in quality, ambiance, and service.

    Keep posting great food pictures. I’m always looking for top restaurants when I visit Vancouver (Lumiere’s tasting menu was 75% great, Bluewater was solid, Phenom Phen was disappointing). How about some pictures from Hapa Izakaya or Vij’s that I’ve heard so much about?

  24. John Chow says:

    G – I will be going to Lumiere’s on Dec 1st. What don’t you like about Phenom Phen? I love that place!

  25. Ron says:

    Your response to Peter’s comment demonstrates a very good perspective to have. I’m working on not letting what others might think of me keep me from achieving the things that I want or the person I am trying to become. It’s good to see principles like these in action. Cheers!

  26. Hi John, I came here to view your Urinal post… ended up in the food.

    One of the best meals we’ve ever eaten was at the Grouse Nest restaurant at the top of the cable car run at Grouse Mountain.

    We went back years later fully expecting to be disappointed.

    We weren’t. It was probably the second best meal of our lives.

    The view probably helped.

  27. Sonia says:

    I suggest two names for your photo: “I am sharp” and “JC – Editor-in-Chief”.

  28. Don says:


    What places do you recommend in Chinatown? I just moved here and there are so many to choose from I’m not sure where I should start.

    In Calgary where I just left it was Silver Dragon and the Golden Inn that stood out from the rest.

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