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Category: Chinese Page 1 of 14

Noodle Arts

On a cold, but more tolerable snowy night, we were in search of some noodles to help warm us up. Our journey brought us to “Noodle Art” on Robson Street. Where 2 out of 3 of us had never been before, and the 3rd frequents, always ordering to same menu item.

On this slower night we had the full attention of the floor staff, which included the lone server in pink and purple uniform, and the owner of the restaurant herself.

This was a treat, as she gave us a quick background spiel. Her family actually owns 68 similar restaurants in China, with this being their first venture in Vancouver, with its own name. They specialize in traditional Lanzhou cuisine, flavour from the “ Silk Road”, North West of China. As she spoke you could tell how passionate she was about her family’s legacy and the pride she had for her shop, here.

The restaurant is brightly lit. Wood strips line the right wall and a blue and red mural of people and horse covers the one on the left. But the highlight of the space has to be the partially open kitchen and the ability to watch your choice of noodles be rolled, cut, or pulled to order, then boiled up in a wok of hot water. The entire mesmerizing experience was carried out by two chefs in full uniform. Unsmiling and utterly focused on the work before them. Their hands work feverishly and the food came out quickly there after.

We were seated on the right and given a two sided menu that when folded and not laminated also served as their take out menu. Names of items were fairly descriptive, with a few choice photo to help in your decision making. However, we had the owner by our table, helping us to decide. Originally we were all going to get their “traditional Lanzhou beef noodle”, (the very order my one guests all the time and got again tonight). Although through her recommendations we were each able to find and try a different dishes, each with its own strong points. When you order any of their noodle dishes you get to choose the type of noodles you want from it. A choice made from a list of eight different options that includes an extra thin strand at 1mm and a thick flat noodle at 5mm. Worth mentioning is that they also offer rice, meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes, or their noodles dry. But we came in with a craving and one bowl of soup noodle is plenty of food for one.

As expected, the one guest got his usual: the traditional Lanzhou beef noodle, making it a combo. “Combo A” gave you a cold side, additional beef slices, and a marinaded egg with your large bowl of noodles. But if it was me I would have gotten “Combo B”, so that I could have a dessert with the set. He customized his bowl with their thickest noodle at 20mm and ask for extra spicy oil to be added in. However, the noodles weren’t all that thick and the oil wasn’t even spicy. (Though now looking at the photos, I think they must have us the wrong noodles). The noodles were nice and chewy, an ideal cut for those who order such dishes for the noodles and enjoys chewing through them. You can also get a container of the spicy oil for the table, to be able to scoop as much or as little as you like, on to whatever you want. It offers a nice peppery flavour, but despite its neon red hue, I would classify this as mild at best. As for the broth, given the amount of oil used, I can’t be sure of how it tastes normally. I guess I would just have to come back to find out. As for the sides, they were a nice break in between bites, great alone or even together within the noodle bowl. The cold seaweed offered a firmer chew, and the extra meat and egg some heartiness.

I had the “Braised ribs noodle soup”. This came recommend my our owner-host. They had originally run out of the meat in the morning, so this evening I would be partaking from a fresh batch. Hearing that was enough to have me confirming the recommendation. I had it with “triangle” noodles, that weren’t actually triangular. They are just not as flat as most of the other noodles. Thicker strands, but with a less width. They were chubby and chewy and only got more so, the longer they soaked in the broth. They do absorb liquid quick, so I suggest eating this one first and fast to get firm noodles and plenty of broth to slurp up. As for how it tasted, I couldn’t help but to compare this dish to Taiwanese beef noodle. Therefore I wanted a richer broth, with more pepper, and more heat in spice and in temperature. Similarly the meat was bland. Pieces were inconsistent with some being tender and others dry. All the flavour could have washed into the soup, but I found they fell flat. Though luckily I was able to reach for the chilli oil jar and rejuvenate my serving with a whole new flavour to work through.

My other guest got their “soup” special, a new menu item only introduced a day ago (from when I visited). They are competing in Vancouver Foodster’s Best Soup Challenge, and this is their entry. It isn’t on their regular menu, but is featured on stand up signs at each table, along with a card informing you on how you can vote for your favourite (after trying all the competitors) at the Vancouver Foodster website. Something they want to promote, so that they can potentially be crowned the best in the city, for the best soup.

This wasn’t a new dish they created, but one that is well known and well received, especially by my guest who ordered it and knew exactly what she was getting. This was their “Lamb noodle soup”, a light broth that was full of rich flavour from boiled lamb bones. It was peppery with plenty of thin slices of lamb meat. It came with vermicelli and her choice of “Blade carving noodles”. The latter made by using a knife to roughly cut out chunks of dough, straight into boiling water. The result, a thicker, shorter noodle with an inconsistent chew. It did paired very well with the thin slippery glass noodle. But she too found herself reaching for the chilli oil to help change the taste mid way.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I liked what I had, but wouldn’t go out of my way for their noodles, nor would I classify them as a destination. I can find other options with more flavour, closure to my home. However, they definitely make a great stop for those living in the neighbourhood. This is especially the case with their stamp card program, and the ability to collect them for an eventual free bowl. Don’t deny your cravings.

NOODLE ARTS
1739 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G 1C9
(604) 673-5688
noodlearts.com

Little Bird, dim sum + craft beer

When you are craving dim sum in the lower mainland, like most: you probably contemplate whether the drive to Richmond is worth it, if there is anything good in East Van or maybe along Victoria Drive? But now you might have to consider Kitsilano, where “Little Bird” is serving up all day dim sum and craft beer. But not just your cut and paste pastries and dumplings. Here, they are taking traditional dim sum and making it vegan and gluten-free.

The restaurant space has had its fair share of make overs from “Living Bistro”, to “Yak and Yeti”, then “Trying Tiger”. So this isn’t your typical Chinese restaurant footprint. With a minimalistic approach and plenty of lights, the space felt more suited to brunch at a coffee shop. Simple and sterile with the white bulbs; it sort of felt like day within, instead of the early evening that it was. But I am not complaining, even though they did take away from a more romantic or laid back ambiance; these were great conditions for taking the following photos.

The textured wooden table we were seated at matched the wood counter tops, and decorative wood elements that lined the bar. The restaurant name found its way on to the latter, as well as painted on to a wall that directed you to either of their single stall washrooms. Other than that, only a few framed black and white stencil art offered up visual interest in terms of decor. A graffiti-like style with either bird or dumpling references added to it, after the fact. It spoke to the modern interpretation of the food and the restaurant.

We were seated with our table lining the wall. Here, each place is set with chopsticks and a laminated single sheet menu. The owner came around to highlight best sellers and pride points, making suggestions on what to order and what was worth trying. @goodlifevan, who assembled us all here to day suggested that the restaurant use a check off sheet to order, thus making the process easier. But our host declined the suggestion. One of his goals is to focus on service and the communication you don’t get at other traditional Chinese restaurants. With them it is how fast and efficient you can do something, even if it is at the cost of the client. Here, he wants his staff to connect. His team is multicultural and able to hold a conversation, that includes eye contact. And each server is well trained on the menu and how it tastes, to be able to suggest and curate a perfect meal for their table.

The restaurant owner comes from a long line of Chefs and restauranteurs, working in the business for over 40 years combined. His father owned and operate the two long standing “Flamingo Chinese Restaurant” since 1974. So you can say dim sum runs in his family. And today, I was excited to have dim sum for dinner here, along side three other notable food fans. This is our meal, as these are our notes.

I wanted a drink to start, I liked the idea of pairing dim sum with an alcoholic beverage. Typically I have dim sum in the morning for breakfast or brunch, so a glass of wine or a pint of beer is frown upon at 11am. But at “Little Bird” it is encouraged. Their drink options are limited 4 types of wine or 4 types of beer, both from four different labels; with no mention of cocktails. I went with the “Four Winds saison”, since “craft beer” came after “dim sum” on the menu, as their title. I found that the saison’s easy drinking nature paired well with the richer small bites. Much like how greasy and salty bar foods do.

For something less alcoholic and more caffeinated, you can also order one of their loose leaf teas, served in a miniature tea pot for one. You don’t get a lot of tea, but water refills are welcomed.

The menu is user friendly. Written completely in English with descriptions and a legend. Menu items with a heart symbol, means they have been highlighted as a must try. But be warned, you can and should have the kitchen add on an additional pieces for anything coming you way, so that everyone gets one in full. For example most of the items below come with 2-3 pieces per servings, so with four diners we had an additional dumpling added on here and there, so that everyone could have one. Something I wish our server could have suggested as an easy add-on.

As I mentioned earlier, for those who like dim sum, but cannot have it because they are vegan and the kitchen cannot ensure a meat-free preparation, here is your solution. “Little Bird” works hard to ensure that equipment and utensils are are sanitized and there is not cross contamination. As none of my dinner mates where vegetarian or vegan we didn’t try the full extent of their 7 “garden” dishes. But I did make a note that they weren’t just tofu or mushroom everything. And if you were to order all 7, you would get a variety of tastes and flavours to pick through. This variety included the likes of different mushrooms types, water chestnuts, bamboo, and the new trendy beyond meat alternative.

The “Baked bbq tofu bun” had me going, I can’t believe it’s not pork! Pressed tofu in their sweet and salty bbq sauce, stuffed into a soft dough bun; then topped with a vegan butter and sugar mix, for a little crunch and a lot of sweetness. I liked the taster, but don’t know if I could commit to one whole, regular-sized bun myself. Best cut in half and shared, or bundled into smaller sized bites.

And what is dim sum with out “siu mai”? But there is no pork or shrimp in these meaty looking dumplings. Beyond meat, water chestnut, shiitake mushroom, and black truffle. A rendition made in honour of the owner’s sister-in-law, and her search for delicious meat alternatives. From this, you got the flavour of truffle from the mash of purée that topped it. The “beyond meat” gives you the texture of meat, but it was a little over salted. And I found myself reaching for more flavour from within one of our dishes of side sauces. Chilli oil, chilli sauce, soy sauce, and mustard. This is a great solution for those who lead a vegan lifestyle, but I much prefer the regular version below at $3 less, for a dish of 3.

The regular “Siu mai” had pork, shrimp, shiitake mushroom, and goji berries. It was more tender and juicy than its vegetable counter part. And the wrapper gave you a great chew. A wonderful staple that spoke to the quality of the ingredients used and the skill of the kitchen.

The “Spring roll” was filled full of pork, shiitake and black mushrooms, dried shrimp, and bamboo. Crispy skin, chewy julienne vegetables, and a complexity of flavours with an earthiness from the mushroom and bamboo. I didn’t taste any pork and could have easily done without it. The only thing I wanted was a nice sweet and sour sauce for dipping, something to help brighten this up.

The “Stuffed eggplant” was a softened slice of eggplant topped with a shrimp pate. The latter tasted like the filling of a “ha gao” in both taste and lumpy texture. The sweet and spicy sauce that paired with it would have also went well with our spring rolls above.

I didn’t recognize the “Sweet rice puff” from name alone. A deep fried egg shaped dumpling filled with pork, shiitake mushroom, and dried shrimp. This had a crispy coating with thick gummy walls that stuck to your teeth. Its sweetness paired well with the nice meaty taste and it’s ground texture.

The “Chive and shrimp dumpling” delivered with a similar shrimp filling than the eggplant dish above, and elevated with plenty of fresh and fragrant chives. This too offered a great chew with its wrapper.

The “Scallop taro puff” looked like a cupcake topped with half of a scallop round. Inside, it is hiding a core of shiitake mushroom and minced pork filling, coated in a sweet and mild curry sauce. This rendition offered crispiness from the fry, a nice smooth taro paste in contrast, and a surprise of curry to give it depth. I typically stray away from this one on any dim sum menu, but would be drawn to this version again.

But my favourite of all the dishes we had, had to be the “Curry squid”. Perfectly tender chunks of squid that was enjoyable to gnaw through. The curry was similar to the one use above, mild and sweet, with a slow burn. It did not over power the flavour of the squid.

And unlike other seafood dim sum restaurants, you can order the sweeter plates and have them come towards the end of your meal, as dessert. We finished off with their deep fried “Green tea sesame balls”. An order of two made green with matcha and flavoured with double black sesame. Black sesame seeds speckled the exterior and a pool of melted soup sat at its centre. Be warned, it is messy, and the filling is hot, flowing out like a lava cake. But delicious to end on if you allow them too cool down first, and have the server cut each ball in half.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
An approachable dim sum and restaurant created for all, and not just Chinese speakers. But unless you are a vegan, you wouldn’t think to drive all the way down to Kits for dim sum. Though in terms of the neighbourhood, they serve it well as the only option of its kind. A great choice for a fancier night out; made unique with the option for beer and wine. Deliciously done, classic dim sum dressed up and refined. Don’t deny your cravings.

LITTLE BIRD
#dimsumallday
2958 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1R4
(604) 325-8132
littlebirddimsum.com

Sitting down with the HK BBQ Master himself

“If you don’t enjoy your own food how can you expect others to”. – Anson, owner & operator of HK BBQ Master

Ever since Netflix’s “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” came out, with the first episode featuring “HK BBQ Master”, they have seen longer lines than usual and an increase in popularity. All thanks to the celebrity of Seth Rogen and acclaimed Chef David Chang, of “Momofuku” fame.

And since then I yet to revisit. So when touring around a foodie from New York, I figured, what better reason to return to the popular hole in the wall, than this?

Located in the parking lot of Superstore in Richmond, one unfamiliar with the area might not find them all that easily. Although, the line that snakes out the door is a dead giveaway. Plenty of bodies trying to cram themselves in to this confined space. This, despite the fact that they have recently renovated and are now the size of three businesses. But I can still recall the past where they were but a narrow corridor serving up their traditional Hong Kong style barbecued meats to go. This 2019 expansion now gives more customers the ability to dine in, and the opportunity for us to sit at our table and enjoy the bustling ambience today.

“HK” closes at 8pm every night, and they are continuously finding themselves selling out by 7-7:30pm. In fact, they restock their reserves daily in order to ensure freshness and quality of their product; basically only ordering what they need for the day. So you know it doesn’t get any fresher than that. They are also so popular that they have 3 chefs prepping for next day’s service, all day; and 2 chefs cooking for today’s service, the entire day.

Today we were treated to the full extent of their menu. A feast that included a sit down with the second generation “HK BBQ Master” himself. He served up sides and stories of the craftsmanship that went into his food. Time and care that sets them apart, and have resulted in the dying of this art.

His favourite dish is their slow cooked soy chicken. The secret is in the soy sauce dressing. The same vat of the stuff has been used and reused for over 20 years now. They keep adding more herbs, spices, and rock sugar to elongate the mix. The result, a delicious light and dark soy chicken that is poached for 25 minutes. Each piece dark or white meat is deliciously tender. It isn’t too salty browned with soy, but flavoured thoroughly enough to enjoy as is. Rice is available, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You want to save room for all the meat to follow.

Next is their most popular menu item: the Bbq pork; the one coloured in red, not to be confused with the one that has crispy skin. Our host described the former as the easiest way to approach their cuisine. A nice safe start to the introduction of HK style barbecue meats. This was slow cooked in a bath of wheat honey. They allow the meat to soak in it twice, resulting in pork with crispy edges and a soft and tender caramelization to it. Our host estimates that they go through about 400lbs of this meat a day, depending on the day. This too was simply amazing, one of the best renditions I have had, the extra honey soak was worth it, sweet and saucy, fatty and delicious.

The roasted pork belly is the one with the crispy skin. And with the recipe at “HK BBQ Master” it is made even crispier. Described to us like “bacon”; here, they marinated the belly meat top to bottom. Adding salt for the crackling, and cooking it at low heat. It was tasty, with little fat, though a little on the dry side for me.

My favourite of their meat products, is the roasted barbecue duck. I found the meat used here leaner than I have had at other restaurants. They also use a different type of sauce, ensuring there is plenty of a juice in the final product. The skin is roasted with a vinegar and sugar coating, where it air dries overnight, and then is cooked up to 45 minutes under one temperature. The finished product was tasty enough, but I wished we had meatier pieces over bone, and thicker cuts of breast meat to enjoy. It is served with their own home made plum sauce, a nice way to brighten up each piece, although it is just as good without it.

They also have a green onion dip and a squeeze bottle of homemade soy sauce as condiments. The green onion and ginger sauce is best with the chicken above. It too is made fresh every day. It adds a nice salty, herbal quality to the chicken. And the soy sauce is diluted from mix used in their soy marinate, but watered down and further sweetened.

If you are looking for something fresh, grab a side order of their vegetables for the table. This is typically a stewed leafy green sauced up and sautéed. I am not a fan of the texture of such vegetables so skipped out trying this.

But I highly recommend their soup. I don’t know if it is on rotation, but today we had their vegetable soup made with dry and fresh leafy greens. It is referred to as “Silver and gold soup”, given the colouring of the two types of vegetables used. I was surprised by how much I liked it. It replaced water for me during the meal. It was plenty flavourful, yet light enough to offer a break in between all the heavier meats.

The food was as good today as it was the last time I visited, and the time before that, and so on and so forth. But as for the future of “HK BBQ Master”, the young entrepreneur plans to expand his operations with a second location. A journey that begins with putting this learned skill and experience of HK style bbq down on paper. A written version to be used as a tool to train a new generation of cooks. Not just preparation with a feeling, but to be able to control the quality of a larger quantity of bbq meat.

There was also the mention of menu expansion including the potential for noodles, jerky, and marinated items; much like you would get from any traditional Hong Kong barbecue meat vendor. Until then, myself and many more Vancouverites and tourists will be more than happy with the current selection.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is definitely something you will crave again. Everything was delicious and it was comforting. You felt full, but without feeling gross from having eaten too much with too much grease. Worth the hype and all the buzz, and one to check off the foodie bucket list! Don’t deny your cravings.

HK BBQ MASTER
4651 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2C4
(604) 272-6568

Sip Bowl La Mian

It was a cold night, and after a few hours in the light rain we needed some thawing out, so headed indoors for some warming noodles in soup. This one has been on my guest’s list for a while now, since their opening, the first half of the year.

I was immediately impressed walking into this little shop. The decor took you away and spoke to the would-be authenticity of the restaurant. To your left a collection of blue and white plates, faced out for presentation value. To your right, a mural flowed down the length of the restaurant, depicting traditional city life, in China long ago. A scene with villagers gathering water from the river, neighbours visiting homes with bamboo shingles, and people carrying out their day to day lives in traditional garments. It spoke to the heritage of their cuisine.

We were seated on one of the heavy wooden benches branded with the restaurant’s name and logo. For those with bulky bags and coats, wicker baskets were placed at your feet to store such belongings in. We sat breathing in the scent of fragrant and spicy cumin, as we made sense of the menu. You begin by choosing the width, depth, and type of noodle. 7 options with diagrams and descriptions, and 7 ways you can have them in broth.

The thinnest noodle is “hair thin” at 1mm. It is described as having a “super thin texture”. The 2mm noodle is “soft and tasty”. But the most popular choice, and not coincidentally, the one recommend by the staff is the “normal” noodle at 4mm. But we would be extra with our noodle gage.

I ordered their “Sipbowl signature la main”. With my choice of beef shank or brisket, I went brisket and paired it with the thickest noodle that they offer. At 25mm this is essentially just a sheet of dough before you cut it down to strips, to make individual noodles strands. The novelty of them wore thin fast, after the photo. You work so hard to bite it down to manageable chunks that it almost feels like you are getting less noodle in your bowl. Not to mention an uneven noodle to soup ratio, and the sensation of working too hard for dinner. It is like biting off a piece of cooked lasagna noodle, then taking in a scoop of the tomato sauce and beef bite by bite. As for the broth, it was rich yet clear. It had a herbal flavour to it with the 5 spice, helped along with some freshness from the multitude of green onion sprinkled over top. It was still missing something though, so I added some of the garlic and chilli oil from the condiment containers on the table.

Although with barely any of either left, it didn’t look all that appealing. My guess is that this aren’t regularly restocked, or looked at between diners. Be warned, “Sip Bowl” does not make any of their noodles broths spicy, so if you want heat, you can only get it with the chilli oil here.

But at least when you pack it to go, (and you will because the noodles are so doughy and so much, that you will need to take a break from them), they won’t get soggy. In hind sight, I should have read the menu more thoroughly and ordered the triangular shaped noodles that is the hardest to make. Its special shape is said to lock in the soup and its flavour.

My guest had the “Beef and sauerkraut la main” choosing beef shank and the second thickest noodles, the “flat” ones at 15mm. I liked the broth of this one much more. It was well developed, with interest from the tanginess of the sauerkraut, and a deep beefy flavour. Eating either of the two bowls gave you the kind of warmth that makes your nose run. Having tried a couple of their rich clear broths, I think the scallion one would have been ideal; so if/when I return that is the one I will be ordering.

Worth noting is their take away packaging. For anything you can’t finish, you get a special plastic bowl that allows you to separate your noodles from its soup. This ensures that your noodles don’t get too soggy in the mix.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great place for some authentic noodle soup. And with all the variations on their house made noodles, you can mix and match to craft your perfect bowl. Don’t deny your cravings.

SIPBOWL
2255 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6M 4L3
(778) 737-3999
sipbowl.com

Meetrice Noodle, FEAST: Asian Dining Festival

“Feast” is the 2nd annual Asian dining festival that encourages guests to travel around Richmond, trying out a collection of restaurants. From October 18th to November 18th, all those participating have created specialty menus that allow you to try their cuisine at a deal. With over 30 different restaurants to try there is something for everyone including tidbits from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian, and Indian cuisine.

And in order to get me to Richmond and around the island city, I had the use of the 2020 “Subaru Ascent” for the week. And although Richmond is convenient to get to via the Canada skytrain, nothing beats a comfortable ride in a well build vehicle.

Tonight I found myself at “Meetrice”, a restaurant chain originating from China that has made its way to Canada. They specialize in rice noodle soup served with some assembly required. But I will now remember them for their decor. It wasn’t what I expected from this cafe, but more the scene of a bakery or high tea salon. Plenty of pink with pink walls, pink and white paper flowers, and pink panther stuffies straddling clouds.

I was further impressed by what waited for each guest at their table. A paper menu to check off, branded napkins paper wrapped spoons and chopsticks, and paper cups with cartoon drawings for water. All these little details elevated the experience.

We were here specifically for the “Feast Asian Dining” menu, but it was no where to be seen. I had to ask for it, and watched our server dig for it behind the counter. I thought this was a miss, given the savings from off of the limited time only menu, and the likelihood of those like myself visiting just for it. The four items on the “Feast” menu is available normally off their regular menu, but until November 18th you save a couple of dollars on their most popular dishes. We enjoyed all four.

To start, we ordered a couple of drinks. My guest had the “white peach milk foam oolong tea”. A chilled beverage that grows on you. Best when you stir in the sweet foam that transforms the drink.

I ordered another peach drink, for its pink bottle with a pink witch on it. I figured it matched our setting. It was a dessert soda best enjoyed as a float, very sweet and almost artificial. It was not complimentary to the meal before, but fun nonetheless.

If you are visiting for the first time the “No.1 selling rice noodle” (it’s actual name) is definitely the one to get. Regularly $11.95, it is now $9.95 and well worth the price. You get enough food for two, and its interactive component adds a little fun to the meal. Everything is served separately. The tomato flavoured broth with thin slices of beef came bubbling in a heated bowl. Be warned it is hot, and without a verbal warning, you will probably get burnt by it; my guest and I both did. The rice noodles came in their own bowl, much like each ingredient in its own separate sauce dish. Altogether the latter was presented in a wooden box, serving as one of the most memorable presentations I have seen. Quail egg, persevere vegetable, spam, and wood ear mushroom amongst others. You can dump everything in all at once and mix it all together, or did what I did and craft your ideal bowl, following the instructions craved on to the wooden box. Clumsy for some, but fun for a foodie like me. It suggests starting with the vegetables and moving your way to the noodles at the end. The order taking consideration the cook times for each item.

I fully enjoyed the delicious tomato broth, well developed with real slices of tomato. I would be happy drinking a bowl of it as is. And just as well because the noodle doesn’t really soak up any of the flavour of the broth. It acted more like a filler, with the topping adding a collection of textures to chew through.

The rest of the items were $1 less during the event. The “Deep fried chicken nuggets” were Taiwanese style popcorn chicken, seasoned in 5 spice and a hint of cinnamon, for a very distinct flavour. It was tasty enough to keep you going back for more, but the chalky texture of the corn starch breading distracted. Our remedy was to dip each nugget into some sauce, to add much needed moisture to it. We found the drippings from the chicken below ideal.

“Mouth-watering chicken” with chilli oil sauce and peanuts was exactly as my guest remembered the dish to be, when he last visited Asia. A chilled chicken, much like Hainanese chicken, but topped with plenty of garlic and chilli. I suggest scraping some of the latter off, before puckering from all that salt in your mouth. I wanted some rice with this, or at least some shredded nappa cabbage on the side to mix in with the overpowering sauce. It wasn’t too spicy, nor did it offer me the sensation of mouth watering.

And the last discounted menu item was the “Beef and chopped chilli on rice”. Comfort food to a tee. Fatty and stringy tender beef, served with firm rice, and plenty of sweet soy sauce and sesame to flavour it all. Simply delicious.

Overall a great restaurant that I would like to come back and try more of. And if it weren’t for The “Feast Asian Dining” festival I would have never known it existed. But be warned, they only accept cash or debit here. For all the other participating restaurants and how you can take advantage of the festival specials, visit the link below.
https://asianfeast.ca/

MEETRICE
1080 – 8580 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 4B3
(604) 370-0981
mengziyuan.com

#asianfeast #subaru #subaruBC #richmondbc
@feast_asian, @docksteadersubaru, @subarucanada, @wolfesubaru @wolfesubaruonboundary @richmondsubaru_bc, @jpsubarunorthshore, @jpsubarucoquitlam, @jpsubarusouth

New Town Bakery & Restaurant

“New Town” is a Vancouver staple, a hub for locals and tourists in Chinatown. Better known for their steamed buns and pastries, and now one of the restaurants disguised as another in Ali Wong’s, “Always be my Maybe” Netflix movie. I, myself frequent “New Town” for their steamed buns. If in the area, I go out of my way to grab a couple. Having tried many in and round the city, theirs is the best in my opinion, but more on that below.

The shop and restaurant are easy to spot with a giant plastic bamboo steamer filled with steamed white buns on the awning, and the regular line and gathering of people at the threshold. For those looking to grab and go, you pull a number and wait for your it to be broadcasted above the check-out counter.

Options and prices are listed across three flat screens, but it is much easier to simply point and choose. On top of steamed buns they have plenty of golden brown baked buns, plastic wrapped cakes, and dim sum dessert favourites. The baked buns come in a variety of toppings and sweet and savoury fillings. I also like their honey sweet barbecue pork and chicken buns. But if I had to choose, I will always go for their “Dai Bao”. And I did just that once we were seated in the dining area, towards the back.

Themed in orange, you can tell the restaurant recently had a face lift. Orange backsplashes, orange upholstered seats and booths, and orange branded button up shirts for all the staff. The restaurant’s real age was reveal by a visit to the washroom. The cracked tiles and overall unkept condition of this single stall was off putting. An inevitability given its location and its regular clientele. But I digress, because I still think they are worth visiting.

In the dining area you can order anything from the front of house to enjoy here or take to go. “Dai Bao” is a large white bun filled with a little bit of everything: chicken, bbq pork, ground pork, ham, and a salted egg yolk. I have been enjoying this for so long that I remember it being only $2.50, but now with inflation, it was $3.70 today. And despite the increase, I still think it is worth the price. With all the dough and plenty of filling, it eats like a meal. I want one now just writing about it, and can’t help but compare all other steam buns to this one on its pedestal.

With it I got a bowl of “Hot and sour soup”. Just reading it on the menu I wanted its familiar taste in mouth; one that I like and haven’t had in a while. Unfortunately this wasn’t my favourite rendition of the popular soup. There was too much going on, lots of ingredients to chew through, and not enough syrupy soup base to enjoy it with. Shrimp, wood ear mushroom, tofu, peas, mushroom, carrot, bamboo, beef, and chicken. The peas were a new addition to me, and despite really liking peas, I didn’t here. The soup was thick and hearty and ate more like congee.

My guest had the “fried egg and ham with ramen in soup”, knowing full well that she was essentially ordering instant noodle. Chicken flavour soup broth with a fried egg, thick slice of ham, and plenty of lettuce. It was a nostalgic bowl of noodle soup that she fully enjoyed. But making instant noodle regularly for myself, I cannot justify paying $8.25 for this bowl. Plus I don’t like the flavour of the lettuce rubbing off into the broth.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A historic Vancouver staple, the best steamed buns in the city, and a great go-to for home style Chinese food at a fair price. With 8 full pages of familiar dishes and specials, there is plenty to keep you gong back for more. Don’t deny your cravings.

NEW TOWN
148 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
(604) 689-7835
newtownbakery.ca

No. 1 Dumpling

Today, a small group of us were looking for something tasty and satisfying in the West Broadway area. We made “No. 1 Dumpling” our destination, given the posturing of its name, and the visual appeal of the photos of dishes offered, posted across the exterior windows.

This was a smaller restaurant with lower ceilings. Inside, a couple more photos decorated the walls, and a mural spelled out the restaurant’s dumpling-rich history in Chinese. We grabbed a booth in the corner, pushing enough tables together to sit us all.

The laminated menu was easy to navigate with plenty of full colour photos to help with the decision making process. The following is what we ordered as a collective, sharing it all family style.

The “Spicy sour potato” ate like a cold papaya salad, similar in texture and tang. It served as a good briny starter to get our appetites going.

The “Cucumber salad” was ordered for some balance. A slightly spicy, and fully refreshing break between all the carbs and meat below.

The “Green onion pancake” was a table favourite. Light and crispy dough fragrant with green onion. Good, but a little greasy on the lips.

The “Beef pancake” utilized the same dough, but filled it with tender bits of beef instead.

The “Xiao long bao” were as expected. Chewy pork meat with soup broth, in a firm but fragile shell. Tasty enough, but I wanted more soup to spill out when I took a bite.

I didn’t like how “green” the steamed pork and Chinese cabbage dumplings were. The flavour of the cabbage was overpowering, in my opinion.

I preferred the pan fried pork and leak dumplings, instead. A nice flavour with this crispy, chewy shell.

The “tofu with green onion” is exactly as you’d expect. The tofu was soft, flavoured in a sweeter soy sauce.

The “Spicy noodles” delivered with lip tingling heat from chilli oil, fully coating the eggy noodles. The shreds of cucumber and the whole sunny side up egg offered balance and freshness in an otherwise one-tone bowl.

As for the service, the lone employee was an older gentleman. He was attentive, checking in after and asking if liked what we had. He made us feel welcome. Which was helpful, considering the restaurant was fairly empty when we arrived and there was no music playing in the background to set the mood.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A cost effective and standup destination for dumplings and simple Chinese plates. Don’t deny your cravings.

NO. 1 DUMPLING
1888 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6J 1Y9
(604) 731-5577
no1dumpling.com

Jade Seafood Restaurant

Today I was touring around a couple of travelers from the UK, and we decided to start our day off with some dim sum in Richmond.

“Jade Seafood” is a fairly new restaurant with a modern, non-descript exterior. Inside, after a second floor walk up, there was enough glitz and glamour to confuse it with a high tea salon. Marble walls, ruched curtains, crystal chandeliers, and a light feature crafted using golden ribbon. This was an open room that easily converts, and sits everyone at a wedding reception. A live seafood tank and a fully stocked wine bar sits at one end of the restaurant. We sat at the other, by the large glass windows. On the vaulted ceilings above us hung adorned chandeliers that served as a juxtaposition, from the casual nature of share plates for breakfast.

My guests weren’t too familiar with Chinese cuisine, so I took the helm and ordered for us all. I haven’t been to this restaurant prior, so ordered based off of my previous dim sum experiences.

The restaurant offers both a fully Chinese and/or a fully English dim sum menu. But regardless, if you know what you want, majority of the staff are able to communicate and interpret in conversational English. The following is what we shared between 3.

The “Whole abalone and seafood dumpling in soup” wasn’t what I expected. This was a small bowl for one, with a chewy whole abalone and two wontons bobbing about. It tasted no different than wonton soup, with a clean and clear chicken-based broth.

As a great way to try a few different dumplings, the “Assorted three kinds of dumplings” is the way to go. “Steamed mushroom dumplings”, “Steamed crab meat dumplings”, and “Steamed shrimp dumplings”. They all tasted as expected, the same chewy wrapper stuffed full with its namesake filling.

As a fan of durian and gummy textures, the “Durian glutinous rice dumpling” was a delight. Sweet fibrous fruit, in a chewy sticky mochi-like shell.

The “Steamed Sakura pork dumplings” was just like regular pork dumplings. I got exactly what I expected from this classic dim sum staple.

The “Chinese donut rice roll” was crispy on the inside and chewy on the outside, a texture that is great with a double dip of the sweet peanut butter into tangy oyster sauce.

I really enjoyed the “Egg tofu and enoki mushrooms with vegetables” dish for both the taste and texture. The egg tofu was soft like pudding, it and the shredded vegetables were coated in a thick gel-like sauce for easy slurping.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great spot for dim sum in Richmond. There are many others to consider, but this one is recommend by Tourism Richmond for their made to order dumplings. Don’t deny your cravings.

JADE SEAFOOD
280 – 2811 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2B2
(604) 249-0082
jaderestaurant.ca

Chef Tony dim sum

Everyone is always surprised to learn that I have never tried “Chef Tony’s” before, so what better chance than today. I was meeting up with two writers from out of the country. For one it was her first time in BC, for the other she is a frequent traveller from Seattle to Vancouver; and whenever she is in town and looking for dim sum, her go-to is “Chef Tony’s”.

Located in a plaza, the restaurant is easy to spot from the road, with plenty of free parking available by adjacent businesses. The exterior is pretty non-descript. But once inside, the bombardment of accoutrements has your head on a swivel.

By the door is a waiting area, made cramped by honey comb shelves showcasing plum wines and ceramic figurines. Wooden furnishings un-sat and a collection of celebratory photos of Chef Tony and his many famous clients.

In the dining area, glittering crystal adorned chandeliers hang above tables. Their rainbow shimmer reflects off the lacquered panels covering the walls and wrapping around the bar. Out of place were the segment of red that were peppered across; and the lone pillar that glowed blue with silver cross striping surrounding it. It all had the hallmarks of a night club or lounge, but for dressed up dim sum and small plates. Although the familiar patterned carpet and white cloth tables at majority of other Chinese restaurants, were also present. Made a little dressier with chopstick holders and spill proof spouts on their tea pots.

Mid day on a Tuesday it was packed, so our reservations came in handy. And these were reservations that actually held the table and allowed to be seated at the time requested. Not just your name on a list, and when you arrive you are the next in queue.

Each seated table is given a menu. A list with colourful photos with descriptions in both Chinese and English. Using it as a guide, you tick off what you want to order from the check box sheet. This latter is Chinese only, but with a bit of detective work, using the item’s numbers as reference, you can navigate the check boxes fine enough. The items we ordered were recommendations by Tourism Richmond, and what my guests found appealing based on experience and visuals. Tried and true staples, and fan favourites when dining with Chef Tony. The restaurant prides themselves on using high-quality ingredients for their dim sum items, with a focus on quality over quantity/size.

The “Black truffle pork and shrimp dumplings” is one of their hallmarks. They are smaller in size compared to most interpretations, but you also 5 instead of the typical 4. Their size is so that you can easily pop one into your mouth, whole. “Chef Tony” is one of the first Cantonese restaurants to use truffle in their siu mai. There was no missing the distinct truffle flavour in this little bundle. A fresh and delicious meaty bite with the smokiness of truffle to put a new twist on this staple.

Similarly, their har gao takes a tangent from all the others. “Shrimp matsutake dumplings”. They are the the only dim sum restaurants to use matsutake mushrooms in their har gow. The rich earthiness of the mushrooms changes the flavour with subtleties.

Not your typical dim sum fare, but an interesting dish just the same is the half order of “Marinated chicken trimmed with black truffle flakes”. A familiar taste in the cold, yellow chicken; but given a twist with the black truffle. A unique flavour that I found myself wanting to repeat, as you almost forget what it is like and need to remind yourself with another piece. I am not a fan of the greens, but was able to pick past them and enjoy the oily, cold, and tangy chicken. A unique sensation on its own, now elevated with the almost briney truffle flavour.

I enjoyed the classic “Baked BBQ pork buns”. Perfectly rounded dough baked to perfection and glazed with honey for an extra touch of sweetness. With it and the sweet bbq pork filling this ate more like a dessert. I could have used more filling and larger chunks of meats.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the “Steamed egg sponge cake”, this one came highly recommend and I can see why. Best served warm and fresh, an eggy and delicious sponge that is fun on the tongue. A neutral cake that kept you going back for chunk after chunk. I could eat a full serving by myself.

The “Coconut jelly dessert” is definitely one you order for novelty. They are so cute shaped like rabbits, but I wish the serving was a given a little more finesse in its presentation. As for flavour it tasted more like tangy yogurt than coconut fruit. I didn’t like it on its own and wanted some condensed milk drizzle or simple syrup to sweeten up the serving.

“Pan fried taro and preserved pork cake” I liked the flavour, but not the texture from the large chunks of taro. Not my favourite rendition.

The “Diced pork, chive and Chinese donut rice noodles” was a good one. I was surprised and delighted by the nice crispy texture of the fried Chinese doughnut. But wanted more depth from the dipping sauce. Either some sweetness from pork floss or the typical peanut butter, for a good mix of salty and sweet.

The “pan-fried diced pork pandan bun in casserole” came to the table smelling amazing; with sizzling onion against a hot cast iron dish, caramelizing. They looked good but lacked flavour. I didn’t get any pandan from the green bun, and wanted more filling to enjoy with it. If you like pandan, you will be disappointed with this one.

My guests fully enjoyed the “Baked durian paste pastry”. They liked the flaky pastry that crumbled under their bite. I found it chalky and the durian in it too fibrous. I also didn’t get the durian flavour I wanted from this, it was cooked, whereas I wanted fresh melt in your mouth durian. If you like durian, you may be disappointed by this one too.

The “Black squid ink salted egg yolk buns” is an item worth waiting for; and we did wait for it, literally. They forgot our original order and when we inquired about it, they forgot to look into that. Though we did eventually did get our buns steamed to order. The colour is striking, a deep black with a splash of gold. Inside a liquid filling that pools in the bun like water does in a cup. Be warned it is hot and we did burn our tongues with its custard core.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I can see all the hype. They offered creative updates to your dim sum favourites, and utilized elevated ingredients to dress up your meal. Definitely worth checking out and one worth visiting for those who love a dressier dim sum and truffle. Lots of truffle items available. Don’t deny your cravings.

CHEF TONY
101 – 4600 No. 3 Road, Richmond BC
(604) 279-0083
cheftonycanada.com

Kirin Banquet

We were gathered at “Kirin” in New Westminster for a more intimate look at the popular fine dining Chinese restaurant; as well as the whole Starlight Casino property it is a part of. (For the full review of that, visit the link below.)

Our evening began in one of Kirin’s private rooms, towards in the back. Vaulted ceilings with large lanterns, that bathed the room in a glow. The light cast, matched the orange of the walls and the hue of the carpet underfoot.

We all took a seat at individual tables, with tea and orange juice for each. Then one by one our banquet feast came. With each share-style platter: we took photos, it was divided, portions were served, and we ate to try, (knowing there would be a second meal to follow).

The first course began with “Roasted whole suckling pig”. A whole baby pig filleted, with crackling skin. It was a show stopper with its blinking LED eyes. Here, we would not get any of the pork, but did enjoy the skin as the centre to a white bun canapé with cucumber, green onion, and a salty and sweet brown sauce. It was a delicious starter, but I couldn’t help but ache for some of the actual pork meat to go with it.

Next was another impressive looking platter. “Live lobster in puréed squash soup served with spinach noodle”. Two whole lobsters with plenty of meat. The crustaceans were naturally sweet, so you mostly tasted them, and none of the additional flavours from the squash. It could use some more seasoning, or at least at little more salt. Similarly, the spinach noodle that was underneath the lobster needed more flavour. It had a wonderful hue and a great texture with the squash paste coating it, it just wasn’t tasty enough for my preference.

Next, was one of their new dishes. “Prawn and pork wrapped in flat rice noodle topped with puréed truffle”. It was an interesting interpretation. It reminded me of dim sum with the pork and prawn bundled together. And also like fish maw soup with the texture of the gummy rice noodle wrap that surrounded both. The side of crisp broccoli florets offered a nice crunch. So all I was missing was the truffle. Because if the menu goes out of its way to mentioned truffle, you are looking for truffle.

Next was “sautéed beef tenderloin cube with black pepper and basil”. Yet another stunning presentation. Meaty chunks of beef and onion with cabbage at the centre of a fruit and vegetable heart. Thin slices of cucumber, tomato, and oranges arranged around the savoury like a heart. Tasty enough, but it would be nice to have the latter tie into the beef and onion more.

For dessert it was a collection of “Chef’s special dim sum dessert”. The room enjoyed the “Glazed deep fried dough delight with walnut and duck egg yolk”. Majority of the guests liked the fact that it melted in your mouth. I didn’t like the chalky finish and how powdery it was. It would have also been nice to have more nuts like the walnut to chew through and a lot more of the egg yolk flavour to savour.

The deep fried sesame seed ball had a lovely crispy and chewy shell. Served fresh, it had a steaming, thick glob of sweetened mung bean paste at its core.

My favourite of the desserts was the “Fruit mochi”. Chunks of cantaloupe and honey dew in coconut cream, surrounded by a wonderfully gummy shell.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Best enjoyed with a large group, not necessarily somewhere I would come for quick and easy Chinese food. This was definitely a feast and for an occasion. Don’t deny your cravings.

KIRIN
Starlight Casino, 350 Gifford Street, New Westminster BC, V3M 7A3
604-528-8833
kirinrestaurants.com

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