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Category: Chinese Page 1 of 15

Chinatown BBQ, take out

When craving Chinese style barbecue meats there are two main options across the Lower Mainland. Two, that pull out ahead as the ones to visit. And if Richmond is too far of a drive out, Chinatown is the one to head towards.

From the exterior you wouldn’t think this is a restaurant, if not for reading the name and noting all the signs out front. You walk in and are greeted by an additional all glass facade. A stunning evergreen frame with gold lettering and red characters, illuminated by multiple glowing yellow lights. It all stands out against the black and white checkered floor, the green booths with red chairs, and the floral table tops stacked up for non-use. The walls speak to the restaurant’s history and authenticity, displaying a multitude of black and white portraits and Chinese paint brush paintings of waterways and landscape. I wish I knew about the decor sooner, as it would have gotten me down here earlier. But alas, all I could do now was appreciate what I may get to experience one day. Instead I shifted my attention to the glistening pieces of meat that hung in their internal window.

The set up is much like all the other Chinese BBQ places in the vicinity, but a lot more well maintained. It is a shame that this isn’t the view from the store front. I’d imagine they would get a lot more attention if that were the case. A showcase like this I would lure you in and close, as you watch meat juices and savoury oils drip and pool in a tray underneath.

You order off of their red and white menu, kept in place under the glass top of a table. A collection of dishes featuring their prized barbecue, served along side rice or now noodles.

Decor aside, the meat was less impressive. Maybe it was because by the time I got to it, it needed to be reheated. Or maybe because the pieces I got were not the best cuts. But overall I found myself thinking it dry and fatty. The duck was bland, which had me reaching for plum sauce. But there wasn’t any included, which meant I had to settle for Thai sweet chilli. And let me tell you, it isn’t the same. Similarly, the pork belly fell short of my expectations. There was more fat than meat. The skin lost its crunch, and the flavour of what little meat I got was more salty than smokey, as one would expect. However, having said that I did finish it all sucking meat from bone; because let’s face it, even the worse Chinese bbq is better than no Chinese bbq. And this is my no measure the worse. Good in a pinch, a easy meal on rice.

Chinatown BBQ
130 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
(604) 428-2626
hinatownbbq.com

Liuyishou Hot Pot, virtual hot pot party

It has been a month since we all began staying at home, and all non essential businesses have shuttered down. All in order to slow down and possibly suppress the spread of Covid-19. As a result, the restaurant and hospitality industries, built on gathering people and socializing in person, have taken a major hit. Only now are we seeing more solutions and people supporting their favourites food stops, as there doesn’t seem to be a sign of this landscape changing any time soon. So it is uplifting to see restaurants that are open, and looking to different promotions and themes in order to entice diners to take out and eat at home.

This is especially the case for such social dining experience like hot pot. In an era that requires one to distance themselves and not share fluids or air, getting together and sharing a meal that gets cooked out of the same pot for all, seems like out of the question. However this popular Chinese hot pot chain has come up with a promotional special that takes all the work out of preparing a hot pot feast, while allowing yourself to enjoy with immediate family members or yourself. Our group would fall into the latter category, choosing to enjoy our hot pot individually, but together, virtual.

 

This is a recap of our delivery and hot pot dinner experience. To skip the reading, and learn some tips for a successful hot pot, visit the link below for my latest YouTube video.

With locations in Downtown Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond; Liuyishou has delivery covered. The corresponding location will prepare your meal and pack it all up to go for contactless delivery. They will leave the packages by your door for you to retrieve and sanitize at home. Each order includes a card that has the employee who prepared and packed your meal sign off on their well being; which includes an up to date temperature read. This is to help create peace of mind for those who are weary, but want to support such businesses with a delivery order.

And then, all you need is a heat source, like a portal propane stove, and if you don’t have that, your stove top would work in a pinch. You will also need their special split pot to enjoy two broths at once,  here they have you covered. With any order over $100 they throw one in for you, and it includes ladles that will help in the scooping process, once the food is cooked.

The set I enjoyed was the Hot pot combo for 2 for $78. A deal that was reduced from $118. To this I had add-ons, to better round out the meal: rice and a few sides, including fresh fruit for dessert.

The meal is set, but there are a few customizations that you can make. Like which of the two soup bases you want to start off with. I skipped the spicy one and the pork bone for something a little more mild to build on. The “Wild mushroom soup base” came with Chinese herbs. The enoki and sliced shiitake bobbing about was a nice bonus, in addition to the following ingredients that I would boil up with it. For good measure, I also ordered additional mushrooms to drop in and cook.

But my favourite of my two broths was the “Tomato soup base”. What looked like a spicy neon red serving was delicious in rich tomatoey flavour. It added its essence to everything it touched, whereas the other broth barely left a trace.

Worth noting is that, seeing as you are not dining in, you won’t get servers checking in on you, offering to top up your broth. So when doing this for yourself at home, the easiest solution is to add water when your broth boils down, or chicken stock if you have any handy.

Although regardless of the broth, your hot pot meat and vegetables do end up tasting like the sauce you dip them in to anyways. With the set you get your choice of two sauces. But here, I went a little overboard asking for a lot more. The sesame oil, sesame paste, chilli oil, minced garlic, green onion, cilantro, etc. A variety of mixes help to elongate your experience: changing the flavour as needed.

The combo includes 300g of sliced marinated beef and a 300g sliced Australian lamb. Both perfectly packed in the same curls that you would get when dining in. They definitely focus on presentation regardless of takeout, and the use of plastic disposable containers.

Especially seen with their “House special shrimp paste”. A pate of sorts that you ball up and add into the broth to boil up. It is set to look like a thumbs up shape, in honour of Liuyishou’s logo. This was one of my favourite ingredients, a great flavour and an enjoyable texture.

Speaking of texture, the next collection was the “Chongqing hot pot specialities” with House special beef tripe, Beef aorta, and Classic duck blood cube. Being a novice to all three, I was happy to have my virtual lunch mates walk me through the appropriate cooking time for each.

The tripe only needed 7 seconds, much like the thin slices of red meat. The result, a soft and rubbery chew. Although speaking from experience, over cooking it does not make it inedible. The aorta slices looked like calamari rings with a similar texture, a quick dip and it was ready to enjoy like cartilage. The duck blood cube was a little out there for me, a delicacy I couldn’t get my head around. It was a solid formed slice of blood, that didn’t melt after it was boiled. It retained its jello-like jiggle with a similar mouth feel. I have never had anything like it.

More familiar is the vegetable platter that included Potato slices. Potato purposely cut thick so that they wouldn’t disintegrate when left in boiling soup. I passed on the Crown daisy and Chinese cabbage, not enjoying the texture or the taste of wilted leafy greens. I also find that their flavour tends to dominate the broth once added. My favourite was the kelt knots, another great chew and texture to maw through.

On top of other hot pot fixings, you can also order off of Liuyishou’s appetizer menu. I highly recommend their fried rice, if you are like me and enjoy a starchy base with your meat and vegetable hot pot.

In terms of drinks, I highly recommend beer with your hot pot. Like with spicy foods and salty bar offerings, beer is great with dishes that have plenty of flavour. And if you are enjoying a glass, you can also order some edamame to pair with it as a munching snack; and way to catch your second wind. Hot pot is about eating slowly and enjoying the cooking process while socializing. Social distancing provides a challenge, but video conferencing your friends is a great solution.

For more details on how you can order this delicious set for a fun night in, visit the link below and check out our live hot pot party video!

Liuyishou
5507 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2G3
(604) 559-9888
https://www.liuyishouna.com/

Heritage Asian Eatery, take out

Despite the need to distance and isolate, Vancouver food lovers are finding ways to support local businesses, while still enjoying their favourites restaurants. And thankfully the weather is cooperating. Today we were at “Heritage Asian Eatery’s” second location on West Broadway, where you could order from their entire menu for take out. And in part of the “Breaking Bread” initiative created by “SMC marketing”, they and other participating restaurants are offering special menu item at door crasher prices to attract customers in. Today we would take advantage of this.

In order to flatten the curve and diminish the spread of COVID-19 restaurants are no longer able to host dine in customers. Majority of them have shuttered their doors completely, but others like “Heritage” have taken to take out to make ends meet. And on the perfect day with sun and a park near by, you can make do with a picnic in a park. Continuing to practice social distancing as you, of course.

It is so odd to see “Heritage’s” open space seating area with share style tables completely void of people. You walk right up to their counter and place your order, reading off the blown up menu on your right. Barbecue meat options, bowls of noodles and/or rice, and plenty of small sides to share in between.

The daily, limited specials are printed off by the counter. We would order both the spring roll and the sprouts. At $2.25 per roll the “bbq spring rolls” were still a little pricy, but absolutely worth it. They were incredibly crispy with a wrapper that flakes off. It just needed a good blotting from all the oil that literally dripped down your fingers as you held it. Not to mention the additional grease from the sweet and fatty diced bbq pork filling inside. But taste and texture wise this was just aces.

The “five-spice brussel sprouts” were a great way to add a little vegetable to our outdoor feast. Although the seasoning could have been more evenly spread out. I got pieces that were too salty and others that needed more zip. The texture was slightly crispy, with the individual leaves that have fallen off the round sprout being my favourite. This was a lot for $6, although at the same time I would have been just as happy with 1/4 less for $4. Too much between two, overwhelming for one.

My guest was excited to see “Dan Dan” noodles offered, so we had to indulge with a bowl. However he was disappointed to learn that this rendition did not include the peanut butter sauce he associated with this mince meat noodle. He found the meat to be chalky and salty, from the starch that they used to thicken it, causing it to congeal quick. I on the other hand loved it just fine for the thick saucy udon noodles that you slurp up greedily. I also liked the thicker, syrup-like sauce they were coated in. This too was on the saltier side, but paired with the sprouts it was the perfect balance of freshness for such a dense and rich dish.

But the rice bowl is the one we both raved about. We ordered the one topped with pork belly seasoned in five spice. The thick cuts of belly were a little more fattier than I’d like it to be. However, the bed of rice, raw side salad, smashed radish, runny egg, and crispy fried topping helped to cut into some of its gristle. Each bite is best taken with a little bit for everything. So good that I want to grab more take out from them to try the chicken, duck, and even vegetarian eggplant and shiitake versions as well.

For dessert I highly recommend their “Salted egg bun”. A white bun deep fried to golden brown perfection, and filled generously with a liquid salted egg yolk core. It is best to eat this while it is still warm and toasty, but be warned things can get messy if you are unprepared for what can spill out with the initial bite. This happened to be the case for my guest, who despite ruining his shirt, joyfully declared he would come back just for more of them.

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.
The food travels well, everything was satisfying as a whole, and the specials are worth exploring. I would highly recommend their modernized, Chinese comfort food for your take out needs. Don’t deny your cravings.

Heritage Asian Eatery
382 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1R2
(604) 559-6058
https://www.eatheritage.ca/

iDen & Quan Ju De Beijing Duck House

There is a buzz surrounding this newly opened, Beijing style, fine dining establishment, with a history that dates back to 1864. This is “Quan Je Du’s” first Canadian location, now opened on Cambie and 12th. During the time of my visit they have only been running for 3 months, and normally I don’t like visiting/reviewing a restaurant until after they have had some miles on them. Time to allow them the ability to hone their operations and service model. As such today’s experience wasn’t bad per se, it just could have been a lot smoother with more preparation and practice. Things felt disorganized and it was obvious they were still working processes out, like their drink and cocktail program that didn’t exist on paper. Thankfully our server’s skills and customer centricity made up for most of the unanswered questions and slight misses from the brand as a whole.

“Quan Je Du” is also better known as Canada’s first and (currently) only 5D experience restaurant. An option not available yet, but when it will be, it is for those who book their VIP room: i-Den. According to the staff this comes with a $1,500 pre-charge to your credit card. Here, guests will be able to choose their environment and with the use of technology, they “will be completely immersed in their chosen narrative, such as the hustle and bustle of Shanghai or the underwater world of a coral reef. There will be a soundscape, either music or ambient, visual projections on the walls and tables, interactive ingredients, with the food and taste rounding out the five dimensions.” (Taken from their website). By the sounds of it, I would liken the 5D experience to Vancouver’s other multi-dimensional experience: “FlyOver Canada” where all your senses are stimulated in an adventure.

As for decor, the restaurant exudes luxury. With an all glass facade you can easily take in the opulence of the lounge and dining area from the sidewalk. However their most iconic room is the foyer, only visible if you enter the threshold, where the host greets you at their podium. The podium stands in front of a lengthy glass pane fire place, surrounded by a series of blue shelves lit in LED. The latter are square cubbies that soothe with their alignment and symmetry. A few of them are used to house ornamental texts, many more the restaurant’s collection of stemware.

Just past this the restaurant opens up. The layout creates good spacing between tables with several booths sectioned off like office cubicles; but with gold embroidered throw pillows for panache. They matched the gold and blue theme that found itself on to the carpet and the lighting tone. I was in awe of the feature walls that were comprised of wood carvings, a traditional Chinese style painting of a solider on horse back, and the ones that mimicked the drawers of apothecary curios. For the latter, the drawers don’t actually open, they just simply added a level of authenticity. It all fit together seamlessly, very luxe. All, outside of the table’s centre piece: a gold dipped plastic rose, set under a cloche (beauty and the beast style). I felt it cheapened each table setting unnecessary.

And it is not surprising that the washroom is as elaborate. A bronze and gold gilded facility, set behind heavy doors with sealed individual stalls.

As for food, they are well known for their Chinese roasted style duck, so we had to indulge in the “Quan Ju De Signature Beijing Duck”. Be warned this dish does take 45 minutes to an hour to prepare, so be sure to order it even before you flip through the menu. This is a specialty item that you have to order before hand to confirm the quantity needed for the night. And at their China location they hand out a certificates indicating the number of your duck, a count made in consideration of all the ducks they sell globally. However, there is no such option here in Canada.

The whole duck is carved up table side by a professional chef in all white, with matching chef’s hat. He does this on the spot, hovering over a golden cart. You pay $96 for the service, show, and fowl. The perfectly sliced pieces are laid out like scales, served with a warm thin crepe, scallion, cucumber, and a sweet bean sauce. As for the rest of the duck, they pack the entire carcass for your to take home later.

The speciality dish was delicious. The duck skin is served with white sugar that you dip it into as per the suggestion of the chef. This delicacy is a little too fatty and sweet for my tastes, but an interesting combo nonetheless.

The slices of duck were cut so consistently, it was a testament to the silent chef carving it. With them, you craft your duck wraps yourself: dressing, stuffing, and rolling as you like. There was plenty of everything for 3 people to share, with the thin crepe wrap keeping warm by candlelight. But be warned the double decker steamer does have the bottom container getting over steamed and dry with an extended time over the flame. You take one wrap and fill it with slices of duck dipped into their house made black bean oyster and hoisin sauce. To it you add thin slices of cucumber and scallion, before folding the sides of the wrap together and the bottom up to create an edible pocket. And if you don’t know how it’s done, there is an option to watch your server demo it first.

The rest of our dishes were ordered in consideration of the cuisine type and what they might specialize in.

Since we were having duck, we figured why not truly have the whole duck with the “Quan Ju De Duck platter” which includes marinated tongue, gizzard, and liver. It came to the table smoking on a slate slab for extra flare.

The liver was a mild start, those familiar with the flavour will be a fan of this.

The tongue came bone-in so be careful, I didn’t even know there was a bone any tongue. It ate like cartilage and really isn’t bad if you like chicken feet.

As for the gizzard it needed to breathe more, in order to alleviate some of its muskiness. It didn’t really have a meaty texture to it, but one more like cellulose instead. It was best described by one of my guests as “foie gras eraser”.

We asked our server for her suggestion on what was the most visually appealing, this was her number one recommendation, and I can see why. “Smoked five spiced venison” with prawn stuffed morel mushroom, bell peppers, and scallions. The small dish is served smoked with hickory in a giant fish bowl with rocks and moss. The smoke is released table side, making for a great visual treat. As the smoke wafts around its scent becomes a part of the meal. Served with hard charcoal crisps, you eat it much like chips and salsa. Except, this was a tad overwhelming with the distinct flavour of five spice. I would have preferred it with rice instead, for familiarity sake.

I really like the “Tofu blossom soup”, but didn’t think I would based on the bland sounding name. It is a serving of thick and almost gelatinous broth, made with chunks of tofu, spinach, and Chinese prosciutto. The bits are sliver thin and they bob around in levels within your soup. It is simple and beautifully warming.

And to round out or meal with some starch we had the “Beijing style stir fried sliced pancake with shredded cabbage and garlic”. It is basically chewy dough cut up and wok fried like noodles. The dish had a vinegary tone to it: tangy, with the flavour of dried daikon coming through, and a needed crispiness with the shredded cabbage.

And your meal ends with a wet wipe that was thick like a facecloth. A nice little touch worth mentioning.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I would definitely like to return to try more of the menu and their 5D experience before making a full assessment. But for tonight, it wasn’t as expensive as I thought and the extravagance of the dishes is what I like. I would have to save up for the $588 chef’s tasting menu though. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

QUAN JE DU
2808 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2V5
(236) 477-7777

Sanbo Chinese Restaurant

For our latest food blogger meet up, our group decided to take advantage of the timing, and themed our dinner around Chinese New Year, (which actually lasts for 15 days). We made “San Bo” our destination, given that a few of us have been before and have vouched for the food.

The restaurant is located in an outdoor plaza, with plenty of parking available. The restaurant is easy to spot with its bright awning marked with a spiny king crab. Normally the restaurant is bustling, but given the medical state of emergency that is plaguing the world currently, there was nothing but a quite whisper at this Chinese restaurant in Richmond. Many of the tables remained empty during our 2 hour dinner.

Our group of 7 gathered around a large table centred by a lazy Susan. We ordered based on things returning guests have had and liked, and to it added on a few interesting sounding dishes. The English menu is fairly easy to read, but with very little photos and names/descriptions like “preserved ham”, you aren’t quite sure what you will be getting.

Our feast began with a lotus root and pork bone soup that we would serve ourselves. A murky broth that was warming to the bone. Deliciously satisfying with bits of meat to maw on as you sip. So good that I helped myself to another serving immediately after finishing the first.

The “Whole Soy chicken” comes highly recommend, and you have to order it ahead of time, given the need to marinade the chicken for an extended period of time before. The end result: the chicken’s skin was flavourful with sweet soy, but the actual chicken meat a little dry for my tastes. It was good, but comparatively, this wasn’t my favourite of everything we had. There was just so much good food to follow.

Like their “Famous curry beef tendon” this is one you order for its texture. Jiggly pieces of tendon, firm meat, and potatoes boiled for so long that they almost melt; all coated in a sweet curry with a slight spiciness. This was of my favourites that I would order again.

The “Crab and sticky cake special sauce” came with some theatrics. The crab was fished out of the tank live, and presented to our table before preparation. You are paying for it by pound, so this way you get to assess the size and freshness of your meal to come. In this case it was 2.8lbs. I like the taste of the crab in the peppery sauce, but the amount of work you have to put in to cracking its shell and peeling meat from it, takes away from its deliciousness. Especially as this dish does tend to cool down fast. Either way, I was plenty happy simply chewing on the rice cakes that surrounded it. I did try the guts\brains of the crab for the very first time. It was so bitter and acrid that I immediately spit it out. I have seen guests fight for it, but this one was not for me.

I also really enjoyed the “Spicy shrimp with vermicelli hot pot”. It came sizzling, remaining warm well into the meal. We didn’t order any rice, so this served as the carbs/base you wanted to eat, with some of the more protein forward dishes. Although it was plenty tasty as is, especially with the large butterflied shrimp that topped it.

The dish that stole the show for the table was the “House special salted egg with deep fried fish skin”. At $28 you get this much, made fresh to order. It is well worth it when compare it to the pre-packaged bags of salted egg yolk fish skins that are trendy now. But bring friends because it is a lot, and I personally couldn’t see myself eating more than 4-5 pieces at most, in a sitting. It is best enjoyed right when it hits the table, warm. Although is just as crispy and crunchy towards the end of the meal as well.

The “Fish lips and duck feet” we ordered based on its name, and the novelty of saying something so bizarre aloud. Chewy textures saucy in a thick gelatinous stew. Another one you order for texture and its unique mouth-feel.

Feeling like we needed some greens to balance out the deep fried items and all the meat and seafood, we order d the “Garlic pea tips”. This action is very typical at most multi-course Chinese feasts. I am not a fan of the texture of wilted greens, so passed on this one. Besides, reading its name I expected crisp peas in pods.

The “Sweet and sour pork” was a classic, not something I haven’t had before, but much better prepared than I have had it previously, at food courts stalls. Sticky and sweet chunks of breaded meat that hit the spot with a balance of refreshing pineapple and sharp peppers.

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.
We were skeptical about being able to finish it all, but impressed ourselves. The food was that good, and we left plenty satisfied because of it. Overall, an amazing meal, I can see why half of our party wanted to return today. I have no qualms over a revisit in the near future, and simply ordering everything we had tonight. Don’t deny your cravings.

SANBO
4600 No 3 Rd Unit 121, Richmond, BC V6X 2C2
(604) 278-2616

Le Doux Ciel, Chinese New Year High Tea

I have seen photos of this newer cafe floating around, but what got me through the door finally was their limited edition, Chinese New Year themed high tea set. It is only available for a month starting January 15th and running to February 15th, 2020

In order to indulge you must make a reservation and that comes with a commitment. The cost is $59 per person. You leave your credit card information and are billed “50% or more” if you cancel with less than 24 hours notice. Therefore, we made sure we got there early to avoid complications. Parking is easy enough, if you seek a spot in the underground lot of the “Praq Casino” adjacent. This is within walking distance of “Le Doux Ciel”.

The cafe is a wonderfully curated space. A touch of elegance with soft pastels, velvet upholstery, marble counters, honeycomb tiles, and flourishes of gold. On the ceiling dangled oversized balloons in whites, teal, and gold. They bounced around adding whimsy, and adding to the celebratory mood. It all definitely got us more excited for what’s more to come.

Your journey begins with a choice of tea, two pages to skim through, all served in a bird themed set. Individual tea pots that resembled bird houses, tea cups that had a tiny bird perched on its handle, and a saucer shaped like a gilded cage.

We would take our server’s suggestion and order their two most popular teas. The “milky blue”, isn’t actually blue in colour (we checked before ordering it). It had a naturally milky essence to it, without the need to add any actual milk product. And enough sweetness from candied chestnuts to enjoy without any honey or sugar. Its creaminess matched the indulgence of the set well.

The second most popular brew was the “blanc and rose” white tea. You got plenty of gentle rose notes in this cup. More light and floral than the blue tea above.

The actual full food set comes out fast. Many of the elements are pre-made and simply assembled on these speciality, miniature shelves. They typically house small figurines and leave quite the oriental impression. But there were so many pieces to this set that they had to spread it across two fixtures. The second one was a platform, and like the shelf, it was topped with waxy paper to protect the wood from oils and sugars from the snack-sized feast before us. We worked our way through everything, looking to the menu as a guide of the order in which to do so. It was in doing this that we realized that we were missing one of the listed items: the traditional new year cake. But alas the chef had already retired for the day so we were unable to try it. However, the clerk offered us our choice of any of the treats in the showcase, but more on that below.

Once again, in the order that we nibbled and savoured: We started with the “Vegetable spread mix”. It looked half thought out. A slice of cucumber topped with sautéed vegetables. A mix of red peppers, eggplant, and mushroom. It ate like a vegan chip and salsa, but needed more. It was missing seasoning and a pinch of salt. And perhaps a final topping to complete the concept. My suggestion would be a sprinkling of fried onion. It tasted healthy and was light, giving you a similar feeling that you would get from a cucumber finger sandwich, in other high tea sets.

I really liked the “Smoked bacon on steam buns”. A nice thick cut of bacon with a maple syrup finish, its sweetness went well with the sweet onion paste smeared within the doughy bun. All that was missing was more vegetables, something pickled like you’d get in banh mi, for a nice tang.

By comparison, the “Sesame brioche buns with roasted pork belly” was similar in sweetness and tangy sauce. But here, the thick and crunchy skin was hard to bite through, and just as dry as the bun. Overall great flavours, I just wanted the dish to be better curated, and once again with more veggies to balance out the heavy juices.

The “Exotic mushroom veggie spring roll” came served with a sweet chilli sauce on the side for dipping. It was crunchy with plenty of mushroom filling. I don’t know about the “exotic” part though. It was pretty standard all in all.

Next, we transitioned from savoury to sweet with the “Bird’s nest soup with red dates”. It had a jelly-like texture that drank like slurping down minced jello. It was refreshing and only mildly sweet, with the flavour of the dates coming through.

The “Fermented rice cake” was interesting. Three desserts in one, including the decorative white chocolate piece crowning it. There were a few more scattered across the set, similarly decorated it Chinese characters and/or symbols to really round out the theme. At the centre was a tiny glutenous rice ball with sesame seed paste at its centre. I have never had one so mild, it contrasted well the tangy fermented jelly surrounding it. But overall this had a medicinal quality to it.

The “puff pastry” is one that I am familiar with. Shaped like a lotus flower, with a flaky shell, surrounding dense date paste. Given how dry and ashy it is, it is best paired with tea or coffee and nibbled on.

I was most excited by the sugar coated hawthorn fruits. Visually, it was juicy looking strawberries coated in syrup and wrapped in edible, translucent paper (like what you get with white rabbit candy.) I would later learn that this called “bing tanghulu”, a popular Beijing snack. It tasted like “haw flakes” and was fun to eat off the stick. This was all kinds of sweet, across different textures.

Once again, the menu also listed a “special Chinese traditional cake”, but it was missing on our tower, and by the time we realized this, the chef was already gone for the day. Therefore to round out our meal, our server (the lone employee left to hold down the cafe), offered us the following.

A couple of their Chinese New Year themed macarons like red bean and osmanthus. The former actually tasted like red bean, whereas the latter was just sweet. I was waiting, but I never got the floral notes I expected from the blossom. It simply tasted artificial, and a little like mango?

And in keeping of our asian theme, we choose the “Black sesame cake”. One of their single serve, individual sized desserts, pre-made and waiting behind glass. It was mostly mousse with a thin layer of sponge. I found the texture sandy, whereas if I was going to have this much mousse I wanted it rich and creamy. At the centre was a mildly tart blueberry gel core. It helped to brighten up the dessert, but as a whole, this one isn’t for me.

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.
Honest this it is one of the better high tea sets I have had. Everything is made in house, and I definitely tasted the value across each course. Complex and creative, this is one to try! Don’t deny your cravings.

LE DOUX CIEL
65 Smithe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0R3
(236) 520-2888
ledouxciel.ca

Yue Restaurant, dim sum

Today I was invited to dim sum in Richmond. Here, to try the long standing “Yue Restaurant”. They are already well known for delicious, traditional Chinese food since 2017, when they moved into this, their new location. Their cuisine represents the history of Southern China, and they pride themselves on classic cuisine, not focused on presentation and “image”. Instead, they are focused on how they can improve on well regarded recipes. And with all their chefs bordering on over 20 years of experience they are well on their way. All the above, was a little background lesson we learned from Ron, who runs the restaurant with his family. He warned that they are often busy for dim sum, and that 10am is the best time to visit to ensure the best food and the best service, quoting that “the early bird gets the worm”.

Our large group was given access to one of their private rooms. Two full sized tables and two smaller ones covered in white cloths, with a lazy Susan on the former two, for easy self serving. Their menu is easy to navigate with coloured photos of everything. Ideal for those who don’t know all the dishes, or are not very familiar with dim sum. The following is all that we shared as a large group. All the popular dim sum items, the award winners, and a few of their special dishes for dinner.

Their “Steamed Prawn Dumpling” was one such dish that won an award: “social media choice for best shrimp dumplings, 2017”. It was exactly as you’d expected from a winner. A great flavour from the solid prawn loaf and a chewy starchy skin over it.

And what’s ha gao without siu mai? The “Steamed Pork Dumpling with Crab Roe” was large and juicy, with plenty of meat. No complaints from this one either.

Similar to the prawn dumplings in its steamed shrimp-loaf like filling, but dyed green and pinched shut to look like a leaf. The “Steamed Prawn and Spinach dumplings” were more fragrant with an herbaceous-ness from the greens.

At “Yue”, they make their steamed rice rolls a little differently. All the would be fillings and ingredients are mixed in with the rice roll batter. This ensures a more even ratio of dough to filling. Not as photogenic, but familiar to me, as this is how my mother use to make them for us at home, as well.

But here, they offer up three different flavours: “Steamed Rice Rolls with Beef”, “Steamed Rice Rolls with BBQ Pork and Corn”, and “Steamed Rice Rolls with 3 Kinds of Mushroom”. Good, but it tasted mostly like the light and sweet soy sauce that was drizzled over it.

I was a big fan of “Steamed Spare Ribs with Pumpkin”. Both elements were tender and delicious. This was exactly as expected, and as I wanted from one of the dishes I always order during any dim sum service.

The “Deep Fried Shrimp and Cheese Spring Rolls” had a great crispiness to them, with plenty of salty and garlicky flavour. I didn’t really get any cheese though.

The “Pan Fried Turnip Cake” was soft and gooey, with firm bits of turnip and pork. It finished slightly sweet.

This one was so good and it went so fast that I forgot to grab a cross-section photo of it. “Pan Fried Sticky Rice with Dried Seafood”, wrapped in a thin layer of egg omelette. This was a nice way to have sticky rice, easy to serve and easier eat. It had a crumbly texture with a seafood powder that stuck to the roof of your mouth.

The “Baked BBQ Pork Buns” are more like a dessert: Sweet filling and a sugar crumb topping. Meaty, but a great dish to help transition your into dessert territory.

The “Steamed Egg Yolk Bun” oozed yellow with a sweetened, grainy centre. This served as a nice salty way for those who don’t like things too sweet, to end on some sugar.

Their “Baked Durian Tart” was also award winning. It was a nice light rendition, but for someone who likes the actual flavour of durian there wasn’t enough of it, in my opinion. Even with the durian cream centre and the additional spread smeared over top of the flaky tart’s crust. I also don’t like durian warm as it was baked here. Having it chilled would have made this dish fresher, which was missing for me.

I preferred the “Baked Egg Tart with Milk Puff Pastry”. A smooth and creamy egg tart with a nice flaky contrast from that of its shell.

We also got into some meatier dishes, more suited to a sit down dinner. Like the “Pan Fried Vermicelli with Beef and Bitter Melon, in a Black Bean Sauce”. This was such an interesting presentation, a full meal set like a pie. You get a mix of crispy and regular noodles to enjoy with the tender beef and the slices of melon true to name. An interesting dish, but the bitter melon didn’t have me convinced.

I much more prefer the “Pork Hock with Maggi Sauce”. It reminded me of dry ribs at a bar, but a whole lot tastier and a lot more meat to pull off bone.

The “Singing Beef Brisket and Rice Rolls in Pot” also won an award in its category, at the Chinese awards. It was nice stew, plenty of chunks coasted in their deep and meaty gravy. I just wanted a starch to eat with it.

Everyone’s eyes grew large seeing the “Fried Squabs” hit the table. Served in a tray that mimicked a bird cage, and was revealed as such. You don’t get too much meat from this, it is more for the delicacy. A small fowl with an extra crispy skin, they had me thinking of bbq duck.

The cold appetizer tray” included spicy jelly fish, marinaded baby octopus, surf clams, smoked salmon, and braised beef shank. A classic dish done with flourishes that included a dragon fruit and cucumber trim and cucumber flowers with Marciano cherry centres. A great dish to wet the appetizer with, easy to pick and nibble, on with a great collection of textures to chew through.

The “Pork Rib in Special Spicy Sauce” was another stunner. Several large ribs connected and presented as an arch on the plate. Heavily crusted and sitting atop of a pool of neon red chilli oil. Though when it came to the flavour it was too salty to enjoy as is, and definitely needed some plain white rice to deflate most of the seasoning. However, aside from the crumbly crust, the meat didn’t have much flavour. It also wasn’t very spicy despite the colour.

Another familiar, family share-style dish was the fried oyster and pork with greens and mushroom. This served as a mild dish, and a nice way to sneak in some vegetables. The syrupy gel that coated it all gave things a nice gummy texture.

We then did some a la carte ordering, the table picking out some items they have had in the past and had enjoyed. I wasn’t quick on the ball, so didn’t capture the following as a full order in my photos.

This is what was left of the “Steamed arrow root dumplings”. It was cilantro heavy with a crisp-ness from the chopped up chestnuts; a nice contrast to its chewy shell.

The “Deep fried bean curd sheets with prawn and chives” were like a spring roll, except with a different wrapper. The bean curd wrap added sweetness and a layered flavour, more than just prawn loaf. It would have been better with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce on the side.

For some traditional Chinese desserts we had the “Tao Jiao”, peach resin cake. It is also referred to as the “Poor man’s bird nest”. The cake had a floral and coconut essence, with the white fungus embedded throughout for texture.

The “lychee and sweet olive jello” was the perfect cold and refreshing dessert to end our heavy and sumptuous meal on. An effective palette cleanser, accented with some osmanthus.

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 stand up place for some authentic dim sum and/or dinner. Plenty of dishes to please and the general consensus is that it was all delicious. A safe bet for your next, need to impress meal. Don’t deny your cravings.

YUE RESTAURANT
110-8351 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 1C3
(604) 233-1219

Nine Dumplings

These rainbow coloured dumplings have been making their way around social media lately. They aren’t just coloured for the sake of trend or for the ‘gram, each one actually represents a different flavour. Something we would get better acquainted with, during our visit to the aptly named, “9 Dumplings”.

Located within Robson’s Public Market, this food court stall is bringing attention to the building and area. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have known that this indoor Chinese market place existed. It is much like the one in Richmond, but with less of everything, and no fresh produce or seafood for sale.

You can’t miss the stall with photos of their colourful dumplings splashed across the awning. You pay and order at the counter, and they bring you your meal once it’s done. Seating is within the self serve food court.

They have 9 different dumplings available, you pick and choose the ones you want by their filling. To help guide you, the menu’s number corresponds to its colour. The easiest way to figure out which one you like best is to order their “sampler”. 9 dumplings for $9.99, otherwise it is 6 pieces for $5.99. You can have them steamed, boiled, in soup, or covered in a spicy sauce. The former most is the one you see splashed all over social media.

So we ordered the sampler steamed and in soup. Served in a large bamboo steamer, and bobbing in a giant bowl of broth. You can also choose any of their soup noodles and add any dumplings to it. Their non-dumpling options are from their “Nine Dishes” menu, a restaurant they use to run on Kingsway. Learning this, I knew I would have to come back to try that; because today we had more than enough food. Our order of double dumplings came with a side and dessert, and was plenty of food for two.

Our order came with a side and some dessert. The spicy bean noodle salad had a fun slippery texture to slurp up. Spicy and refreshing it offered a tangy break from the heavily flavoured dumplings.

The red bean soup was a typical dessert to end on. A slightly sweet liquid with grainy beans at the bottom. I like the taste of it, just not the texture of the soup, (as is the case for all its renditions).

For the best presentation order the steamed dumplings. Each dumpling was very distinct without sauces to lean on. And it was all better, once dipped in to some vinegar for a balancing tang.

The yellow dumpling was lamb and zucchini filled. Like all the others, it was filled with juices; so be warned, they do squirt. I couldn’t tell the protein was lamb, but the zucchini was unmistakable. Out of personal preference, this was one of my favourite dumplings.

The dumpling that was one half black and the other half white was filled with a mix of squid and pork meat, along with chives. It had a unique flavour to it, something not familiar. Maybe it was from the chives, or maybe from some squid ink?

The all black dumpling was a mushy mix of scallop and fish. I didn’t like it for its texture or fishy taste; but here the vinegar dip helped.

The all white dumpling was familiar, much like the colour of its shell. Pork and chives, emphasis on the chives.

The red one was pork and green pepper. I never had the distinct flavour of peppers in a dumpling before, and don’t think I liked it much.

I would have thought the pork and kimchi dumpling would be the one dyed red instead, but it was all green. It was packed full of spicy flavour, making it the most memorable and the one I liked the most.

The dumpling that was half green and half white was the pork and cabbage. Another familiar combination that was tasty.

I also liked the purple vegetarian dumpling. It was well sauced with a good mix of vegetables in a salty barbecue-esque flavour.

The one I liked the least was the blue pork and cilantro dumpling, but that is more out of preference and my dislike of cilantro for its soapy flavour and wilted leaf texture.

I wasn’t a big fan of the soup version. It was like a boiled down version of the vinegar dip. Okay, but not quite what I had in mind when I ordered dumplings in soup. I imagined a more clear broth, similar to wonton soup with noodles. Whereas this wasn’t the kind of soup you drink, as is.

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 would like to explore more of this food court stall. I like what I have seen and tried so far, enough to come back. Perhaps some of their noodle in soup dishes, and a few to add some dumplings into. Don’t deny your cravings.

NINE DUMPLINGS
Robson Public Market
204-1610 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G 1C7
(778) 246-1199
ninedumplings.com

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

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