Tonight I was accompanying Sherman of @shermansfoodadventures to Feel City, to try and review their food. They specialize in traditional cuisine from the Xin Jiang region of China. I have little experience with such cuisine, so was excited to get better acquainted. And simultaneously thankful that the restaurant would decide what was noteworthy and worth us trying. The menu is fairly hefty and for those unfamiliar, hard to sift through.
Considering the promise of traditional cuisine, I found it interesting that the restaurant was dressed like a lounge. A wall of miscellaneous liquor bottles greets you at the entrance and neon lights surround you as you eat; all while you enjoy the sounds and styles of K-pop being played across television screens. I guess this vibe is on the same vein as their restaurant’s name. It does not do the cuisine any justice, or help to advertise what is within.
Although considering how creative their food presentation is, it is worth visiting for that spectacle alone. Starting with one of their featured items: Willow chicken. Other places offer barbecue meats on sticks, but at Feel City, theirs is done so on actual gathered twigs. The result, a very primal dining experience: tugging at meat fresh from the fire. Each piece had a certain smokiness to it, furthered by the heavy handed use of cumin in the spice rub. We weren’t sure if the fragrance was from the flame or the branch used. But sadly we found the chicken overcooked, and you could tell it wasn’t fresh. The cumin did what it could to mask this, but there was far too much of it. One stick is plenty enough.
Similarly in presentation and quality was the Xin jiang special smoked lamb on metal. What looks like a medieval torture device serves as a rack for cooking. Pieces of meat are individually hug for a more even surface area baking. And gloves and wet wipes are provided with it, so you can go in with your hands. As for how it ate, we found the pieces more bone than meat, and what morsels salvaged was fatty. The onion and spices on the side helped to self regulate, but a platter of pickles to cleanse the palate in between would have be tremendous.
We preferred the Sichuan sesame oil chicken. It had a delicate flavour to it. In hue and tone it reminded me of hainanese chicken, but with extra spice in chilli and numbing peppercorn.
Everyone’s favourite dish of the night was the Xin Jiang Yellow Chicken Platter, also known as “big plate chicken”, given the portion size. I highly suggest you complete the dish with the add on of flat and fat chewy noodles for $3.99 more. They round out the dish, providing the ideal base to help sop up all that bold sauce, along with the chunks of potato. I would come back just to take this out.
To finish, we tried traditional yogurt from Xin Jiang. The only other dessert options is ice cream, but you can get that anywhere. Whereas this tart and tangy yogurt is only available here. Plus it helps to wash away any lingering spice from your palate.
In short Feel City is a unique spot for unique food. All familiar, yet inevitably different. Not anything I would specifically crave again, but something I would recommend to someone looking to try something new with much pageantry and flare.
Feel City BBQ
205 – 1668 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6J 1X6