Hey all … sit up.
This restaurant excites me and I think it will you too. After just 5 minutes in this restaurant, I was already telling Suanne that we NEED to come back because it is simply impossible to try everything we wanted to.
We did not find this restaurant. It was JS who first broke the news of this new restaurant on chowhound and the very first response to that initial report was from Vancouver’s uber foodie saying “Color me excited!”. That thread was a very interesting one … well, at least to me as it covered a branch of Chinese cuisine that is not very common in the city.
Bei Jiang is a Xinjiang cuisine restaurant. Xinjiang is a province located in the western most part of China which for the most part quite unlike the rest of China. It is the Uyghur (pronounced like you-girl, I think) people who makes up half the population. The Uyghur is more Turkic than they are Chinese.
Parking in this strip mall is very bad. You are better off going very early, like 5PM or you are better off paying for street parking along Alexandra. I remember that this strip mall used to be one of the quieter ones along glutton street. Ever since Cattle Cafe, Michigan Noodles and a host of other popular restaurants opened, it had been impossible to get parking in the really small lot. Many do not know that there are more parking by driving to the roof of the building but that too is small too.
Walking in, the first thing that will grab you is the classiness … well, at least a good attempt to be classy. For the most part, this is a pleasant restaurant with some rough edges.
The marble top table with the stout table legs along with the silky seat cushions sets this place apart. I am guessing that the nice stout legs are there not only because of aesthetics but it is meant to support the heavy table top. I like the table top as it is cold to the touch.
It is kind of spotty in that they also have a couple really cheap looking tables too.
And how is this for a table setting in a Chinese restaurant. For one, the chopsticks have more gold on it. And then the tea cup has gold trimmings too. Like I said, it is spotty … in that not every table has the same table setting. Some have more ordinary looking tea cups.
OK, this comment is gonna make some of you squeamish. This is a traditional Chinese restaurant. They … errrr … don’t provide communal chopsticks if you don’t ask them. As a family we don’t need that and I see that all the other tables don’t use communal chopsticks too. He he he … some of you must think that the Chinese people are really unhygienic.
I just found out that Suanne cannot lift her pinky easily. Too her a lot of straining to get to this position.
Oh … to add … the restaurant was full during Thursday dinner time although there was no line. The customers seems to be largely young Mandarin speaking people and strangely we were the only family-group dining there on that day.
Remember I said earlier that I was already planning to make a return visit? Well … just look at only three pages of many of their menu … with so many enticing colourful pictures. The pictures above are clickable to show a larger image. It is one of the most appealing menu I had every seen.
Their menu is very lamb-y but then of course, Xinjiang cuisine is known for their excellent lamb dishes. It took us a while before we decided what we wanted. The waitress was not much of a help because she speaks Mandarin (she took a while to understand when we asked her for two glasses of water).
Another observation of their menu — their prices are high and they do charge a bit of a premium. Still I thought it was worth it because of its uniqueness.
For me, a lot of these dishes I have never try before.
Like this one! This one used to cost $988 (fine, one grand!) believe it or not. Seems like it was too expensive and now they priced it at $688.
Can someone help me translate this page here? I really, really want to try this but am not sure how many this feeds and whether if this is to go or dine in. We need a lot of people to devour this beast. So, am wondering if anyone would want to join me if I organize one?
We ordered the above because we saw every table ordering this. It was very good.
This is called the ”Da Pan” (big basin?) Chicken. It came in three sizes:
- Small: $16
- Medium: $19
- Large: $24
We got the small one. It is served with potatoes, green and red sweet peppers and some red and green chilli peppers. So this is a spicy dish but not very spicy though.
This was what intrigued us the most and made us order it.
They serve this dish in two acts. First … came the chicken dish. I see that people would start eating the chicken and potatoes. A few minutes later, they will bring out a plate of hot hand made noodles and pour it on top of the chicken. Weird … they did it like that for all the tables. I was asking myself why they serve this separately when in fact they could have served this all in the same go.
But the noodles were wonderful. It was chewy and firm and tasted like they were made fresh. The chewy noodles dunked in the sauce was just so good. With the noodles, you don’t really need rice to go with this dish.
The sauce was very nice too. Even though we had hand made noodles, we ordered rice so that the sauce does not go to waste.
The chicken is boned-in. As I had said many times earlier, chicken meat must be cooked with the bones in. The meat tastes better. For non-Chinese, this means that there are less meat. Yeah sure … but I think it is a question of quality over quantity. :-)
Let’s back up a bit. The first dish we had was the appetizer dish above. This is called Honey Little Pumpkin ($3.60). The boys did not want this and frankly, neither did I. We had this because Suanne wants it.
This is a cold dish and the pumpkins has the skin on. Suanne said it did not look as appetizing as the photo in the menu but I thought it was quite good. This was lightly sweet and creamy. The skin can be eaten. Suanne and I like the taste but it was simply too many on the plate to finish it all between us.
The Mutton Skewer ($2 each) was top notch. We asked for this to be made spicy. We can clearly smell the waft of this as they brought it out from the kitchen. Served on a metal skewer the lamb was tender and perfect in many ways.
You should try this if you visit Bei Jiang.
We also had a Braised Lamb ($17). It is served in a pot that keeps the dish warm (with flame underneath).
With bone in, this is a very fragrant dish. The meat was tender and full of flavour.
The sauce is great with steamed rice.
But the rice is not as good. Actually, their rice is terrible. Some part of it is sticky and gooey and another part of it is grainy. Seems like the rice was cooked unevenly in the pot.
Anyway, we see that most tables do not order rice at all. For us, we always need rice … especially when there are nice sauces.
The Xinjiang Pizza ($14) was a nice change from the Italian style pizza.
It is quite big and so it is good for two people actually.
The pizza is doughy and thick. It is bready. It is nice when it is served hot and so you want to eat it fast. Once it gets cold, it is like eating sliced bread.
The wonderful thing is that it is topped with lots of lamb with finely chopped red onion, carrot, green and red peppers. Very moist, very delicious. It seems to us like it is the lamb skewers, chopped and served on top of the pizza.
Nanzaro said “Xinjiang Pizza rocks”.
No problem when the bread gets cold. Just dip it in the sauce. In our table … with no communal chopsticks deployed, we are allowed double-dipping.
It is expensive but am not complaining. Anyway, we over ordered and has three boxes to take home anyway.
I think you will love this place. It has a lot of lamb dishes and this is where they excel. If you don’t like lamb and find them gamey, there are other dishes but you don’t know what you’re missing. :-)
Apparently, from the really interesting chowhound discussion, Bei Jiang is a branch of a restaurant in China with the same camel logo.
So … anyone care to join me in trying that $688 Barbeque Grill Whole Lamb? It’s a lucky number. :-)