This restaurant has been closed according to Urbanspoon – updated 16th April 2010.
All I can say is … “Oh wow”. You really should check this place out.
Suanne and I get quite a number of recommendations from our readers. We like these recommendations as they are often little known restaurants with a lot of character to them.
Eric, who we do not know personally, sent us a note raving about the Northern Chinese restaurant find that he had been going to for the past while. Specifically he pointed out that their specialty is Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) … MSG-free Xiao Long Bao.
Suanne and I decided to take that drive to Popular Chinese Cuisine Restaurant. Popular is located on the north side of Kingsway between Joyce and Tyne.
From the outside, we thought that this is probably the last eatery we will try in the row of restaurants which included the Congee Noodle King. The blinds were drawn which does make people who walk past not really care what to check.
Eric described this place as a hole-in-the-wall family owned restaurant. While it is definitely family owned, it does not conjure images of small dark restaurants. As a matter of fact, the restaurant is bright, clean and spacious. However, it is a very quite restaurant with ours the only other table taken that evening.
Popular is run by a husband and wife team. They were friendly and helpful but the thing is that they speak only Mandarin. We managed despite the language problem. Instead of choosing our own dish, we asked them for the favourite dish of their customers.
Of course we had to order the Xiao Long Bao. They came in a steamer with individual dumplings placed in mini saucers. I thought it was a neat idea having never seen this before.
One thing that struck me was how thin the dough skin was and yet being able to hold in the gelatin soup. I guess the reason why they serve this in mini saucers was because of the thinness of the almost translucent skin.
Suanne told me she saw on TV how the delicate Xiao Long Bao is to eaten. You need a soup spoon to hold it. You first bite off a corner at the thinner side and then carefully sip the scalding soup before you eat the rest of it.
Their Xiao Long Bao was great. They reminded us that they are MSG free. Six dumplings for $4. Not bad I thought.
Before the meal came, they even gave us some free pickles and stuff. The one in the background is some pickled vegetable … carrot with daikon I think. The peanuts were particularly good and was wondering where they got that from.
The Sliced Fish with Wine Sauce was great too. We were surprised how big a plate this came in. This one dish was definitely more than enough for two people. Served steaming hot, it has a very nice rice wine fragrance to it.
The cloud ear and bamboo shoots added a balance of crunch to the smoothness of the fish. I could eat this just alone. This is definitely a good dish to try should you go to Popular. The $13 dish is about the most expensive dish they have on the menu.
Their other recommendation is the hotpot. They have about six different hotpot dishes with names like:
- Gluten, fish meat balls, pork meat balls, knotted bean curd and vegetables hotpot
- Chopped pork and knotted bean curd hotpot
- Crystal bean curd and fish hotpot
- Pork stomach, chicken, gluten, crab meat and vegetable hotpot
We wanted to order everyone of it but of course it’s impossible. So, we opted for the first item on the hotpot section — usually that is the safe bet. What we had was the one called Pork Hock, Chicken, Fish and Vegetable Hotpot.
All of their hotpots costs $10 and comes with a bowl of rice and pickles (the one I mentioned above).
The pork hock was great … I love it. I love picking off the fatty skin from the bones. The best meat is always the ones with bones in. I am not sure the technical reason why (if there is one) but everyone knows that.
They don’t skimp on the ingredients. I appreciate that there are big chunky pieces of fish in it too. Other stuff here are chicken, bamboo shoot, pork stomach and knotted bean curd.
Extra rice is $1 and is loosely served in a shallow bowl. The rice are much better elsewhere I thought. But then with so much food, the rice did not factor a lot during this meal.
The total came up to just under $30 before tips. There is enough food for three people easily. We like the prices here and the food.
Most of all we enjoyed the down to earth service. The husband and wife team came out and asked us about our taking notes and pictures. We told them (with our broken Mandarin) how much we enjoyed their food and will write a review on the meal. They told us that the wife had been a chef for 38 years now and that they had just opened for under a year.
Suanne and I highly recommend you to check out Popular. They accept only cash.
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Definitely not what I would consider a hole in the wall either. Looks likes some good eats.
I am so pleased to see this! I live right around the corner and I’ve barely even noticed this place… I’m so excited to try it…. especially since I’ve developed a small obsession with xiao long bao (well, good ones). If you guys ever plan on coming here again, let me know…… maybe we can join you (that way we can have even more dishes…. hah).
ps- the menu picture (plug-in not supported) at the bottom didn’t work for me (safari on Mac OS X 10.4.1)
Stephanie in Vcr, the cause is that you (actually, we, as I have the same issue when using my Mac OS X 10.5.2) don’t have the most recent Shockwave player installed. Unlike Windows, Macs/Safari won’t necessarily install it for you. Just go to Adobe’s website and click on get Shockwave player.
Thought you all may want to try out the Toyama restaurant on Seymour and Robson too! It is 1 of the best AYE restaurant in town! I think I tried leaving you all a note, but somehow it didn’t get posted!
Hi BIG ChowTimes Fan:
Yup, Toyama on Seymour is on our to-try list.
Your comments were posted. Who could forget a handle like “BIG ChowTimes Fan”. LOL. Maybe when you posted your earlier comment, there were a lot of comments on that day and it scrolled off the sidebar very quickly. Anyway, I did a search and found your comment here: http://chowtimes.com/2008/07/01/posh-sukiyaki-restaurant-in-richmond/.
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Have you been to Good Fortune? It’s also Northern Chinese cuisine. It’s located about a block east of the Joyce Skytrain station, north side of the street. Also a hole in the wall family restaurant. I took mandarin classes a few years ago and we went there for a field trip.
They have really good minced beef with hand pulled noodles, beef rolled with crispy pancakes and xiao long bao!
HI Marike: Nope, never been to Good Fortune before. Will probably do one day. Ben
Oops, it’s actually Golden Fortune.
I went by the other day to pick up a takeout menu and try the Latina bakery across the street. The empanadas and tres leche (three milk) cake from the bakery were impressive!
Where is this Latina bakery you speak of ? I *heart* Pastel de Tres Leches. I commute along Kingsway everyday, passing by Joyce.
It’s right next to the grocery where Bo’s Laksa King is located. It’s called Panaderia.
Popular Restaurant closed in March 1, 2010 (read that in another website). Some other restaurant there, but doesn’t seem fully operational yet. Ate next door (can’t remember name) food was Hunan, pretty tasty but not many customers. Hope the eater survives…we need little places like that to keep neighbourhood alive and fun.
Hi The Bakery is one block north of the skytrain station along Joyce.I love this place
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