Updated 28th Sep 2010: this restaurant had been replaced with Taste Good Wonton Seafood Restaurant.
ChubbyPanda and his wife came up to Vancouver during the Memorial Day holidays. We had known ChubbyPanda for a long time — in blog years it had been a long time.
Both Chowtimes and ChubbyPanda food blogs started at about the same time. That was in early 2006. I recall in those days, the most prolific food bloggers are those from California with just a handful of Vancouver area foodie bloggers holding the fort.
ChubbyPanda contacted us saying that they wanted to meet up again for dinner. The last time they were here almost two years ago, we met up at Tropika in Richmond because he wanted to try Malaysian cuisine. This time, they left the choice of restaurant to us.
It was easy to decide where to meet. I had at the top of my to-try list the Chinese restaurant who won the “Best Soup” award in Vancouver last year. It was won by a restaurant which I felt had one of the unimaginative name … Wonton King.
Wonton King is located on SE Marine Drive, near the intersection with Fraser St. Wonton King is more an upscale modern Chinese Restaurant than you would imagine from a place with the name of Wonton King.
The service is immaculate. I am pretty sure it is because of our kick-ass cameras which we both fished out even as we sat down — as it always had been. LOL! We were attended to by someone who I assumed to be the captain of the restaurant. I say this because of the authoritative manner he was speaking and that he has a vest on.
We did not even look at the menu when I told him what we wanted. We were there to try the Wine Chicken Soup. For a moment he was not sure what we were asking for. I think it is because he could not associate the English name with the Chinese one. This dish was not on the printed menu, so we learned. If you want it, you had to ask for it.
When he realized what we wanted, he excused himself midway taking our orders and went to get the kitchen to get started on this. He said they need at least 20 minutes to prep this. I timed them … it came 35 minutes later.
When it came, I asked for the steamed rice to be served. You know what … the captain refused to serve us that. Wow, the nerve of him! I ALWAYS have rice with my soup.
The captain insisted that we have the soup first and proceed to pour each of us a bowl. I know he meant well and I did not really care — I just thought he had such nerve to refuse to serve rice when asked. Don’t get me wrong, the captain was not rude or anything.
The Wine Chicken Soup was as good as it is meant to be. For being the #1 soup last year, it did not wow us. It is a rich and flavourful broth. We did notice their soup is of a thicker variant compared to most others we had tried.
They had 1/2 a chicken in the entire pot. They use only free range chicken for this dish. We can see it is primarily flavoured with wood ear, ginger and or course, rice wine.
What I really enjoyed was the dipping sauce they serve with the Wine Chicken Soup. It is made of sweet soya sauce and has a tinge of spiciness in it. In it too are green onions, garlic and chili oil. They make this very well and it is just perfect with the wine infused chicken. It does brings out the best in the flavour of the chicken.
Our next dish was on the recommendation of the captain. He said that they do not have this everyday and it just so happen that they have a shipment of good fish on that day. We were sold on his recommendation.
He called this Steamed Live Fish with Ginger and Green Onions. It is a very simple steamed fish dish. To me, what defines this are two things … the freshness of the fish and the concoction of the soya sauce it is steamed in. The soya sauce must not overpower the fish and yet be able to enhance the taste of the fish.
The fish they served is called “gwai far yuee” in Cantonese. I am not sure what one calls this in English.
The captain carved the fish for us the moment it is served. You want to eat it as soon as it is served as it is best eaten while it is still warm.
Sorry about the above unflattering picture. I wanted to share something here. Chinese generally serve their fish whole … bones, head, and tails intact. And one of the no-no in a Chinese meal is to flip the fish (I think I mentioned this in a recent blog entry). That is why many better Chinese restaurants will carve the fish up for you so that they can move the bones out of the way without flipping the fish over to get to the underside of the fish.
Anyway, the fish we were served was as good as one would expect. The white color of the meat of the fish shows through freshness of this. The dish was tender to the bite … the soft springy texture is what defines this. The soya sauce too was done well and complements the fish … it was not too overpowering or salty. I enjoyed this a lot.
We order Dry Garlic Spare Ribs. They deep fry the spare ribs very well with the right amount of seasonings. It was boney and does not have a lot of meat. If they deep fry this any more, we could even eat the bones. LOL! My way of eating this is to pick off the meat and then … suck the remaining flavour in the bones.
I think ChubbyPanda was pulling my legs … he said he had so often read of Arkensen and Nanzaro ordering Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice that he wanted to try this. It was so unbelievable because ChubbyPanda is Taiwanese American. OK, if he wants to try it, we ordered it.
Wonton King’s version of this fried rice to me was a little on the bland side. I like the salted fish deep fried a lot more to bring out the flavour. Despite my thoughts, ChubbyPanda actually said this was too salty.
We also ordered the Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste. This is like a Cantonese version of a similar popular Malaysian dish except that it is not spicy. It does not have any hint of spiciness at all in this. I think it is because Cantonese cuisine is light in flavour and does not use a lot of spices.
The House Dessert was the green bean soup. They make is a bit more special by putting in longan fruit and seaweed. This is certainly much better than the normal green bean soup one normally have elsewhere.
We had a great time catching up on things since the last time we met over a year ago. We enjoyed the meal for sure. The service was great. They came up at the right moment to change our plates. But then we know that it is very likely that we had preferential treatment because of the obvious manner we were documenting the entire dinner … and commenting within their earshots our opinions of each dish. LOL!
I am not sure what the bill came up to. We did not order the meal by the menu but mainly through talking with the Captain. When the bill came, ChubbyPanda and I went through the customary fight for the bill. ChubbyPanda won … again. He paid the last time he was here in Vancouver too. So, ChubbyPanda … what was the damage for the night?
Wonton King loves ChubbyPanda. This is because he left an American sized tip for them until I reminded him that in Canada we do not tip as much. LOL!
Wonton King is good … lousy name for a restaurant but I like the food. I also like their (preferential?) service.