Eons ago, before we started blogging, we used to go for lunch at Au Wing Kee several times a month. Back then our network of friends were mainly in and around Burnaby. It had been a while since we visited this place.
I look at Au Wing Kee as one of the old timer Chinese restaurants. Today, we hear of new restaurants sprouting up every week that often we forgot about the old favourites like Au Wing Kee. As far as Chinese and Asian restaurants goes, gone are the days of the wave of new Cantonese restaurants. What we see a lot of these days are restaurants the likes of Izakayas, Shanghainese, Korean, and Thai. We are spoilt for choices.
For so many years, Au Wing Kee had not only survived but thrived on a quiet stretch of Kingways that is not known for many good restaurant.
The place is exactly the same I remember it. It is not overly clean … but not dirty though, mind you. The place shows the age with some modest renos around lightings.
Service is also exactly the same I remember it. It is very typical old school Chinese style where the waitresses are serious, do not greet you, do not make eye contact, and no smiles. They are there only to clean your tables, take your orders, deliver your food … they are not there to socialize with you. I won’t say they are grumpy. If you want anything, you gotta get their attention and ask.
Despite these shortcomings, Au Wing Kee is a really popular restaurant. After all these years, they still pull in a big crowd.
We decided on getting a few dishes to share between the four of us in the family, instead of individual dishes which the boys wanted. The boys have never said why but they always seem to prefer having individual servings rather than the communal shared dishes that Suanne and I prefer. Anyway, dad is paying and he gets to make the call.
We like hot pot soup. So, we ordered the Chinese Herb and Special Chicken Hot Pot. I know, the name sounded funny and … not quite right.
This is $16.80 and we got half a chicken … free range chicken. You know, between free range chicken and the normal chicken, I prefer the meatier normal chicken. It is because free range chicken meat is tougher and it is also “bonier” (as in boney … as in bone, OK?).
The Herbal Soup is nice. It is clear broth with clear distinctive flavor from the herbs. The chicken “sweetens” the herbal soup once it gets cooked in the soup.
And the chicken combines very well with the soya sauce. It just infuses the right level of flavour to the chicken without overwhelming it with the sauce.
The soya sauce is more sweet than it is salty. It is also lighter. Well, I asked Suanne and she doesn’t know … how is these type of soya sauce made? What makes it different from the store bought types we have at home?
BTW, Au Wing Kee also gave us vermicelli with the soup. We put in the vermicelli at the end and it changes the soup for the worse. We like it without the vermicelli making the soup all thick.
We thought the name Beijing Style Spareribs with Salad Sauce sounded like something we had never tried before.
It was nice and they did give us a huge platter of it. It is like normal spareribs with mayo despite that name. I think this will be something that non-Chinese will love a lot. The taste is lightly sweet and sour but is dry. This dish costs $9.95.
In my books, a complete meal is “yat choy, yat yook, yat tong” which is translated as 1-vege, 1-meat, 1-soup. We had soup and meat and so to balance it out, we have a vege dish. The above is called Pork Neck Meat with Black Fungus and Loofah. This is $12.
They call the meat in this dish pork neck. What is “pork neck”? Is that another name for pork cheek or jowl?
We enjoyed our meal. The food is still as good as it ever was. And I want to also point out that their servings are huge. Each of the dishes that we ordered is more than enough for two people, maybe even three. So we had a lot of leftover that we had to go.
BTW, they take cash only.