I spoke too soon and now I am stumped as to what to do. I declared here that I wanted to start an exploration of the so-called The Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine and invited our readers to join us in the journey. And now we have 17 parties who had indicated they would be interested. I mean this is great but it also mean that there are more expectations to meet! LOL! Good thing, there are a few experienced foodies I can count on to help pull this off. I am going to need till the end of this week to put on my thinking caps. For those of you who had responded, I’ll draft some preliminary plans and let you know what they look like.
Anyway, this blog post is about Alvin Garden that we went to a couple of weeks ago.
Alvin Garden had gained a lot of good reputation. The name itself sounded so western but this is a top notch Chinese restaurant. They are one of the candidates for the 8GTCC (my acronym for the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine) as they serve Hunan cuisine. Hunan cuisine is also known as Xiang cuisine and is characterized by its spiciness.
Alvin Garden is located on Imperial and Nelson in Burnaby. We were there during the Christmas holidays. I was at work and bored to death as hardly anyone was in the office during that entire week. So, I asked Suanne and the boys to come down to Burnaby for lunch.
The interior of Alvin Garden is very clean and pleasant. It is very well maintained quite unlike many Chinese restaurants. I guess it must have been the holidays that there were only a few tables which were taken up by customers.
They have good lunch specials. I had that several times before and they are pretty good. As you can see, it is just $7 or $8 only. They are simple dishes … mostly one type of stir fry with rice.
We ordered separate dishes because we wanted to try some of the better dishes. Since Hunan cuisine is spicy, we ordered mostly spicy ones. The waitress asked how spicy we wanted the food cooked and we said “very spicy”. I can see from her eyes that she wanted to dissuade us — sort of like thinking we will not be able to stand spiciness. We stayed the course and smiled … “very spicy please” with both Arkensen and Nanzaro nodding their heads in unison.
We ended up regretting it.
The menu for the dish above is simply called the Spicy Flavoured Chicken. They have a nice name for this in Chinese. It is translated to something like “saliva dripping chicken” or “drooling chicken” or “mouth watering chicken”!
This is not for everyone especially those who are very health conscious. Look at the film of oil! And look at the lethally hot chili seeds too!
This is by far our best dish we tried but is so very spicy that our lips and tongue got numb from eating it. But we did finish this off completely.
The chicken is very fragrant. This dish is only … $6. So basically if you like this, you can order steamed rice to go with this and make it your own lunch special.
To wash down the spiciness, we had the Daily Soup Boiled in Crock. We got the small pot which is $9 which is more than enough for the four of us. A large pot is $15.
There are respectable pieces of pork and winter melons. The soup is full of flavour. Actually this is the only dish we had that is not spicy.
The Spicy Pork’s Feet in Bucket above is outrageously hot. This is really nice with the fatty pork feet but it is so spicy it is not even funny. Already our tongues and lips were numbed from the “saliva dripping chicken” and from the hot soup … so eating this adds to the pain. It was so ridiculously hot that all of us only ate one piece of meat each and had the rest to go.
The waitress came by and remarked that it must be too spicy for us. OK, we admitted defeat. She told us that they can make it even a notch spicier!
They serve this in a wooden bucket which we thought was a nice touch. This one is $13.
Compared to the other spicy dishes, this Hunan Style Cabbage with Chili is mildly hot. It is just cabbage and nothing special. Surprisingly Nanzaro who hates vegetables likes this a lot. This dish is $10.
The entire bill came up to only $44 before tips. We thought it was very good value for money. The only regret is asking for them to make the dishes extra hot. I made a total of perhaps 8 visits to the washroom the next 24 hours. Why do we even do something like this?
Here are some of the pages from their menu. Just click to see larger image. I am sure you will like Alvin Garden if you like “la” (hot) food.