Peaceful Restaurant on West Broadway at Cambie, Vancouver

In Vancouver, there are Chinese restaurants and there are Chinese restaurants.

There are Chinese restaurants where you will only see Chinese customers. The sight of a Caucasian customer is rare. The real menu of these restaurants are in Chinese. They will have a token English menu which is a small subset of their real menu. Their waitresses can hardly speak English but they can really speak Mandarin in very heavy accent. They serve traditional and authentic Chinese food.

Then there are the other Chinese Restaurant which are more user-friendly to the western customers. You see quite a number of Caucasian customers. They have items like sweet and sour pork and chow mein on their menu. They give out fortune cookies with the check. The Chinese foodie crowd does not pay attention to these type of restaurants. They say these restaurants is not real Chinese restaurants.

You know what I am saying?

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But there is one restaurant that has managed to serve authentic Chinese food and yet draw customers who are non-Chinese.

We went to the Peaceful Restaurant before we drop the boys off for one of their many top secret rehearsals. So we went to a restaurant nearby. Peaceful Restaurant is located on Broadway.

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The Peaceful Restaurant is a small restaurant. It is long and narrow with a row of tables lining one side of the wall and a glass enclosed open kitchen on the other side. There is a couple of larger round tables for larger parties.

Round tables … hmmm. I am thinking hard here as I type. In all good Chinese restaurants, the dining tables are round and will seat 10 people a table. This is because Chinese food are meant to be shared and are served communal style. Also, round tables allows everyone to be able to talk to each other better.

I can’t think of any other cultures that predominantly uses round tables. Can you help me think of one that does?

Anyway, the Peaceful Restaurant is a Northern Chinese restaurant. The speaks Mandarin with a heavy northern Chinese accent.

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We ordered the Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles (hmmm … Sichuan is western, not northern China!) because we heard that they pull the noodles in house.

It came in a bowl nicely arranged with the ingredients and before I could lift my camera to take a picture of it, the waitress dug in a pair of scissors and went ahead to cut it up. She then mixes it up front of us.

Aw too bad. I wanted to see how long these noodles are. Seeing how these noodles are made I am not surprise if this entire bowl is made up a single strand of noodles, all hand made.

So, with my usual itchy mouth, I asked the waitress how long it is. She brushed me aside and said “very long” like she was quite annoyed with my question. Ah … very authentic Chinese restaurant service. LOL!

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The main thing about Dan Dan Noodle is only the noodles and the sauce. Very simple dish but yet complex to make it perfect.

The peanut based creamy sauce is spicy and tangy and had a little minced meat and spinach. I tasted a bowl of that. It was good and had a lot of flavour. The noodles tasted great too. Personally I find that the sauce is too thick for my liking.

This is $7. Dan Dan Noodles are cheap to make and so $7 is a little bit on the high side.

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Suanne was on a mission for one of our readers. Michelle was asking where she could find Shaobing. Suanne remembered reading about there is Shaobing in this restaurant and it was the primary reason why we chose to eat here. So Michelle, here you go.

The word “bing” on Shaobing refers to biscuits or cookie in Chinese. I am sort of making this up but I think it is rather accurate. I need readers to help me confirm if I am correct or wrong. You see … this is the closest to a cookie in Chinese. The Chinese do not use ovens for their cooking and as such you end up with biscuits pan fried like this. There is no oven baked cookies like the ones you know of in Chinese cuisine. Correct? Yes? No? Yes?

There are actually several variations of Shaobing but the main distinctly is there is a version that is sweet and another that is savory. The sweet ones are usually made round while the savory ones are made in oblong shape like the picture above.

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The Peaceful Restaurant calls this the Sesame Flat Bread on their menu. This is $6.

Shaobing is a partially leavened bread and covered with sesame seed which is toasted (pan fried?) to a crunch. The sesame seed gave it the fragrance that you could “taste” even before you bite into it.

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Since this is a Northern Chinese restaurant, we ordered the Xiao Long Bao. This is $6.50. We were surprised it came with 8 pieces, normally it is 6-7.

Don’t get this. No good.

See how wet the bottom is? And how flat the edges of the buns lies? Well, … all except one were punctured and leaking the all-important broth all over. The broth is what it is all about.

So I used the words Nanzaro and Arkensen always uses to describe this … Epic Fail. They said I was mean and I used the word wrongly.

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The Peaceful Beef Roll is one of their specialty. This is $6.50. It is five-spice beef rolled in a crispy onion flat bread.

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Awesome. Success. Very good.

There is a strong hoisin sauce taste. We like the crispy flatbread which is all round crispy … no hint of doughy part at all. I can even hear across the table the crunch when Nanzaro bites into this.

Epic Success!

The boys both corrected me saying that there is no such thing as Epic Success and said I should not use their lingo. I should stick to my generation’s description. OK, I can do that.

Groovy!

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Nanzaro in his usual need to order something adulty, went for the Cumin Lamb Noodles. This is $10. He does not even look at the price and order anything he thinks is unique.

He did not like it. The rice noodle is extraordinarily thick and as such chewy. I even thought that they make it themselves since we normally does not come across it this thick. The taste is dominated with cumin.

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Cat’s Ear?

That is what the noodle above is called. This is $10.

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It does not resemble a cat’s ear at all. I am just wondering where this name came about.

The cat’s ear noodle is a soft chewy Chinese gnocchi.

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The Peaceful Restaurant has a website. If you are interested, they have nice pictures and a large menu selection on it. They also have coupons too. It is 10% off until the end of January.

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The total came up to $44. Not bad. We over ordered again and asked for takeout boxes.

Peaceful Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. wyn

    I’m so curious about where your boys are practicing and reveling that you’re kicking around my neighbourhood and reviewing all the restaurants that I regularly go to. The are so many restaurants in any given area of Vancouver that it’s hard to become a regular but we are almost that at Peaceful.

    My favourite dim sum by them is the beef rolls and the sesame flatbread “sandwiches” (particularly the marbled pork one). And, yeah, the XLB disappoints. I find that the skin is too thick and wait to have it elsewhere.

    One of the really fun dishes we had is the hot pot (it’s the one with quail’s egg). Our favourite dishes include the tomato & egg rice (it’s overpriced but there is something about the tangy sauce), tomato & egg noodles, mushu pork cutting noodles (might be kind of chewy, be forewarned).

    You didn’t really say much about the taste of the cat’s ear dish. It looks kind of average in taste. I might order that in a future visit.

    When the restaurant started a couple years ago, it was kind of grubby but they’ve clean up nicely (repainted, I think), got shiny tables, etc. I’m glad to see they are doing alright and pick them every time, laughing that people don’t know about Peaceful and line up for Sha-lin a few doors down. 😛

    1. Ben

      Hi Wyn:
      I can tell you where the Olympic ceremony practices are but Nanzaro said that we will have to kill you after we tell you. LOL! He gets very upset with me when I even tell people he is in the practices. He wants a total blackout. Yeah … the cats ears dish is pretty average. It is just the texture that makes the difference but otherwise it tasted like “chow mein”.
      Ben

  2. Marike

    I think “bing” (“bang” in cantonese) is just a general term for pastries, e.g. lo poh bang (wintermelon pastry) or hung yan bang (almond cookies).

    Anyways, Ben you are so funny with the use of “epic”. I will find you a funny video I saw with parents using that lingo.

    Also, there’s a good northern china restaurant across the street from Bo’s Laksa King!! Their beef rolls and Xiao Long Baos are yummy. Hand pulled noodle demos on site too!

    It’s called Golden Fortune, I think.

    1. Marike

      Oh, fyi, my mandarin teacher who was from Beijing took our class there so I know it’s authentic.

  3. Eat. Travel. Eat!

    I’m amused by the cookie talk :). Last weekend, I went to my favorite noodle house (kind of like Peaceful- it attracts both Asians and Westerners) and there was an elderly person who was angry that he couldn’t get his fortune cookies (Wife was Asian, he is Caucasian) at a Chinese restaurant. Somehow though the restaurant was able to bring out the cookies :), but only to them.

    Cumin noodles? That is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. Those beef rolls though look awesome.

  4. fmed

    The beef rolls are great and so are the potato rolls (they stuff it with the shredded cold potato appetizer.)

    Other favourites of mine there are the cumin lamb sandwiches (they use the sesame flatbread), cold Sichuan cucumbers, the aforementioned potato slivers and the 1000-chili chicken (which looks spicier than in really is.)

    I agree the XLB is subpar by Vancouver standards.

  5. kaylee

    hehehe, epic fail/success.

    awesome. 😀 very funny post. yummy looking food, too!

  6. LotusRapper

    Ben said: “The Chinese do not use ovens for their cooking and as such you end up with biscuits pan fried like this. There is no oven baked cookies like the ones you know of in Chinese cuisine. Correct? Yes? No? Yes?”

    Sorry, but “FAIL”, LOL.

    Shaobing is in fact oven baked. “shao” means to bake in a loose way. They would definitely not be pan-fried, that would make them EPICALLY FAILED, LOL. OK I better stop pretending to talk like someone half my age cuz I’m making a fool out of myself ….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaobing

    .

    1. LotusRapper

      Peaceful is a reliable local eatery for us. Sounds like your XLB experience there was subpar. Well given your extensive XLB sampling across Vancouver and Richmond, I would probably agree with you, Ben.

      The beef rolls are staples for us when we go. Must have.

      Cumin is a popular spice used more in western regions of China, like Sichuan and Xinjang. It was introduced to the Chinese by Mediterranean and west Asian cultures, possibly during the Spice Trade times.

  7. etranger

    My student from HK says it is a fad for the high school girls to have a toaster oven just for baking cookies. Like you say, he had otherwise no experience with baking.

  8. etranger

    Also, I’ve been to the fortune cookie factory in Seattle. The cookie is made from a batter the consistency of pancake batter but with more oil in it. It is poured into heated a little circular form. The form moves down the assembly line, and at the right point the soft cookie is folded with fortune inserted. It is quick!

    Do you know those assembly-line Korean cookies in the shape of a fish or walnut with bean paste inside? That process is somewhat similar to the fortune cookie (thicker mold, though).

    1. Ben

      Hi etranger: I am stating the obvious but did you know that fortune cookies are not Chinese but is American? Take a fortune cookie to China and no one will recognize it.

      1. etranger

        I know they are not, but the factory in Seattle is third or fourth generation Chinese so they have been around a very long time! They are not really made like a true cookie, more like a pancake. Pancakes are very Chinese.

        Tsue Chong is the name of the factory in Seattle. You should call them and ask for a tour next time you come down. I have only been as part of a school group. They don’t do individual tours but they might for you.

  9. Ed Lau

    Mmmm…love shaobing/sesame flatbread, especially when you can open it up and fill it with meat. I used to get that all the time at that place in Richmond with the $1.99 dan dan noodles.

    1. LotusRapper

      Ed, where is this $1.99 dan dan noodles ?

      1. Ben

        Hi LotusRapper: Just got this answer from Ed regarding the $1.99 Dan Dan noodle via Tweeter: “the real place is closed now. It used to be next to Save-on called Moutai. The place there now is the same price but not good.”

  10. michelle

    okay, just had a in depth conversation about the whole ‘bing ‘ thing.
    The Chinese language, doesn’t allow for direct translations for ‘individual’ words, but when you pair them up then they start making sense.
    ie. bing, as in shao bing.. is that sesame pancake thing
    bing gang – means biscuit/cookie. etc… sorry for being boring.
    and ben.. and suanne – SORRY for making you cool dudes go out and try peaceful… it didn’t seem that impressive.. sorry..
    cat’s ear – they make it wrong… it should look like a cat’s ear! not italian gnocchi – haha! once again another confused asian restaurant… save uS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Ben

      No worries, Michelle. We are curious creatures and were determined to find out more about Shaobing because we rarely ate it and never cared much about it. We wanted to find out more because we realize quite a lot of people are crazy over them. Glad we checked out Peaceful. Never tried never know … that’s what we tell ourselves. Food and restaurants are like that … some people loves Peaceful and yet others might not. To each their own.

      1. Jackie

        Thanks for reviewing this place! It’s in my neck of the woods and I always consider going to it but Sha-Lin is so much busier I thought it would be better. I was underwhelmed w/ Sha-Lin and at least now I know not to go to Peaceful!

        I specifically wanted the XLB :S
        I guess I’ll head to Granville and Broadway instead 🙂

          1. LotusRapper

            Oh, and they have shaobing + you tiao too 🙂

          2. Jackie

            Ooo thank you LotusRapper, I’ll make sure to give it a try. There are so many restaurants nearby that I’ve become very resistant to having to drive anywhere to go eat.

            GGWSR is a stones throw away and I’ll be up to my neck in XLB soon *grinning*

    2. fmed

      I had their cat’s ear – it didn’t look like gnocchi then (that was a while ago now.)

  11. michelle

    On another note – Where to for good chinese lobster? haha!!!

    1. Ben

      Chinese lobster? No idea. Anyone know? Whoa! Wait a minute … oh never mind!

      1. fmed

        Ho Yuen Kee on Fraser has a signature Lobster on Sticky Rice.

        On Peaceful…I like it. They have a couple of dishes that are favourites of mine. I see Peaceful as an approachable alternative to the many Cantonese restaurants here in town…the difference of course is they serve Northern/Mandarin food. It does try to cover too many regions (Sichuan, Xian, Shanghai, etc.)….so many of the dishes end up being “dumbed down.” In that sense, it can be hit or miss. The owners are Xian so seek out the dishes from there (the Lamb dishes, for example).

  12. J2Kfm

    Nice site you have here, Ben.
    I love Chinese food, as we can find them in abundance over here in Malaysia. I’m a Chinese myself.
    It’s actually hard to find Xiao Bing here, and the only time I’ve came across that name was no thanks to some ex-American Idol tryout. 🙂

    1. Ben

      Terima kasih, J2Kfm!

  13. DylanK

    “Since this is a Northern Chinese restaurant, we ordered the Xiao Long Bao.”

    You know, this is a very Vancouver thing, I think, the use of xiaolongbao as a term to describe all dumplings like this. And, I know it’s on the menu and everything but, in Mainland China, it’s not something you’d be likely to hear anywhere north of the Yangtze, unless it was used specifically for Shanghai-style or southern style, and especially using shrimp or crab, and possibly a little smaller soup dumplings (although it’s used pretentiously by pretentious menu-writers to make run-of-the-mill soup dumplings sound sexier than 汤包). Even Peaceful calls their xiaolongbao 南翔小笼包 Nanxiang xiaolongbao, in order to identify them specifically with a certain Shanghai style of soup dumpling that isn’t realllllly native to northern China.

    I’ve actually heard northern Chinese restaurant people in Vancouver get gruff about this with southerner customers, “We don’t sell any xiaolongbao here, ya think we’re in Hangzhou or somethin’?” (Actually, I only heard this once, so don’t read too much into it). It reminds me of the Vancouver usage of “Taiwan beef noodle” to refer to most Chinese beef noodle. It’s just a boring, nerdy point about Chinese food, but I thought I’d bring it out anyways.

    As for Peaceful… I really like their liang pi’er. They’re really good at the less snacky things and a lot better at really plain as heck homestyle dishes. I’d say try it again and sample some big dishes to share with each other, if you can: get a bowl of mustard green and tripe soup, or spicy beef tendon, or just some fried veggies. They do that kind of stuff really well, if you’re disappointed by items like the beef roll (not to endlessly advertise for them, but Xi’an Xiaochi at Richmond Public Market makes a good beef roll, if you’re into it)

    1. fmed

      I think the term XLB (which really just means bamboo steamer buns) outside China takes on a less generic meaning. Here in North America (and I contend Taiwan and any place that has a Din Tai Fung location) XLB are these soup filled buns from the Shanghai area. Nanxiang is a district in Shanghai proper. (Chen’s Shanghai calls it “Baiyulan” buns – Baiyulan is south of Shanghai, I believe).

      Also “Northern” Chinese is sort of like calling it “Mandarin” food…which really means “Not Cantonese” for the most part. Shanghai is a southern place to someone who is truly Northern Chinese. (Not unlike the use of “South American” cuisine as a catch-all here).

      I too am a big fan of the Xi’an stall at the RPM.

      1. DylanK

        That’s true, but I think XLB is also used more generically to refer to any ol’ steamed dumpling. I suppose there’s a language thing, too, because if you read the Peaceful Restaurant menu in English, you might think it’s some kind of northern take on the XLB, but in Chinese it’s explicitly identifying the XLB with a certain area of Shanghai.

        On the Northern thing: they just had those 2010 Chinese restaurant awards, and two of the three best Northern restaurants were Shanghai joints. A different definition of Northern from most of China, the southern definition of the north, rather than taking the Yangtze as the dividing line. I mean, it goes on up north, too, where everything below the southern border of Hebei is the south.

        Stuff like this is more interesting than anything else, and I’m not particularly annoyed by people using whatever terms they want to sell their own food.

        Sorry for constant nitpicking and nonstop astroturfing for Xi’an Xiaochi!

    2. Ben

      Since you mentioned Xi’an TWICE … OK, I’ll go check it out one of these days. I don’t normally go to the Richmond Public Market but admittedly they have pretty authentic Chinese food there.

  14. grayelf

    I’m with fmed on this one: when it’s on, Peaceful can be great. The problem is consistency. We’ve had transporting versions of the beef roll there, and then next time it’s too greasy. Argh.

    Dylan K’s idea of ordering the heartier stuff is good too –the SO’s favourite dish there is like a cross between spaghetti and stew with chopped up veggies atop homemade round thin noodles (wish I could remember the name). We’ve also had good luck with hot pot type dishes, and with ordering what they refer to as specialties.

    Oh and the one and only time we ordered the cat’s ear noodles we were told by the owner’s daughter that they are the only noodle on the menu that is NOT made in house (this was after the change to the gnocchi style).

  15. TimeToChow

    The beef roll is really good here. Better than RPM.
    Most of the items we ordered were pretty good.
    The shui chu yee water boiled fish had lotsa Chinese celery and cilantro in it.
    Don’t remember being dissapointed out of the 5-6 items we ordered.
    The cold noodle was surprisingly good, nice chewy noodles, with fresh julienned cucumbers, spiced with a hint of tartness.
    Worth returning.

  16. Shmoo

    I’ve eaten at Peaceful a few times. I’d probably rate it as a reasonably solid, ango-friendly joint that’s great for introducing people to regional chinese food.

    The dishes don’t always reach spectacular heights, but then they are seldom total disasters, either. There is a big range of dishes on the menu, so I suppose it may pay to learn which are the wheat, and which are the chaffe.

    FWIW, I just finished eating Peaceful’s Xin Jiang hand-pulled noodles for a take-out lunch. The dish featured pulled noodles, bone-in chicken, potatoes, roasted chillis, garlic, and an anise-based gravy.

    Since I have never encountered this dish before, I have no idea if it is a representation of a traditional dish or an invention of the restaurant.

    Taken on its own, with no yardstick to measure it against, it was lovely and hearty and flavourful. A tasty and filling winter meal, and big enough that I will get two moderate lunches out of the $10 dish. I definitely enjoyed this dish, and would order it again on a future visit.

  17. Shmoo

    Okay, after poking around the internet, I suspect the Xin Jiang noodles are meant to be a sort of pre-mixed take on Da Pan Ji (大盘鸡). Haven’t had Da Pan Ji before, so can’t address the alterations Peaceful may have made to please local palates. Lots of nice anise flavour. I think I’ll ask for it spicier next time, though, because I think they were being “careful” for me. 🙂

  18. Shmoo

    Hi Ben,

    Yes, I think the “Xin Jiang noodles” at Peaceful are based on the dish you mention in your Beijiang review. The dish I had included the diced, bone-in chicken, roasted chilies, fresh chilies, potato, garlic, and anise-based gravy, and was combined with their hand-made noodles. Come to think of it, I don’t know if the dish comes pre-combined if you order it for eat-in, or if it was pre-mixed just because I got take-out. Of course, it was a more personal-sized version, so not a very “da” da pan ji. But the ratio of chicken to noodles was pleasing, and the dish made for two moderate-sized, tasty lunches.

    1. fmed

      The dish is pre-combined at Peaceful. (Traditionally, the noodles are added once you finish eating the chicken and you are left with the gravy and vegetables).

  19. bill

    Haha, he is right. Epic fail is the wrong term to use here. Still I am surprised you came across a bad dish of xiao long bao. When i went in to try it two times, one with friends, another alone, the xiao longbaos are pretty good with no damaged skin. Perhaps its just luck. Oh well. As an addendum, they just opened up abother branch of Peaceful restaurant along Davie street between Granville and Howe

    1. Ben

      Hi Bill: Yeah, I heard about the new Peaceful restaurant along Davie. Have you ever been there before? How was it compared with the one on Broadway? I remember reading one review and it was not positive. Ben

  20. Pinoy Gourmet

    Ben the Peaceful on Davie is 2 blocks away from my office and I had lunch there last week and I agree the original is better,perhaps the had to adjust it a bit for the downtown Davie market??

  21. Marc

    Guy Fieri filmed Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives there today. I heard he is filming two other locations: Red Wagon and Save-On-Meats.

    Cheers!

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