Updated: 18th Nov 2014; This restaurant is closed.
Excelsior had always been there for as long as I remember. Or at least I think it had always been there for a long time. I don’t really know.
For some reason we had not gone to the Brighouse Square strip mall for anything other than the rare trip to Staples or pickup some pastries from the New Town Bakery.
I could be wrong but I assumed that Excelsior is a long timer in Richmond. It opened in the days when there were more HK immigrants.
What I find strange is that there is only ONE review on Excelsior (by Yum-O-Rama) and nothing on Dinehere.ca, Urbanspoon or Yelp. And yet when we stand in front of the door, we see impressive age-faded newspaper reviews showing high-end food. Those must have came from their glory days.
The place was absolutely full. It was so unexpected. The first thing they asked is if we had a reservation. When we said no, they hesitated for a moment and then showed us to the crappiest three-seater table by the corridor which connects two separate dining areas.
We were not unhappy about it really. Just glad that they gave us a table. Boy, was this restaurant popular!
A lot of their customers are families. Many of them are multi-generation families out for a family dinner.
Excelsior is decidedly Cantonese. I just can’t classify them properly. The decor, tables, chairs and even the bowls shows their age and had seen better days. At a glance, they are like any HK Style Cafe. But they don’t serve the normal HK Style Cafe fare.
Their menu was exciting. At least to us it was. There were so many new things that we had a hard time deciding. Looking at the variety on menu, Suanne said that it looks like we are going to come here several more times. The prices are on the higher side compared but quite affordable.
We discarded the main menu and focused on the two that says “Chef Recommendations” and “Special Stylish Dishes”. That is their more popular dishes. We took an awfully long time to decide what we wanted. We shortlisted EIGHT dishes but forced to narrow it down to three since it was just three of us at this dinner.
Service was OK. It was fast … rushed and somewhat impatient. After all, it is a HK restaurant. What do you expect. At least they were not rude. They are not really good with English for sure. We ordered with the English names and they had to cross check it with the Chinese name at the back of the menu.
They came by with free soup. I am not sure how it works and if everyone gets this regardless of what is ordered. I see every table getting this.
It was a nice touch. Not many restaurants does this anymore. The soup was flavourful. It even had boney pork pieces in it.
Most tables ordered this. We figured this must be their specialty.
This is called Steamed Chicken with Soy Sauce. We had the smaller portioned half-chicken ($13). The whole chicken is $24.
It was simply the best we had ever tried. Bar none. Such simplicity … such simplicity that they don’t even care to … garnish it. It is just chicken and soy sauce — in perfect harmony.
The meat was boney. It would have been better is there are a lot more meat. They were made perfectly. Just look at the red-pinkish-blood color of the bones.
The chicken came first before everything else. Not waiting for the other dishes, we each took a piece to try … and another … and another and before we know it, it was already half gone.
The soy sauce is sweetish and very little hint of saltiness. We find ourselves soaking the soy sauce a few times before eating it. The soy sauce is wonderful with rice too.
The tip is to eat while it is still warm. The remaining pieces towards the end of the meal does not have the springy texture anymore, perhaps because it’s the chicken breast that was left behind. This dish wow’d us.
The Fried Sticky Rice with Preserved Meat sounded nice. Instead of getting steamed rice we decided to get this instead.
This is $12. This was equally great. So full of flavour with peanuts, eggs, chinese sausage and mushroom as its primary ingredients. It has a texture quite unlike other rice dishes. That is what makes this so unique. Nanzaro simply loves this. He was quite unhappy when we over-ruled him getting fried rice but he was very happy with this when he tasted this.
We thought that the Baked Salty Pig Stomach sounded new to us.
This is $11. It came wrapped in aluminum foil. They cut it open in front of us and the steam released was interesting. While we like the chewiness of the pig stomach, it was also very salty. They did not marinate this or anything but had just ginger, green onion and shallot for flavour.
No, we did not like this.
We had earlier wanted to order the item called the Famous Curry Crab but it was too much and expensive for the three of us. The smallest they can make it is 3lbs and it costs $11 per pound. We will come back someday to have this with a bigger party.
After given free soup for starters, they also gave us free red bean soup too. It was good. Not watery and it even had a strong tangerine peel taste. They made this well.
We enjoyed this meal. We will definitely come back again some day.
The food was not visually stunning. As a matter of fact they looked so dull. Looks aside, they were superb.
Despite the lack of reviews on the internet, I am sure some of our readers know Excelsior well. If you do, what are some of the dishes that is a must have here? I know that they had won awards for being the best in making Alaska King Crab. The next time it is in season, you can bet Suanne and I will make a bee-line for this place.
Oh … they accept cash only. Looking at their prices, you better bring wads of cash if you are going for their more expensive dishes.
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Hmmmmm!! Now I know where to eat dinner tomorrow night. I’ll try that chicken for sure.
Ops, good thing I called them for reservation, they are closed on Tuesdays. I should have seen that in the take out menu you posted. Anyway, it will be Thursday dinner instead. They do recommend calling for a reservation even if its just for 2 people.
I am dying to hear what you think of Excelsior. If they recommend reservation then you can be quite sure they are good.
Good review Ben! I go there for lunch once every couple of weeks, I like their Hainan Chicken Rice, and the free soup and drink doesn’t hurt for $8.50
If you haven’t already, I would also suggest you try out Sakura Sushi across the strip next to Bob’s Submarine shop. It is owned and run by a small Japanese team and the chef there prepares fresh and delicious sushi (I believe his name is Yoshi) I go there for lunch often and they never fail to deliver. They have a crispy panko dynamite roll which I love and is quite unique. I will say their portions are not big, but they are filling, and focus on the simplicity and taste/texture rather than flash.
Hi Kenrick: You are the second person who is recommending Sakura Sushi to us. We were not quite sure earlier because the place is so small and so unknown. We will not definitely check it out.
Ooh! Soy Sauce Chicken! Yum. Don’t have much places that serve a good soy sauce chicken in my area. My favorite place relocated and the new location doesn’t have that good of a rendition. Only now if my area had more of these types of restaurants closer to me :).
Soy sauce chicken are a dime a dozen in Vancouver. But I find Excelsior’s a class above the rest.
The do pretty good old-school Cantonese. Funny that you overruled Nanzaro on the fried rice – I recall that it was really good (big plump shrimp, loose grains, lots of wok hei, etc.) LOL. Maybe next time.
Any place that offers “welfare” soup and dessert has to be great!! They usually make the soup “lo-foh tong” (“old fire soup) which is always a comfort food item.
The chicken is bonely because of the type of chicken, which is called “Long Kong Chicken”. The race of the chicken and how ppl raised them are differently then “western style” chicken. This type of chicken is generally 1.5 more expensive than normal chicken, the meat should provide more chicken taste, tissue is a bit tougher, a bit less fat but sometimes yellowish fat.
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Good call on the over-ruling! Fried sticky rice > fried regular rice anyday!!