*** THIS NEW RESTAURANT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT ***
I don’t normally call out a restaurant in RED BOLD letters but this one excites me and is worth noting.
It is common knowledge that Suanne and I get a lot of recommendations from our readers. These recommendations are the ones that we value a lot because these recommendations alert us to what’s new and what’s good. We know that if it excites someone well enough to write to us, they are definitely worth checking out.
It was just last weekend when Eliza commented (here) that we should check out what she calls the “Starry Night Restaurant Behind Costco”. I thought it was kind of weird but I was intrigued with that location. I clicked over to the link on dinehere.ca and was pretty stoked reading the rave reviews.What do you think when you see review headings that says:
- Finally, a high-end restaurant that will make me go back to. Excellent food!
- Recommendation to all foodies out there! It’s a must visit!
- Hidden Diamond! A must see for everyone, incredible! Best looking restaurant in Vancouver!
It just so happened that we were going shopping at Costco that day. We drove over and saw it … right in the middle of nowhere is just this one restaurant. We were curious and decided to come back.
So, yesterday Suanne and I went for lunch at Starry Night. Starry Night is located on Beckwith Road. Forget about the street address. There is nothing on the street let alone anyone know where Beckwith Road is.
The sign outside the restaurant says “Starry Night – Restaurant – Reflexology”. I’ll tell you more about that Reflexology part later on.
It is easy to find. Just drive to the road behind Costco. You will not miss it. Like I said, there is nothing else on this street. There are lots of parking along the street but you really want to drive into the restaurant where they have parking at the back of the restaurant.
You know why? If you go at night, you want to walk in from the parking lots and see the nice lighting that they had put up. We were there in the afternoon and so we did not get to see it but the owner told us you gotta do it at night. He was raving to us about it.
You will probably laugh that on the right side of the restaurant is a rundown house with overgrowth as high as the roof. On the left side of the restaurant is an empty industrial lot.
They had just been opened for three weeks only. So it is very new.
The moment we stepped in, it is like a different world altogether. We were quite impressed with the setup.
During the later part of our lunch, the chef and the owner came by to chat with us because they noticed that we were taking notes and pictures. There were hardly any customer for lunch. There was only four tables taken the whole time we were there … and so yeah, we stuck out like a sore thumb.
The owner told us that he is from Taiwan and he owns the biggest live-band restaurant in Taipei. He told me the name in Chinese but I can’t remember it. He told us this restaurant is his lifelong dream to make his one perfect restaurant.
The entire restaurant was designed from the ground up and no expenses was spared. It is broken down into three different settings and he said that depending on where you are seated it is a different experience, view and lighting. The owner told us that if we come at night, the patio will be lighted with laser blue lights that looks like stars at night. We were seated in the more casual “Japanese Gazebo” section with natural sunlight permeating the entire area.
The walls were real granite and the wood panelings were walnut wood imported from Taiwan. The tables were tiled with tiles from Spain and the fabric for the seats were imported from Italy. That was what the owner told us but looking at it, they were all plush and of high quality.
The back section presents a more sophisticated look with high ceiling and dimmer setting. There is very little you will not like about the place alone. The music too was soothing with accompanying images showing on the TVs mounted in several area.
Service was eager and attentive but I must say that it was not really good. The waitress does not seem to know some of the questions we had and she responded with pretty general answers. But I do cut her some slack here with the understanding that they were still new. I could see that she is trying her utmost best.
I think this is one department they need to polish on if they aspire for perfection like they say they are.
I read that their coffee is very good and they recommended that too. As appealing it is, we did not get it because we cannot sleep if we take coffee at this time. Coffee is only for morning for us.
Instead, I thought we try the White Tea because it was unique. This is called Pai Mu Tan Guava Berry. It came steeped already with some at the side if we wanted more. The tea was good. We could smell the fragrance of the berry each time we took a sip from the cup. This is $7.
We started off with a soup. We decided to get the Chef’s Daily Creation ($7) which is Chicken and Ginseng double-boiled soup. The bowl is small but is very well done. The soup had a deep flavour, and is smooth and clear. and the chicken meat was like they selected the best parts to serve — it was perfect.
The appetizer above is amazing, but expensive. This is called Chilled Dungeness Crab Cake and costs $16.
There are three distinct layers with a seaweed salad at the bottom. The middle part is the crab and is topped with freshly cut mango salsa. Sprinkled around the plate are crunchy delicious tobiko’s.
The best way to eat it is not by the layer but with a cross section with everything at the same time. Heavenly. It was cold and refreshing. I think you can just imagine what this tastes like. Each ingredient is good enough for me but the balance of all these are simply amazing. I think you will like it. We did … a lot.
The waitress recommended the Schnitzel. I was kind of not sure … Schnitzel … how can Schnitzel be anything exciting, right? Wrong.
Firstly, the $17 Berkshire Pork Loin Schnitzel came with all the platings that practically took up the entire table.
First area of focus is the bowl of sesame seeds. We got to … work for our lunch.
We were told to crush the black and white sesame seeds ourselves prior to eating. It had been a while since we had seen a grinding bowl like this.
The waitress then came by and asked how much Tonkatsu sauce we wanted on the sesame seed. We were not sure and so we let the waitress decide. The sauce was thick and good thing we were not greedy to ask her to fill this up. Yeah, two spoonful was just about right. They told us that even the Tonkatsu sauce is made in house.
It was a good dip for the Schnitzel. They told me that the sesame seed has to be freshly ground. I don’t think it makes a heck lot of difference personally but I like the fuss they make. LOL!
Oh yeah, the only way to each the Schnitzel is to use the hand. I don’t care for decorum. Real foodie uses the hands where practical — agree? LOL!
The Schnitzel is served with Taiwanese slaw which was cut very fine and so it gave that nice texture quite unlike most.
The Schnitzel is really good too. It is golden fried with fine panko breading. The pork loin served was more than what we expect and they were good. I can’t say more … you got to try it to know what I mean.
Even the trio accompaniment is made well. Each one of them presents a very different texture, color, flavour and taste. There is the spinach, spicy cloud ear and pickled vegetable.
The man behind the food is known as Chef Charlie. He came out and said hello to us. I think he came out because the word got round that we were taking pictures and notes. He told us that they could have opened four weeks earlier. The whole place was all ready and primed for opening. But the boss owner was still not satisfied with the food and demanded perfection before they open. He told us that the boss forced him to make tasting several times a day, everyday for four weeks. He said it was frustrating because he had to make the same dish over and over again. He sounded convincing when he told us that … we were quite convinced.
This is especially when the owner came over later on echoing the same thing. The boss said that the food had been tasted over TWO months. Maybe he exaggerated a bit but I think they mean it when it comes to perfecting the food. The boss claimed that he will change the menu every three months.
The other main we had was Grilled Star Anise and Cassia Pork Jowl ($16).
This is simple but made very well. The five spice infused sauce were thick and sticky. It is made with chicken and pork bones that had been boiled overnight. We also loved the pork jowl. It is a LOT of prime meat there. Suanne commented that they must have just the complete pork jowl here which had been sliced into 9 pieces.
This is how the owner explained this … he said that health is very important to him. That is why he has a reflexology license upstairs (although it is not in operation now). I must say that it is the Chinese definition of health which Canadian might find strange. He said that meat he uses will not be fatty but must be made to taste like it is fatty.
You know what I am trying to explain? LOL!
Well, our waitress made a mistake with our order with the pork jowl. We asked for this to be served with yellow Taiwanese noodles because we already have rice together with the Schnitzels. Instead we were served rice. When we informed them of the wrong order, the kitchen came back with a separate plate of noodles for us — no charge. Nice!
There were a LOT of noodles and is delicious. You know it is good just eating this plate of noodles by itself.
We also ordered something I don’t eat at all. I only ordered this because reviews said that this is good. I wanted to see how anyone could make this nice.
The Mac and Cheese is $6 and is listed as a side. They said that this is made with in-house made sharp cheddar and Parmesan cheese sauce. What makes this different is also the blue cheese crumble and panko crumb topping. It was nice too … I like it.
I love the attention to details in Starry Night. This is the culmination of the dream of the owner who wanted to make the perfect restaurant. I am sure he is there for the profit but from the way he talks (he talked a lot!) I can see the pride and the passion in him.
There were a lot of things he talked to us about but I think I am boring you all.
The prices are not cheap as you can see but it is worth checking out. I hope they maintain the quality in the long run.
I like Starry Night in that they are not into hype (read Chef Hung). Hardly anyone knows them. They have this quiet confidence in them that the ambiance of their restaurant coupled with good food will speak for itself. Foodies had discovered this place and so far I have only heard good things said about them.
I really do think that if you want to find a great place to go for Valentines Day, this is worth considering.
Sun to Thur: 11:30 am to 11:00 pm
Fri & Sat: 11:30 am to 12:00 am
Lunch: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Afternoon Tea: 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Dinner: 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm/12:00 am
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wow, the crab cake looks amazing! i’ve heard good things to, i need an excuse to go to richmond. are they not already booked up for valentines day??
I am such a busy body that I just called for their Valentine’s Day booking. Seems like it’s still pretty open for all hours except for 6PM. They are still unknown and not many people I believe will be booking; unlike the more popular restaurants in downtown.
hey, thanks for that! i still need to plan something, whoops 🙂
Man that does look good!
Ben, you are so in the know about new places to try! That pork jowl with the Taiwanese noodle would be pure comfort food for me. Incidentally, Arvind and I had a wild boar pork belly at Chambar tonight that was absolutely delicious.
He he he … I didn’t do it … it’s not my fault. It is the recommendations from readers who alerted us to gems like this. Also, I am such an easily excitable person that I might be a tad too exuberant in my writing. LOL! Take ALL my writings with a grain of salt. 🙂
Chambar is simply one of my favourite restaurant. Wild boar pork belly sounds absolutely wicked.
I think this is new for Vancouver but serving Tonkatsu with freshly self grind sesame is very common in Japan. And I would say it made a big difference when I tried that at a restaurant in Kyoto. We grind it to a sesame powder (similar to what is used in Spinach Gomae recipes).
This restaurant looks interesting. May try it for lunch.
Ben thanks for this great find. Their prices seem reasonable too for the quality of food they serve. I might see you there on Valentine’s dinner. If I see someone taking pictures of the food then there’s a good chance it’s you.
Definitely on my to-go list!
I’m gonna stick my head out (and be bonked by you guys) to say I really “wanted” to get a warm-fuzzy about this place from Ben’s write-up, but can’t. Not sure why. Something about their food presentation and ingredients seem contrived to me, especially given their prices.
Clearly the proprietors’ efforts (as shown in the decor) and attitude are genuine. But at these prices I just don’t feel their “extra mile” is worth it.
But like they say: “Opinions are like exhaust pipes. Everyone’s got one, and they all stink.” 😉
The important thing is, Ben and Suanne enjoyed their meal.
I hear you Lotus Rapper. Let’s hope they get lots of support from les nouveaux riches. I love fusion and creativity. but not like you there’s something fuzzy to pinpoint on.
Ben, how did this compare with Hakkasan or Zen? Those two restaurants seem like they would be a similar comparison.
BTW, you probably noticed this already, but did you see Zen’s website? http://www.zencuisine.ca
I had posted an entry on the eminent re-opening of Sam’s Zen (http://chowtimes.com/2009/12/19/the-return-of-the-best-chinese-food-outside-of-china-zen-fine-chinese-cuisine/return-of-zen-chinese-20/). Zen is reopening in February as told to me by a member of their family. Hakkasan and Zen shares a lot of similarities as they are owned by two siblings although they are both separate restaurants (with the similar style). Starry Night on the other hand serves very common dishes (Mac and Chese!) but they does it with a flair and very good. So, I won’t equate both of them. Separate and distinct styles.
Wow… looks very fancy. Maybe I will go check it out the next time I’m in Richmond.
Btw, Ricky mentioned that in TW, they would grind that thing until it’s almost powder like, and then mixed it with the sauce to form a paste as dip.
Ben – great review. Your photos look great too.
I went there for dinner tonight without knowing anything about it or reading any of the review, and it was one of the worst dining experience I’ve ever had. I posted my review on Urban Spoon and wanted to do the same thing on yelp, but they are not on listed on yelp yet. May be they are new and just inconsistent – but truly that was one of the worst restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. My stomach still feels funny.
BTW i also find that calling a regular tonkatsu a “pork schnitzel” very pretentious. We ordered the dish tonight too and it was basically a very typical, but mediocre tonkatsu and it tasted nothing like a german pork schnitzel. And most tonkatsu restaurant you go to in Japan would serve their tonkatsu with the little bowl of self-grinded sesame seeds – that is very standard and common. It just feels so pretentious that they took that idea and served it half baked and labeled this fusion by just calling it “pork loin schnitzel”. I love to eat and travel extensively for work and for pleasure, and had plenty of really great as well as lots of fairly mediocre dining experiences. This was definitely – one of the worst.
Sheez .. now I must make an effort to book a reservation at this restaurant. It leaves no doubt in one’s mind where those negative comments left @Urbanspoon are coming from; no date was given when the meals took place; no description of the appetizers and main courses ordered; and no photos to back up the complaints; nor a receipt to prove it. Sad.
I’m guilty of getting unreasonably cranky over the small stuff, too. But… if the food is good, the food is good. I remember wrongheadedly ranting about how I’d die before setting food in Chef Hung’s beef noodle mall restaurant joint– well, I tried it and the noodles were really good and all is forgiven.
In this case, I dunno.
B, did it taste good or not, man?
I always get worried when people deride stuff as “pretentious.” In this case, I think calling it a “pork schnitzel” is less pretension and more, well… a translation, right? It’s the most accurate English food term to describe a thinly cut, breaded and fried piece of pork.
And, why not call it fusion? Is “fusion” such a rigidly defined phrase? What’s not “fusion” about a Taiwanese chef in Canada serving a Japanese take on a European dish?
Starry Night could have called it: “Morceau Mince de Porc Pané Frit” 😉
Great…now I have coffee all over my desk. LOL.
All menus should be in French, I think.
Commercial printers would experience a business boon ….. pensez à tous ces mots supplémentaires !
Well for whats it worth,I know a guy who wrote 3 positive reviews of his own restaurant using 3 distinct email addresses and it slipped by in Urban Spoon.So I guess the reverse COULD I emphasize COULD be possibile in the reverse.
I just bought a Groupon for this restaurant and booked a Valentine’s dinner. It’s a couple of years late but we’ll see.
Here’s the Groupon link if anyone is interested.