S&W Pepper House on No 3 Road and Granville, Richmond

Updated: 14th Nov 2014; This restaurant is closed.

OK, you guys don’t laugh, OK? But …

Oh man!

I was so honored to have been invited to a dinner with some of the most revered foodies in Vancouver last week. When FMED asked if I would like to join in a dinner with such distinguished names in the foodie world, I was kind of uncertain. You see, these guys and gals are heads and shoulders above the likes of me — a wannabe foodie … a food blogger. These guys knows food and speak authoritatively. These guys are judges for restaurant awards. Their opinions are revered and trusted. They are what I want to be when (if?) I grow up. LOL!

Since I did not have their permissions to mention their names and pseudonyms, the diners will remain anonymous. Let’s just say there were a group of six boys and girl.

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The dinner was at the S&W Pepper House in Richmond. S&W Pepper House is located on No 3 Road, right across from the Richmond City Hall. There is another S&W Pepper House in the Crystal Mall in Burnaby. Both are popular restaurants serving some of the best Sichuan cuisine in Metro Vancouver.

Oh boy, I was so embarrassed that I arrived late. Not good to have these people wait. They had almost finished the ordering by the time I arrived.

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I had been to both S&W Pepper House in Richmond and Burnaby before. As a matter of fact, I remembered that the visit to the Burnaby’s S&W was one of our earliest post — like 2/3 weeks after chowtimes got started. Reading back that 4 year old post brings back memories to those days when blogging is a simple affair. I still remember that meal where we had the “Guo Qiao” (Crossing the Bridge) Rice Noodle in Special Soup which has a story behind the name of the dish.

First thing that came across my mind was so less classy this S&W Pepper House is today compared to when I first ate here almost 3 years ago.

Richmond's S&W Pepper House in 2007
Richmond’s S&W Pepper House in 2007

This place used to look brighter, has better paintings on the wall and it does seem more busier. Maybe it was because this time we had the dinner in mid week. Oh well … not that it matters really but I just happen to notice the stark contrast.

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The guys and gals are cooler.

They don’t take pictures of the food before they eat it. They don’t even have to write down their observations. All they needed was the chopsticks.

But they understood. LOL! They respectfully allowed me to shoot pictures before they dove into the food. I know it is not cool but I got a job to do.

FMED stole the picture above. I was not aware of it but I thought I share one of the rare shots of me here. I think this is the ONLY picture of me “at work”.

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I was kind of surprised how many appetizers were ordered.

The above is called Fried Peanuts with Cilantro and Chili. This is just $5 and was marvelous. I had never ordered this before. Almost everyone just ate it straight. For me, I just had to have it with rice because the spiciness and flavour is too overpowering for me.

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The above is called the House Special Chicken. While this is considered an appetizer, the large serving belies the categorization. There is half a bird here and costs $11.

The Chinese name, I think, is “How Swee Gai” which literary means salivating chicken. Fancy name, huh?

Again with this, I just had to have this with rice.

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I see the dish above very often when I go for lunch at the Crystal Mall. I never knew what it was but it certainly was popular that a lot of people ordered it. I assumed that this is a very Sichuan dish.

Guess what it is made of.

This is called Shredded Potato with Dried Chili ($5). I was kind of intrigued because as far as I know potatoes are not native to China. Potatoes originated from South America and I was curious how this ended up as a traditional dish in China.

I thought I was cool right? I just had to mention this … and guess what the response was from the experts.

Well … read on.

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This next one is called the Boiled Beef with Assorted Vegetable ($13). You see how reddish all Sichuan dishes are. The cuisine is dominated by the use of red chilli peppers and the tongue numbing Sichuan peppercorn.

The experts pointed to me that if potatoes did not originate from China, I would be more surprised that Chilli is also not native to China. Huh! I learn new things everyday. I simply love this kind of info. These days I find myself getting more into learning about the food as much as tasting it.

I am amazed at how chili became a core ingredient of two major Chinese cuisines (Hunan and Sichuan). Christopher Columbus found South America about 500 years ago. To think that this made its way to central China (not even coastal China) just boggles my mind. I want to find out how chilli was introduced to China. Anyone knows?

I love this type of dishes. It is lovely pouring some of the soup/gravy into a bowl of rice and strategically place a few Sichuan peppercorns so I could get like 2-3 of it with each mouthful.

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The Chinese Bacon with Garlic Sprout is $13. I think this is also called “Twice Cooked Pork” when translated from Chinese.

I personally are not all crazy over this. It is not the fatty layer that turns me off because I love fatty pork meat. It’s the texture and that it tastes salty too.

He he he … the Canadian bacon is more superior.

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Next up is the House Special Tofu with Pork and Bean Sauce ($10).

This is OK. Quite good and is a sweetish addition to the other spicy hot dishes.

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Oh … you will like the name of this vermicelli dish. This is called “ants climbing a tree”. I wonder what is the story behind this dish.

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Wimps! LOL!

I could not believe how many pitchers of iced water that the table consumed. I would have thought that these foodie experts would have been able to take Sichuan spicy food better.

Hmmm … but then you reckon these pro foodies are doing this to protect their taste buds. I mean, their taste buds is like their tool of the trade sort of things, right? Unlike them, my taste buds which had long been destroyed and numbed by decades of enjoying spicy food.

Sorry guys. I hope you all don’t take offense to my clumsy attempt at humour. But really … I am so honored to have been considered worthy enough to be invited to the inner sanctum of this group of distinguished foodies.

In closing … I’ll say it in Cantonese … “sifu. doh doh jee gau.”.

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S&W Pepper House (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

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  1. I love a good pot of Sichuan Boiled Beef. And the name of the dish is so deceiving. lol.

    Did you like it? I always end up eating it with a ton of rice.

    1. HI Ann: I love it. I always like Sichuan food … and like you, I always end up eating it with a ton of rice. Ben

  2. It was great to have you there Ben…but “revered foodies”? LOL…wait till I tell them. 😉

    PS. You are selling yourself short. You have the largest recorded catalog of the Vancouver food scene. It is an impressive body of work.

    PPS. We were at the Burnaby location of S&W Pepperhouse last night. I can safely say I prefer the Burnaby location over the one in Richmond.

    1. Ben, a round of support from this corner as well!

      On “Ants Climbing Up a Tree,” I’ve always understood that the name is derived from the appearance: the minced meat sticks to the noodles in a way that resembles ants crawling through the branches of a tree. I wonder how drunk the person was when he/she originally named it….

      1. If that person was Chinese, it wouldn’t take much to get him drunk !

      2. When I was flipping through Yuji Wakiya’s eponymous Haute Chinese cookbook today, his take on “Ants Climbing Up a Tree” is that one “compliments” the food by saying “it will attract a lot of ants. This dish is so good that even if you put it up a tree, ants will climb the tree to get it.” Huh.

  3. [gulps] I have a sneaking suspicion that in any future foodie events I have with FMED will require me to wear flame-retardant clothing and bring a fire extinguisher !!

  4. That is a nice picture of you 🙂 although the camera looks so intimidating and large when it is not. My friend also has a 40D as well. Maybe they drank a ton of ice water as they did not mix the food with rice like you did?

    I’ll take the last three items any day as they are not very spicy.

    1. Oh wow, thanks for the research LotusRapper. The article did say “Interestingly, it was not until 1868 that Europeans learned that chillies were not originally from India”. I want to add the following:
      “Interestingly, it was not until 2010 that Ben learned that chillies were not originally from Asia”. LOL!

      1. Better late than never !

  5. fried peanuts? that looks good! someone at work was talking about eating boiled peanuts and i didn’t know this was even possible. now i want to eat some boiled AND fried peanuts.

    i agree that you’re selling yourself short. your blog is huge! amazing pictures and excellent reviews. you take 2nd to NO ONE! 🙂

  6. I like Sichuan food but not everyday otherwise I will have painful ending.
    I recall some books indicated the hot pepper chili was brought into China before Song dynasty ; approximate thousand years ago as people at that time already into occean travelling to southern China sea area and doing trading. It becomes more flourishing as the Ming dynasty has hugh occean ships travelling all the way to Africa.

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