ABC Country Restaurant on No 3 Road and Capstan Way, Richmond

Running out of idea for cake meet, Polly and I went to ABC Country Restaurant in Richmond. We know that diner style restaurant like Denny’s and ABC Country will have a dessert menu.

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The ABC Country Restaurant in Richmond is located on No 3 Road and Capstan Way, in between Canadian Tire and Yaohan Mall. There are plenty of parking here.

ABC Country was established in 1972 in Cranbrook and now has over 30 franchises in British Columbia and Alberta.

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The interior is dim, coupled with dark coloured furniture and decors. Surprisingly, they are webkinz toys distributor too. The cabinet at the far end in the above photo are filled with webkinz toys. Kids will love this place.

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We had regular coffees for $2.50. The good thing eating in a diner like this is that the refill is free.

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We decided to get something savory first before we indulge in dessert. We ordered the Potato Skins for $8.99.  They are served with salsa and sour cream.

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The Potato Skins is stuffed with cheddar and mozarella and topped with smoked sausage and green onions. This is quite filing for both of us.

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Our first dessert item is Banana Caramel Chimi which is $6.99. It is creamy cheesecake layered with chunks of  banana and butter caramel inside a flaky pastry tortilla. This is served with premium ice-cream and some hot fudge topped with crushed peanuts. We believed the tortilla is deep fried as it is quite crispy. The banana enhanced the richness of the cheese. We enjoyed this one. Our next dessert is their signature … (more…)

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Microwave Brownies

The last dessert demonstrated in the South Arm Community Kitchen is the quickest dessert you can make. It’s Microwave Brownies that can be ready in 10 to 12 minutes, including preparation time. Erika demonstrated the Microwave Brownies which her family’s favourite.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 100 grams butter (slightly less than a stick, use the extra for buttering the pan.
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup pecans
  • icing sugar for garnishing

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Source: Erika

Prep time: 5 minutes; Bake time: 6 minutes; Serve 9

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Spanish Almond Cake

Minoo shared this Spanish Almond Cake as one of the dessert in the South Arm Community Kitchen. I enjoyed this kitchen most as I love sweets.

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This is a simple and quick cake recipe. It comes handy when you have unexpected guests.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • icing sugar for garnishing

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Source: Minoo

Prep time: 15 minutes; Bake time: 25 minutes; Serve 8

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Taro Balls

In the South Arm Community Kitchen, Peggy demonstrated how to make Taro Balls in the same session as Julie. The theme for this kitchen was dessert. We had two Asian desserts and two cakes coming along.

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The Taro Balls can be served with Red Bean Soup or eaten with some sprinkle of sugars. Peggy said these are great in summer eaten with chilled red bean soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 taro about 1.5 pound)
  • 1.5 cups sweet potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste

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Source: Peggy

Prep time: 50 minutes; Cook time: 5 minutes; Serve 6 to 8

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Glutinous Rice Ball Filled with Sesame Paste and Rolled in Crushed Peanuts

When the Richmond Community Kitchens celebrated Chinese New Year the dim sum at HKYK Seafood Hotpot Restaurant, some of the members really enjoyed the Glutinous Rice Balls coated with Crushed Peanuts and  ere interested to learn how to make it. Among the attendees is Julie who had demonstrated how to make Taiwanese Tang Yuan in the South Arm Community Kitchen in March 2007.  Julie volunteered to demonstrate how to make the Glutinous Rice Ball Filled with Sesame Paste and Rolled in Crushed Peanuts in the very next kitchen at South Arm Community Kitchen.

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The Glutinous Rice Ball served in multicolor mini muffin paper cups can be a great potluck dish.

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We love the chewiness of the glutinous rice ball while the black sesame filing and the crush peanuts add different textures to this sweet snack.

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Julie also made some plain (unfilled) glutinous rice ball to be served in red bean soup.

Ingredients

  • glutinous rice flour
  • ground black sesame
  • icing sugar
  • water or vegetable oil

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Weekend Musings (20-Mar-2010)

By the time you read this, Suanne, Arkensen, Nanzaro and I would have been cruising down the I-5 on the way to Oregon. We are going for a short spring break vacation. We have scheduled a few posts to release while we are away but we might not be able to answer emails or approve some of the comments in a timely manner.

When we are back we will bring you reports of the food cart scenes of Portland and also a report from the factory of the newly crowned best cheddar cheese in the world.

The Eight Great Treasures of Chinese Cuisine

The project is very much on execution right now. The Eight Great Treasures of Chinese Cuisine (8GTCC for short) is a series of dinners organized by chowtimes focusing on the eight main Chinese cuisines.

Back in January, Suanne and I wanted to embark on an exploration in learning about the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine. We are just intrigued by the differences between these distinct regional cuisines — we want to do a series on them over a period of time.

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The Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine are defined as follows (with the 4 major ones marked with ***):

  • Anhui
  • Cantonese ***
  • Fujian
  • Hunan
  • Jiangsu (Huaiyang) ***
  • Shandong ***
  • Sichuan ***
  • Zhejiang

We would love to engage chowtimes readers in this journey with us. As you know, the traditional way to enjoy Chinese food is to have it banquet style. We are thinking of organizing something along these lines:

  • We meet once a month on a Saturday. Each month, we will focus on one of the eight regional cuisine
  • We will organize a few tables (ten to a table) with a multi-course dinner.
  • A 8GTCC team members will research about the cuisine and share with everyone prior to the dinner
  • We will learn about the region, the ingredients, the cooking techniques, famous dishes, the people, etc.

After all, I am of the opinion that Vancouver is home to the best authentic Chinese restaurants in North America. I think we can even go as far as saying Vancouver is home to the best authentic Chinese restaurants outside of China.

It will be a great time to learn, meet fellow foodies and most important of all, enjoy the best each of the regional cuisines has to offer. When I first brought this idea up, the response were overwhelming beyond my expectations. I received over 40 responses! Hang on first — don’t send me anymore requests. We will be announcing the details very shortly to announce the details.

This is a project that Suanne and I know we cannot do on our own. We have assembled a team of very capable volunteers. I had not discussed how much I can reveal who they are but I can tell you their pseudonyms. They are fmed, LotusRapper, Keev, DylanK, and Joe.

Last week, the team had a meeting and we have completed the plans on how we are moving forwards. And it is a great team too. I was awed by the collective body of knowledge and research capability we have in all these people. Gosh, if we really pushes it, this team could even write an authoritative book on the 8GTCC. I am not kidding. Just look at the comments generated by them over the last few days in chowtimes and you will see. I can’t wait for you all to meet the team. I think you will be amazed with them as I was.

For Suanne and I, we are in for the learning and is willing to let the use of chowtimes as a rallying point for everyone interested in learning the finer points of Chinese Cuisine. The first cuisine had been selected and the team is hammering away in producing a comprehensive write-up of that cuisine. Members of the team will take turns providing the leadership in each cuisine. The first one will be led by fmed who had done more than expected in compiling even the framework on the way forward.

This is going to be so exciting. I hope you all will find it so too and join us in this exploration.

A Couple Of Other Things

I met a most amazing chef last week. There were so much common energy between us that we generated quite a lot of ideas in doing some pretty innovative activities that we know will delight not only foodies out there but also those who enjoys cooking too. We will let the ideas incubate for a little longer but at the rate things are going, I am pretty excited about it that I just gotta say it out loud. Like the 8GTCC, we might need volunteers to help pull this off.

The other thing is my buddy, Rey, had some Kopi Luwak brought in. As you might know, Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world and get this … it is made from the droppings of the civet cat. LOL! The real Kopi Luwak costs up to $500 a pound but the one that Rey has is cheaper, way cheaper. He wants to share this with chowtimes readers but we don’t know … (more…)

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Chill Restaurant and Lounge on Kingsway Near Royal Oak, Burnaby

Updated: 14th Nov 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

Karl (The Friday Lunch) and I are turning out to be regular lunch partners. Which is great because it gives me the chance to check out the restaurants in Burnaby more. If you get a peek at my “to-visit” list, it is the Burnaby list that is the longest. Suanne and I cover Richmond since it’s in our neighborhood and if we go our further, it is to Vancouver mostly.

At the rate things are going, I think with the help of Karl, I will be able to check out the Burnaby restaurants more.

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It was Karl’s turn to make the choice. He suggested that we go to the next restaurant along Kingsway called Chill.

I exchanged several emails from Flora of Chill before when she invited Suanne and I to the restaurant. We said we will go one day but we never had the chance. So this would be a great time to go with Karl. Oh … I did not inform Flora ahead of my visit.

Chill is located next door to Pho Hoa (I think). I think at one point it is was a pub or something. I am not sure about this but there is something about this location. Feng Sui or what, not many people seems to gravitate to this place. Maybe it is on this short stretch of Kingsway that people step on the pedal when the road widens a little and hence this does not have the same visibility as the restaurants just 1-2 blocks up and down Kingsway from here.

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Stepping into the restaurant, we find that the place looked much better than we thought. Neat clean lines with a decidedly Taiwanese style eatery. LOL! “Decidedly Taiwanese style eatery” refers to the black and red colors chosen in the same scheme of The One restaurant, Beefy Beef Noodles and Estea. See below …

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The One Restaurant, Burnaby

Beefy Beef Noodle, Vancouver
Beefy Beef Noodle, Vancouver

Estea, Richmond
Estea, Richmond

OK, I pretty much made this up. LOL! For some reason, I am beginning to associate red-black color scheme with Taiwanese restaurants. I thought it was kind of sleek.

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The Chill is spacious. I really like the way the restaurant is setup. This is so unlike many Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant. There is the normal booth type seatings on one side, a separate bar area and most others are configurable tables with nice high back leather chairs.

Karl and I were seated at the tables located on a raised platform which we reckon doubles as a stage for night performances.

The place was pretty quiet when we were there. I am not surprised. Like I said, it’s something about this location. The whole time we were there there was only 3 tables taken up.

Oh … when Karl and I was there, workers from my company were there too. One of them came over to me and whispered that “lit dow geh yeh hoe larn sek geh” … “the food here is hard to eat”. He he he … Karl and I looked at each other and said … “then why is he here”. LOL!  For a moment we were thinking maybe the food here is not as good as the how it looked.

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Chill does not appear to be like many of the Taiwanese restaurants around dishing out standard fare. They try to make themselves different while at the same time serving the popular Taiwanese dishes.

There are live performances on some nights and specials on certain days of the week. They like to call what they serve as tapas which kind of lend itself with the alcohol they also serve inhouse. It sounds to me that they want to make this like a “Taiwanese Cafe-slash-bubble-tea-house”  for the grown ups.

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This is what I meant when I said “Taiwanese Cafe-slash-bubble-tea-house”.

This is the first time I had seen Alcoholic Bubble Tea. I really wanted to try this but I had to get back to work. I did not want go back and run a meeting looking like I am half-drunk since I turn red very easily.

How does “Brandy Milk Tea” sound? LOL!

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So instead of getting the alcoholic drink, we asked our waitress for recommendations. I went with something called the Hawaiian Holiday ($5.25). It is the one on the right. The Hawaiian Holiday is a mix of banana, coconut and pineapple. Pretty good.

Karl’s choice is the one on the left. I can’t remember now what his is called — Lemon Plum I think.

Onto the food …

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When I asked our waitress for a recommendation, she so enthusiastically recommended their Taiwanese Beef Noodles. Oh, I thought that it is quite bold seeing that they are just blocks away from Lao Shang Dong. I wanted to try that but Karl did not. Grrr … since I said I will leave all ordering to him this time, I let it go … I will come back some day to check that out.

The Kong Pow Chicken above is $6. It was quite flavourful. I like it but … (more…)

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Cafe Gloucester on Cambie and West 17th, Vancouver

I would have thought that a lot of people who have known of this old time HK Style Cafe. I heard of them before I even first used the words HK Style Cafe on chowtimes.

But it was only recently that we went.

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Quick. Show of hands those who had never been to Cafe Gloucester before?

BTW. What do you think is the proper way to pronounce the name of Cafe Gloucester? Is it “Glos-ter” or “Glow-chest-ter”?

Located on Cambie, Cafe Gloucester was one of the businesses that had survived the carnage during the Canada Line construction. A restaurant like this will definitely survive because they are very popular particularly with the Chinese community. This is because their prices are cheap, service is fast and food are not bad.

I remember reading that the Copa Cafe located a few blocks down Cambie, is an off shoot of Cafe Gloucester — like a rouge off shoot. Is that right?

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Cafe Gloucester can brag that they had won the award for being the Best HKSC. I am not sure which year though but maybe last year.

You know, of all the restaurant awards, I follow the Chinese Restaurant Awards closely. The coveted Critics Awards for 2010 will be announced on April 7th and you can bet that who ever wins these awards will receive instant recognition. He he he … to think that I had dinner with some of the critics at S&W Pepper House just recently.

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We were there for lunch. The dining area is large and yet they are able to fill the restaurant in most times of the day. Cafe Gloucester is one of the few HK Style Cafe where service to us is polite. The workers are even well dressed with matching uniforms. It’s a sign to us that they care about good service rather than dishing out cheap food and be done with that.

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Their menu is lovely. There are enticing pictures spread over eight pages with some very good selection on each section.

This is the type of menu that we take a long time reading because it is hard to decide what we want. We needed a more sophisticated way to keep track of our shortlisted dishes than keeping a finger at the relevant pages. We actually have to list it down on paper and then do our elimination from there.

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I went with the Laksa Chicken Vermicelli Soup ($8). This is just so that I can contrast this with Bo’s Laksa that I had recently where I can see why his is so good compared to those you find around town.

Nope. The laksa in Cafe Gloucester is too watery and it is only a little spicy. So yeah, it was hard to finish this because it’s not as I expected. It is not that it is inedible mind you. In the most part, it is decent.

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But the chicken meat are boned in and quite meaty and well done. That kind of save this bowl of noodles.

Normally I would finish the laksa soup down to the very last drop. Here I just had the chicken and the vermicelli. They need to make the laksa thicker.

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Nanzaro took the longest to decide what to order. Strange considering that he still end up with fried rice.

The reason was he tried to be fancy and wanted something better than everyone else. He took so long and the waiter was waiting for his order that he felt pressured. So he had the Gloucester House Special Fried Rice ($7).

The fried rice was … (more…)

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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 … (more…)

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The Jade Restaurant on Alexandra Road, Richmond

Please allow me to do a comparison in this post.

Yesterday, I blogged about the tapas we had in Mis Trucos.

Today I am going to blog about Chinese Dim Sum in The Jade Restaurant. I think this is going to be a bit fair comparison because The Jade restaurant is not a cheapo dim sum joint.

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The Jade Restaurant is located on Alexandra Road.

This is the kind of restaurant that you will see a fair number of Mercedes and BMWs in the parking lot.

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We don’t normally go to Chinese restaurants that have high ceilings and chandeliers. Those kind of places are reserved for special occasions.

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There are not just one … but several chandeliers.

And that explains why we had never been here before. We were put off by the chandeliers.

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And the captains wear suits too. The tables have double table cloth. The banquet hall is bright and large. This type of restaurants are designed for banquet dinners. The smallest table is meant for four people. For morning dim sums on a weekend, it is usually a family affair. So seeing multi-generation families are not uncommon.

The only reason we were brave enough to step into here was because we read of the review from Wendy (Eat N About). It seems like the prices were not as bad as I feared.

You know what sucks here? The service. It was not that it was bad all round but a lot of the waiters/waitresses “tai yan” — that means that they have extra good service to the richer tai-tai’s (from the way they dressed and speak in Cantonese) while for us English speaking customers, we are left with the whatever they wished to dish to us.

That is the problem with such successful Chinese restaurants. They are so popular and have so many customers than they can handle, they can afford to select their customers. For some customers, we see that the waiters were always milling around waiting to fill the tea cups for them. For us, when we ask for anything, we were told to “mmm goi tang-tang” (please wait) and they don’t come back. When we ask them again, they give that annoyed look.

So when dining in such places, you got to deal with this or you are better off not going at all. IF … if you can look beyond this, dining in The Jade is good in every sense.

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The Jade Restaurant opens at 9AM. So we were there early because their dim sum is really cheap in the first hour from 9AM – 11AM.

My tip to you is to go at 10’ish and order the first round of cheap dim sums and then follow-up with the better (more expensive) dim-sums at 11AM when the sifu (master chef) arrives in the kitchen.

When we arrived, the place was pretty empty. By 11AM, the whole place was buzzing with activity and there was already a number of people waiting for a table.

We ordered the ‘Bo Lei’ tea. It was a very dark tea … much darker than coffee but the flavour was not overly strong. This is one of the more unusual Chinese tea. You might want to try it if you had never before.

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The menu does indicate the availability according to time. Click on the menu above to display it larger. If you don’t know what to order, just go for the ones that is marked with a red star. Those are their specialties.

But anyway, the prices of the dim sums between 9-11AM is $4 – $5 but have a limited selection.

After 11AM the prices ranges from $7 – $10 with more varieties like congee, noodles, and some special price items.

We thought it was not too expensive for a classy-looking place like this.

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Arkensen and Nanzaro wanted cheong fun. Suanne and I decided to get one that you don’t normally find in other dim sum restaurants. This one has mushrooms and scallops. The boys protested saying that they don’t want this because it has vegetables (mushrooms!) in it. We tried to reason that this has scallops and they will like it. Well, rather than prolonging the debate, I just over-ruled their protest. Guess what … they love it. LOL! They just don’t want to listen to their mum and dad anymore.

They use fine inoki mushrooms. The scallop was most unique and has a very exquisite taste.

This is $5.28. For the non-Chinese, did you know why the price is so oddly ends with twenty eight cents? The number 8 is an auspicious number to the Chinese because the word sounded like “wealth”. The number 2 is a word that sounds like “easy”. So in combination, 28 is “easy wealth”. That is why you find that the Chinese will pay to get car license plate with the number “8” in it.

In some Chinese cities, people pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for not just car license numbers but for things like phone numbers, the floor of an office building, etc. Even the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony kicked off on 08/08/08 at 8:08 PM.

If the number 8 is auspicious, the number 4 is to be avoided by the Chinese … because it meant “death”. LOL!

Chinese!

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Despite protests across the table, we went ahead and ordered the Steamed Mushroom Dumpling ($4.98). The Jade restaurant makes their dumpling very well. The wrap is so thin and translucent that you could virtually see what is inside. This one has shitake mushroom and has a unique flavour.

It was so good that you don’t really need chili sauce or sweet soy sauce to dip. I think pure Cantonese dim sums does not provide the dipping sauces unless you ask for them specifically. Is that right?

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Our waiter recommended this. The Steamed Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce ($4.48) was kind of oversteamed because the eggplant is too soft and mushy.

 Steamed Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce from Royal Dinner and Dance
Steamed Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce from Royal Dinner and Dance

We like the version we had at Royal Dinner and Dance better.

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For some reason, they gave us this one above when we ordered the Supreme Dumpling in Soup. Their Supreme Dumpling in soup is their specialty.

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We thought that it would be good to try dumpling with lamb meat for a change. The Pan Fried Lamb Dumpling is $4.48.

They serve this with sweet soy sauce mixed with chili, cilantro and garlic which was really good with the gamey tasting lamb dumpling.

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So many dumplings right? This one is called Steamed Chiu Chau Dumpling ($4.48).

The skin is so thin that we got to be careful picking it up. The crunchy texture of the fillings inside was great. It consists of turnip/jicama, chives, dried prawns, pork and peanuts. Loaded! It crumbles when you bite into it and so you want to eat it placed on a spoon.

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The best part of the meal has got to be this simple dish. This item is only available after … (more…)

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