Bei Jiang Restaurant on Alexandra Road, Richmond

Hey all … sit up.

This restaurant excites me and I think it will you too. After just 5 minutes in this restaurant, I was already telling Suanne that we NEED to come back because it is simply impossible to try everything we wanted to.

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We did not find this restaurant. It was JS who first broke the news of this new restaurant on chowhound and the very first response to that initial report was from Vancouver’s uber foodie saying “Color me excited!”. That thread was a very interesting one … well, at least to me as it covered a branch of Chinese cuisine that is not very common in the city.

The Bei Jiang Restaurant is located on Richmond’s glutton street, Alexandra Road. It is in the same strip mall as very popular Cattle Cafe and Michigan Noodles.

Bei Jiang is a Xinjiang cuisine restaurant. Xinjiang is a province located in the western most part of China which for the most part quite unlike the rest of China. It is the Uyghur (pronounced like you-girl, I think) people who makes up half the population. The Uyghur is more Turkic than they are Chinese.

Parking in this strip mall is very bad. You are better off going very early, like 5PM or you are better off paying for street parking along Alexandra. I remember that this strip mall used to be one of the quieter ones along glutton street. Ever since Cattle Cafe, Michigan Noodles and a host of other popular restaurants opened, it had been impossible to get parking in the really small lot. Many do not know that there are more parking by driving to the roof of the building but that too is small too.

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Walking in, the first thing that will grab you is the classiness … well, at least a good attempt to be classy. For the most part, this is a pleasant restaurant with some rough edges.

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The marble top table with the stout table legs along with the silky seat cushions sets this place apart. I am guessing that the nice stout legs are there not only because of aesthetics but it is meant to support the heavy table top. I like the table top as it is cold to the touch.

It is kind of spotty in that they also have a couple really cheap looking tables too.

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And how is this for a table setting in a Chinese restaurant. For one, the chopsticks have more gold on it. And then the tea cup has gold trimmings too.  Like I said, it is spotty … in that not every table has the same table setting. Some have more ordinary looking tea cups.

OK, this comment is gonna make some of you squeamish. This is a traditional Chinese restaurant. They … errrr … don’t provide communal chopsticks if you don’t ask them. As a family we don’t need that and I see that all the other tables don’t use communal chopsticks too. He he he … some of you must think that the Chinese people are really unhygienic.

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I just found out that Suanne cannot lift her pinky easily. Too her a lot of straining to get to this position.

Oh … to add … the restaurant was full during Thursday dinner time although there was no line. The customers seems to be largely young Mandarin speaking people and strangely we were the only family-group dining there on that day.

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Remember I said earlier that I was already planning to make a return visit? Well … just look at only three pages of many of their menu … with so many enticing colourful pictures. The pictures above are clickable to show a larger image. It is one of the most appealing menu I had every seen.

Their menu is very lamb-y but then of course, Xinjiang cuisine is known for their excellent lamb dishes. It took us a while before we decided what we wanted. The waitress was not much of a help because she speaks Mandarin (she took a while to understand when we asked her for two glasses of water).

Another observation of their menu — their prices are high and they do charge a bit of a premium. Still I thought it was worth it because of its uniqueness.

For me, a lot of these dishes I have never try before.

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Like this one! This one used to cost $988 (fine, one grand!) believe it or not. Seems like it was too expensive and now they priced it at $688.

Can someone help me translate this page here? I really, really want to try this but am not sure how many this feeds and whether if this is to go or dine in. We need a lot of people to devour this beast. So, am wondering if anyone would want to join me if I organize one?

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We ordered the above because we saw every table ordering this. It was very good.

This is called the ”Da Pan” (big basin?) Chicken. It came in three sizes:

  • Small: $16
  • Medium: $19
  • Large: $24

We got the small one. It is served with potatoes, green and red sweet peppers and some red and green chilli peppers. So this is a spicy dish but not very spicy though.

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This was what intrigued us the most and made us order it.

They serve this dish in two acts. First … came the chicken dish. I see that people would start eating the chicken and potatoes. A few minutes later, they will bring out a plate of hot hand made noodles and pour it on top of the chicken. Weird … they did it like that for all the tables. I was asking myself why they serve this separately when in fact they could have served this all in the same go.

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But the noodles were wonderful. It was chewy and firm and tasted like they were made fresh. The chewy noodles dunked in the sauce was just so good. With the noodles, you don’t really need rice to go with this dish.

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The sauce was very nice too. Even though we had hand made noodles, we ordered rice so that the sauce does not go to waste.

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The chicken is boned-in. As I had said many times earlier, chicken meat must be cooked with the bones in. The meat tastes better. For non-Chinese, this means that there are less meat. Yeah sure … but I think it is a question of quality over quantity. 🙂

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Let’s back up a bit. The first dish we had was the appetizer dish above. This is called Honey Little Pumpkin ($3.60). The boys did not want this and frankly, neither did I. We had this because Suanne wants it.

This is a cold dish and the pumpkins has the skin on. Suanne said it did not look as appetizing as the photo in the menu but I thought it was quite good. This was lightly sweet and creamy. The skin can be eaten. Suanne and I like the taste but it was simply too many on the plate to finish it all between us.

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The Mutton Skewer ($2 each) was top notch. We asked for this to be made spicy. We can clearly smell the waft of this as they brought it out from the kitchen. Served on a metal skewer the lamb was tender and perfect in many ways.

You should try this if you visit Bei Jiang.

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We also had a Braised Lamb ($17). It is served in a pot that keeps the dish warm (with flame underneath).

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With bone in, this is a very fragrant dish. The meat was tender and full of flavour.

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The sauce is great with steamed rice.

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But the rice is not as good. Actually, their rice is terrible. Some part of it is sticky and gooey and another part of it is grainy. Seems like the rice was cooked unevenly in the pot.

Anyway, we see that most tables do not order rice at all. For us, we always need rice … especially when there are nice sauces.

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The Xinjiang Pizza ($14) was a nice change from the Italian style pizza.

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It is quite big and so it is good for two people actually.

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The pizza is doughy and thick. It is bready. It is nice when it isserved hot and so you want to eat it fast. Once it gets cold, it is like eating sliced bread.

The wonderful thing is that it is topped with lots of lamb with finely chopped red onion, carrot, green and red peppers. Very moist, very delicious. It seems to us like it is the lamb skewers, chopped and served on top of the pizza.

Nanzaro said “Xinjiang Pizza rocks”.

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No problem when the bread gets cold. Just dip it in the sauce. In our table … with no communal chopsticks deployed, we are allowed double-dipping.

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It is expensive but am not complaining. Anyway, we over ordered and has three boxes to take home anyway.

I think you will love this place. It has a lot of lamb dishes and this is where they excel. If you don’t like lamb and find them gamey, there are other dishes but you don’t know what you’re missing. 🙂

Apparently, from the really interesting chowhound discussion, Bei Jiang is a branch of a restaurant in China with the same camel logo.

So … anyone care to join me in trying that $688 Barbeque Grill Whole Lamb? It’s a lucky number. 🙂

Bei Jiang Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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  1. Crispy Lechon

    I think you can share that lamb with 20 or more people. 2 tables of 10 and each table gets half a lamb. Im game for that if you do organize that dinner.

    I did a solo lunch at Bei Jiang and ordered the lamb skewers and the cold tofu/preserved egg dish. I liked the lamb skewers a lot. I think someone said in Chowhound that they use charcoals to grill the skewers.

  2. That lamb is 300 dollars less than when they originally opened. I wonder if it will still come down in price: I’m playing it like the stock market. LOL

  3. Lily

    Hi Ben,
    I think Uygur is pronounced “wei-gur”. I vaguely remembered learning it in school. Not a fan of lamb I’m afraid. On my last trip to China, our tour had lunch at a famous local restaurant for lamb dishes. As our tour bus was pulling away, the slaughter house was right across the road from the restaurant. It was brutal. ‘Nuff said.

    1. Ben

      Hi Lily: So happen I have someone from Xinjiang working in my company. I asked him and he said that “wei-gur” is kind of right but the correct pronounciation is “oi-gur”. Sounds the same to me. 🙂 Ben

  4. Darlene Clarke

    Hey Ben,

    I love lamb (eating lamb that is). Any time you need volunteers for this restaurant, I’m game!. I really enjoy your descriptions of the food and ambiance.

    Cheers, Darlene

  5. Michelle

    Hi Ben,
    How does the chicken dish compare with the Hand-sliced noodles with xinjiang spicy chicken at Lucky Gate Restaurant in Coquitlam, which I believe you’ve also tried? It won silver in the northern noodles category with the CRA awards. We love that restarant and the lamb with cumin there is also the best I’ve tried.
    As for the roast lamb…we’d be in but as we just had a big lamb roast at the house on sunday, I might have to wait a while as I’m a bit lambed out. I will send you photos!!

    1. Ben

      Hi Michelle: The version in Lucky Gate has a bolder flavour and is also a lot more oilier too. I like the one at Bei Jiang better just simply it is not as oily. However, Lucky Gate’s hand sliced noodles are much chewier. BTW, the photos of the big lamb roast looked so good! How many did the lamb feed … and how much was it to buy the entire lamb to roast yourself? Ben

      1. Michelle

        It was a 50 lbs lamb and it fed 50 people generously with leftovers. It was the main item but we had lots of appies and sides as well. We ordered a Salt Spring Island lamb as I like the flavour of the meat…it’s not so gamy. The butchers at Thrifty’s brought it in for us and it cost $290. We rented the spit for another $70. So all together, it wasn’t too bad. Next year, we plan to do a roast suckling pig!!

        1. Ben

          Wow, Michelle … that is much cheaper than I thought. I wish I could muster 50 people or else would love to organize one. Ben

  6. Diana

    That was not a lamb. It had horns so was mature and you would be eating mutton which is why it smells gamey. I’ll pass.

    1. Jess

      Could those be ears? If they are horns, where are the ears? If those are ears, they are really long ears. Either way, not very appetizing…

      1. Joe

        Could it be A PICTURE FOR A MENU THAT THE STOLE OFF THE INTERNET? Stop debating and embrace it.

        1. Ben

          Hi Joe: He he he … the blue sky and green lawn looked like they came from my Windows XP wallpaper with the lamb (OK to please some of you “mutton”) photoshoped in 🙂 Ben

      2. Ben

        All these talk about sheep, lamb, mutton and goat really makes me want to go to the restaurant right now to find out what this really is! Ben

  7. Jess

    If you think lamb is gamey, try goat cheese, it’s even worse. Goat cheese smells and tastes like armpit, not that I have actually tasted armpit. Just saying… And everything goat cheese touches, it smells. The plate you put goat cheese on? You have to wash that plate many times to get rid of the smell and taste. It’s that bad.

    1. fmed

      You are not alone – lots of people hate goat cheese. It is definitely an acquired taste….but I do love a good goat cheese nowadays. Cheese from sheep has the same kind of funk (which I liken to “barnyard-gymsock”) as cheese from goat…but a bit milder. Aging mitigates that funk so if find a nice pecorino or similar, you may want to give it another try.

    2. Ben

      Hi Jess: Where can one buy goat cheese in Vancouver? I know very little about cheese and would love to learn if goat cheese smell anything like my armpit (which does not smell too bad). Ben

      1. Marike

        I’ve bought the soft white (unripened?) goat cheese from Save On and Pricemart before. Specailty cheese section. Seen it in Walmart Supercentre too.

        It doesn’t taste strong at all. I crumble it in into salads.

        1. grayelf

          You can buy goat cheese at many delis and I believe even at Safeway (though I don’t recommend that, too expensive). I usually buy mine at Parthenon in Kits. Soft chevre comes in “logs” where they cut you a piece of the size you indicate, kind of like buying liverwurst :-).

          1. Jean

            Sounds like Ben and Suanne might want to try more goat cheese..as a novelty for now.

            I didn’t start eating goat cheese until 10 years ago..well into mid-life. 🙂

            Might be good to drop by any of the outdoor farmers’ markets on weekends in Vancouver area to try sample goat cheese.

            We buy ours there or other times, from Granville Market where there is choice and range of pricing. Also small rolls of goat cheese to try. Mild unripened doesn’t smell.

            But if people like blue cheese, gorgonzola cheese already, goat cheese is not a big step.

            We

  8. Jess

    I have seen a menu of a restaurant serving goat…does goat just taste like older sheep?

  9. Pinoy Gourmet

    No Jess Goat is a much stronger flavor then mutton,Ihave enjoyed goat and Ben please count me in for the whole lamb,I love Uighur food and have eaten it in Beijing,Shanghai,Wuhan…..get the picture and Crispy Lechon,the new Pangasinan food place in Joyce has Kilawen na Kambing!!!Thats a kind of Raw Goat Ceviche.Maybe they can roast a goat???Joking

    1. Crispy Lechon

      Hi Pinoygourmet, thanks for the tip. Is that place near Cucina Manila? Yay, kilawen na kambing. I’ve never tried that. I saw it shown in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Philippines episode in which they also eat the goat’s head cooked in a soup. It might be a little bit too “exotic” for me.

  10. whiners

    the writing describes how the lambs were raised.. says they eat chinese herbs, drink mineral water, breathe negative ions and walk on a golden path….-_-”

    seems like the lamb is to be eaten three ways… but doesn’t say how many it feeds..

    1. Ben

      Thanks for the translation whiners. It seems kind of hard to believe that claim … unless they import the lambs from China or something. Ben

  11. grayelf

    So they really are serving mutton at Beijiang? Hmm not a coveted meat in my world :-).

    I am goat cheese lover but I do agree that you have to pick your cheese. Like cows milk cheeses (or even sheeps milk which is a personal fave), the intensity varies from cheese to cheese. I have served soft chevres to people who swore they hated goats milk and they have happily scarfed them. The Canadian Snow Goat is a good “starter cheese” for anti-goat milkers :-). It is also much cheaper than a similar chevre from France.

    Now I want cheese for lunch…

  12. Pinoy Gourmet

    If anybody is interested there is a Persian place that serves Sheeps head along Lonsdale in North Vancouver,My Boss loves it boiled in a stew.Its supposed to be delicous and Crispy Lechon,The Filipino Goat Restaurant.It is beside Cucina Manila Joyce,Goat soup,Goat Stew and other goat dishes

  13. Ben

    I went back to Bei Jiang and asked about the roast lamb. They could not help much at all because they can’t explain it well in English. They said that it will feed 10-20 people and will be prepared in 3 ways. When I asked them what the three ways are, they can’t even describe it but instead went back to the kitchen and brought out three saucers … garlic, a spice mix and a thick marinade (hoisin?). We need to some who can speak Mandarin to ask them. Any volunteers?

    Oh BTW, the restaurant is absolutely packed for dinner tonight (Sunday). There are people waiting for tables and already placing the orders while waiting for the table to free up. With the curtains drawn, the whole restaurant looked a lot more nicer … yellow and gold.

    Ben

  14. liz

    A couple of years ago we took a Silk Route trip across China and in Urumqi we had dinner at an Uiygur restaurant where a whole roasted goat was served as part of the dinner. It was definitely not lamb and had horns more pointing upwards than sideways. It was wheeled into the dining room sitting upright on a red tablecloth; the horns decorated with ribbon and a green sprig of leaves sticking out of the corner of its mouth. Then it was carved in front of the dinner guests. When the head was taken off everyone who owned a camera had to get a picture of it. (Sorry, I can’t find my pics right now.) The roasted goat was served to about 8 tables (most of the diners). Each table had a huge plate of crispy brown meat but what we got was tough as leather boots. Some pieces were so overcooked you couldn’t even call it jerky.
    Interesting to look at but I don’t think I would do it again.

  15. Mehedi

    Looks so delicious

  16. Shmoo

    Hmm, did you ever put together your whole lamb dinner at Bei Jiang? 🙂

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