Golden Phoenix Seafood Restaurant on Nanaimo and Broadway, Vancouver

Updated 23rd Oct 2011; This restaurant is closed, verified against Urbanspoon.com.

I am not sure if you notice this. For quite a long while already, we had been dining out by looking for particular dishes instead of wanting to try a restaurant. That is why our to-try list is sorted by dishes rather than by restaurants. We find it more fun seeking out interesting food than interesting restaurants.

And what really helps us is that we get quite a number of recommendations via emails and comments from Friends of Chowtimes. Of course, right? If someone cares to write to us about something they discovered and like a lot, chances are it will not be too shabby.

Lily wrote to us about two weeks ago. Out of the blue … and boy, is she expressive. Her descriptions of her favourite food in select restaurants were so detailed that I was wondering why she did not put up a blog of her own. LOL!

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Lily wrote to us about the sago and red bean pudding she had in the Golden Phoenix. Golden Phoenix is located just next door to the ever so busy $2.95 breakfast joint on Nanaimo and Broadway.

It is a long way from home in Richmond but for something unique we are more than willing to take the drive. Suanne and I just am bored with the same old siu mai, har gow and stuff like that even though our boys love those. We took the trek nevertheless on account of Lily’s description of the one item.

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I did not expect this but this restaurant is prettier than I thought. It is so plain on the outside but inside is pretty classy. The carpet is nice and newish … double layer table cloth instead of layers of throwaway plastic ones. Even the seats have covers.

I did not expect this at all. I was actually thinking … “oh no, how much is this gonna cost now?”.

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I actually did not expect a lot of other things too. I read about poor service in this restaurant but our experience is more than pleasant. The ladies who attended to us were sweet and we felt mothered, if I can describe it that way. It’s like our own mums asking us if we wanted any particular item and then telling us why this is good for us — very persuasive.

Granted the restaurant was about 80% full during that time we were there. It is a push cart dim sum restaurant. They also bring out individual items by hand.

Language-wise, we got by fine with them with English. They understand but their English is limited.

Chinese tea charge is 60 cents per person whether you drink or not. Our boys always have iced water. They do charge them for 60 cents. It is not a problem for us but just wanted to point this out.

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Despite how fancy the restaurant looked, their prices did not match that. As a matter of fact, I found them quite on par with “lesser” restaurants.

Look at the picture on the left … the top part that says “Chef’s Special House Steamed Soup”. I learned that they are big on steamed soup. The logo outside the restaurant is a steaming pot. As we walked in, there was a dozen or so soup pots on display. There is even a banner on top of the entrance to the kitchen extolling the benefits of drinking soup.

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Most of what we got was just $2.36. Good value for money, I am sure you would agree.

So, we were quite happy with everything up to this point.

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The above is what Lily was telling us about. This is called Tapioca with Red Bean Paste on their menu. We couldn’t find this in their menu and had to describe this to the waitress. It took a while before she understood what we were looking for. She had to go to the kitchen to get this for us. So, if you want to get this, you might need to ask for it specifically.

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I like it. It is not super delicious or anything like that. It is just interesting and nice.

This is served cold and jelly-like. I thought it would be … sticky but it was not. Instead, it is a bit chewy and has a firm texture (definitely firmer than jelly).

The sweetness came mainly from the red beans.

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Golden Phoenix is a soup specialist. In here you must order their soup to try. And they are not expensive too.

There were so many soup options to choose from that we did not know what to get. I asked the waitress what her favourite one is and she said the Ginseng & Pearl Chicken Soup. So we got that.

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The regular price for this soup is $6 but it was discounted at $4.80.

In Cantonese, the only way to describe this is that it is “jang”. I am not sure what the English equivalent word is. It is a word better than “good” … a word that one use to say that it is so good and that one is satisfied.

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This one I like too. I like the name … the Empress Pork BBQ Bun. For those of you who understands Cantonese, this is called Kwei Fei Char Siu Bao.

This is like a cross between two of my favourite buns … the char siu bau and the pineapple bun. Not quite the same, but like.

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They served this fresh out of the oven and this is the only way one should have it.

It is overall sweetish. It is also very soft and airy and has a crunch topping which is sugary. Unlike the topping in Pineapple Buns, this one is finer and tasted a bit creamy. The Pork BBQ is juicy and moist as you can see.

I can’t see anyone not liking this at all.

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The Mixed Sesame Seeds Balls was another favourite item.

I like the whole idea of having a mix of black (hint of bitterness) and white sesame (slightly nutty) seed here.

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The sesame seeds are well roasted to a crisp. Inside, they are half filled with gooey black sesame paste.

This is what I like about restaurants like this. I like to have items like this in dim sum.

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Arkensen and Nanzaro wants Siu Mai.

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Even with a common item like siu mai, they make it different. They are HUGE.

It is not often I see Siu Mai this size. I put one into a normal tea cup and it almost fit. Just wanted to show you how big is big. They taste pretty decent too.

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Ditto the Har Gow.

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Ditto the Sticky Rice.

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Not one only but they serve two in a basket.

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And ditto the Black Bean Pork Ribs with Japanese Pumpkins.

Considering that this is just $2.36, it is difficult to find fault with their dim sum.

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Oh … there are more.

The Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce on Tofu was quite good. I like the sauce with the bits on top (garlic?) which has a strong flavour.

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They have some firm tofu underneath the fish. The sauce complemented well with the bland tofu and the fish.

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All these just for $31.

So, Lily thanks for the recommendation. We enjoyed this dim sum very much. It was certainly worth the long drive!

Golden Phoenix Chinese Seafood on UrbanspoonBusiness Hour

Friday & Saturday: 9AM – 1AM
Sunday to Thursday: 9AM – 12 Midnight

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  1. Hi Ben,
    do you prefer siu mai as pure pork? or do you prefer it with shrimp? i think the shrimp enables siu mai to look like they’re on steroids. some oldie chinese folk don’t like how dim sum nowadays is just a big shrimpfest lol

    1. Hi Neige.Tyro: I have no preference if they have chopped prawns added to siu mai. It is just that I don’t fancy siu mai (and har gow). I mean I’ll eat it but I don’t really look forward to that in dim sum. My boys on the other hand would only care about siu mai and har gow. Ben

  2. Mmmmm, the dim sum look good. Are the discounted prices applicable by a certain time, or all morning ?

    1. @LotusRapper: We wondered ourselves too but we did not ask them. Should have. We were there at 9:30 AM and left before 11:00 AM.

  3. Hi Ben,
    This restaurant changed owner a few years ago, maybe three? Interestingly the English name remained the same but the Chinese name changed to “First Taste of the Soup”. I guess the Chinese name change reflects its house specialty which is the Chinese soup. From my mother, I gather this is an art form that is local to the Cantonese/Guangdong region. She prepares traditional Chinese soup (hot, cool, healing) once or twice a week, and tells me that we are very fortunate children, and that we should learn to make it one day. My goal is have her recipes written down in English before it’s too late.

    1. Sol Lily, any particular soups you’d recommend ? Are they varieties of “loh faw tong”/long-cooked soups ?

  4. Hi LotusRapper,
    I probably order the ginger w/pearl chicken soup from the menu choice. I don’t know what else would be in their soup, but my mother would definitely put ginger slices and wolfberry (preferably fresh ones) in her version. If you can read Chinese, the menu also tells you what they’re good for. For example, the ginger w/pearl chicken soup is good for cooling down one’s body, refreshing one’s spirit and one’s qi, and acts as a de-toxifier. I’m guessing it’s too difficult for the restaurant to translate how each soup is good for which ailment, and that’s why it’s not on the English translation. Also, you have to be somewhat familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine or Asian medical concepts to understand hot and cold in reference to the human body. The method of cooking in a terracotta cooking “jar” and steaming until cooked is way different from “loh faw tong”. Although in the olden days it took a lot of wood kindling and time (half a day) to prepare this type of soup, it is relatively easy for a restaurant to prepare it. You start early in the day by throwing in pieces of salted pork bones in a large soup pot and let it simmer until dinner time while adding in vegetables (dried mustard green/Chinese almond/carrots etc) during the cooking process. Hence Chinese restaurant can afford to give away this loh faw tong to dinner time customers. I think it’s tasty and a good way of consuming more Chinese soup, which is good for you, unless they overload on MSG.

    1. I wish I could read all the extra information. Thanks for sharing all the details about the soups and how they are made. I hope you get the recipes written down from your mom, as is your wish! We tried to get my Grandma’s bread recipes from her, but she really didn’t measure anything and was always throwing something in, so they were lost. At the time, I wasn’t interested enough to tape record her, and home video recording wasn’t around yet.

      1. Hi etranger: Yeah., I think it will be interesting for me too to know what the deal is with all these Chinese soup. It is well documented in Chinese for sure but I just can’t find a good resource in English that speaks about them. Actually most of the soups are acquired taste kind of thing. I don’t quite fancy them but I think when one gets older, one accepts them more … like Suanne and I. Ben

  5. hey Ben….
    if you are in that side of town again…we had a nice family dinner tonight at Luda on Hastings and Slocan.
    We also did the long drive from Richmond! We normally go to Prince with the family…….this is way better. Food, service, quality….value
    I think I ate the best crab I have ever eaten in a restaurant tonight….more flavor than usual “jew im hai”…kind of addictive. Spciy, hot, garlicy..with a yummy curry twist….just really tasty. Everything else we had was pretty decent too. I would love to hear your take on this place!

    I think this place has only been open for a couple of months……anyone else try this yet?

  6. oh yea…forgot to mention that with this yummy curry crab, they serve Ben’s favorite lemon flavored soup!
    🙂 I think you and Suanne must really check this one out.

    1. Hi Joy Luck Club: The curry crab with the lemon flavoured soup (hope it’s infused with tea!) … is that at Prince or is that at Luca? Ben

  7. Golden Phoenix is my family’s ‘go-to’ dim sum place as it is in our neighbourhood. Their dim sum items are definitely large (the har gao is the biggest one I have seen!). Our usual order is similar to yours – I always get the Empress Pork BBQ Bun and B&W Sesame Balls too. It’s amazing that they still have carts despite the tight quarters.

    I also recommend newish Luda that joyluckclub mentioned. Have their HK style Hainan Chicken Rice and their Soy Halibut (or something like that). Very good!

    1. Hi Fmed and JoyLuckClub: We drove to Moi Ngo Gai for dinner tonight and since we were almost at Hastings, we drove to Luda. I am impressed by what I see from the outside. Is that restaurant new? I see that their signboard also had beef balls as one of their specialties. Ben

      1. Hi Ben,
        Luda has been open for a couple of months. We also had the Soy Halibut….very good. Can’t say enough about how tasty the Curry Crab was though.
        They are sort of a Congee Noodle house with an expanded menu. The rumor is the chef/owner came from one of the better Richmond restaurants.
        Nice blend of “hole in the wall” with fabulous food. Not fancy, just honest!

        1. Must try that crab next time I’m at Luda.

          Ben – I really have to check out Moi Ngo Gai – I see that they have a much bigger menu that when I last was there. Very intriguing place.

          1. Hi fmed: I thought you would have tried Moi Ngo Gai before since it is within your neighborhood. They have very unique food. I was impressed with their 12 types of noodles and also dinner menu. The dinner menu is where most of the action is. Ben

          2. I have tried it…but when I did they had a very standard pho/bun type menu – granted with a few interesting soups. They have changed their menu drastically since my last visit (a couple of months after Song Huong sold the location to them). They had none of the regional specialties. It was hohum so I discounted it. Thanks for the report – I will now bring it up the list! Very excited to try it.

        2. Got it. Thanks joyluckclub. I’ll definitely go to Luda one of these days. BTW, the name joyluckclub reminds me of the excellent movie of the same name I saw many many year ago. Ben

          1. yup..same for me. And my BR is the guy who puts soy sauce on my mom’s pried dishes.

          2. ooops, I meant prized dishes.
            I have to Thank you and Suanne for the inspiration. I have started my own blog. Will be traveling back to China with my parents for the fist time. Will use my blog to document the stories. Thanks again for the inspiration. My blog is Wok in a Tuscan Kitchen, if you are interested: http://wokinthetuscankitchen.blogspot.com/ Would love to know what you think…….self proclaimed foodie who loves to recreate yumminess in my own Kitchen……would love to invite you and Suanne for dinner.

          3. Hi Joyluckclub: I would love to read of your adventures in China. As a matter of fact, I had been following Novi On The Go who had been also blogging of her time in China. I would love to go visit China someday myself. I had seen your blog. For a while I was kind of unsure if your blog is an Italian/Tuscany blog but then you were talking about Vancouver restaurants too. Oh thanks for the invite … Suanne and I would love to meet you with you (and BR) some day. Ben

      2. Beef balls is one of their specialties. I don’t usually like beef balls, but I should try it here.

    1. I know what you mean !! These look like “tong yuen” but +100. And I loooooove sesame.

    2. Hi JS: I had not been able to shake off thinking about The One on Granville for the past three weeks. Is there anything you could do to help? Ben

      1. Always glad to be of service, Ben, especially when it comes to eating! 🙂 I’m half-afraid that The One ain’t going to be as good as when we were there the last time (a month ago). Things move fast in the Chinese restaurant industry. Are you free for next week Friday (10/8)?

        1. Hi JS: yes, yes … Friday is good. We have to send our boys to camp and so we can do it a bit later than we normally eat … 7’ish is the safest as we don’t know exactly what time we need to drop them off. Hope that works for you but if you need this to be earlier, just let us know. Grayelf has an empty stomach too. Ben

          1. Empty stomach yes, but not dance card for this Friday — two movies at VIFF that night.

  8. +1 on The One :-).

  9. Hi Ben,
    The Curry Crab is at Luda and the Lemon infused tea is served on the side. It’s nice and cold so it’s quite refreshing. The curry crab is a must try.

  10. making me very hungry!!!

    1. Thanks a lot Foodprints for the link. It just happened that Suanne bought a thermal cooker a few weeks ago and she had been trying to collect soup recipes. This will be useful. Ben

      1. A thermal cooker you say?! Nice. I’m hoping for some blog post from Suanne on this interesting device.

        1. Hi fmed, I used it mainly to make soup. I love the energy conservation concept. All I have to do is to boil the soup in the inner pot on the stove for 20 to 30 minutes and place it into the thermal pot for a few hours and the soup is ready. It is still very hot after a few hours. Theoretically, the thermal pot only loose 1 degree every hour. The soup turns out like double boil soup because there is no rigorous movement which cause the ingredients to disintegrate. If need to just reboil the soup. I can prepare the soup in the morning and forget about it.

        2. If you are a Chinese soup purist, the thermal cooker will not be a good choice to cook Chinese herbal soups. The Chinese herbs supposedly interact with metal cookware. Its best to cook it in a ceramic cookware at low heat like in double boil soup or in a ceramic crockpot.

          1. Hi Crispy Lechon,

            Thanks for the vote. 🙂

            Phoebe from homemade-chinese-soups.com

  11. Woah, this place has renovated since I have visited (which has been a few years)! It looks good.

    The food looks good too! I think it deserves a second chance…

  12. Hi Ben, I enjoy reading your blog & have tried many restaurants that you have recommended. We had a family dim sum @Golden Phoenix. It is definitely a lively place for Dim Sum – the portions are huge -especially the siu mai & har gow! Service was quick, efficient & prices are pretty reasonable. We tried a dessert – it had clear jello mixed with wolfberries & coconut (jello) – on the bottom – it was really good. Thanks again for all your recommendations!

  13. Based on Ben’s review, we went to Golden Phoenix this past Sunday for dim sum.

    Although we arrived for 11:30, it was 20 mins before we were seated. The place was packed and hopping !!! Actually it was rather chaotic and very “yeet nao” but not so much in a good way. The carts were having trouble navigating through the room around the people and chairs. We flagged any server that walked by with food, so it was not really a planned menu but more a “git-wut-u-can” smattering of items. We ended up getting:

    – shrimp dumplings
    – turnip cake
    – spring rolls
    – shrimp rice rolls
    – sticky rice wraps in lotus leaves
    – gai lan stir fried in garlic (special order)
    – steamed ribs in black bean sauce
    – chicken feet
    – fried prawn fritters
    – peanut & pork congee

    Between 6 adults and one child that was actually more than enough with leftovers. All items were nice and hot, generously portioned too. Too bad there were no more mixed sesame balls nor the empress bbq pork buns from the kitchen so we didn’t get to try them, to my chagrin. Other than a boisterous ambiance and a frantic flagging down of items, we left with happy bellies.

    I did detect MSG afterwards and felt thirsty, but not as bad as eating at some Japanese restaurants.

    One question: our dim sum card/bill did not show the 20% discounting wordage that you had. We didn’t ask staff if the 20% discount was time-limited (ie: before lunch rush). So that was disappointing somewhat.

    1. Hi LotusRapper: Thanks for the report. From what you wrote, perhaps going earlier might have been a better experience when it is not as crowded (and cheaper with the discount too). When we were there a few tables were empty. Oh, you did not try ordering some of their soup, I see. Ben

      1. No, didn’t order soups. Totally forgot, in fact. Too focused on getting our grubby hands on the food, the food ! LOL. But it’s neat they display all these different Chinese soup-serving vessels (tureens) in the display case by the front entrance.

  14. likes the soup here. reasonably priced and good.

  15. Oh yes, my friends and I discovered this restaurant by chance because our fav cheap dim sum place at the T & T place at 1st and Renfrew were undergoing renovations. Their dim sum is delicious and made really well. Siu Mai is good blend of pork and prawns but i like thier har gow very much. A definite must go for dim sum fans!

    1. Hi bill: Are you a new visitor to chowtimes.com? I don’t think I had seen your commenting before and today I see a spurt of comments. Yeah, Golden Phoenix is not too bad huh? I won’t say they are the best by any stretch but they are pretty solid and does not disappoint. Hope to hear of your feedback … and for you to share with us your discoveries too! Ben

  16. After reading your review, other site’s reviews and a friend’s recommendation I tried their dim sum today. The food is good and good value but the service is questionable when they are busy. Even worse if you are a banana like me and do not know how to be pushy and have very limited Chinese. They seem to look down on bananas.

    I wanted to introduce my friends to a variety of dishes and it seemed today would not be it. They had one person going around with dessert and that was all gone very quickly before we could ask for it. We waited for egg tarts or anything else different after we ordered 10 dished. Looks like they were backed up in the kitchen. However, they were churning out the typical har gow and sui mai which we already ate.

    It took only two cart ladies to ruin our meal with their impatience and pushiness to get us out of there. BTW, ask NOT to be seated next to the door. When it gets busy it’s very intrusive with the waiting crowd.

    I’d go back on a less busy weekday but I will not take the abuse.

  17. this restaurant is now closed.

    1. Hi ming c, thank you for your notification. I had updated the post.

  18. Hi Cindy: Thanks for coming in and comment. I have a question … why did you not simply move and retain your Golden Phoenix name? Sorry for being nosy but am just curious. 🙂 Ben

    1. Maybe it’d be too confusing to have Phoenix Garden at the old location, and Cindy’s Golden Phoenix at the new location ? And it sounds like it’d be better for Cindy to separate themselves (name and reputation-wise) from the other folks.

    2. if it helps, the chinese name has been retained =D

  19. Yes, Golden Phoenix is our fav place for family dinners. I was so glad to see that they re-opened up the street a few days ago. Now after reading all your comments, i’m going to bring my family to try their dim sum while i’m in town again. Dinner is really good there. I loved their clams cooked in lemongrass. You should try it next time. Of course, the soup’s good too! : )

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