Specialty Chicken and Wonton House on No 3 Road and Ackroyd, Richmond

I would be very interested to know what the average age of a restaurant is in Metro Vancouver, particularly in Richmond. It doesn’t seems to me that there are many restaurants that are older than 10 years. I don’t know … it seems to me there are a lot of new restaurants and there are also quite a number of unexpected closures too.

And since we are on this topic, I am wondering what is the oldest restaurant in Richmond. Anyone knows? I am guessing it has to be one of the HK Style Cafes or Cantonese restaurants. Even if we don’t know the oldest restaurant, I am thinking that if everyone let me know the oldest you can think of, we might just narrow down to that oldest restaurant in Richmond.



The Specialty Chicken and Wonton House is one of the more hardy restaurants in Richmond. They had been operating in the Ackroyd area for the past 12 years. They used to be in the corner of the strip mall nearest Save on Food.

Just last week, Suanne and I were surprised to find that the familiar name is now a few doors away. It is now occupying a bigger shop lot and it has a fresh new look to it. It was later on we found out they moved to this new location just 3 months ago.


The dining area is big. It can fit about 20 tables which each seating at least 4 people and quite a number of them are much larger tables. So I guess you can imagine how many people this place fits.

While we did not have to wait for a table, the place was bustling with customers. We had not been to this restaurant for … oh … 8 years now and so we were quite pleasantly surprised to see them still going strong.

Service was cheerful. I would even say exceptionally cheerful. It’s a welcome change to see every worker eager to chat with the customers. They even chatted with us like we are old customers.


The entire restaurant is filled with the aroma of herbal chicken soup from the hot pot dish. So many customers got this especially because it is a good dish to have in the cold weather.

Yeah, it’s no wonder why too. The Chinese Herbal Chicken Hot Pot is on top of the single page Chef’s Special menu. All the items looked so good that Suanne and I had a hard time deciding what to get.


This restaurant’s specialty is chicken. Just take a look at the range of chicken they have above. Pictures of menu on this post are clickable to enlarge.


Empress, Hainan, Ching Ping, Salt Baked and soya sauce … I just can’t tell between all of them. Can an expert out there help me differentiate them?

I can only tell apart the soy sauce chicken — it is dark. See I know at least one type. 🙂

All the chicken are served cold except for soy sauce chicken.


And then there are the specials on the plastic holders at the table. I was particularly interested in the home style steamed rice which is $7. Since we were there for dinner, we can’t order this. Makes it easier for us to decide what to get since we can’t get this. 🙂


Since it was cold, we know we want to have a hot pot. This type of hot pot is not the same kind of all you can eat hot pots where you get to cook your own food. This type of hot pot serves pre-cooked ones.

Our table has a built in recessed compartment for the burner for hotpot. I like that because it lowers the hot pot and makes it easier to eat from.


It was a toss up between the herbal chicken (which most tables got) or the goat meat hot pot. What tipped the decision was that goat hot pot is less common than herbal chicken which we had a lot of times already. Actually we prefer chicken herbal hot pot a lot. Our favourite place is in Jubilant and Neptune Wonton.

So this is it … the Goat Meat Hotpot (large) $18.80 from the chef’s special menu.

The hotpot was unexpectedly big. The pot has more than enough food for two people, maybe even three. It has bean curd sticks, shiitake mushroom and suey choy.

The sauce is thicker than what we usually had. You know what … I didn’t like it. LOL!

It has lots of meat for sure but we immediately felt we ordered the wrong one. We should have gone for the Herbal Chicken version instead.


The Goat Meat Hotpot is served with a fermented bean curd dipping sauce. I did not like the dipping sauce at all but Suanne said it was good.


About the only thing I like about this hot pot is the meat with the skin and fatty layer of the goat.

The Chinese believes that goat and lamb is a good winter dish as they have body warming effect.


We had to order a chicken dish and ended up with the Ginger and Green Onion Chicken (half bird for $13). It was quite a random selection among all the many chicken they have. They all looked the same to us except that they are in different shades of yellowness.

This chicken is served warm. Suanne and I were thinking between ourselves that most “white cut chicken” are served “cold” (which also means at room temperature).

Most tables ordered the Soy Chicken. Actually we wished that we had ordered soy chicken like most other people. This one, we did not like (again!).


The meat is tough as expected since it’s free range chicken. I personally prefer they use plumb chicken and has a nice layer of fat below the skin.


Since we ordered two dishes, they gave us free soup and rice. The soup of the day was chicken feet and peanut soup. It was flavourful except that I don’t like peanuts in soup.


We also got free dessert soup – red bean soup.

Hey they call this “hong tao sar” instead of “hing tao sui”. Is there a difference between the two names?


This restaurant accepts cash and only Visa if above $50.

I think we just got all the wrong dishes that day. Seeing how popular this place is I think there are more to it than what we had ordered. We will come back definitely someday to try out their vast menu (see below).

Until then, I would love to learn the difference between Hainan Chicken, Empress Chicken, White-Cut Chicken and what ever else.

Talking about Empress Chicken, the one dish we all in the family love the most at home is “Emperor Chicken”. Suanne uses the A1 Emperor Herbs Chicken Spices. Have you tried it before?


Specialty Chicken & Wonton House on Urbanspoon

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  1. Crispy Lechon

    A couple of old Chinese restaurants in Richmond that I can think of are Wing Kee and Danny’s Wonton House.

    We used to go to the old location of this restaurant a lot until that time when there was a bird flu scare and we shunned eating chickens. Now its time to revisit. Ben, do you need to order a chicken dish to get the free rice and soup? BTW, I think you meant plump chicken and not plumb.

    1. Ben

      Hi Crispy:

      Checking Wing Kee’s website, they won some award in 1986. So that makes them at least 24 years old. I am surprised about Danny’s Wonton House though. I thought that the strip mall they are in are pretty new … maybe just 10 years old?

      Regarding the Specialty Chicken restaurant, we were told by the restaurant that the free rice and soup was free because we ordered two dishes. We did not pay much attention to the details though (like, what type of dishes, etc).

      Oh yeah, I meant plump chicken. Thanks for spotting the typo.


      1. Crispy Lechon

        Hi Ben, the original Danny’s Wonton House’s location was on No. 3 Road across from Richmond Centre. It was in the same space where JJ Shanghai is located.

        1. fmed

          Yep! I used to eat there when I took transit home from UBC in the 80’s. It was a favourite lunch spot for RCMP officers working across the street at City Hall. That tradition continues even though they are now located at the other end of town in Ironwood.

  2. Pinoy Gourmet

    Hi Ben,thats a no brainer,The oldest one is Mcdonalds on number 3 road,It was the first in Canada,Unless you know of a Chinese one older then 54 years old???

  3. Pinoy Gourmet

    Sorry,Correction according to the official history of Mcdonalds its 44 years old,The first Canadian Mcdonalds

    1. Ben

      Thanks Pinoy Gourmet. At 44 years old, I don’t think many restaurant can beat that for longevity. I really think that someday in the near future they are going to tear the restaurant down. It is sitting on a prime land which will make a nice condo. You notice how big that piece of land is? The car park extends quite a distance to the back and it’s sitting there with no cars parked there. It’s only a matter of time.

  4. Mike

    i believe my place was the first vietnamese cusine in all of richmond we were there for about 20 plus year

    1. Ben

      Hi Mike: What is year that Pho Viet started operations? I am trying to get a little database going because I think it will be interesting to know all the oldies restaurants.

      1. Mike

        i shall try to find out for you since it was starte before i was born lol

  5. Buddha Girl

    Oooh…I gotta ask the owners at TG then…I know they existed even before the old Aberdeen Centre was built in 1989…their original location was at E-Canteen is right now, then moved to where Sea Harbour is right now (I think)…then the old Aberdeen Centre…now to Excel Centre…

    However, I don’t think they would be the oldest or longest-standing Chinese restaurant…

    1. Ben

      Hi Buddha Girl: Yeah, the next time you go to Top Gun, find out for us. I would like to know.

  6. Shmoo

    Hey Ben,

    You can’t leave is hanging like that, saying that you didn’t really like the goat hotpot or the chicken with ginger and green onion very much, but not saying very much about why not! 🙂

    From your photos, they both look delicious!

    Do you think this was the sort of situation where you don’t care for the dish in general, or you have enjoyed the dish elsewhere but don’t care for this rendition of it?

    I don’t mean to make you write more, when you offer us so much content already, but I am very curious!

    1. Ben

      Hi Shmoo:

      It was a rush job yesterday writing the post. I had a full day facilitating a workshop and when I got back to my hotel, I was completely drained and had to put in some time too to catch up on work. So I just quickly hammered out this post in between work. Gosh, I am missing home!

      Anyway, about the goat hot pot, I thought the sauce was way too thick and too rich. I generally don’t mind gamey meat but this was exceptionally gamey. Most of the meat are very lean (not tough though). So it was fibrous and it was like “double” beef flank. I don’t particularly like beef flank and so this is even worse. I like the fatty pieces though and the skin. That was the only high point but there wasn’t much fatty pieces. It was mostly lean. I ended up eating more of the bean curd skin and all the other stuff in the hot pot.

      As for the chicken, the skin was tough. I know it is free range chicken but for this type of chicken preparation, I love normal chicken which is plump with a layer of fat under a thick skin. I personally like it if it is “cold” but this one is warm. Moreover, the soya sauce did not do much too. It was strangely quite tasteless. The ginger and green onions looked inviting but again for some reason it was not what I expected. It did not have that kick, that crispness but it was soft like it was blanced or something. So, I was not impressed with it.

      There! Does this satisfy your curiosity? 🙂

      1. Shmoo

        Ha ha ha, wonderfully so.

        Thank you for your patience. It’s gotta be exhausting to run the blog in your spare time when already exhausted from work, and then have your readers whining and clamouring for more details! 🙂

        As for the food, it shows how looks can be deceiving. Or maybe it’s your fine photography. For example, the goat piece that you highlighted, you chose because it was fatty and yummy. I just made the mistake of thinking that many of the pieces were like that.

  7. Chubbypanda

    Poor Ben. Sounds like you had a bad case of table envy. It can really ruin a meal when you spend it wishing for something else.

  8. LotusRapper

    I remember a Wing Kee on E. Broadway at the corner of Quebec. Way back when, when Bill Kee was almost kitty corner on the south side of Broadway just west of Ontario St.

    1. LotusRapper

      No, Bill and Wing were not related, LOL.

    2. Ben

      Hi LotusRapper: That was random. LOL! How does Wing Kee/Bill Kee get connected to this post? Sorry, I was trying to understand …

      1. LotusRapper

        Crispy started it 😉

        Crispy Lechon says:
        November 18, 2010 at 8:15 am
        A couple of old Chinese restaurants in Richmond that I can think of are Wing Kee and Danny’s Wonton House.

        1. Ben

          Hi LotusRapper: Oh I see now. I was asking for oldest restaurant in Richmond not Metro Vancouver. 🙂 Bill Kee … they are no longer in business are they? Ben

  9. Crispy Lechon

    Went there last night for dinner. We ordered the soy chicken and honey garlic spareribs. The soy chicken was a bit salty. I still prefer the soy chicken from Excelsior. The honey garlic spareribs was battered and deep fried. It was good. With the 2 entrees the soup and rice + dessert were free. I also noticed that their servings are bigger than other restaurants. Good dinner and I will definitely come back to try their herb hotpot chicken.

    1. Ben

      Hi Crispy: I agree even though the dishes we ordered were rather disappointing. Specialty Chicken is definitely a place I would return to try their other dishes. Ben

  10. Richard

    Flamingo dimsum restaurant on Cambie and 57th, how many years have they been in business?

    1. LotusRapper

      Forever and a day, it seems.

      Also places like Hon’s, On Lok, Penny’s, Daisy Garden ….. minimum of 4 decades.

      Sorry to derail the thread, again.

  11. Crispy Lechon

    If we’re talking about the oldest and still operating Chinese restaurant in the Lower Mainland, then Fo Ho Ho in Chinatown may fit the bill. It was opened in the 50’s.

  12. pinoy gourmet

    Hi Ben.To the best of my knowlege,after the closure of the Only Seafoods Cafe which opened in 1911,The current oldest restaurant is the The Tomahawk Barbecue in North Vancouver which opened in 1926.Can I invite you for Breakfast there sometime?

    1. Ben

      For sure, Pinoy Gourmet. Tomahawk is so far the longest surviving restaurant (in Metro Vancouver) that we know of. I would love to go there someday and check that out. Ben

      1. LotusRapper

        Oh boy, oh boy. Been forever since I was last there (mid-90’s ?).

        Let’s do a Chowdown there 🙂

        1. grayelf

          Just don’t order the coffee if you go to Tomahawk. It’s like brown crayon water.

          1. LotusRapper

            Nothing gets my system going more than battery-acid coffees !

  13. Hachidori

    I’ve not posted before, but have enjoyed reading your blog for a while now. Great work, keep it up!

    As to the oldest Chinese restaurant in Richmond, I don’t know for certain but I do remember eating at the Bamboo Grove on No. 3 Road as a child … and I’m 45 now!

    1. Ben

      Hi Hachidori: I had never been to Bamboo Grove before but I know they won a CRA award last year. So, we will definitely plan to go and then will try to ask them about their history. Ben

  14. PinoyGourmet

    grayelf you mean to tell me that you were supposed to drink the brown liquid at the Tomahawk,Its not for washing hands???lol not like Ben s lemon soup

  15. Anne

    I haven’t been to this restaurant since they moved to its new location. The last time I went there was with my family, and let’s just say, we were not impressed. Considering that they call themselves a specialty for chicken, we were quite disappointed with their chicken. Like Ben described, the meat was tough and they gave us the wrong order of chicken. Their chickens were more bony with less meat. There are other restaurants with better tasting chicken dishes than this restaurant!

    1. mark

      “the meat was tough ” LOL
      You just described free range chicken. The soft mushy chicken we are used to is from deformed chickens that have barely moved. Real meat is tougher because they have had the opportunity to exercise. I’m not going to defend the wrong order but hearing how people have no idea what real meat is like is depressing.

  16. mark

    Having lived in Richmond for over 30 years, I remember Bamboo Grove. It’s been there as long as I can remember – something of a comfort seeing their green store driving by or when riding the bus. The food is pretty good too. Another reason they seem to still be going strong is that they are good in terms of service to non chinese. They don’t alienate customers with Chinese only menus or relatively bad service. The waiters are talkative and the place seems clean.

    On topic about the specialty chicken restaurant – good food. I know the reviewers didn’t care for the chicken they got but in terms of preparation and taste – it’s done very nicely. The portions are a bit smaller but the price is also a little lower so a group of 2-4 might find dishes a perfect size. Don’t pass up the fried wings.

  17. busy boy

    The oldest location for a chinese retaurant would be sea harbor on number three road. The original restaurant was king wah which openned in the 60s. The oldest retaining the same name would have to be bamboo grove. Although my understanding is it is run by relatives now, which is a good thing considering the original was western chinese food.

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