Western Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Victoria and 33rd, Vancouver

It is just who I am OK? So you really got to bear with me.

Whenever I get myself obsessed on a certain food, I will go and find out more about it. I am no expert but I have an insatiable curiosity for information.

What I was really obsessed about of late is something called the XO Sauce. Lily was telling us in this post that Western Lake has the best XO Sauce. It is so good that legend has it that they charge $2 for a saucer. Wow, that I had to see for myself.

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Suanne and I made our way to Western Lake on Victoria and 33rd. We had never been to this particular restaurant before. Frankly if not for that XO Sauce discussion I don’t think we would even come here at all.

So I did some research and it seems like this is one place I should have visited long ago. A lot of people like this place and many reviews talked about the long waits for tables. People were telling me that I either go at 9AM (that’s when they open) or you better call for a reservation.

It’s not that they will honor your reservation and have an empty table waiting for you to show up. No siree. This is a Chinese restaurant. LOL! At least with a reservation you stand a better chance of being seated ahead of the walk-in customers.

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We had a reservation and we got there just in time by 10 in the morning. We did not want to go earlier than 10AM because this restaurant does not serve the Kitchen Specialties until that time. We are here for their Kitchen Specialties, not the ho-hum stuff like siu mais and har gows.

The restaurant is big and busy. It was running at full house already. I think in Cantonese the expression is “bau pang” which literally means that the tent had exploded. Something like that.

So we were lucky we had a reservation. We just had to wait for 5 minutes before they jostled us to the far corner of the restaurant. I did not quite like the spot because it has blind spots and we can’t be seen by the waiters in case we need them. Well … take it of leave it, I guess.

We took it. I have a feeling those guys have little patience for my petty peeve.

While waiting we stood there and counted 25 tables, mostly 4 to 10 seaters. Quite big is what I say. You know I like double table cloth.

Service was very prompt, very fast. They will throw you a smile or field a question or two but you sense that they really have a lot on their hands serving all the customers. So in that respect I gotta hand it to them. At least they were never rude or have a grumpy face.

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You may click on the menu above (and below) to show it larger. Sorry I had to constantly repeat this because I know it is not obvious to everyone. Believe it or not, not every chowtimes readers are that savvy like most of you are.

Anyway, there are no push cart dim sum here. It is by order form. On one side (above) is the normal dim sum which is served from opening time at 9 AM. We only ticked one item on this page (#15 Steamed Prawn Siu-Mai with Dried Scallops) because we wanted this to go with the famed XO Sauce. I mean, we can’t eat the XO Sauce by itself right? We gotta had something to “dim” the XO Sauce.

Oh … one more thing. Although there are no dim sum carts, they do occasionally bring out trays of their specials to the table. So for strategic purposes, I advise you to:

  • get a table closest to the kitchen so that you can intercept the good ones faster, and
  • order 1 less dish that you can finish so that when the specials come to your table you don’t have to deal with the dilemma to say no to an absolutely item

What do you think? Good strategy? Trust me … I had eaten enough dim sum and is “kiasu” enough to have these strategy ingrained already. 🙂

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Ah yes … flipping over the page is the Kitchen Specialties. Again, this is available only after 10 AM.

We took quite a while looking over the menu because we wanted so many dishes and yet there is only that many we could order. The waitress came by twice asking if we are ready. I am a charming guy and flashing my usual charming eyeless smile, I told them “why do you have so many good dishes? How am I now gonna decide?”

After consultation with Suanne, we decided that since it is a cold snowy day, we will order dishes that will fit the winter theme. We went for almost all soupy dishes for a change.

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The Clams in Spicy Chinese Wine Sauce is $7.

We would normally not order clam dishes because we thought it has little substance (meat) to it and has lots of light soup. But what made us choose this dish are two words … (more…)

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