Dinner at Good Choice Restaurant on Fraser and 44th, Vancouver

I keep telling people that Suanne and I do not go back to the crime scene. I know that expression does not make much sense. But it sounded good. LOL! What I meant to say is that we hardly ever go back to the same restaurant once we had written about them.

It is kind of sad, isn’t it? I think about 95% of our dine outs are to restaurants we had never visited before. Truth is, I wish sometimes we could be like normal people who has a favourite restaurant they go back to again and again. Do you have one such restaurant? You know, a restaurant you visit at least once or twice a month?


We went back to the “crime scene”. We had dim sum at the Good Choice Restaurant on the recommendation that this is a good restaurant. It was. We were very impressed with the dim sum which the chef makes on his own. It was one of the better dim sums restaurants we had and I blogged about them here.

While their dim sum was excellent, we were told that it is the dinners that is better. Yeah, I kept hearing the mention of their salt bake chicken and really wanted to try that too. For Chinese dinners, the only way to do justice to this is to gather enough people to fill a table.

I had so much on my plate these days that it is simply impossible for me to organize one. However, before I knew it, a hand shot up to volunteer to organize it. It was Michelle. Michelle did all the planning including the selection of dishes.


A total of 12 people attended that night. That is already 2 people more than what was earlier intended.

The people attended are mostly new to Suanne and I. These were Michelle’s foodie friends and so it was great to get to know new faces.


They served peanuts and pickled daikon and carrots as free appetizers. Nothing fancy.

After we got settled down, apparently the waiter who served us during our earlier dim sum visit told us that he remember us and pointed to the very table we were at. He sure has good memory. He also told us that he read the post I wrote too. Gosh … good thing I had good things to say or else you never know what they do to your food.

Yeah, I saw too many Cantonese movies where I see waiters spitting into the food before serving it to the customers they don’t like! I wonder if this sort of things really happen in real life. Who knows right? These waiters and waitresses in Chinese restaurants must have also watched movies like that and they get the idea from the movies.


Anyway, the service that night was good. Actually it was very good and I am totally impressed with it.

They were very prompt in changing our dishes and what I like best was the way they pace the whole dinner for us. It was only one or two dishes at a time. I hate it when restaurants pile on dish after dish that we lose track of the dishes and felt rushed. Instead, what I like is to be able to slowly savor each dish and talk about them. That is what they did for us that night.

Good-Choice-Dinner-31 Good-Choice-Dinner-32

We started off with herbal soup which was both “ching” (clear) and flavorful. That is a hallmark of a well done soup … that the looks of the soup belies the flavour.

The soup is made with pork, chicken feet and “Chung Choe Far” (don’t know what it’s called in English). The plate of the meat (pictured right) does not have much taste left as all the flavour has gone into the soup. It is also tough and the only way to eat it if you want to is to dip it in soya sauce.

Granted not many people eat this. It is more for show. Anyway, does anyone of you actually enjoy these meat?


The Beef Brisket was beautifully done. It is so simply served on a bed of julienne cucumbers. The light soy sauce flavour meshes well with the beef which was tender. I normally would stay away from brisket as I just do not usually like the texture of briskets. However, I have to say this was good. I like that it is served cold too.


There was a bit of indecisiveness on whether to get this or not. This is Scallop in … XO Sauce with Chinese Celery. You see, we have 12 people and they only have 10 scallops left that night. Moreover, it is $6 per scallop and so this is not a cheap dish too.

Hehehe … I think Michelle is trying to think for everyone and not make this dinner too expensive. Instead, everyone said go for it!


Who doesn’t like scallops! The scallop muscle was quite chewy but actually to think that the above is $6, it is not something you eat everyday.


The Salt and Pepper Deep Fried Crabs was spicy. We got 2 crabs because one would have been too little for twelve people. But with two crabs, everyone had a good share of the crab.

BTW, does anyone know how many pieces would Chinese restaurants normally cut a 2lb crab?


The Chiu Chow Duck is one of Good Choice’s signature dishes. They marinate the duck for a whole day and then bake it. The master sauce is sweetish with anise flavour.

As you can see the duck was excellent. For me what I like too is the “jup”. The precious “jup” cannot be wasted and so that is the point that I had to ask for steamed rice.


The Salt Baked Chicken is another of their signature dishes. They told us that they marinate it in special sauce and then bake it.

I ask them what that special sauce is, they told me it is a secret sauce. They did not want to tell me.


After they showed us the entire chicken, they took it back to the kitchen to cut it up for us. This is one dish that people are raving about and so we all had high expectations for this dish.

Hmmm … maybe something was amiss that night. The sauce was pretty salty … it is only good with steamed rice. Perhaps it is also my personal preference. I felt that it is the free range chicken they used and therefore not as tender as I wish it to be. So by and large it was a so-so dish.


The Live Steamed Black Cod was very tender, sweet and fresh tasting. The fish was earlier brought out for us the inspect — it was all lively and jumpy. Someone was commenting that all the showing of live seafood sometimes does not mean that it is exactly the one they serve. It is not that one will tag the seafood or anything like that. So yeah, it is all just for show and it all depends on the honesty of the restaurant. No, I am not saying this restaurant is not honest. Am just saying what was discussed at the table. 🙂

There wasn’t a lot to go around the table but at least I think everyone had a taste of it.


The Braised Pork Hock is a beauty to behold. The restaurant told us that they braised this for 2 to 3 hours but added that it is the preparation that takes more time. Huh? Really? I would have thought the braising is the main thing but what sort of preparation is needed to cook this? Anyone knows?

The meat was sweet and tender. Done well.


Here is another thing I like about this restaurant. Normally you find this in a more upscale restaurant but in this restaurant they apportion the food for us and serve the food in individual plates. Yeah I was kind of worried that people digging into the beautiful pork hock and ruining it. Hehehe … for this, you gotta really cut it up nicely or else it will look very unappetizing. I am very anal about this.


This is supposed to be another of their signature dish … the Stir Fry Squab with Liver. It is served with more stuff like chinese sausage, wood ear fungus, sweet peas and Chinese celery.

We could barely see the squab. I used to enjoy liver dishes, but for some reason I now don’t enjoy it that much. I don’t know why.

People hardly touched this dish too. There are always leftovers every time I have liver dishes. Note to self … don’t ever order liver dishes next time.


The Sweet and Sour Spareribs was a recommendation because the sauce is supposed to be different (I am not sure what it is though).

This is well made with the outside crispy and the sauce not too vinegarish. Pretty good.


We also order the Ginger Milk Custard as a dessert. It was not so gingery but actually I should say it was quite bland.

We should not have ordered this because the restaurant serves free dessert too.


The free desserts were Coconut and Mango Jelly and Red Bean Soup.


The dinner came up to $37 per person include tax and tips.

Generally, the dishes were good. However, it was not extraordinary. Maybe it was because we came with too high an expectation.

Thanks, Michelle, for organizing this and inviting Suanne and I.

Good Choice Restaurant on UrbanspoonBusiness Hour

7 days a week

10:00 am to 10:30 pm

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Lily

    Hi Ben,
    “Chong Choe Far” is also known by it’s Latin name Cordyceps sinensis or colloquially as the caterpillar fungus. What was actually in the soup is the “flower” of this Chinese medicinal mushroom. This is much cheaper to buy at the Chinese herbal stores than the Cordyceps sinensis itself. It’s an off shoot from the fungus. It’s the stringy orange colour ingredient in the soup. Personally I like to eat what was boiled in Chinese soups. I find the meat particularly flavourful, and very nourishing. I really like to pick out the orange strands (chong choe far) from my mother’s soups and eat it. The texture is crunchy and chewy. I guess you could say my family doesn’t waste food if it’s edible. Anyway, Cordyceps sinensis is very expensive and worth more than its weight in gold. There are various threads on the Web regarding its medicinal property. I think your soup was very healthy. Chicken feet is supposed to help strengthen your feet muscle, while the pork provided protein. This soup was way superior to the one you had at Red Star on Granville several months back. Just my opinion.

  2. Buddha Boy

    With live scallops, we usually have it steamed in it’s shell to enjoy the freshness of it. Do you think that stir frying this XO style may have overpowered it’s taste and texture?


    1. Ben

      Hi BB: I see your point of view. We never thought of it that way. The sauce and frying was quite light and perhaps that might have been the whole idea the way Good Choice makes this. Tell me more about how scallops is supposed to be prepared? Ben

      1. fmed

        As described, it sounds like the XO will overpower the scallops…but it doesn’t in this case. It still tasted very light (the time I had it). A number of seafood joints (including Sea Harbour, Read Star) prepare scallops, prawns, etc with XO and it doesn’t come off tasting strong at all.

        1. buddha boy

          Hi Ben, Hi fmed

          I wouldn’t be able to recommend how scallops are supposed to be prepared.

          My preference for live scallops is to steam in it’s own shell so that any juices will remain in the shell.

          At Sea Harbour, are they using live scallops for the dish? I understand that with the prawns, that the shell keeps the freshness and juices in.

          I guess it’s only a personal preference.


        2. Crispy Lechon

          I think if you are going to stir fry the scallops with XO sauce, you might as well use fresh scallops instead of the live ones. At least it will not cost $65.00 for the dish.

          1. fmed

            It would certainly be a lot cheaper. You can get the live scallops the usual and more minimal way here too (steamed in shell, etc.) if that is your preference.

            But is steaming a “better” way cooking it? Or is it is a “different” way of cooking it. The chef used a light hand when he cooked the dish. None of the other ingredients overpowered any other….it was all nicely balanced. It was very good.

            Now if he went ahead and deepfried these things and served it with BBQ sauce… 😉

          2. Buddha Boy


            deep fried and served with bacon? then it’s all good.

  3. Crispy Lechon

    I guess Good Choice is not really a good choice for dinner. There was another review in Urbanspoon and the diner wasn’t impressed either. I guess it all depends on the dishes ordered and as you said you went in with high expectations. BTW, the scallops are actually 6.50 each from the receipt.

  4. Buddha Girl

    The “flower” in the soup was the buds of daylily (萱草)…commonly known as “golden needle” (金針) or “golden needle flower” (金針花)…


    I had the same question in mind as Buddha Boy…stir-frying fresh live scallops in XO sauce accompanied with Chinese celery and chives is a little out of ordinary…I’m surprised a restaurant would suggest such…

  5. fmed

    I have had two really good dinners there now since the first one. I find the cooking at Good Choice much lighter and much fresher than most Cantonese places.

    Perhaps you caught them on a off-night…though it sounds like it may not have been an off-night. It may be just a matter of expectations.

  6. LotusRapper

    @Crispy: Good Choice’s Chinese name is “Ho Choi”, sort of a slang for “fluked out” or “by luck”.

    That pork hock looks gooooood. Did it come with sauce for your rice, Ben ?

    The S&S pork ….. so what turned out to be different about it. I’m curious. It’s one dish I have no shame of ordering in Chinese restaurants, as it can indicate the skills and quality of the kitchen.

    1. Ben

      Hi LotusRapper: Nope, the “jup” from the pork hock were not for my rice. There were a lot of nice “jup” that night to keep me a happy man … particularly the steamed fish, the beef brisket and the Chiu Chow duck. 🙂 About the sweet and sour pork, I usually get this in food courts. I felt that it’s such a waste ordering this in a nice restaurant. Ben

      1. LotusRapper

        “About the sweet and sour pork, I usually get this in food courts. I felt that it’s such a waste ordering this in a nice restaurant.”


        If/when I feel guilty ordering S&SP in a nice place, my runner-up dish would be Chinese style filet mignon (in Cantonese it’s “Zhong Sik Ngow Lau”).

        1. Ben

          Help … someone help translate “Zhong Sik Ngow Lau” for me. The best I could translate is:
          Zhong = Middle
          Sik = Color
          Ngow = Cow
          Lau = Flow
          Middle color cow flow? Nah … doesn’t sound right to me.

          1. Lily

            Hi LotusRapper,
            The picture looks great, and I’ve just ate dinner. LOL! The dish is called Chinese-style Beef Tenderloin. It’s too bad some restaurant will overload the dish with stir-fried onion which is a cheap filler. Worse is when the onion is barely cooked and not given enough time to carmelize in the wok.

          2. Ben

            Hi LotusRapper: Where is your favourite place to have the Chinese Style Cow Fillet? Ben

          3. LotusRapper

            Hmmm, ya got me there Ben. I don’t keep track of these meticulous things like some food bloggers do (LOL). But I do recall two times where I over-indulged myself silly on slabs of Chinese style beef fillet (sometimes boldly called Chinese style filet mignon) on rice: Golden Ocean (Kerrisdale) and Red Star (yeah, that one).

            BTW: I hate it when they put green peas in the dish.

      2. Winnie

        Hi Ben,
        Acutally I don’t think it’s a waste to order sweet and sour pork at nice restaurant. For us, it’s the testing dish for a Cantonese restaurant to see if they do this basic dish properly. The same for a simple fried rice. (either with minced beef, BBQ pork or with diced chicken. Plain fried rice with egg would be the real test but no one really want plain fried rice LOL)
        I still remember My grandpa used to show me how to do it properly with the “throwing” the wok skill. ^_^ I missed him.

        1. Buddha Girl

          I agree with you Winnie. We order sweet & sour whenever I have a craving for it. In fact, for our wedding years ago, we actually added two extra dishes to the banquet menu and one being the Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls (since our parents didn’t like the “sound” or the pork in Chinese for weddings…hahahaha)…and everyone loved it!

          1. LotusRapper

            Ya know, them “adults” just don’t admit they like S&S pork at formal dinners !

          2. Ben

            Yeah … and then they say that they want to take the S&S Pork home for their dog when in fact they wanted that for their breakfast with congee the next morning. “Mmmm … siu jeh … lik jau mmm goi … bei gow sek geh”. Ben

          3. LotusRapper

            LOL !

          4. Buddha Girl

            Or packing it home for their “kids” when really…it’s for themselves later on at night…hahahah!

          5. Buddha Girl

            I know! When Buddha Boy and I wanted to add that dish, our parents were rolling their eyes…hahaha! But we insisted on it…but to make it sound better we went with the name 甜蜜鳳凰球 instead of 咕魯雞球…hahahaha! Years later…people are still talking about it whenever we see them saying it’s the first time they had such dish at a wedding banquet…hahahahaha! Adults…just admit you like it! LOL!!!

        2. Ben

          Hi Winnie: I was just joking with LotusRapper. 🙂 Ben

          1. Winnie


          2. LotusRapper

            Wait ’til Ben pull his famous “lemon soup” thing on you ….

  7. Lily

    Hi Ben,
    I still think the orange strands in your soup is Cordyceps sinensis, especially since you were told it was “Chong Choe Far” in addition to the pork and chicken feet. I highly doubt you would confuse it for daylily buds “Gum Jum Far” if the server told you it was “Chong Choe Far”. Also, daylily buds are not necessary orange when cooked, and are fatter/coarser than Cordysceps sinensis buds. My mother cooks with both and I know the difference. FYI, Cordyceps sinensis buds are graded by the thickness. You can tell if it’s premium quality if it’s as thick as a toothpick. Cheaper ones are as thin as coarse strings.

    1. Ben

      Hi Lily: I agree with you. According to Suanne too, the orangey strands are definitely “Chong Choe Far”. Moreover that was exactly what the waitress said it was. Ben

  8. Michelle

    Thanks for writing up our experience at Good Choice, Ben. It was a fun experience organizing a dinner and I must say the staff at Good Choice really helped me out a lot!!! My favorite dishes were the Chui Chow duck, the braised pork hock and the black cod. I must say I’m glad we ordered the steamed ginger pudding because I did enjoy it immensely. I think for the quality of the food the price was very reasonable. Note to self also: don’t order liver dishes again….unless of course, it’s foie gras…:-).

    1. Ben

      Hi Michelle: Thanks a lot for organizing this and making it such an enjoyable evening. Hehehe … where is the next one you are organizing next? Ben

    1. Ben

      Hi MizzJ: “Being High Maintenance. Not Bitchy”? I love the name of your site! Ben

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