New Town Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown, Vancouver

It seems that calling this restaurant sketchy and dodgy did not deter some of us from showing up for this impromptu chowdown.

I made sure that I set the expectations clearly up front with those who responded to my call to join Suanne and I for lunch in the New Town Restaurant in Chinatown. I did not want people to look at me funny for choosing a place like this. I am saying this because I was once here some years ago when I saw needles in the washroom. We also came here after our lunch at Maxim’s to buy some buns and we noticed that some of their customers were down and out (if you know what I mean). So that formed an impression in me that this is not exactly a family restaurant.

To me I am no snob when it comes to food. I will go where there is something to learn about even if the food is nothing great. Sorry you gotta take this blog as it is – warts and all. I don’t usually got to fancy schmancy places.

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I am just fascinated with the New Town Bakery and Restaurant because it is a restaurant before my time. Being someone who are relatively new to Canada, I don’t know the background of all these historic restaurants.

You know, as much as I spend a couple of hours everyday hacking away at writing a blog post, I spend equally as long, if not more, reading and digesting your comments. Indeed chowtimes had turned somewhat into a forum of sort.

I always enjoy reading your comments about the history (and gossips) behind these restaurants. Some of you would comment publicly and some would write emails to us in private. Sometimes we get juicy gossip about some restaurants … about gang affiliations and bosses who are hamsap and wives who gambled away the family fortunes and stuff like that. Some things just cannot be published on a blog. If I do, maybe the triads will send someone to take care of chowtimes. LOL!

So yeah, I was determined to go to New Town and accompanied with people who had a big part of their lives living in Chinatown. In all there were eight of us who showed up and I had such a great time.

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Here is where I need you old timers to help me describing the history of New Town, OK? Let me know if I get this correct:

This could be confusing. There are four bakery or restaurant with the name New Town. This one in Chinatown which is 30 years old now is directly affiliated with the New Town bakeries in Richmond and in Surrey.

There is also another New Town on Cambie and 19th called the Original New Town Bakery (which is just a bakery and no restaurant). The Original New Town was the one which has its beginnings in 1948 (making it twice as old). I think the owner of the original New Town sold the restaurant and name about 30 years ago and then had regrets and restarted his bakery business with the Original New Town Bakery.

Is that correct? Yes? No? Anyway, I know who knows … Buddha Girl. So I am gonna reserve the box below for her comment. 🙂

[Box reserved for Buddha Girl to provide history of New Town … would you be kind enough to repeat the history? Pretty please? Thanks!]

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Not sure how it goes though. New Town is Chinese and yet it is Filipino. You can see evidence of this on the door with the Mabuhay word. Some of their food in the bakery too has Filipino names although they are Chinese Filipino food.

See the pix on the right? Hey it is half off after 6:00 PM! Too bad it is out of the way for me or else this would be a great place to pick up something for the next days breakfasts on the way back from the office.

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Hey don’t sneer at New Town. They had won CRA awards before – awards as in plural OK? Their Apple Tarts are legendary.

Don’t play-play!

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We were not sure if they would even take reservations for a place like this but when we called, they apparently do take reservations. For once, I thought I had to go early to “chuup” a table big enough for eight of us. No, we did not have to. The table was there waiting for us when we showed up.

Yeah, most of the people who showed up doesn’t know one another. Apparently when we showed up some of the party were already there and they were waiting for Suanne and I in different sections of the restaurant. Everyone settled down very quickly and we all started to chat like we were old friends – instantaneously. LOL!

It’s amazing how food unites people.

The dining area was relatively busy but the bakery area was extremely busy with people coming in for take outs. Service was very fast and good and friendly. It does help to have Thomas who knows the restaurant workers personally. The “jeh-jehs” (elder sista) and “ah-sohs” (aunties) seems to treat Thomas like their darling. It’s good to be loved.

Let’s face it. New Town is really a dive of a place. It does show its age at all fronts but to me it also shows its charm in many ways.

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I just wonder if there is anything they don’t have here. It is bewildering how many menus they have and I wonder if these are all coordinated at all.

There is a long list of Special Set Menu on the sandwich board outside. We also have the (orange color) menu for Special Mini Set. And then there is the specials of the day on the table holder.

And there is also the main menu (the landscape picture on bottom right). Take a look at the number and see how many items there are (click if want to show it larger).

It’s amazing isn’t it?

Thomas was raving about their Braised Lamb and Beancurd Stick. We wanted to try it but it’s a special that is only available when they make it the day before. Our timing was off. So we did not get to try it.

Dashed!

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I don’t know if I heard Thomas wrong or if he was pulling my legs. I thought I heard him say that the aluminium pot makes tea more smooth.

I have never heard of that before. *shrug*

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Nice and strong. Their Hong Kong style milk tea is good stuff … up to snuff. Just look at the smoothness and richness. We took a while to decide what we wanted.

Since we have numbers, I was a bit bolder and said we will order drinks and some pastries first and real food later. Yeah, normally I am a bit more timid if it was just Suanne and I. We would try to order everything all at once and not hog the table for too long since this restaurant is quite a busy place.

“Bo Chup” (don’t care) because we have the numbers.

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The best Apple Tarts on the planet according to … the CRA (Chinese Restaurant Awards) folks.

According to Thomas, apple tart is created by Chinese cook on the railway eons ago. It is something that can be cooked at the last minute and still good using can apple fillings and pastry. Something like that. I gotta get Thomas to expand on this.

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Oooo … very flaky … oooo … light … oooo … warm … oooo … gooey apple fillings.

Top notch. No wonder this won awards. Yeah, if you just buy one thing here, buy this one.

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Their other specialty is the Char Siu Bao. It was quite OK. While the char siu fillings are moist and flavourful, it is the dough that is just so-so. I mean, I had super fluffy and soft ones but I guess there are many types. This bun here is chewy.

But the exciting thing is not just this bun …

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Thomas told us about their secret sauce. They don’t give this sauce to all tables. You gotta ask for it. Thomas said that this secret sauce is made of hoisin sauce and drippings from making char siu.

This is awesome stuff. Squirt some of this into the filling and it makes it taste a lot better.

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Yeah, eat like a pro! Impress your friends next time by asking for the secret sauce.

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I was not impressed with their Dai Bao (Big Bun). This is called Bola-bola in Tagalog.

It is big but I don’t consider this big. I had eaten really massive ones which is like 8-9 inches in diameter. It is so big you need two hands to hold it.

To its credit this one has good sized fillings.

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The Deep Fried Sugar Coated Chinese Donut was my type of food. I admit it. I enjoyed this a lot.

I don’t see a lot of the others eating this because there are so many left over. Which was fine by me because it just means it is more share for me.

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It was all cut up for us so it was easy to share. It is sweet and has sandy texture from sugar coating.

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It took us a while before we got down to ordering real food. It was pretty much random orders – someone said a dish, we just ordered it without talking about it. I think people did not quite care much what the food was … everyone was more engrossed in their chats.

Thomas ordered the Pancit Beehoon which was a good thing to get since this restaurant has a Filipino influence. Yeah, it did not look super but it is how it is in this restaurant. Remember this is not a fancy restaurant.

The pancit beehoon has pork, liver, fish ball, prawn, squid, cabbage and carrot, the usual stuff. I noticed that there is no bean sprouts which is good because I hate bean sprouts in noodles. The beehoon has a nice garlicky flavour.

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Grayelf opted for the Char Koy Tiu. I think she got this because of the name only (that right, Grayelf? LOL!).

I expected this to be char koay teow which is darker in color, more caramelized and uses dark soy sauce. Instead, this is a Singaporean style fried rice noodles with curry powder.

Nevertheless this is quite spicy.

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The free daily soup has green and red carrot in it. Very little MSG as we did not get much thirsty after.

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The Daily Special is the Pork chop with Onion on Rice. Taste wise it was kind of bland.

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But there were a lot of pork chops. I counted six pieces of big ones.

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The Boiled Beef Brisket with Noodles in Clear Soup ($6.25) was another of their special of the day. This was on the plastic holder on the table and so I wanted to try that.

It was quite good, quite flavourful with thicker rice noodles.

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Gasp! I just learned that Mr Grayelf likes Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice just like Nanzaro and Arkensen. Boy, I think my boys will get along very well with him.

The fried rice looked good. A little drier would be better. I was thinking perhaps they use fresh cooked rice instead of day old rice to make it.

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Although we were quite full already and was about to leave, the “jeh-jeh” who was wheeling out a batch of freshly baked egg tart enticed us to get some.

We couldn’t say no.

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Nothing beats the softness of freshly made ones.

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I felt like it was all carbo loading in this meal. No … it is not that it is bad. These are simple no frills food that I enjoy – just protein and carbo with no veggies.

We did not even have the breakdown of the prices and have no idea is it is all correct. It came to about $11 per person which was OK with everyone.

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Thomas was telling us that New Town will be moving this year. They are moving just three doors away to that spot you see above. The waitress told us it will be a smaller place.

I hope they will rebrand and reinvent themselves with the move. We will definitely be there when they move.

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After the lunch, we went walking around Chinatown with Thomas and Doris. They sure know the neighborhood well and were chatting about nitty gritty details of businesses there. It was all new to me and we did the listening mostly. They even know stuff like the old lady who would sit on some steps selling papers and all.

Suanne and I had a good time. So, thanks to all who showed up to this rather impromptu chowdown.

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Oh … while walking along the stores in Chinatown, Suanne saw that they have Malaysian Anchovies. How exciting right? Well, it wasn’t anywhere near as good. Suanne used it to make Nasi Lemak the next day and the anchovies was no good. The search goes on …

New Town Bakery & Restaurant (Chinatown) on UrbanspoonBUSINESS HOUR

6:30 AM to 8:30 PM except Wednesday and Public Holiday when they closes at 7:00 PM.

This Post Has 128 Comments

  1. Priscilla

    MMmMmmMmMmmm, this post is making me really really hungry and I’d love a dan tart now! =) Thanks for the detail info Ben.

  2. ming

    I remember waaay back in the 1970s and 80s, there was a little coffee shop in Chinatown (Chinatown was a much more vibrant place back then), called the Hong Kong Cafe. They made the best apple tarts in the city. The place closed in the mid 80s and the famous apple tarts disappeared from chinese bakery landscape until New Town Bakery brought it back in the late 90s.

    New Town’s is good, but I have a clear memory of HKC’s and theirs was still the best. 🙂

    1. joyluckclub

      yup…met too. Hong Kong Cafe’s Apple tarts were the absolute best.
      Today we get our supply from NewTown, having one is Richmond is a bonus in our world!!

      Does anyone remember HK Cafes’s Peach Cake. This was a family favorite for Birthdays.
      A gigantic slab of sponge cake, with canned peaches and whipped cream layered in the middle.
      Usually the cakes were covered by a layer of whipped topping and decorated with very green gel-like
      icing…….oh such memories.

      Have not found this cake anywhere for years…any leads out there?

    2. ming

      While reminiscing about this, I did a quick google search and found an obscured reference.

      There’s an artist in Vancouver named Brian McBay. His grandparents were one of the proprietors at the old HKC in chinatown. And supposedly he has the family recipe for the apple tarts.

      I wonder if he could be coaxed into sharing it? 🙂

      1. joyluckclub

        this is going way, waaaaay back, but my dad cooked in the HK Cafe kitchen when he first arrived from China in the late 50’s.

        This has just prodded me to do some “interviewing”. Perhaps good ol’ pops has a few secrets to share.

        1. Ben

          Yeah joyluckclub: We would love to read about your dad’s stories of HK Cafe. Please share! Ben

      2. Ben

        Hi Ming: What was the reference you found Googling? Ben

        1. ming

          here’s the webpage with the reference:

          http://www.walkinghomeprojects.com/

          search through the page for “Brian McBay”

          Here’s a passage from that page that drew my interest:

          “…The Hong Kong Cafe, owned by the grandfather of one our fellow-walkers, the executive-director of 221A, Brian McBay. Ken spoke with fondness of Brian’s grandfather, one of the few Chinese-Canadians who spoke fluent English at the time. Because of this, he helped many in the Chinese community, including Ken’s grandfather, file citizenship papers and enter the country. With almost equal fondness, Ken also reminisced about the apple-tarts at the Hong Kong Cafe, which were regarded as the best in the whole city! Brian still has the family recipe, although it only makes 100 dozen!”

          1. Ben

            That was an amazing link, Ming. Thanks a lot. I enjoyed reading the Walking Home projects. Seems like they stopped for the winter? Ben

    3. LotusRapper

      Actually, I was preferential to BC Royal’s apple tarts in those days 😉

      1. Lia

        Oh I remember those too. Lotusrapper…and the little sweet buns with the dau sa in them?? Oh the good old days..growing up in Vancouver.

        1. joyluckclub

          ohh…I forgot about the dau sa buns…..
          good stuff.

          did you have the sponge cake with the crumbly sugar tops?

          1. Lia

            I don’t remember the cake but we would always get the buns and the apple tarts. I grew up in the early 60’s so those were around my whole childhood. I went to Chinese school in the late 60’s and my uncle worked at the Chinese Times paper so we spent alot of time in Chinatown. My dad’s uncle was also the owner of Northwest Foods..they made noodles and fortune cookies which I grew up with. I love hearing stories of old Chinatown.

        2. LotusRapper

          Anyone like “mah lai goh” ? The yellow fluffy sponge cake ? You see them at more traditional dim sum places. My mom tried to discourage me from eating them when I was young (I loved them) by telling me they were made with lard and it’s really bad for me, LOL. Ah, the scare tactics parents use to coerce their kids to do/not-do things !!

          1. mo

            as a kid, i saved the mah lai goh last so i can use it to absorb all the leftover juices from the dim sum. i also love cheen chung goh (thousand layer cake) but the good ones are hard to find nowadays. i rembr going to Pak Lok in Chinatown (2nd floor) for it, I’m not even sure if they are still around.

            my parents would win the lifetime creativity award for all the crap they told me to get me to do/notdo things as a kid.

          2. Thomas

            Sorry to say Park Lok (Pak Lok) has been gone close to two years now. 🙁 I look out my bedroom window past their darkened kitchen. Who will open that prime spot next?

            I remember our Chinatown of the 1970’s. So many good places gone. *cry* Even a gwai-lo like me feels the loss. I’m so happy we took the time to give New Town a chance so we can remember the good old days & support what’s worthwhile in the neighbourhood.

          3. grayelf

            I love that sponge cake too LR, don’t see it nearly as often as I’d like on ds menus/carts…

  3. Crispy Lechon

    Hi Ben, you mentioned you wanted to check out Amy Yip style buns in Newtown. Are those the buns you ordered there? I do like their tai-pao (bola-bola special). You just have to use their special sauce on it to make it taste even better. The Newtown Richmond have the same buns and bakery items sold in their downtown location. You can also buy the special sauce in small containers. Richmond Newtown carries pretty much the same selections of steamed buns and pastries as their Chinatown locatiom. They also offer 50% discount after 6pm.

    BTW, St Germain bakery inside the Aberdeen Mall has a really good apple tart too.

    1. Crispy Lechon

      Ops I didnt proofread my prev post. I wrote the same statement twice. LOL. Anyway, I googled Amy Yip’s buns and came across a blog post about Ong Kee Yap Chee May Big Bun also known as Amy Yip Big Bun. I guess its just a size comparison with Ms. Yip’s buns. LOL.

    2. Ben

      Hi Crispy:

      Yeah, we did … I was told that the picture right after the char siu bao is the Amy Yip style buns which is kind of small. Yeah, the tai pao / bola-bola as you mentioned is the one. Oh, they sell the special sauce too do they? It was good … need to buy it from the Richmond bakery on of these days we are there.

      Oh … Suanne banned me from mentioning this when I wrote the post yesterday but I’ll do it here in the comment section. You see, there is this thing about buns I noticed that different cultures associate it with. Did you notice that to the western culture, buns refer to the lower back part of the female anatomy while in the Asian culture, the mention of buns refers to the upper front part? There I mention it. LOL! [Sorry, honey … I don’t think saying this cheapens the image of chowtimes :-)]

      Ben

      1. Shmoo

        Ha ha.

        To be fair, I think in western culture, buns refer to the lower back part of either gender’s anatomy. 🙂

  4. LotusRapper

    “sketchy and dodgy” ?!? My kind of place !

    Not to sound preachy, but if I see a down & outer outside on the sidewalk, I’d buy an extra “bao” or two and give it to that person on my way out. Same goes if I’m at Kent’s Kitchen up the street. These folks are hungry and usually can’t afford to eat the same way the rest of us can.

    Any info on when NT is moving ?

    1. Ben

      Respect! [tipping my hat] … for me it’s not the money but it’s that I don’t know if I would offend the recipient by offering food if they did not ask for it. As for when New Town is moving, I am not sure. The waitress just said it is this year. Doesn’t seems like they are in a hurry because I can’t see any signs of changes in the current or place. Ben

  5. julie

    I couldn’t help but overhearing you talking to some of the guest at Mamak Cafe last time and you guys were talking about a secret sauce. I had no idea what restaurant it was but…it’s probably this one eh?

    1. Ben

      Hi Julie: Hehehe … I was talking so much and all over the place during the Mamak Cafe event I can’t recall what I was talking about. But yeah, maybe that was what you overheard about a secret sauce. Ben

  6. Bubbleness

    You were in my hood! Well sort of, I work in the area so I frequent Newtown quite a bit when I want to get some steamed buns. I never knew of their special sauce! I wonder if they have it for take out, but I also wonder if it will taste as good in their chicken buns (the chicken ones are my favourite). Now I’m tempted to try their boiled beef brisket in clear soup. For egg tarts, my faveourite is from Goldstone, well that is if you prefer the flaky crust.

  7. Buddha Girl

    LOL!!! Thanks for the shout out Ben! I will do my best but I need to get the information from MomJ…hehehe…or I will let Buddha Boy type up a quick story about New Town…he’s an old-timer more than I am!!! LOL!!!

    As for when New Town is moving, the renovation is happening as we speak, however, it’s still quite some time from now.

    I agree, the dai-bao size is not the dai-bao size I had elsewhere (in Taiwan), but as for the taste, it’s good enough for me!

    LOL! “Amy Yip” buns and “Amy Yip drink…oh my oh my!!! LOL!

  8. Thomas

    [quote]I don’t know if I heard Thomas wrong or if he was pulling my legs. I thought I heard him say that the aluminium pot makes tea more smooth.
    I have never heard of that before. *shrug*[/quote]
    I do love a cup of HK Milk Tea! A few years ago I thought I would make my own HK style milk tea at home. I went shopping for the ‘sock’ and a suitable pot at Tin Land restaurant equipment on Pender. I was set on getting a stainless steel pot, but Steven at Tin Land pointed out that many of the local cafés preferred the classic aluminum pot as it made a much smoother tea. In the end I decided not to make HK tea at home; I would probably never get to sleep at night if I could have a cup any time I wanted!

    Tea, especially black tea, has a lot of tannins and the brewing method for HK style tea really brings these out. Being acid, tannins can react with the traditional aluminum pot. Is it this reaction that produces the smoothness? If you compare HK tea brewed in an aluminum pot vs. stainless steel can you notice a difference? Which tastes best?
    Questions, questions….

    1. Ben

      Hi Thomas: Hehehe … so I did not hear you wrongly. This is really interesting to find out because I do see the unique shaped tea pots used to make HK Style cafes before and it looked like they are aluminum. Ben

  9. Novi

    We always stop by New Town Bakery when we go to Chinatown, which is a couple of times a year. I’ve never tried their apple tarts before (thanks for the suggestion!) but we always get egg tarts. I think theirs is the best, short in supply around Chinese New Year, last year I came too late in the afternoon and there was none left! We like their baked BBQ bun, donuts that was posted here, peanut palitaw, recently we tried their chocolate cake, very good! I’m glad to see reviews of places like this, we are not big eaters and rarely eat out, if we do, it’d be places like this or Kam Gok Yuen (bbq duck, bbq pork, soya chicken, lo sui tofu) which is just a few doors down. We’ve been going to both places for about 15 years now.

    Btw, Chinatown has an annual parade for Chinese New Year, very busy and very festive. We try to go every year, there would be activities at Dr Sun Yat Sen Garden, see http://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/calendar/feb.htm
    One year there was live erhu music and paper cutting… It’s a great way to welcome the new year.

    1. Ben

      Hi Novi: Talking about the Sun Yat Seng Garden, Thomas is a volunteer there and he said he could help put together a talk/walk in the garden and perhaps also eats later on. I am wondering if anyone would be interested. Ben

      1. Thomas

        Ok, here are a couple of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden options:

        Firstly, since this is the 25th anniversary of the garden, I would like to point out that on the 25th of the month admission is free. Get a group organised for a ’25th’ and I’ll lead a tour.

        Secondly, I will gladly lead a tour for any group of 10+ and the
        standard group-rate will apply. If the overwhelming majority of the group are seniors, then our seniors rate will apply.

        1. LotusRapper

          Hey that could work well if we follow up with a meal somewhere in Chinatown. Hey I know, what about at New Town ? [wink, wink]

          1. Thomas

            Also Jade Dynasty does a nice big bowl of Teochew style rice and oyster soup (moi / congee).

        2. Suanne

          Hi Thomas, what is the group rate and what is the seniors group rate?

          1. Thomas

            Group rate: $10.00 per person
            Seniors: $9.00 per person
            So, going on the 25th is a big savings, but might be harder to plan for. I’m flexible either way and will be happy to work with the group’s needs.

  10. Peter E

    Ah, I love this little restaurant. I hope the old-style diner atmosphere doesn’t change when they move; it’s nice to hang out here, surrounded by tables of elderly locals chatting and snacking, after a lazy afternoon wandering Chinatown. I wonder why they’re moving to a smaller place, since they’re always full.

    My favorite dish here is the curried beef brisket. Wow, is it good. The sauce is rich, with a distinct star anise flavor that’s just perfect, and the meat is tender and tasty. OH, now I’m hungry!

    1. Peter E

      ps. You’re right, the serving ladies here are very friendly. The place has a homey feel to it, like you’re among friends. A nice relaxing local hangout.

      1. Peter E

        EXACTLY! It has an old diner charm that shouldn’t be modernized.

      2. Ben

        LOL! You are so funny, LotusRapper. That was a good laugh.

        1. LotusRapper

          I was gonna link to the room of The One (Bby) or some of the other “moh-dung” restos that have opened up recently 😉

          1. Peter E

            LOL that would terrify the oldies!

          2. LotusRapper

            You calling me an oldie ?!? [wink]

          3. Peter E

            Actually, I guess that would make me an oldie too! I’ll take a plain and simple restaurant with good food and good portions over one with expensive decor and tiny portions ANY DAY!

      3. Buddha Girl

        LOL!!! I don’t think they will…HAHAHA! After all, they are in Chinatown!!!

  11. grayelf

    I admit I did order that dish because of the translation but now I can’t remember what it was :-(. I was pleased to go with this learned group to try sitdown in New Town as although I am there at least once a month, it is for buns to take away. Their coconut bun is pretty awesome, partly I think because they make them so frequently you often get it *hot* from the oven.

  12. Peter E

    Ben, I just noticed the Restaurant Explorer. GREAT! Now I can just click on a neighbourhood and see where to go in that area. Perfect! Thanks!

    1. Ben

      Hi Peter E: Hehehe … glad you like it! That is Suanne’s handiwork. I thought adding the food pictures was a nice touch. Ben

  13. BeefCohwFun

    Speaking of old school Chinese restaurants, about 20 years ago I used to live in the Vancouver/Richmond area, and there used to be this Chinese place called On-Lok. It was dirt cheap, the portions were huge, and it was decent food.

    That’s the only restaurant I remember from back in those days.

    Back then Chinatown was booming, and they had just completed the Aberdeen center.

    I haven’t really had a chance to go back to Vancouver since.

    1. Ben

      Hi BeefChowFun: There is an On Lok today ( see http://goo.gl/MvJSy ) on Hastings but am not sure if it is the same one you mentioned. Ben

    2. chinatownkid

      in the 70s and 80s whichever restaurants big wigs went too they became famous overnite.use to go where trudeau went .the old on on ‘s on keefer and kam yeun’s on hastings near the london drugs.great food at good prices.

  14. TimeToChow

    LR, you and your pictures.. Lol!

    wow… i was there a few days ago and at KGY last week. so many have fond memories. cant believe so many of Chowtimes reader remember back so many decades. that is really great. love learning history.

    when i saw this post i was thinking of the time when there use to be an AYCE chinese resto downstairs. and the Kam Gok Yuen use to have a stir fired dish with chinese donut in it. FWIW, KGY still has very decent to good food. the fresh fish congee is good.

    1. LotusRapper

      KGY (Daisy Garden) was where I once saw a rather large rodent gingerly (and confidently) make a stroll along the end wall from one corner to another corner. It spooked me a bit, but I kept on eating my food, LOL. This was in the early ’90s, and actually the last time I was there.

      But I recall eating at KGY in the late ’70s even. Chinatown was a bustling place back then for sure.

      I ate at that AYCE downstairs from New Town. It was called New Capital. Food was really awful:

      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_v45-TBo7M6U/Sdq5cmrFFtI/AAAAAAAABXM/eeeHNMRLYhc/s1600/IMG_2821.JPG

      I really like eating the zhongzi (rice wrap) at New Town. Comes steaming hot and soft, with dark soy at the bottom of the plate. Man, I wanna go there NOW !

    2. grayelf

      Thomas also recommended the fried rice with chicken and salted fish at Kam Gok Yuen, so you know what we will be ordering there :-).

  15. buddha boy

    I don’t know the history of the original and the current New Town, i’ll have to ask my mom about that one.

    Does anyone ever remember Ming’s? they had dim sum on the top floor and another style on the first and second floors, I only ate on the top floor.

    hmmm, I haven’t had a Dai Bao lately. I think I’ll have to go get some this weekend and deep fry one.

    1. Ben

      Hi Buddha Boy: What? You deep fry the dai bao? That is interesting. Have you blogged about it on yet? Ben

      1. Buddha Girl

        LOL!!! If he does it at home this weekend, I will for sure take some picture and let him blog about it…hahahah!

        1. LotusRapper

          Hang on, more deep frying ? Buddha Boy is Scottish ?!?

        2. Ben

          Hi Buddha Girl: Thanks! I like to see how it turns out. 🙂 Ben

    2. LotusRapper

      Totally remember Ming’s ! But we rarely went, my parents felt they were too “maw dung”, LOL

      Now, anyone remember *this* congee/noodles place on W. Hastings, between Cambie and Abbott ? Close to Victory Square. The Chinese name had “crown” in it. Here’s the location: goo.gl/schCd

      I think I ate there 2-3 times. That was when Woodward’s ($1.49 day ……. Tuesday !) and Army & Navy were regular destinations for my parents, and after shopping they were too lazy to walk all the way back to Chinatown …

      1. joyluckclub

        Oh my yes…yes… Golden Crown Wonton Noodle and the fancy Golden Crown Restaurant. I had forgotten about those.

        Our Saturdays would start out with Chinese groceries in Chinatown, Coffee/Brunch at BC Royal Cafe, then onto Hastings.

        Army and Navy, and finally the Woodwards Food floor. (for Western gorceries….usually wagon wheels!)…then wonton at Golden Crown. I probably had many meals with you in the past, LotusRapper and we don’t even know it!

        Ben this post sure has been a walk down memory lane….thanks for this.

        1. LotusRapper

          Wow, cool. Of course, Golden Crown it was, the name is so logical !

          Remember Kingsland on Granville ? Peninsula on Broadway ?

          1. joyluckclub

            Yes…Mings, Kingsland, Peninsula…..all family favorites, esp for wedding banquets.
            How about New Asia across the alley and downstairs from Hong Kong Cafe?

            And going way back WK Gardens. That’s a real oldie.

          2. Marcia Crosby

            I am looking for information on what my parents called “the WK”, one of the few places Aboriginal people could go to for music and a drink in 1947 in vancouver. Most of the Northern fishermen who came to town went there on the weekends. I am wondering if the restaurant functioned as a club after hours.
            marcia crosby,

      2. Hachidori

        Was the Golden Crown across the street from Woodwards? 15 or so years ago I used to hop on the bus with some co-workers and grab a cheap lunch there. Good noodles and colourful clientele!

    3. Peter E

      Back in the 80s I used to go to the New Diamond…loved it! A great busy energetic place with lots of ladies wheeling their carts around the room. Was very sad the day I went there and found them closed. I haven’t found a place I like as much since.

      1. LotusRapper

        Yeah ! Didn’t they have a picture of ex-PM John Turner on the wall near the entrance ? ND was cheap, I recall dim summing with 3 other people for < $20. No GST/PST back then neither …… 🙁

        I kinda feel like there's a cadre of interested Chinatown historians (or at least foodies) here. It'd be neat to organize something. Maybe dovetail on the Sun Yat Sen anniv. event.

        "Uncle Ben" here would have to approve, tho'

        Thoughts ?

        1. Peter E

          Count me in with the group if you organize something!

        2. Peter E

          Yes, very cheap prices. Was perfect for my student budget at the time. I remember many dim sum items were in the $2 range with a few as expensive as $4. I could feast and not break the bank!

        3. joyluckclub

          sounds interesting….and Uncle Ben is a very nice guy and a good organizer!

          1. Mike

            you guys make your self sounds so old lol should i start calling u guys “grandpa”? lol

          2. Ben

            Hi Mike: Seeing you commenting here … BTW, I see that West Lake Vietnamese is reopening in the old Celsius spot. You took over their spot and they take over Celsius … playing musical chairs? 🙂 Ben

          3. Ben

            “Uncle Ben” had a long day at work and when I saw that suggestion … that is the last thing I want to do! It was until joyluckclub said “Uncle Ben is a very nice guy” … sigh … how can I say no. LOL! Seriously, I don’t know how to do this because I am a newtimer not like you oldies. I am more keen to learn. I can only think of Thomas but even though I am not even sure he is keen at all. We need someone who knows Chinatown intimately and we can do a walking tour of Chinatown. It could like meet in KGY for breakfast … do the Sun Yat Sen tour … do the Chinatown eateries tour … end in a restaurant (like Ovaltine Cafe! or Foo’s Ho Ho) for late lunch. That sort of thing. All I need is a volunteer to lead the tour.

            Show of hands?

          4. Marcie

            I loved downtown Chinatown in the 70’s. The best restaurant to me was the Ho Inn not to be confused with Foo’s Ho Ho Inn which was across the street. The head chef Ray was such a wonderful guy and they place was packed and hopping every weekend. The food never was matched again after the 1984 fire. I wish I could have known where the cooks ended up. My fave was their egg rolls which no one has come near since.

            After dinner we would look around the shops and they was a wig maker close by that had the most incredible wigs I had ever seen. I wonder if she is till there.

            Other great restaurants were On On Tea Garden on Keefer and of course Ming’s up stairs on Main.

            Now we eat at Dai Tung on Kingsway. It is really good but nothing will ever compare to the Ho Inn.

  16. Thomas

    New Diamnond? Good for late night feeds.
    And that tiny bakery at the corner of Pender and Gore?

    1. Peter E

      Yes, what happened to the New Diamond. Did they move or close? Is there any place similar for dim sum in Chinatown now? …cosey and steamy and busy busy busy with energy and yummy food?

      1. LotusRapper

        I think they just closed.

        As for dim sum in Chinatown, I can only think of:

        – Floata (far from cosy)
        – Jade Garden (I haven’t been)
        http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/180900/restaurant/Chinatown/Jade-Dynasty-Vancouver
        – Hon’s
        – Kam Wah (I haven’t been)

        Of these, Kam Wah and Jade Dynasty are likely to fit the cosy, steamy description. Jade has pushcarts, btw 😀

        I believe Buddha Girl reviewed Kam Wah in her blog.

      2. chinatownkid

        i remember new diamond.they had that good old neon sign.it was located above the best produce store in chinatown called:”produce land”.i remember people buying oranges by the huge boxes.

        1. LotusRapper

          New Diamond was good (well, for the price) cheap dim sum. I recall going there with a few cousins, gorge ourselves silly, and walk out paying about $6/person.

          1. chinatownkid

            best dim sum i remember was top gun(the first one) in richmond.all you can eat.4 of us polished off 60 plates in a hour.people were watching all over hahha.the manager came over and asked if we were finished.i told him when my chopsticks are down i am finished.they werent feeding mens.they were feeding machines.all for under 10 bucks.a year later they closed.the reopened on broadway.same thing when we ate there again they closed shortly after.

          2. LotusRapper

            So …… you and your friends were responsible for Top Gun’s demise. Twice ! LOL.

          3. Ben

            Come to think of it, I don’t think there are any more AYCE dim sum these days. The one place I wanted to go to was the one on Kingsway and Joyce (where Spicy Legend is today). Are they any left? It’s all chinatownkid’s fault.

          4. chinatownkid

            yeah i hate to be the one to blame but since the last 2 years we use to go to foolai ho on kingsway and rupert for dimsum.they closed too.then we use to go to fantastiks on kingsway near joyce for the all u can eat and now they closed.i now go to chongs on kingsway near slocan. hahahha they still open.830 am and u can get bbq pig (su gee gnook_)on rice and its actually quite a bit for under 3 bucks.use to be 2.30 for a whole plate.good place to check out.it get quite busy after 10 am.bbq pork noodle soup is same price as the rice dish.eat 2 of those and your already quite full.toss in a plate of sui mai and hut goa and your done.

    2. chinatownkid

      name of that bakery was yip hong yuen bakery.thats where susanna from new town got her start at the bakery trade.that was the first place in chinatown that came up with the dai boa….also the first place to sell hot curry squid…mmm mmm mmm….also the first giemee boas….alias(cocktail bun)

      1. Thomas

        Wah, Chinatownkid, thank you! Yip Hong Yuen made a lot of good items for such a small corner bakery. I used to see a lot of YHY boxes at friends houses; their stuff really got around town. Brings back a lot of good memories.

        Susanna’s experience there goes a long way towards explaining the success of New Town.

        1. chinatownkid

          no problem thomas.good to share knowledge of the old chinatown.it was THE place in the 70s-80s.greed got to land owners and thats the demise of chinatown.i loved the hkg apple tarts.simply delicious.the buck hong goa from bc royale was yummy too.dim sum at the old asia gardens was packed on weekends.wing hings had the best selections of moi”s.everybody knew everybody down there in chinatown.firecrackers were easy to get too !what i would give for a plate of yip hongyuen chong fun.they had the sliced beef ones that i have not seen anywhere else.nowadays its minced beef.

          1. Ben

            One of you should sit down and write a book and collect photos about the restaurants in Chinatown before it is too late. I am sure that there are enough collective knowledge out there today to make a compelling read. Any takers? 🙂

  17. buddha boy

    Ben,
    Quick answer to New Town and Original New Town. I asked my mom, apparently after selling New Town to Suzanna, the original owner set up the ‘original’ New Town afterwards, how long after, I don’t know. I believe that the original owner’s son ran it for a while and who owns it now, we don’t know.

    1. Ben

      Thanks Buddha Boy! I noticed at the Original New Town, their awning says “since 1948” that should make it one of the oldest bakeries around. Ben

      1. Buddha Girl

        Yea…the “original” Chinese-Filipino owner of New Town opened it in 1948 but sold to David and Susanna (from HK) in 1980…so it would make New Town somewhat the oldest…hahahaha!

  18. PinoyGourmet

    I could introduce everybody to the joy of Balut at Newtown LOL.By the way,I suggest Foo Ho Ho for the historical reasons

  19. buddha boy

    Ben,
    no problem, you were correct in your assumption to begin with. one thing is that the ‘Original’ New Town did not have the steamed bun offerings the current one has. the signature steamed buns only came on board after Suzanna took over, same with the apple tarts.

  20. LotusRapper

    The New Town on Cambie says “Original” with a “Since 19##” (I can’t recall the year). I once asked the lady about it (is she Suzanna ?) and she said they are the original, pre-dating the Chinatown store.

    Does that sound right, BB ?

    1. Buddha Girl

      Yes…the one on Cambie says “original since…”, however, the REAL oldie still lies in D&S’s hands in Chinatown.

      Cambie’s “original” simply states that they were the ones that opened the restaurant before they sold it off to D&S…but they can no longer use the “New Town” name…hahahah!

      1. Ben

        Hi Buddha Girl: That figures. I was searching for “new town” on Urbanspoon and I could not find the one on Cambie. It was because the name of the bakery on Cambie is spelt as “newtown”. The picture on Urbanppon had the name on the awning as “NewTown”.

  21. maxmillan

    I remember HK Cafe with their apple tarts. My friend would buy a dozen and eat them all in one go. When they closed I really missed them. Then a few years ago my dad had some on the kitchen table and I was so happy to see that New town brought them back. Why did HK Cafe ever close? Too bad we couldn’t keep this heritage diner going.

    I remember New Town would be packed when my friends and I went for Dim Sum. One of the best dishes was the Churn Fun with ground beef. We’d drench it with the oil/soya sauce.

    The Steamed Chicken Bun was and still is my favorite. But I’d always have to watch that they didn’t overcharge me because they’d mistake it for the bun with egg. I think I remember paying under 70 cents for it at the time. During my student days my friend and I played the role of poor peasant abandoned children in China. We’d take our last couple of dollars and buy a couple of Steamed Buns and eat it like we haven’t eaten in days. We’d say in Chinese (translated), “Goh Goh, this is the best food ever.” “Moi Moi, if we could eat like this everyday we’d be in heaven.” And we’d nibble our Steamed Buns like mice to make it last. That was the best bang for our buck.
    The one change I am disappointed in is their egg tart. It use to be more creamy than eggy. Is New Town one of the longest surviving eatery?

    I used to work in the family Chinese business on Hastings, between Gore and Main, and it was convenient to visit all the old places like the original Hon’s on Main street. It was truly one of the best hole-in-the-wall. Chinatown use to be such a bustling and exciting place to be. I don’t like the Westernization of Chinatown but places like New Town draws me back.

    Thanks for doing this thread. Good memories.

    1. Ben

      LOL! That “Goh Goh” and “Moi Moi” comment is hilarious but I know what you are saying. I think I had seen it in movies before somewhere! No, don’t thank me … thank YOU for sharing! BTW, the Chinatown restaurant walk down memory lane is in the works. I met up with a volunteer (will tell who later) and we are targeting March/April timeframe. Then you can come and join us and share with us your “Goh Goh and Moi Moi” stories. 🙂 Ben

      1. Peter E

        Sounds great Ben! O look forward to joining you and meeting more foodies. And seeing Chinatown through other people’s eyes!

    2. Nancy L

      HK Cafe….oh I how I miss them. Nothing compares to their apple tarts. Those who arrived after the HK Cafe closed or are too young will not remember the light flakiness of the tart with the perfect acid/sugar blend in the apples. Seriously Ben…the best apple tarts ever!!!!!! My friend says she knew the son of the owner and even he doesn’t know the recipe. What a horrible thing.

      1. Ben

        Hi Nancy:

        Sigh … I can only imagine how good HK Cafe’s apple tarts could be. All these are before my time and I would love to listen/read more about this. Is there a book out there that talks about the restaurants in Vancouver Chinatown?

        So … question for you … 30 years from now, what will the next generation reminisce about the food of today? Amigo’s African Chicken? Kam Do’s humongous lunch specials? Bo’s Laksa? 🙂

        Ben

  22. LL

    This brings back many memories of not only the HK Cafe, but also BC Royal and the Pender Cafe. Aside from the Apple Tarts other memory favorites were the butter tarts and the pound cake; both much different from what the bakeries have today. The pastry my family misses the most is Wo Fat’s (they were beside the Only on Hastings) almond cakes. Very diffent from the usual type, more shortbread & sugary like. Does any one else remember them and does any one have a recipe? They were also on the buffet of the Marco Polo Restaurat. Others have mentioned Mings, WK Garden (my father was a waiter there when he was a teenager) – what about Wayen, On On, Ho Inn and the original Ho HO and for late night noodles Queens Cafe.

    1. LotusRapper

      My maternal grandad’s buddy, P.C. Quon, whom he came over to Vancouver with, founded the original Ho Ho’s.

    2. liz

      I remember the original Wo Fat was located by BC Royal on Pender. At that time, the parents ran the business entirely and the father would not divulge his secrets to anyone. That’s why his was the best almond cookies and mooncakes. Those were the 2 items we always bought from Wo Fat’s. Whenever we were down in that part of Chinatown, I would be watching him make his mooncakes using wooden molds and banging them on the counter. The son later took over the business but he didn’t quite have the knack like his father. His was good but not as good as his dad’s — that was the feeling as discussed by the grownups around our dinner table.

      1. chinatownkid

        speaking of almond cookies(hup ho soo beng),anyone remember back in 76 habitat forum in jericho?some guy was selling huge almond cookies the size 6.5″ diameter and 3/4″ thick.he purchased them in chinatown and sold them at the forum.smart entrepeneur.mooncakes? i use to love the little piggy baskets as a kid.you know the little gee gie loongs !i can use a slice of lin yoong gnit beng leung gua dun vong (2 eggs lotus paste mooncake)now.

        1. liz

          Those piggy baskets; we would play with them as a toy and by the time we were ready to eat them they’d be so stale!! But the “song wong” (2 yolks) lin yoong gnit beng we ate by the quarter and, yes, I can use of piece of that, too. Do you remember the size of them from Wo Fat? 4″x4″x2.5″ I don’t think they hold a candle to the ones being sold now.

          1. LotusRapper

            Haha speaking of candles, I always wondered if the mooncake filling (made with lard, my Mom told me) is flammable, LOL.

          2. joyluckclub

            LR you are hilarious. This reminds me of a nutrition class I attended once.
            Are you familiar with Hawkins Cheezies?…….try lighting one of them….they can burn for up to 10 minutes…..hahaha…scary, eh…
            so I switched to Cheetos…more puffy=less burn time, must be healthier! LOL!

          3. Peter E

            OK…that just made me hungry for them now! LOL

          4. joyluckclub

            so…you still gonna eat them?
            I haven’t actually tried the burn test with cheetos….but you’re right, Hawkins are way better.

            try lighting the mooncake and report back LOL!

          5. joyluckclub

            hey let’s get uncle ben to put together a chowdown……Foods that have the longest burn time! OK going back to work now 🙂

          6. LotusRapper

            Good one, JLC ! 😀

          7. joyluckclub

            wah…good research LR. so i guess my instincts were pretty accurate

            cheetos=more puff=less burn time=much more healthy

            ya…they still don’t taste so great..that’s why we have laksa!…..what’s the scoop on the moon cake?

          8. LotusRapper

            I’m being lazy, only going to Wiki (!):

            Fillings

            Many types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region’s culture:

            Lotus seed paste (蓮蓉, lían róng): Considered by some to be the original and most luxurious mooncake filling, lotus paste filling is found in all types of mooncakes. Due to the high price of lotus paste, white kidney bean paste is sometimes used as a filler.

            Sweet bean paste (豆沙, dòu shā): A number of pastes are common fillings found in Chinese desserts. Although red bean paste, made from azuki beans, is the most common worldwide, there are regional and original preferences for bean paste made from Mung bean as well as black bean known throughout history.

            Jujube paste (棗泥, zǎo ní): A sweet paste made from the ripe fruits of the jujube (date) plant. The paste is dark red in colour, a little fruity/smoky in flavour and slightly sour in taste. Depending on the quality of the paste, jujube paste may be confused with red bean paste, which is sometimes used as a filler.

            Five kernel (五仁, wǔ rén): A filling consisting of 5 types of nuts and seeds, coarsely chopped and held together with maltose syrup. Recipes differ from region to region, but commonly used nuts and seeds include: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, peanuts, sesame, or almonds. In addition, the mixture will usually contain candied winter melon, jinhua ham, or pieces of rock sugar as additional flavouring.

      2. Pamella

        Wow Liz…. your post on Wo Fat’s sure brings back good memories! Those were THE best moon cakes for sure. I’ve tried them now in Toronto and Calgary and nothing but nothing compares to Wo Fat’s. Sure miss Vancouver’s Chinatown from the 70/80’s. So much great food and good times!

      3. Wayne

        Absolutley, Wo Fat, had the best Moon cakes, Almond cookies too! We bought many each time we were in China Town. Been searching for them ever since. Haven’t found as good!

    3. Maureen

      I too remember and crave the Almond Shortbread from the Wo Fat Bakery. My mother would take me there every Saturday on our weekly grocery shop through Chinatown. I’d also really want this recipe; I’ve never tasted better!

      1. LotusRapper

        Do any places still sell them nowadays ?

  23. LotusRapper

    Tana (CheapAppetite) just reported there’s new dinner specials at New Town, for only $5.50 😀 http://goo.gl/ZoZAv

  24. LotusRapper

    New Town Bakery is now open at its new location @ 148 E. Pender (three doors west of original location). The space is remarkably similar to the old location, with the same overall layout when you walk in. The new space is updated with a cheerful, bright ambiance. Best part is all the familiar staff faces are still there, smiling and enthusiastic. And as far as I can tell, all the prices appear to have stayed about the same.

    http://newtownbakery.ca/locations

    1. Thomas

      LotusRapper, what a great post for CNYD…
      No way anyone Can suggest New Town is sketchy or dodgy any more!

      The the new coffee shop was built from scratch and all the equipment and furniture is new. The only things they brought over from the old local were the forks, spoons, recipes and experience.
      Susana and her son deserve respect for taking care of business so energetically.

      Have a look; you will be impressed with what has been done to renew and preserve this prime example of our old-school Chinatown. Be sure to look for the giant photo-murals of historic Pender Street neighbourhood!

      1. LotusRapper

        I was there this morning 🙂 But only about 10 mins getting some buns and things, the place was packed. And what’s this, a new ticket number system for the queue ? Progress ! And I didn’t look carefully enough to see if the menu boards are simply backlit boards, or actual large-screen TVs, hehehe.

        But yes, a thumbs up to maintaining heritage in an evolving and gentrifying Chinatown.

  25. Peter E

    And now immortalized on the series Alcatraz! Loved seeing the old place on the show…made me hungry!

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