[CRA 2011] Sauteed Buddha Feast from Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

This meal sure was a memorable meal. And totally unexpected too.

We dined with a superstar and other famous people … sort of. We were star-struck!


Suanne and I invited MadameYak and MisterYak to join us for dinner. We wanted to go check out another CRA 2011 award winning dish and since MadameYak so good at making conversations, we thought it would be great going out with them to this place.

I had never heard of Dynasty Seafood Restaurant before, not until they won an award from the CRA. They are located on West Broadway by Willow Street. From Broadway, you will likely not notice this restaurant at all. They are visible once you peer into Willow.

This restaurant has a great view of downtown Vancouver. Some of the window tables has a grandstand view of the bright lights across False Creek to the highrises in Yaletown. It’s quite a sight.


There are no street level entrance. Maybe that is why not many people knows about this place. Maybe it is just us only. They have an underground parking in the building and so that helps a lot because parking in this part of the city is not cheap.


It seems like a lot of famous people dine here. At least it was when we were there.

Our very own figure skating champion was there dining there. Gosh … don’t you think Suanne had a nice pose with Patrick Chan? Suanne almost looked like Patrick’s skating partner. Look at the pose … left feet forward in sync some more!

I am … so jealous! She did not have to smile THAT sweetly. Yeah, I saw how she gazed into his eyes.

I don’t even want to put my picture in the same photo because Patrick does make me look bad … real bad. However Suanne assured me that I am still more good looking than Patrick Chan. 🙂

It was not only Patrick Chan who was there. Apparently the brother of Sir Donald Tsang was dining just two tables away from us too. Sir Donald Tsang is the current CEO of Hong Kong.

So I guess this restaurant draws a lot of celebrities … and to think that I had never heard of it before. 🙂


We were there on a Friday night. It was very busy and they managed to almost fill the entire dining hall which was quite large. We had reservation and so it was not a problem. It appears that reservation would be a good idea if you choose to dine here at busy times.

The setting is nice but not posh. I had seen grander looking places than this. Despite that, a lot of their customers seems well heeled and that is obviously supported by very professional service. The senior captains are suited and the rest of the wait staff are very well trained and exudes confidence.

Oh, walking in and seeing what I saw, I was already thinking that this place could be expensive.


MadameYak and MisterYak was already there when we got there. We were late having misjudged again the traffic that day.

Waiting at the table was some simple free appetizers – salted peanuts and soy bean sprouts. Nothing fancy but at the same time we appreciate simple tokens like these.


We were here only for their award winning dish. Other than that we focused our selection on the two pages of menu above. It is what they call their Royal Special Suggestions.

The selections were excellent. There are so many dishes that we wished we could order but there are just only the four of us.

The prices were quite OK too. I mean it is not cheap but it is definitely not exorbitant. The Royal Special Suggestion dishes are mostly under $20.00.


As I was saying earlier, the service was very good. Sometimes you go to a Chinese restaurant and you will find that the captains are knowledgeable and trained. All the other wait staff just brings the food and you hardly notice them at all.

Here it is different. It is not just the captain. All the wait staff that attended to us have that confidence in them. They were very confident in talking to us and they also knows quite a lot about the food that was served. How many times have you gone to Chinese restaurants where the wait staff had no clue about the dishes?

What impressed me was the small stuff. For instance, when we ordered three rice for four people, our waiter brought an extra bowl and told us that it’s for us to share the rice if we want to.

When the last dish was served, the waiter also told us that the “choy” is “chai sai” (complete) as a way to acknowledge. It’s the way it is said.

While he was separating the dishes for us on the side table, he was really comfortable talking to us and fielding the questions that we threw his way.

I am saying all these because I thought these are really simple things that every restaurant (Chinese particularly) would learn a thing or two which makes a huge difference to the experience of the diner.


We did not even plan on getting the soup. The captain was good in talking us into getting their soup of the day. It was a manoeuvre equivalent to McDonald’s “do you want some fries with that?”

Soup of the day … isn’t that supposed to be cheap or free soup? Oh not here. We said yes to the suggestion after the captain told is that the soup of the day is the Sea Coconut with Old Chicken and Lean Pork Soup.

We did not ask the price for this but it turns out that this is $19.00. Not exactly cheap, huh?

Oh no. We are not complaining at all. The soup was excellent. The clear soup had good flavour and aroma with a slight hint of gingery taste. There are almonds too in it.

The serving yields eight bowls and so each of us had two bowls. Wished there were more.



As they usually do with the ingredients, they were served on a separate dish. It does look good. The pork pieces were still whole and were not mashed up in a mess. Looks aside, they are pretty tasteless having imparted all flavour to the soup already. Soya sauce did not help much. This was hardly touched. The chicken was just only slightly better.

The picture on the bottom right is the dried sea coconut. It’s not meant to be eaten, I don’t think so.


All of us agree.

The above does not look like an award winning dish. Presentation was non-existent. I mean, perhaps sticking a broccoli or something in the middle would have made this a dish worthy of a place like this, let alone being an award winning dish.

This dish is called the Sauteed Buddha Feast which is the commonly known vegetarian dish called Lo Hon Jai in Cantonese. Dynasty Seafood won Gold with this dish under the Vegetarian category. I was also kind of curious how a non-vegetarian restaurant would win an award with a “minor dish” in the vegetarian category when there are a lot of other real vegetarian restaurants around.

What is special in this dish is that it is made with lots of ingredients. At least 10 is used and in some places they have up to 35 ingredients which could include bamboo shoots, mushrooms, bean curds, tofu, gluten, noodles, fungus, green vegetables, etc.

This is also a traditional food eaten on the first day of Chinese New Year. Suanne makes this at home which we all enjoy a lot (see recipe here). Every time she makes it, she will make enough to last a few days. Her version is the common wetter version.

The version in Dynasty is the drier version. Perhaps this is what sets them apart from others. Perhaps they prepare each ingredient separately and then finally cooking it all together so that the taste of each ingredient stands out alone.

We did not even bother to identify all of the ingredients. Too much in it! It smells good though which is dominated by the smell of mushrooms. They served us some pickled daikon on the side.

We find it quite oily and not salty enough (i.e. quite insipid and bland). Yeah we find it quite over-rated. This dish is $16.00.


We love this one. The Deep Fried Spareribs with Preserved Bean Curds was also $16.00.

It was quite meaty and was nicely moist and juicy. The skin has a slight crisp to it. The preserved bean curd is what made this unique. Some people who are not familiar with preserved bean curd may not like it but we all loved it.


It was after all the dishes came that we realized that other than the soup, all the dishes we ordered has no jhup!

Anyway, I noticed that the deep fried spareribs were all consistent in that the bones are small and to the side while the meat was good for two bites. It tells me that they chose the cut used for this carefully. So yeah, it had to be eaten with hands. 🙂


The Baked Minced Oyster with Chinese Donut in Claypot ($17.00) was also listed under the Royal Special Suggestion section of the menu. We ordered this because we liked the sound of it.

We thought it would be a claypot dish. This is where we are supposed to have my all important “jhup” dish. But this so-called claypot is more of a steaming dish. LOL!

So this is a dryish dish. It has a strong orange peel flavour and in it are also wood ears and some greens. And of course there are the oysters which is minced.

Quite good but because of the disappointment over absence of “jhup”, I am hesitant to say it is great. It has an interesting combination of ingredients for sure.


Other than the free appy snacks, they also gave us free desserts. This one is really good. Certainly better than the red bean soups that other people gave us.

They call this the Four Treasures Soup. The four treasures refers to the peanuts, red beans, green beans and black glutinous rice.


So we sat and ate and yakked. There were so much to talk about, mostly things of Malaysia and Singapore … about the food there, the life there and all that. We enjoyed exchanging our travel culinary vacations with MadameYak and MisterYak. They are seasoned travellers and have a very extensive well researched list of places to eat in cities around the world. That would come in handy for us the next time we embark on another culinary vacation.

We stayed quite long and almost until the closing time. Some restaurant will stop serving us if they see us staying so long (i.e. they will get tired of filling out tea pot again and again!). But this place is different.

They asked us if we wanted cookies adding that they are free. Well, of course!

The almond cookies above were served warm. Nice. I am not surprised if they made it in house seeing how warm it was when it was served. The other one is a chewy dessert.

Not many restaurants do this anymore but they gave us warm towels. I like warm towels. It was just because MadameYak and MisterYak is there otherwise I would wipe my face with the warm towels. LOL! I know, I know … I am so uncouth.

But wiping the face with warm towels are so refreshing!


Not cheap considering what we had. Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves. My work had been quite brutal these days with early hours (I woke up at 3:00 AM yesterday to go to work!). So this Friday dinner was exactly what I needed. For the first time that week, I felt so relaxed although I was also dead tired (which I think MadameYak and MisterYak might have noticed. Sorry!).


Dynasty Seafood Restaurant on UrbanspoonBUSINESS HOUR:

7 days a week

10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
5:00 PM to 10:30 PM

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. LotusRapper

    This resto has been through many incarnations in the past 10-15 years. For a good part of those years it was East Ocean, and EO was quite good. EO lasted through 2009. After that they changed names twice (2nd time = current Dynasty).

    Funny Ben, that pic of looking north down Willow Street “hits home”, almost literally, as for years we lived at the bottom of that hill where Willow meets 6th Ave.

    1. Ben

      Hi LotusRapper: Oh, so Dynasty Seafood is new huh? It did not look new but then I guess despite the change of restaurant names (and ownership too?) there wasn’t much of reno done in it. Ben

  2. Joe

    We took my mom to Dynasty for her birthday last weekend and had the Buddha’s Feast (among other things). Just a few days earlier, my mom had made her own version of it, and you can guess which we preferred.

    My main complaint with it is that it tasted stir-fried. My mom’s has always been braised slowly over time (she pointed out the cabbage, which to her is a no-no), and it develops a much richer flavour.

    All of this was disappointing, considering how much we’ve been enjoying Dynasty as of late. I will say that we also had abalone, served with a small smidgen of noodle and pea shoots on individual plates – and it was the best serving of that protein that I’ve had yet in town.

  3. wyn

    Wow, you got to meet/take a picture with Patrick Chan! I heard he was around town, namely at McDonald’s during their free biscuit sandwich days.
    It’s nice to see your entry about Dynasty since it came up today as a potential place for a Chinese work lunch (other great choices in the same neighbourhood are Kirin and Golden Great Wall). East Van friends’ parents discovered and enjoy Dynasty dim sum although I have yet to go.
    Buddha Feast got my attention because I LOVE the one at Congee King-it has fried egg tofu and looks a far cry more colourful than the home-style looking one from Dynasty.

  4. Doug

    Thank you Ben for making me believe 100% that the CRA is a big fat joke, after seeing that awful version of Buddha Feast. I’m a restaurant worker, a student at VCC culinary, and competitor in food competition, that dish is an insult to winning awards. Does the CRA organization think we’re stupid and don’t understand elegant and artistic food when we see it? The way you describe many CRA winning dishes Ben, I assume you don’t even believe they deserved to be awarded?

    1. Ben

      Hi Doug: Some of the CRA winning dishes are really good and deserving of the award. I like the fish-egg combo from Bing Sheng and would go back again just for that. For this Sauteed Buddha Feast, it just wasn’t apparent to me what makes it special … and I think it goes for the vast majority of people too. You probably know me. I try not to be judgmental. So I cringed a little when you said “big fat joke”. I won’t go that far to say that. Perhaps there is something special about the way this dish is made by Dynasty and if someone (like the CRA judge who selected this) explain it further, it might make better sense. We talked about this dish at the table but with all our limited knowledge, we just did not understand. Since you brought this up … personally, I fear that the CRA had gone corporate-y — I am not sure. There seems to have an increased level of association with the big time restaurants compared to last year. It’s not a problem per se but it does seems to be at the expense of the little guys. The focus seems less on the food but more on the restaurant. That is just my personal perception. Like I had earlier said, I have great respect for the work that the CRA has done to raise the level of awareness of the Chinese cuisine in this part of the world. I have yet to get a grip on all the changes I saw this year. Ben

      1. Doug

        The main flaw for CRA is what are they judging for a winning dish? On there website they don’t list the criteria for becoming a winning dishes. For example, are they judging there dishes by presentation 1 – 10 points, taste, and originality? We’ve all seen food competition on the food network and these concept are the basic requirement for an award. I’m not saying they aren’t hard working people who not getting paid for doing this, however, I’ve done fundraiser and I can say the same to those organization who works for charity. If your award is base on food and you present people with a flawed dish, then how are we suppose to take the CRA seriously?

        1. Ben

          Good question, Doug. I would be curious too to know the judging criteria on deciding the winning dishes. We know that the other Diner’s choice was by votes from the public but I am more interested in the Critic’s Choice award. I don’t the CRA will disclose this as it will raise more questions than it will answer them. 🙂 At one point last year, I remember that the CRA asked you to submit your dishes for judging, did you follow through with that? Ben

          1. Doug

            After talking to one of the workers of CRA we’ve decided never to be part of CRA. There is many food competition every year, and we rather send our chefs to well establish, and organize competition that showcase the difficulty of cooking food.

      2. Buddha Boy

        Since the awards are judged by a panel, I think that it would have been nice to have seen a write up by the CRA as to why a particular dish had won. Some type of descriptor, that as an audience, if we were to go try the dish can pick out why the dish stands above the rest. By bringing awareness of the cuisine, perhaps educate as well.

        1. Ben

          Hi Buddha Boy: I am not sure if you are looking beyond what is published by CRA. Here, see this link: http://goo.gl/eCpE0 … if you click on each of the winning dishes, there is a little accompanying blurb on them. Ben

          1. Buddha Boy


            Thank you for the link. To me, the blurb read like advertising, or even maybe it was even written by the restaurant itself. What I like to understand, as critics, why the dish wow’d them, and what flavours and texture they found that I should be looking out for.

          2. rachel

            The read is written by the representative from the panel.

  5. grayelf

    This is a funny location for a resto, isn’t it? And the parking is enough to make you tear your hair out :-). I was there in the summer for dim sum and it was just okay. But the view is pretty stunning.

    1. Ben

      Hi Grayelf: Yeah, you said it right about the location. They must be doing very well given the type of customers we saw there. The dim sum was just OK, huh? Suanne and I was thinking of going back to try their dim sum one of these days. Having tried so many DS places outside the Vancouver city core, we wanted to go there and see how this measures up with the ones in East Vancouver and in Richmond. Ben

        1. Ben

          Hi Lotus: Thanks for the link. I had seen that review before. I was looking for more “dac biet” dim sum. 🙂 Are you familiar with the dim sum in Dynasty? BTW, I’ve fixed your FE/GE typo on the earlier comment to Grayelf. Going fwd, it’ll just fix the comment and remove other one if that is OK with you? Ben

          1. LotusRapper

            Thanks Ben. No, not been to this new Dynasty yet. Maybe one day.

            On a sidenote, is there available functionality here for you to add “edit” to comments, so that people have a set limited time to go back and correct typos and whatnots ?

          2. Ben

            Yeah, let me research that feature to allow limited time edits of your own posts. I have seen that somewhere before. Good suggestion. Ben

          3. LotusRapper

            Chowhound has it.

          4. Ben

            Hi LotusRapper: I found the plugin that will allow limited time comment editing ( see http://goo.gl/EKHsL ). Unfortunately, it is a premium plugin which means that it is not free. 🙁 Ben

    2. LotusRapper

      GE – there’s parking underground via the back alley, and you can validate with the restaurant. There’s also free parking after 6pm weeknights (and all weekend) in the underground parkade on the west side of Willow (directly across from the bus stop in the picture at top). There’s also 2-hr parking under Shoppers Drug Mart 1/2 block west, $4 for 2 hours, $2 is redeemable if you buy stick of gum from Shoppers [grin]. Email me if you need more parking pointers, I know that ‘hood like the back of my hand.

  6. Doris Jung

    Hi, Ben:

    Great picture of Suanne and Patrick Chan, she does look like his skating partner:-)

    I had the award winning Sauteed Buddha Feast with my friends many times when we go there for dim sum. The difference? It’s in the preparation, cooking and seasoning. I’ve heard from my friend that the chef learned this dish from one of the well known Buddhist temple in China.

    I have the chance to enjoy the “Chef’s Special Dinner” a few times. My girl friend would gather a table of 10 friends, set a date (non-weekend dates), and asked the chef to design a menu for us. All those dinners were so beautifully presented that I admired the dish (served individually), drink in the art, the colour, the texture, the thought and care behind the execution of a dinner that’s so wonderful. It was a feast for all the senses.

    The chef is a very colorful, creative character – this is what my girl friend told me. From what we had at the “Chef’s Special Dinner”, I saw proof of that. I would go for the CSD at Dynasty at the drop of the hat rather than to the other big names Chinese or main stream restaurants. The value is amazing.

    Ben, I really appreciate how you have presented a very positive and unbiased way in your blog and the way you replied to the comments. As we look for the good and positive, that’s what we will find time and time again. I also like Suanne’s recipes, too.

    It’s always a treat to read your blogs. Best thing is 0 calories at time of reading and I get the satisfaction of imagining how that particular dish taste like. You know if you get paid for every time a reader salivate and enjoyed the food virtually, you’ll be a very rich man. – LOL.

    Cheers to Happy Blogging, reading and sharing^0^

    1. Ben

      Hi Doris: I must tell you that your comment above is very much appreciated. At the end of the day, I know everyone has a good heart and good intentions. Sometimes we let the situations get the better of us and allow doubt and distrust creep into our actions and words. Oh well, the world is never perfectly the way we want it. Just don’t sweat the small stuff … and know that life is just too short get flustered by things we do not agree with. 🙂 Ben

  7. Queenie

    Man, this is one of my favourite chinese restaurants! I only go there for special occasions because of the price! There are so many other well done dishes such as the Thai deep fried fish. Next time, definitely try their crab that is cooked with soy sauce (first round)!

    Tip, next time when the restaurant is not busy, ask for what special dessert they have other then the typical sweet soup!

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