My Lunch: Cumin Lamb on Rice in Alvin Garden

Wanted something spicy for lunch today. Was thinking of Spicy Cumin Lamb on Rice. Some thing I like very much from S&W Pepperhouse. This time I thought I’ll try the one in Alvin Garden.

The Cumin Lamb on Rice is a lunch special. Just $7.98. All other dishes are cheaper. $6.98. But I want Cumin Lamb.


Busy lunch crowd even though Alvin Garden is quite a bit away from the lunch resto actions around Metrotown.

This place is chili heaven. You cannot take hot spicy food, stay away. This is considered the best of Hunan cuisine in Vancouver.

Waitress asked me “How spicy for you?”

I said “DA LA!”. She laughed. Could see her crooked teeth but she is sweet. Hehehe … need braces?

Am the only one … ordering lunch special it seems. Every table ordered from the main menu with dishes.


Free soup was nice. Flavorful. Not spicy of course. Has meat, daikon and carrot. Took a couple of sip and decided to put it aside. Might need it more when the HOT SPICY main dish come.

Stomach growling. Just had cereal this morning. At 4AM.

Food is here!


Dish was hot. Could see steam. Push nose close to smell cumin. Heavenly. With S&W you could smell at a distance.

First spoonful burns. Will get better with each spoonful. Stopped to just enjoy the heat build up in the mouth (and also to peck away).


This is what “Da La” means. English means “Big Spicy”. Very hot. Yes I eat that.

And in pain. The tongue hurts. Drink soup.

Plate is big. Half serving would have been enough coz I eat like a bird. Only for lunch.

Love the green onions. Also has ginger slivers. Wait … Got to stop pecking while I enjoy it.


OMG. Heat not dissipating. Like the many many slices of lamb. Tasted raw garlic sticking to the lamb. What joy. What pain.

Moved the red bell peppers to the side. No place in this dish.

Waitress looking at me. I think she wondered why I took a couple of bites and then texted on the phone.

Wait a new customer ordered lunch special. Good to know am not the only one. He had the beef something with rice. Not cumin because it looked lighter. Whim! He has a glass of iced water.


Too much. I give up. Asked for a box to go. Nanzaro will like it for his pre-dinner meal. Pop it into the microwave oven and it’s as good as new.

For cumin lamb on rice, I find S&W version better. Not that Alvin Garden is no good.


$10. Easy round number. 12% HST already 96 cents. Am tipping $1.06. So more than 10%. That is enough right? I know some of you itching to call me stingy. I don’t print money. It is illegal in Canada. Last I checked anyway.

Another post brought to you via the iPhone. 🙂

Alvin Garden on UrbanspoonBUSINESS HOUR

7 days a week
11:30 AM to 9:00 PM

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. beth

    Ben this is amazing and efficient! you had lunch an hour ago and now it’s posted…really high tech! =)

  2. joyluckclub

    I want cumin lamb!
    I want an iPhone …
    Hey Ben … please don’t blog and drive 🙂

  3. LotusRapper

    I’m a spice weenie, I would have only asked for “xiao la” (small spicy). But when I have lunch there, I notice cumin beef on rice is a popular lunch special and I can easily smell it when the waitresses walk by with them.

    I somehow only order the picked cabbage with pork on rice lunch special at AG. And that pickle is goooood.

    I don’t work in the Metrotown area anymore, so I do miss Crystal Mall food court, Alvin Garden, Weng Xin, Sunflower Cafe, The One, Lao Shan Dong, etc 🙁

    1. Ben

      Yeah, Metrotown became a lot a much lonelier area every since LotusRapper left the building. So which neighborhood will LotusRapper be eating these days?

      1. LotusRapper

        Vancouver, Richmond ……. all the great food courts south of the Fraser are but a train ride away 😀

  4. Crispy Lechon

    I miss the cumin lamb on rice lunch special at Chuan Xiang Geh. It was also cheap at 6.95 IIRC. I also loved it that I could choose the type of free tea they served on a teapot. I always ordered chrysanthemum tea. Its refreshing after eating spicy food.

  5. joyce

    hehe! i like your mini posts.
    btw, u’re not stingy!

  6. 4SlicesofCheese

    Sigh sometimes I wish I worked near Burnaby.

    1. Ben

      Sigh … Sometimes I wish I work in Gastown or near Robson.
      No wait … sometimes I wish I work in Richmond. 🙂

  7. Ryan

    Hey Ben,

    Love your blog as always, but I found the comment about crooked teeth and braces a little cynical…maybe that’s not the right word, but a little off-putting. I don’t think you meant disrespect, but publicly saying someone has crooked teeth and needs braces is probably not the nicest thing. Also, that waitress may actually read this blog…braces are not something everyone can afford.


    1. Ben

      Hi Ryan: You are right and I apologize. That comment was totally out of line. The waitress was sweet and she looked pretty as a matter of fact. When I said aloud “DA LA!” she laughed. Her teeth wasn’t “crooked” actually. It was more like I was expecting a picture-perfect smile. After she left, I continued with my pecking on the iPhone and that poor choice of words came across wrongly. Having said that it was not appropriate — I do know I need to apologize! Will leave the words there on the post regardless. Ben

    2. Shmoo

      Hey Ryan,

      Thanks for putting this into words. I had the same uncomfortable feeling around that part, but wasn’t sure how to articulate it.

      Over all, an interesting style… the phone-blog effect definitely lends a sort of immediacy to the post. I get the sense that Ben was trying to paint a sort of picture of all the random thoughts that occur while lunching alone.

  8. Yakqueen

    I like your “stream of consciousness” narrative mode via iPhone – gives your blog entries a deliciously piquant immediacy! Keep these “live action” mini-posts coming!

  9. Lissa

    I’ve been ordering lunch special take out nearly every week, especially when they are just opened at 11.30am. The waitress with short hair knows me now, LOL! I don’t like the lamb cumin, partly because it’s was tough. I think I still like the Green & Red Chilli with Pork and Pork with Tofu (?). “Zhong La” so that I can share with my son.

    I’m trying to get the waitress’ favour to ask the chef to do the award Beef with Basil (is that right?) for lunch special. No success yet. LOL!

    1. Ben

      Tell me more about the “Beef with Basil” dish, Lissa. I don’t think I recall this ever mentioned before. Why do you have to ask for this as a favour? Is it off the menu? Like a secret menu kind of thing? Ben

      1. LotusRapper

        Sounds like it’s a dish that’s not being offered as a lunch special at the moment. I guess for whatever reasons, restaurants only offer select dishes from their full menu as their cheaper lunch specials.

        1. Lissa

          LR is right. Anyway, the dish is Beef with Pickled Green Chili dish (#51 on the menu – $11.98), not Beef with Basil. Where got Hunan dish cooked with basil. I’m old already.

          I told the waitress it would be good to get people to try half size via the lunch special but she didn’t think the boss/chef would want to do that. So I hesitate in ordering a big dish like that. Mostly because it would be only me or my son who would eat it. Too much food.

          Ben, next time I’m going to suggest to her to get the chef to sub pork jowl instead of the pork they used for the Green & Red Chilli with pork dish. That is one quite superb and simple dish.

          1. LotusRapper

            Lissa, if you’re inclined, next time try to Chinese pickled cabbage & pork on rice (lunch special), and see what you think of it.

          2. Lissa

            LR, there’s a Hunan Pickles with pork on rice in the menu. Same one? I’m going there later today for take out. Will try it.

          3. Lissa

            Hi LR

            It’s the same pickles. Yeah, I bought the lunch special this afternoon. I think I’ve eaten it before. From their lunch specials, I must have tried about half of them already and after a while, nearly every dish tastes the same. At least to me. This dish is very similar to green & red chilli with pork and pork with tofu. Not a bad dish.

            I ordered the 5 spices Pork Heart which I love. A note to everyone. Don’t stand near the kitchen and see how they cook the food. I saw the cook mixed the pork heart, tasted a piece and then placed the same gloved hand into the bowl to mix everything before pouring it into the styrofoam box. Eeek! LOL….

          4. LotusRapper

            Whoa ! That’s gross.

            Then again, if we saw how most kitchens operate behind the scenes, we’d be scared witless to want to ever eat out again !

  10. George

    Hi Ben:

    Went to Alvin Garden today for lunch with my father and brother. Everyone really enjoyed the their lunch fare. I actually ordered the Cumin Lamb as well based on your blog but only a medium heat. Excellent! I will try to go again and take my wife who will probably ask for the extra spicey version. Keep up the good eats!

Leave a Reply