Spirit Harbour Restaurant Opens Today

Updated 11th Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.

Suanne and I drove past the new Spirit Harbour Restaurant this morning. We could see the lights were on and thought we stop and have a closer look.


The Spirit Harbour Restaurant is located on No 3 Road and Lansdown. This looks like a big budget operation with tons of cash to make a splash in the Richmond food scene. This location used to be a Sammy J Peppers.

We stopped our car right in front of the door and a lady came out telling us that they are opened for business. However she also warned that they have limited dim sum offering on that day. We asked a few questions and she invited us in. We can’t say no for more info. Here is what we found out …

  • They are opened starting today.
  • Hours are morning dim sum to 3:00 PM and then from 5:00 PM for dinner. They open late from Thursday to Saturday, 2:00 AM for Thursday and 4:00 AM for Friday and Saturday.
  • They will specialize on three cuisines: Cantonese, Sichuan and Northern. Also hot pot and BBQ.
  • They said they wanted to be a one stop restaurant offering all popular cuisines.
  • Very large dining area separated into three sections.
  • In one section lots of Chandeliers with heavy, lush chairs and embroidered tablecloth. Does look really fancy.
  • Another section have booths like what you see in HK Style Cafes
  • And there are also a section where they serve hot pot (have installed ventilators and sprinklers).

I remarked that dealing with so many cuisines is no common and I that I am not sure if the concept of being everything to everyone will work. The lady told us that their cooks/chefs are specialists in individual cuisines. They have employed 16 cooks (!) and some of them from China.

Suanne decided not to TOFTT (take one for the team) seeing that they just opened today and that the lady said they don’t offer full dim sum menu for now. We asked what their special dim sums are but we could not understand her (she was talking in Mandarin all the time). At a place like this we will let them settle down first and then go check them out.

Anyway, Suanne and I had plans already for an AYCE (all you can eat) place for lunch today. It’s a place where it costs nothing and no, this is not an invited media event. They don’t know us and you can get the same deal as us. This is exciting for us and we can’t wait to break the news to you all! Any one smart enough to know where this place is?

This Post Has 39 Comments

  1. 4SlicesofCheese

    Hmmm Costco?

    1. Ben

      Smarty pants!

  2. LotusRapper

    Chez Suanne et Ben ?

  3. Kevin

    Anyways, a restaurant that offers seemingly everything under roof could be either very disastrous or very ingenious.

    I’ll see if my mom wants to try tonight. 🙂

    1. Ben

      Hi Kevin: I hope you are dining there tonight. Would love to read about your experience. Ben

  4. Crispy Lechon

    My guess is in a Buddhist temple.

    1. LotusRapper

      Ha, now someone had their thinking cap on !

    2. Ben

      Hi Crispy: Good thinking but … *BEEP* wrong answer!! But you got my attention though. Do you know of any Buddhist Temple that offers free food? Ben

      1. 4SlicesofCheese

        I think they all do, but I guess its based on donation.

        When I visited a huge temple in Taiwan, we ate under this huge communal tent with rich, poor, all together. It was quite a memorable experience.

  5. funtimes

    It could be a Hindu temple!

    1. Ben

      Hi funtimes: Hindu temple? I would love to hear more about it. I know Sikh temples have free food but it is not AYCE. So, sorry … *BEEP* wrong answer! Ben

  6. Oliver

    I love it when they say they specialize in everything. What a contradiction! Just like the mechanics that list every make of car there is and they “specialize” in all of them!

    1. Ben

      LOL! Spoken like a true philosopher!

  7. Franklin

    My friend bit the bullet and tried this tonight. First dish took an hour abd half to come and service was unreaponsive. This place really needs to pick it up it’s a total nightmare.

    1. Ben

      Hi Frankling: Thanks for the Spirit Harbour Resto report. Tell use more! What did you have? How was the prices? What do you like about the restaurant? Ben

      1. Franklin

        As I said, my friend went there on March 29th with his family. When the first dish came it took over an hour, and the waitresses did the ‘pretend not to hear’ thing and ignored them because, well, they can’t do anything about the speed of the kitchen. They asked for the bill after the first dish, and left for another restaurant (tou lok beside t&t).

        Great if they picked up and caught onto the problem now, but I’m not going near it until more established reviews pop up.

          1. Franklin

            Thanks, Ben. Are you guys going to try it one day?

          2. Ben

            Oh definitely. I would not miss it for the world. Am thinking I should let this place settle down a bit more. I think this place is trying to be everything to everyone which I think is a mistake. I hope to be proven wrong though. This restaurant is drawing in the crowds but they better be careful not to draw negative reviews. Ben

  8. Crispy Lechon

    I think Franklin’s comment is a troll. I was there last Sunday for dinner and my experience was a complete opposite. The restaurant was busy but it wasnt full. The wait staff was very attentive to the point they came to replace our dirty main plate even though we didnt order expensive dishes. The dishes also came out at a reasonable time.

    We ordered 3 dishes (4 sticks bbq, sauteed shortribs and yang chow fried rice).

    The barbq seems to be a miss for me. It didnt have the smokiness of barbq’s. I suspect it was deep fried on the stick rather than barbqd. The shortrib was good although a bit chewy. Its a good sign though because it means they didnt use baking soda meat tenderizer. The fried rice was full of ingredients. It even has Chinese ham in it. Overall a good meal and I will come back.

    Their menu focus is Northern Chinese (like Beijiang) but it also has Cantonese items in it. Prices are reasonable. Barbqs are from 1.50 to 2.50 a stick. My shortrib was 13 bucks and the fried rice was 10 dollars. The average price is about 12 dollars.

    They also have AYCE hotpot and barbq. 19 dollars for hotpot and plus 5 more if u want barbq.

    BTW, they have AKC and its on special right now at 13.80 a lb. I saw a few tables ordering it.

    1. Ben

      Hi Crispy: It is hard to say somethings if a comment is a troll or not. Many people have vastly different experiences. However, what is important is that one comment in a respectful manner and also provide more context, right? Readers are all smart and can read between the lines. What I am not sure about is how Franklin waited 1.5 hours which says something was obviously wrong. I had restaurants forgetting dishes before but certainly not waited for 1.5 hrs. Anyway, thanks for the report. The prices seems a bit higher but for sure I would love to go back and try it. Hmmm … $13.80 for AKC for this time is pretty good. Ben

    2. Kevin

      Yikes, that’s a pretty quick and unfair judgment don’t you think?

    3. LotusRapper

      Hey Crispy,

      That $19 AYCE hot pot, is that *all* inclusive (ie: sauces, standard stock, etc) ?

      1. Crispy Lechon

        LR, soup base is extra. I didnt check the price of the sauces but I believe the basic ones (soy sauce/satay) are free.

        1. LotusRapper

          Thanks ! Since we almost never do AYCE hotpot, so nowadways you have to pay for even the starter soup base ? Was this per person, or a one-time fee per pot regardless of # of people at the table ?

          1. Crispy Lechon

            I’m not so sure about the basic soup base if its free or not. I didnt really try it. I just inquired about it and they handed me the hotpot order sheet in Chinese. Usually the soup charge is per pot. So if you have 4 people sharing a hotpot, then u share the cost of the soup base as well. The charge for the sauces is per serving or per small bowl.

  9. Franklin

    Great, I’m now a troll.

    1. LotusRapper

      You do have cool hair 😉

  10. nexus88

    Hi Ben

    Harbour Spirit is offering King Crabs at $13.80 a lb special this week.
    Regularly advertised was $18.50 lb.

    Had dinner there tonight…mixed Szechuan & Cantonese food.
    – Decent.

    1. Ben

      Hi Nexus88: That $13.80 AKC price does not include the cooking cost, does it? Would you mind telling us more about the dinner you had and why you said it is (just) decent. Ben

  11. nexus

    Hi Ben,

    Supposedly, it includes cooking but my 2 boys are not interested in having crabs last night so we did not pursue further. Fancy plates and dishes but the several cups were already chipped.

    We had the double-cooked pork – a bit too saltish and not very tender. The vermicelli/veggies and abalone fish maw soup were excellent. Peking duck passable – they were instructing an apprentice on removing the skin right next to our table and of course, you have pieces that are a bit chunky with too much meat. The patrons at the next table were smarter. Got them to remove the the drumsticks & wings for takeout before slicing up the duck. lol. I must do that next time. Cost of meal $99.00 & change not including hst & tips.
    – so decent, had better, had worse.

    1. Ben

      Hi Nexus: Thanks for sharing. I think this restaurant is a happening place for the next little while. I heard that they are packing the restaurant even though it is a huge dining hall. Ben

  12. akwok

    I was just here for dinner tonight. We left halfway through the meal because they tried to scam us on a dish.

    So, first things first: we made a reservation at 7:00, went there, got our table, all was well. The service was a bit spotty of course, but that’s expected for a new opening, and we didn’t mind. We ordered five dishes (garlic stir fried choy sum, fried chicken (half), fried shrimp balls, seafood tofu pot, ‘sizzling plate’ beef, and a large serving of congee). After around 20-25 minutes of waiting for our food to arrive, the ‘manager’ just tells us “we don’t have the beef or congee dishes”, marks it off on our table receipt, and then leaves without offering any reason as why it took that long to tell us that the dishes were unavailable, nor did he bother to make any suggestions as to what we could order instead.

    Fine, we order two other dishes to compensate for the beef and congee — so we ordered fried rice and another dish (I can’t recall what it was).

    The seafood tofu pot arrives, and we dig in. The first scallop we try to eat is still raw inside, but we check the other scallops and they were cooked, so we just let it slide. The serving size of the dish is laughably little, and the gigantic pot they decided to place the food in probably didn’t help things. Tastewise, there was a ton of MSG, but I guess the shrimp was okay.

    The choy sum arrives, and it’s also a small dish (especially for $14). Nothing spectacular. We finish these off and we wait another 15 minutes or so for the other dishes to arrive (keep in mind we’re at the 40 minute wait mark or so by now).

    The fried chicken arrives. Keep in mind we ordered /half/ a chicken — we eat this dish regularly at other restaurants, and given that it’s a traditional Cantonese dish, I’m sure a lot of you guys know exactly what constitutes half a chicken. That is, there should be 5-6 pieces of white meat, a drumstick, a wing, a tail piece (pope’s nose), etc. However, it was ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that we were given a quarter of a chicken instead — there was a large chunk of the drumstick missing, only 2 pieces of small white meat, and the tail was completely missing. And no, it’s not that the chicken is small — the wing was there and it was a very big piece, so unless there are chickens out there with huge wings and almost no breast, then we got scammed.

    We immediately tell the ‘manager’ and tell him that this is CLEARLY not half a chicken, and I guess he agrees and he brings it back to the kitchen to ‘check’ — although this is absolutely stupid since anybody who’s eaten chicken in their lifetime should know exactly what consitutes half a chicken. None of us ate the chicken, but I did eat two of the shrimp chips, totalling to four shrimp chips still left.

    While he picks up the chicken dish, he drops a few of the shrimp chips on the table and picks them up with his hand and plops them back onto chicken dish. Fine, whatever — but this is an important detail. He comes back 5-10 minutes later and without giving any reason why, just tells us ‘it’s been cancelled’. By now we’re furious because it’s obvious that they purposely tried to pull a fast one on us with this dish. We immediately ask for the bill and just want to leave.

    However, a few minutes later, the manager comes out with the same chicken dish in hand, takes a look at us, I guess to see if we were paying attention, and then plops the dish down for another table. We go over to that table to take a quick glance, and sure enough, our ‘cancelled’ dish was handed off to another poor customer, with the exact 4 shrimp chips still on the dish, and with the same measly amount of chicken. What’s funny though is that /that/ table had 8 people, and they each took a piece of chicken, and the plate was cleared almost immediately, so that really speaks volumes as to how many pieces there were.

    Already extremely frustrated that they tried to scam us with this ‘quarter disguised as half’ chicken, AND THEN HAD THE GALL TO JUST PASS OUR CANCELLED DISH TO ANOTHER UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMER. We leave a $0 tip, paying for our two dishes (totalling $31), and storm out.

    Avoid this restaurant at all costs. I don’t know why our half chicken only had a quarter of a chicken or so, and I don’t really care /that/ much but to just hand it off to another table is unacceptable and probably not legal. I suspect that /our/ dish was a rejected dish from another table, hence the pieces of chicken missing (it was extremely dry in any case). I really wish I took a picture of the dish, as it was pathetic. I don’t think I’ve had a worse dining experience in GVR…

    Long rant, sorry, but I’m still extremely pissed off a few hours after the incident. The food isn’t cheap either. We went to McKim for wonton mein after.

    1. akwok

      Oh yeah, and I guess they’re trying to be high end with all the chandeliers (there’s 6), but the service is so poor that I’d get better service in Chinatown. While the plates and cups look fancy in pictures, it’s cheap and thin chinaware in person (and dirty, we had to get a few pieces replaced at the beginning because of lipstick).

      1. Ben

        Hi akwok: Thanks for the report. To think that we are planning to go to Spirit Harbour for dinner tomorrow! We are going to think of Plan B now. Ben

        1. akwok

          Actually, I would prefer if you still go just to see what your thoughts are on the restaurant. I guess a sense of schadenfreude is on my mind, and if they really do screw up your dinner tomorrow night I’d love to see them get kicked down a notch with a negative review.

          However, please be discreet with your cameras so there isn’t any preferential treatment — I’m sure it’d be vastly different if they knew you were a (famous) food blogger.

          Also, I suggest only ordering a few (less expensive) dishes to start and see how it goes from there…

          1. Ben

            No, I’ll pass for tomorrow’s dinner. It’s a family birthday dinner and I don’t want to chance it. I will definitely go someday but given all the feedback I received so far, it looks like they are going to need more time to settle down. You know, you are observant about the number of pieces of the chicken. That speaks a lot about how the restaurant does things behind the scene which I find, well, disgusting. Hmm … maybe I’ll go for a (lighter) lunch first.

  13. eatingclubvancouver_js

    Oh man — that chicken incident — now, that’s unforgiveable. Probably won’t be going to that restaurant at all then.

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