Kalvin’s Restaurant: Forget It If You Don’t Have A Reservation

I am surprised.

This restaurant had flew under the radar for so long that am surprised why there are not more reviews written about them. The only blogger who wrote about Kalvin’s Restaurant is Kevin of 604foodtography. The reason was because I was taken aback on how busy this place was when we visited. The food is very good.

I think after reading this post, some of you will be making your way there. I hope you do. It is worth the trip across town.


I kept asking myself why would a restaurant this popular was hardly written about? I don’t have the answer why. Maybe it is the name, you reckon? I mean, with a name like Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant, it could be easy for people not to give them a second glance. Moreover, the front of the restaurant does not shout out who or what they really are.

The name outside the restaurant says Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant. Deep in their soul, it is actually a fabulous Taiwanese restaurant. Maybe the chef was originally from Sichuan. Maybe that is the name it got started with and they did not bother to change the signboard. However, the take out menu and even the name in Urbanspoon dropped the “Szechuan” word from the name.

I read some of the little reviews already on the internet (Urbanspoon and Dinehere.ca). They are consistent in giving positive feedback.


One consistent comment I read was that you need …

a reservation to dine here. We were there for dinner before 6:00PM and with reservation.

By 6:30PM people WITH reservation were already waiting for their table. The video above might not show the entire picture but there were people milling by the door and at the counter inside the restaurant by that time.


Good thing we got there early. If you can’t stand the crowd, you best come before 6:oo PM. The picture above was taken at about 10 minutes before six. By 6:08 PM the restaurant was already full. EVERY table had a reserved sign.

The thing is Kalvin’s is a small restaurant. We had been here eons ago. Way before the days of chowtimes when we did not care much about food. So that visit did not leave any impression on us then.

The restaurant has 6 large round tables and 2 small round tables. It is tight as they try to fit as many people as possible. As a matter of fact Suanne and I was hemmed in and the only way we could get out was to ask the next table to get up for us.

That guy in white above … do you think he is Mr Kalvin? He was out chatting with apparently regular customers before the rush began.

Kalvin does sell frozen dumplings too. It was in a fridge at the back of the restaurant. We did not notice anyone buying it but am sure it is not a small deal item here.

Service was good, considering all the people they had to serve. We did not have to wait long nor did we have any problems flagging them down for what we needed. They even came by once to change out our plates with clean ones.


We had a long look at their menu. There are so many dishes that we wanted to order but we can only eat so much. There were only three of us that day because Arkensen was away on a camping trip. Yeah, Nanzaro missed his ko-ko and we could tell. LOL! He spent the entire time alone playing the PlayStation or on his computer. The house was a bit quieter too.

Before we went to Kalvin’s we asked Kevin for recommendation. He gave us a few of this favourite dishes which we duly ordered, plus one or two. We were gawking at the dishes of the neighboring tables which looked really good. We told ourselves we will come back next time.

The take-out menu above is similar to the dine-in menu. You can click on them to show it larger. Of particular interest is the one on the right most … the section that says “Pre-Orders”. Yeah, next time we come, we will want to try the pre-orders. The pre-orders require a one day advance notice.

There are also several specials written on the wall. Unfortunately, it is all in Chinese. While I am sure they will translate for me when asked (they speak good English), we’ll leave it for next time.


We had the Red Fermented Deep Fried Pork which is just $5.00.

It is served with three pieces of deep fried pork which is cut diagonally into smaller thin slices.


Nanzaro loves this and ate most of this. We let him since he enjoyed it so much. We can taste the fermented flavour which is kind of like winery taste. The batter was light and gives a distinct crunch. Thumbs up.


This is one of those dishes that was recommended by Kevin. He called it the “first dish under the pork section”. Goes to show how well he knows the menu here. LOL!

That “first dish under the pork section” is called the Fondue Spicy Pork with Organ Stew. There are two sizes. The large one is $18 while the smaller one (above) is $10.

We asked the waitress if this is served with pork blood because we don’t eat that. I am sure it is a delicacy to many but it is not something we enjoy. That’s all. The waitress said yeah, the dish have red blood cubes. However, she said that they can serve this with tofu instead.

So I said, “oh, white blood?”. She got confused for a second before catching on the joke. “Yes, white blood”, she repeated to me.

This came served bubbling hot in a small hotpot. Lovely. I like the spicy “jhup” (sauce) which was quite spicy as we asked for it to be so. The intestines were soft, just as soft as the tofu. Nice dish but definitely not for those who does not like internal organs.


I like Pork Stomach soup and so we got that. This is is with Sour Vegetable. The small bowl is $5.50 while the larger portion is $10. We got the larger version but it ended up being too much for us. We could only finish 1/2 of it and had the remainder packed to go.

This is a simple soup, simple but flavourful. It only has sour vegetable, pork stomach and the soup. The soup does look strangely greenish.


It was the sour vegetable which gives the soup the greenish colour.


The pig stomach has a nice chewy texture as we expected it to. We hoped there were a lot more pork stomach pieces in this but as it was, it was a lot of soup.


The Sanbeiji. I like the name. It translates to Three-Cup-Chicken. This is a very popular Taiwanese dish and is considered by some to be the litmus test for a true Taiwanese chef.

We had the small order which is $10.50 (large is $20.00) and it is served in a claypot.

The reason why this is is called three cup chicken is that the main ingredient to make the sauce is three cups … of rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil.


The chicken is with bones and skin. Lovely. There is a certain element of crispness to it and yet when you tear into the meat, it reveals a nicely cooked-just-right and soft meat.


My best part? The “jhup”. The dilemma was alternating between the jhup here and the jhup from the pork (white) blood and intestines stew. These two jhup must not mix. LOL. They need to be eaten with just white rice and nothing else.

What I also like here is the whole garlic, ginger, basil and star anise. Bitting into each of these gives a sudden burst of twist to the already excellent jhup.

Thumbs up.


Look at above (clickable if you want to show larger). That lower section is their lunch special. They look unexciting. I’ll stick to their main menu to tell the truth.


This place is cash only.

We also ordered the Deep Fried Bun but when we checked with the server, she told us she forgot to put in the order, so we cancelled it because we already had too much food.

Again, service is good as they do fill up our tea and change plate despite the business (as in busy-ness) of the restaurant.

Frankly, the restaurant can just ignore the “chowtimes effect” because they already are so full of business. So you really need to plan ahead more if you go anytime soon. Call for reservation to be on the safe side. Get lots of people so that you can order more.

Hmmm … chowdown anyone? Maybe Kevin, the master of Taiwanese cuisine, could organize? 🙂

Kalvin's Restaurant on UrbanspoonBUSINESS HOUR11:00AM to 2:30PM
5:30PM to 9:30PM
closed on Wednesday


This Post Has 69 Comments

  1. LotusRapper

    Wow those dishes look delectable.

    Coincidentally a colleague (fellow Taiwanese) of mine mentioned this place as their family favorite. I never even knew there is a restaurant here, the storefront is rather inconspicuous, and even the sign is low key (maybe just not bright enough like those red+yellow ones).

    Ben, if you ever feel like having a bigger group chowdown ………

    1. Ben

      Hi LotusRapper: yeah, let’s do a chowdown. I want to go back and try their other dishes, especially the pre-orders. I can organize but I need someone with Taiwanese blood flowing in their veins and can sing high praises to the glory of Taiwanese cuisine. That sort of thing … Ben

      1. Carol

        i don’t know about the singing high praises to the glory of Taiwanese cuisine~ but i have Taiwanese blood 😛

  2. Carina

    Hi Ben like the look of the pork and chicken. By the way,I think you meant 6.00PM and not AM that you mentioned several times?

    1. Ben

      Hi Carina: Oh yeah … I meant PM not AM. I gotta blame it on all the 6AM meetings I had been holding for the past while at work. LOL! Thanks for spotting that. Ben

  3. cloud

    I assume the reason how there hasn’t been written because of most of customers I have seen every time I visit are older (the 3rd pic tells, doesn’t it?) whom don’t write blog or use internet often, This is my favorite restaurant because I am original from taiwan and they do bring me some memories back to taiwan..and from what I remember it always been busy. lucky they have two more restaurants in Vancouver from what I remember.

    1. Ben

      Hi Cloud: Did you say that Kalvin’s have two other restaurant? What are they? I took a look at their take out menu. Normally restaurants will list sister restaurants on it but this one has just Kalvin on it. Would be great if there are other Kalvin siblings to check out too! Ben

      1. I only know of Cabin 5555. Which is the other one?

        They renovated this space years ago but they didn’t make it any bigger. The original one was just as cramped as this current one.

        1. Kevin

          Whao you’re right. I just checked Cabin5555’s business card and it has Kalvin’s on it.

          There’s yet another one?

    2. cloud

      Hi, Ben, I am sorry…it’s my typing mistake. it’s only one. which is cabin555 as other people mention……from I know, Cabin’s owner is the apprentice of Kalivn’s. Also, when I was doing search a week ago, I found the owner of No1 beef noddle house and Kalivn are brothers…I am not sure if it’s true. perhaps you can find out and share with us. thank you very much

      1. Ben

        Hi Cloud: Thanks for confirming. We had been to Cabin 5555 before. The food in Cabin 5555 and Kalvin are different in that Cabin 5555 is more like a modern BBT place. I guess the apprentice is not as good as the sifu in Kalvin … at least not yet. 🙂 Ben

  4. Winnie

    This is one of THE Taiwanese restaurant back then before all the bubble tea cafes pop up all over Metro Vancouver. I haven’t been there for a while long since Victoria Dr isn’t really my daily nor weekend area.

    1. Kevin

      Winnie knows her stuff! Yea, this is a staple, a fixture in the Taiwanese community. 🙂

  5. Gloria

    I agree with everyone else. Although it is called a Szechuan restaurant, everyone who goes there knows “what it really is”.
    I love the spicy pork/organ stew ( I can eat the whole thing myself + more dishes). During the summer, there are line ups out the door.

  6. LotusRapper

    “The dilemma was alternating between the jhup here and the jhup from the pork (white) blood and intestines stew. These two jhup must not mix. LOL. They need to be eaten with just white rice and nothing else.”

    Let’s all bow respectfully to Ben, the Jhup Shifu !

    1. Ben

      Amen to that LotusRapper. Behold Ben, the jhup master … which is basically prison food in Asia. Ben

    1. jenny

      If Kevin is organizing, count R and I in. I went once without reservation, and they gave our table away to someone who came after us without reservation. So we got mad and just left. 😛

      1. Ben

        Nice, Jenny. This will be a great congregation of Taiwanese with me holding the lone Malaysian candle. Will count you in! Ben

    2. LotusRapper

      MUCH better bestowed to BuddhaGirl/BuddhaBoy. I haven’t been back to Taiwan since we left …… in 1976, I’d be a poseur if I said I’m a Taiwanese cuisine expert :-O

      1. Ben

        Hi Lotus: Excellent idea. BB and BG had not attended any chowtimes event before. I would love to have them attend too … no, I would love to have them host it for me. So Buddha Boy and Buddha Girl, what do you say? Might be a great idea to join forces with Kevin too! Ben

    3. Ben

      Alright Kevin. Let’s do a chowdown after your finals? I’ll be away the next little while and so the second half of April would be great. Ben

    4. LotusRapper

      I dunno, I like my Popsicles made of fruit juices [grin]

      BUT a dish of this I would not turn away …… bring on the rice !!!

      1. Ben

        Not good. Make it pure pork blood:

    5. Anita

      Hey Kevin! Count me in as well! I see that restaurant all the time and have been curious about it. Now I know what I has, I’m interested in trying it out with everyone! 🙂

  7. Christine

    Wow….i havent been to tis place for 4 yrs now……makes me want to go back…..I really love their pork tibs (mo seck gut). It’s REALLY good

  8. Buddha Girl

    Thank you all for your kind words. We are not experts in Taiwanese food, instead, we are just picky about what’s been claim by local restaurants as Taiwanese cuisine.

    As for the nomination, we are going to graciously decline.

    This will sound snobby, but the truth is, while this restaurant has been on our radar for the longest time, the dishes shown are not attracting our appetites. We cannot comment on the tastes, but the dishes don’t even look like the ones you get in most places in Taiwan. Plus, we are not comfortable of hosting a dinner at a restaurant we have not yet tried, it just doesn’t make sense to us.

    1. Ben

      Hi Buddha Girl: Oh come on. I supported you in your dinner but you had not supported me in return. Why don’t we do it this way … we have Kevin tell us what Taiwanese cuisine is and you tell us what Taiwanese cuisine is not. It would be a learning for all of us since you know what Taiwanese dishes is supposed to look like. Just for support? What say you? For me? 🙂 Ben

    2. Ben

      Hi Buddha Girl: Hey … which restaurant do you consider as the most authentic … or MORE authentic Taiwanese restaurant in Vancouver? I mean the one that you like the most? I would love to visit that restaurant. Ben

      1. BG would probably say none. 🙂 I don’t know — the Taiwanese food scene here has been seriously lacking for the past several years: there’s no place that seems outstanding or even above average on a consistent basis.

        1. Ben

          Hi JS: I think I know BG might say none. That is why I asked which is considered the MORE authentic ones … like the closest to it even if it is just 10% like Taiwanese. 🙂 Let’s face it … we live in Vancouver. So in the true sense of the word then what Asian cuisine is authentic here, right? Ben

        2. Buddha Boy

          There is no real Taiwanese cuisine. Taiwan food is a mix from all the migrants that left China, so there’s lots of regions, but no clear dominance. Locally, js is correct, much of what we can find in Taiwan is lacking here in terms of quality and taste. Dinesty used to be acceptable, but they also have been lacking in quality of late.

          While we do recognize your support to our blog and hosting, we realized that we are not the public type. Our home dinners are small affairs for friends and family, and I mainly hide in the kitchen. While we may seem antisocial, our main focus of our blog is just as a journal of our food.

          Thank you, but no, we will decline hosting.

          1. Ben

            Hi Buddha Boy: I understand. Yup, not everyone is public type. I await the moment I get invited to one of your home dinners … especially the Meat Glue ones! 🙂 Hey BTW, how did the experiment go with the Meat Glue. You were planning to use your 2lb supply last weekend? Ben

          2. eatingclubvancouver_js

            Haven’t been to Dinesty since last summer — and have been wondering how the food has been. I wasn’t too impressed the last time I was there either.

            Almost went to Dinesty yesterday but settled on Neptune Seafood instead for some dimsum. Must say dimsum there wasn’t bad: I loved the steamed golden custard buns they have, had the right amount of ooze. Their baked bbq pork buns wasn’t bad either, close to the Garden City/Top Gun version.

            Don’t know if my tastes have changed or there has been a general decline in quality, but I can’t seem to find a good bowl of Taiwanese beef noodles these days. (Beef noodles was why we considered going to Dinesty for lunch yesterday.)

          3. Ben

            Hi JS: This reminds us that we wanted to go to Dinesty to try their stinky tofu. LOL! Where is your favourite Beef Noodles? I had the beef noodles in Lao Shan Dong today. Did not enjoy the tendon (pretty tasteless) but the soup is still just as good. Ben

          4. Ben

            Oh wait, JS. Wait for my new post tomorrow. I have a post about a different kind of beef noodles. 🙂 I find it too radical … let’s see if this is something you will like. Ben

          5. eatingclubvancouver_js

            Looking forward to it. 🙂 Maybe you can give me an advance screening! 🙂

          6. Ben

            Sneak peek:

          7. Crispy Lechon

            Hi Ben, I tried it once (YY Village TBN). I like their soup. Its flavourful without tasting like Chinese medicine. You know what I mean, some TBN;s has lots of herbs in it that it tastes like Chinese medicine to me. LOL

          8. Ben

            Hi Crispy: Yeah, I should try the TBN in YY one of these days. I know what you mean about medicine tasting TBNs. Hmmm … can’t think of any now that does. Ben

          9. Crispy Lechon

            Ben, one that I can remember is Sunway’s TBN. For me its got too much Chinese herbs that it tastes like Chinese medicine. Thats just my own observation. Other people may find it quite tasty. I prefer the lighter taste beef broth like in Chef Hung.

          10. Ben

            Hi Crispy: Oh right. Re-reading my old post here, I did mentioned it was herbal’ish and thick. Ben

          11. eatingclubvancouver_js

            I can’t go to Lao Shan Dong on a regular basis. LOL Am trying to find a good one in Richmond or in Vancouver, close to home. 🙂

            Chef Hung: used to be better, but there’s been a decline since last time I tried (about 3-4 months ago). Maybe I’ll try again, for lunch tomorrow and see how it goes.

            Wang’s: Wang’s is so inconsistent that I’ve given up on them. Last time I went (about 3 months ago), the bowl I got was so-so.

            Corner 23: their beef noodle was too sweet, oddly enough. I think the beef they put on top of the noodles was braised in a slightly sweet sauce. (This was about 2 months ago).

            Cabin 5555: probably the best of the bunch I’ve had recently, but that isn’t saying much. (About a month ago.)

            Beefy Beef: okay, but not my favourite.


          12. Ben

            *raise hand* I had been there a couple of times for office lunch. I like their repertoire of noodles which I don’t see in many places. I did not try the beef noodles though which I assume you mean Taiwanese, not Vietnamese. IIRC I had some duck noodles, can’t remember what and another time pho. BTW, am waiting for the new location for Alisan to open next door to Han Ju Hot Pot. Should be any day now.

          13. Franklin

            You should try the tomato soup base at Chef Hung. Reminds me of the ‘guan’ or ‘quick-boil’ soup with tomato, stock, scallions, egg, and meat. It wasn’t as flavorful as their house special soup at first, but near the end of the bowl I wanted more.

            I haven’t tried all the places you listed, but I like Chef Hung’s because i feel they use a pretty good quality kind of beef. Their soup base is also flavorful but I’m sure many of you know that already. When a beef noodle place has bland (not flavorful) but salty soup, it’s an immediate fail for me.

            … but Hung’s is rather expensive so I can’t eat it as frequently as I like.

          14. Ben

            I remember someone telling me that the owner of Aberdeen Mall owns Chef Hung too. That is why a noodle shop can operate in such a expensive location and survive. Moreover, Since Aberdeen also owns Fairchild, the advertising on radio was next to nothing for them. I remember when I first wrote about Chef Hung, it created a lot of controversy. A lot of people were not happy with their prices and also the lightness of the broth. I thought it was pretty good but Suanne thinks it was not. The verdict is still out there. Ben

          15. Ben

            Hi Crispy: Oh we have never tried YY’s Beef Noodles before. They look really good. I like clear broth like that on LemonDroplet’s site. Have you tried it before? How do you like it? Ben

        3. eVITAERC

          Two new-ish restaurant that serves more down-scale Taiwanese food have popped up lately, Sunway and Bistro 508. For my money they’re pretty decent, but can be a bit hit-and-miss in terms of the menu.

  9. Carol

    i wanna try i wanna try 🙂

  10. I like the mustard greens on top (wish there could be more). The noodles look okay, although I think I would prefer it to be thicker and rougher. I don’t know about the odd colour of the broth though: seemed almost like the colour of mung beans. Strange. All will be revealed tomorrow!

  11. neigetyro

    i always thought i went to kalvin’s because of something you blogged about ben.

    have to agree there ISN’T a taiwanese place that i can point out as excellent even though my tastebuds in tw foods is mediocre. went to dinesty a few weeks ago and nothing too wow about it.

    i’d have to say the revamped taiwanese resto beside richmond sushi is great for its price.

    being a late bloomer to a lot of things, i’m told vogue used to be just wonderful. besides, there’s enough shanghainese food to space out the lacking tw noodles and such =D hehehe

    1. Ben

      Hi Neigetyro: The resto beside Richmond Sushi you mention must be Liu’s huh? BTW, do you recall what you had in Kalvin’s? Ben

      1. neige.tyro

        Hey Ben,
        my friend always gets (snow veggie shredded pork) noodles and it fares pretty well. can’t recall anything that was bad here.
        sorry. i’ll put on my chowtimes cap and start taking notes next time!!

        yy village is an interesting place. the noodles notsomuch, but snacks are great! and slooooow service hahaha

  12. eVITAERC

    According to my Twnese parents, Delicious Cuisine/Zephyr is also somehow connected to this place, but the exact relationship eludes me at the moment. Kelvin’s had been around for a LONG time, I really missed its back when it was on Victoria. I especially missed its frozen dumplings + pot stickers (no longer available); for a while that was (and still is) the best you can get, short of marrying a northern Chinese descendant.

    1. Ben

      Hi eVITAERC: I know the owner of Delicious Cuisine/Zephyr. He is a young guy, or at least he looks very young. Roger’s the name. Next time I bump into him I’ll ask. Still waiting for someone to tell us where the second other Kalvin’s location is. I am surprised that Cabin 5555 is part of Kalvin’s because we tried Cabin 5555 and thought it was pretty mediocre compared to Kalvin’s which was a lot more popular and the food really good. Ben

  13. Kenny

    I’m not sure if this place has the genuine Taiwanese flavour or not, but I was treated to lunch at New Age Chinese Cuisine along Kingsway (next to Best Western Inn) by my Kaoshiung friends and the food there was pretty good. The dish that stuck to my mind was the spicy deep fried chicken cartiledge. The flavour reminded me of the peppery fried chicken pieces you can find in Shilin night market but it has the crunchy texture of the cartiledge.

  14. TimeToChow

    I like Kalvin very much and would return in a heart beat. My experiences has always been positive. They have a fairly large menu and you really need to know what to order. I would consider it a Taiwanese take on Szehuan cuisine. The food is more consistent than Dinesty, Delicious and Sunway. I haven’t been in a while due to the location but would re-visit with someone who knows how to order off this menu.

    IMHO, Taiwanese cuisine is mainly a variation of Chinese food adapted to the taste of Taiwanese customer. Taiwan is mainly Han Chinese. Predominantly from Fujian(17-19th century) and Guandong provinces. Japanese influence(1895-1945) can be found(bento, oden, tempura). But mainly the influences from the mainland immigrants from the Kuomintang(1945-1987) rule are most evident. The rich and powerful brought their personal chefs(cooks) from many parts of china to Taiwan. Some opened retaurants serving Zhejiang(shanghai), sichuan, jiangsu, hunan cuisine.

    Many of the popular Taiwanese items have origins in China like the Taiwanese beef noodle(TBN) are possibly from the Hui(chinese-muslim), fried oyster omelette and popiah from Fujian, etc etc.

    Taiwanese food today is possibly best known for it’s emerging street food culture. With more influences in the last 20 years, modern Taiwanese food is evolving, largely due to the Taiwanese love for good food.

    here’s a good overview i think:

    note: In the 50’s and 60’s, Cantonese cuisine was considered low status when compared to other regional cuisines. Jiang-Zhe(jiangsu and zhejiang) was the cuisine of considered re-fined or high class by the ‘central’ government and elite society. It wasn’t until 1987 when martial law was removed and Taiwanese ‘nouveau riche’ were able to travel abroad freely, and HK was the port of transit to many Taiwanese visiting China. Taiwanese tourist tasted high class Cantonese dishes for the first time and liked it so much that HK style seafood and chefs were properly introduced. This restaurant’s mainly served high priced items and not for the common folks.

    1. LotusRapper

      Good summary, TTC !

      You may be well-positioned and well-timed to arrange that 8GTCC Jiansu dinner ……. [wink, wink]

      1. Ben

        Hint noted. TimeToChow was ready but I was the one dragging my feet on the 8GTCC Shandong. 🙂

        1. LotusRapper

          Right, I meant Shandong !

    2. Ben

      Love this comment, TimeToChow. Very well written. Took me a while to read it all. LOL! Thanks.

      Yeah, Kalvin is extremely popular and the crowd we saw that day does show that their food is good.

      Hey, sorry for not being able to kick start the 8GTCC again. Been tied up in work and am scheduled to travel again next week. Will get back with you when I get home and settle down. Ben

  15. On Crispy’s advice, went to try YY Village today for lunch. I must say the food we had was quite good, especially the beef roll. The pancake was flakey and not so doughy — and it had a good amount of beef inside with good flavour. I ordered some dumplings (boiled ones, not steamed) and I liked them, since I’m partial to chewy skins on dumplings. We also ordered a side of fried pork chop and some kangkong. These two items were also executed nicely.

    Ironically enough, I didn’t like the beef noodles at all, but I think that’s just a function of personal preference. Their version wasn’t the version I was looking for: the broth didn’t seem to be made from beef bones, the beef flavour instead coming from the braised beef on top of the noodles. I liked their pickled mustard greens though and the noodles seemed handmade. Also, the chili oil was great: made from fresh chilies, so a bit different than the usual chili oil.

    So — still looking to satisfy my Taiwanese beef noodle craving. . .

  16. M

    I will like to attend a Chowdown for this! I ate at this place 4 years ago and remembered it really delicious.

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