New Mitzie’s Restaurant in Chinatown: In Search For National Dishes

Dashed!

Last weekend, Suanne and I went to check out a new and exciting little restaurant that had just recently hit town. Let’s see how many of you can guess which restaurant I am talking about. Here are some clues for you:

  • It serves an ethnic cuisine that is rare in Vancouver. There are two other restaurants that covers this ethnic cuisine but they are nowhere near what this restaurant does.
  • It is small and family owned. Limited seats. At max, only 18 at an incredible squeeze.
  • They don’t have a signboard outside the restaurant. When asked why, they said they cannot keep up and dare not let anyone know more about them until they deal with the overwhelming demand.

We thought we be smart and go and have lunch at 2:30PM and guess what … the restaurant was packed with people waiting for a table even at that hour. There was no way we will get a table for the next 1.5 hours.

We wanted to try their national dish which is a bean-based dish but like I said “dashed!”. We made all the way there and thought we would be OK at 2:30PM for lunch. Now I know why my friend was raving about this new little place. The people were really nice people and was apologetic that they are unable to seat us. Before we left, we looked at the sweet lady and vowed “We shall return!”.

Let’s see if anyone of you can make a right guess which restaurant I was talking about above. Any guess?

New-Mitzies-Restaurant-1

OK, here is another clue. The small new restaurant I was talking about is quite near this place above.

Since we were already in the neighborhood, Suanne and I needed to come up with a Plan B. We figured that since we could not try that national dish in the small new restaurant, we go instead to try another national dish.

It just so happen that it was the Burmese Water Festival that day and the national dish of Burma (Myanmar) is Mohinga. We remember Grayelf telling us that Mitzie’s have good Mohinga on their menu.

With disappointment in our hearts, we walked over to Mitzie’s instead. But really, it was a good and interesting alternative. We like trying new exotic dishes.

New-Mitzies-Restaurant-2

The New Mitzie’s Restaurant is the name of this restaurant. Being just a “teenager” in Vancouver, my knowledge of such old establishments goes only so far. I am guessing the “New” in their name was a result of a change of ownership at some point. Yeah, I love learning and reading of the historical backgrounds of these restaurants.

Does anyone know the origin of that name Mitzie’s?

Anyway, the New Mitzie’s is basically a Hong Kong Style Cafe. The interior is dated. Sitting there Suanne and I did feel like … time had stood still since the 1980s.

The dining area is separated by a split level with some awkward table arrangements. There were the usual booth tables on the sides and also some round tables in the middle. We took the booth table overlooking the street below. That is good for people watching.

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With a single track of mind to try the Mohinga (which they call the Burmese Fish Noodle Soup), we got that without thinking twice. It was just $6.00 and we thought it was really cheap.

New-Mitzies-Menu-1New-Mitzies-Menu-2New-Mitzies-Menu-3

The menu above is clickable to show it larger.

Their prices is inline with one would expect from HK Style Cafes. Their menu also included a good selection of more western dishes like hamburgers and sandwiches which appeals to their wider customer base. By and large, they are known as a Western and Chinese restaurant.

Service were good. Actually better than many Chinese restaurant in that she greeted us, asked how we’re doing … that sort of thing.

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So we ordered two simple dishes. One was the Mohinga.

The other the Curry Chicken and Coconut Noodle Soup which reminded us that it is like Laksa. We were thinking about Bo Laksa King and of his Laksa and Mohinga. So we got that. New Mitzie’s did not call it laksa though.

We were served the side dishes above. We figured that they are for the Mohinga because Mohinga is a fish based soup and this is to balance the “fishiness” of the soup.

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They even brought us a bottle of chili powder. It has a real kick to it … very spicy! I like this.

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The above is the Burmese Fish Noodle Soup (Mohinga) ($6.00).

At a glance it did not quite look great. It is just soup and noodles that we see in the bowl. However, the soup has lots of ground up stuff in it like onion, lemon grass and of course fish. In there too was a hard boiled egg that has disintegrated from perhaps left cooking the soup for sometime.

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The noodles are thick vermicelli. The serving is not big-big like you see in some pho places. But it is more than adequate for a nice meal.

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The soup does have a fishy flavour. I understand some people will find the fishiness too strong but yet others would find it real nice. What I am trying to point out how sometimes people (bloggers, readers, etc) have differing views what constitute good food. So I guess there is no point to get into a debate … like thrashing other’s favourite dish or feel hurt when people says that their favourite dishes are no good. To each their own.

Fo us, we needed the lemon juice and slice onion to go with the Mohinga. We did enjoy the dish as simple as it was. We were thinking of how this can be equated with the Malaysian Assam Laksa which is more tangy.

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The Curry Chicken and Coconut Noodle Soup was also $6.00. It is heavier in coconut milk. So heavy that it is both thick and creamy. We think the yellowness of the soup came from turmeric.

Besides three pieces of chicken meat, it also has a broken hard boiled egg.

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Oh I added a lot of  chili powder to add spiciness.

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The noodles in this dish is different. This one is made with egg noodles.

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This is a cheap simple meal. No frills. Just simple soup noodles for a cheap low price. We did like the noodles here. It was good to know that New Mitzie’s accepts credit cards.

Anyway … anyone guessed yet the restaurant we originally wanted to go before we came to New Mitzie’s? I’ll let you know tomorrow.

New Mitzie's on UrbanspoonBUSINESS HOUR

7 days a week

8:00 AM to 8:00 PM

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. joyluckclub

    When this building first went up, this restaurant was Binos (24 hour cafe)….looks like the interior hasn’t changed a bit 🙂

    1. Ben

      Hi JoyLC: Binos? Is that related to the Binos on Kingsway? Ben

    2. LotusRapper

      Ha, I took one look at the dining room pic and I thought: “Those are BINO’s lights if I ever saw them !”. I actually forgot that location was Bino’s. Thanks JLC !

      Ben: you are correct. Bino’s was a fairly large chain of 24-hr franchised restos in the same genre as Denny’s (but homegrown in Vancouver), v. popular in the ’70->’90s but began to wane in the ’00s, with each location closing and replaced by other restaurants. In Vancouver the one on Kingsway @ Joyce (beside RBC and 7-Eleven) still survives. The only other one I recall seeing is on Broadway at Arbutus, but closed in the past few years and replaced by that AYCE “B.C. Sushi”.

      AFAIK, the Kingsway location is the only remaining Bino’s.

    3. iluvtofish

      Yep! my family owned it when it was a Bino’s. That was 30 years ago! I worked there as a teenager during the summer. Business was not that great as it was tough operating a Pancake house in Chinatown. People who went down there obviously wanted to eat chinese food and not pancakes or hamburgers. The bulk of our customers were from the local police station. The Bino’s francise did not catch on that well either. I don’t know of any Binos still left in the Lower Mainland. We owned the place for about 4 years. During the last couple of those years, Bino’s allowed us to offer chinese noodle dishes in addition to the regular western items. We sold the place shortly after and it became Mitzes. That picture brings back memories.

      1. LotusRapper

        I miss Bino’s breakfast specials ! I spent A LOT of weekend brekkie time at the one on Hastings/Cassiar (gone) and the Broadway/Arbutus one. One thing for sure, they had some of the best coffees anywhere.

        1. joyluckclub

          ah yes….we used to end up at the Commercial and Broadway location after “clubbing”
          it makes me chuckle when I think about our line up of vegas, chevettes and novas…parked out front.

        2. grayelf

          I wonder how many Chowtimes readers I served at Bino’s? I worked at THREE of them in high school (Broadway and Arbutus, Broadway and Willow, Kerrisdale). Remember the condomium-sized bran muffins?

          1. LotusRapper

            Ah yes, Kerrisdale had one, but I’m blanking on its exact location.

            Broadway @ Willow ? By Fairmont Medical Bldg ?

          2. grayelf

            It was where the Szechuan place is, under Golden Ocean.

            And I think the one on Broadway was about where the Timmy Ho’s is now but the building was torn down so I could be a bit off.

          3. LotusRapper

            Right, next to the booze store ! How can I forget, I worked for three year at Kerrisdale Cameras in the ’80s.

            Guess where we ate last night ……. Golden Ocean 🙂 Parents were pleased they have a large offering of $10.99 dishes (not set menus). LR Jr. was good to run around like he usually does in the large dining room without bumping into servers and furniture.

          4. iluvtofish

            Yep, and how about the Cowboy burger? A patty the size of a salisbury steak with a fried egg on top. I made lots of those!!

      2. Ben

        Hi iluvtofish: Wow, I am surprised your family also once owned a Bino’s. It sure was a long way from those old days for you. 🙂 Ben

        1. iluvtofish

          Yep! Chinatown was alot different back then. My dad and his uncle owned it. They had day jobs so they did not actively participate in the day to day operations. I had a job in the kitchen. We had a choice of two locations and decided on the chinatown one. Food costs on most things like pancakes were low but we didn’t do enough volume to make it work. The restaurant business sure is tough. I feel for the mom and pop restaurants that are struggling. They put all their savings into it and if they are lucky, make enough just to live on.

          I love food but would never think about starting up a new restaurant.

  2. We used to go to Mitzie’s all the time when I was a kid! After Bino’s, it was HK style rice/noodles, then the chef was a great Italian fellow who did decent western dishes (pasta, steaks). Lost track of it after I moved away.

  3. HR

    another Bino’s was the on commercial drive, by the current SkyTrain station… it’s now the St. Augistine…

    i barely remember the chinatown location being a Bino’s, but definatly remember the Mitzie that replaced that as my dad and i used to go there a lot when i was a kid (i remember eating spaghetti there,lol) …

  4. Jayda

    Gain Wah?

    1. Ben

      Hi Jayda: Nope. Not Gain Wah. Well, Gain Wah is not new. Another tip … it is a place where they serve fay-joo-ada. 🙂 Ben

      1. Jayda

        lol…. I have no idea what that means or what it is. Even tried looking it up, but I can only gather that it might be Malaysian? The only new restaurant that is quite small and that is supposed to serve good ethnic food is Bao Bei. I don’t get a chance to eat in Chinatown though so I guess I’m not going to get this one!

        1. Ben

          LOL! Here is another clue. It is NOT Asian nor African and yet it is ethnic. 🙂

          1. Jayda

            ohhhh…. well, another one I have been to is Radha’s which was really good … but definitely for a very specific group of people … that’s probably wrong too … but I like to try!

  5. Jayda

    There used to be a Bino’s here in White Rock and I remember going there quite a bit with my family … I went through a stage where all I wanted to eat was their awesome fries and gravy. The family restaurant seems to be dying breed. Moxie’s and White Spot used to be good family restaurants … but they have gone more upscale.

    1. LotusRapper

      White Spot only went upscale on its pricing. The food quality still is pathetic (stuck in the late ’80s) and is becoming more and more a parody of itself. Sort of like Safeway.

      My $0.25

      1. iluvtofish

        Even though my wife works at White Spot, I would have to agree somewhat with what you are saying. Besides the Legendary burger and fish and chips, their other items are hit and miss with respect to quality and I do not see the value for dollar in some of their dishes. Why would you pay 16 bucks for a mediocore plate of curry chicken with rice when you can get something better at any HK Cafe for half the price? I end up ordering the same things every time I go there.

        1. LotusRapper

          Not trying to sound overly-critical, but I’m actually quite amazed White Spot can thrive in Vancouver, given the cultural diversity of our local dining landscape and the tremendous value we derive from them.

          I agree, why pay up to $15 for:
          http://www.whitespot.com/dinner/spotclassics.htm

          And up to $17 for:
          http://www.whitespot.com/dinner/pastas_rice_stirfrys.htm

          And up to $25 for:
          http://www.whitespot.com/dinner/grill.htm

          All prepared by formula and cooked by line cooks ?

          A few months ago my family and I (4 adults, 1 child) dined at WS at Oakridge before doing some Christmas shopping. ‘Cept for the pirate pack, the adults each ordered straightforward entrees ranging $11-16. No alcohol was ordered, but we did have coffees and soft drinks. No desserts neither. The final tab before tips …. $73. After tips was $82. Ouch.

          1. Out of desperation, we went to White Spot last Saturday. I know I can’t be that off — but seriously, White Spot used to have better food. Their burgers used to be good and the chicken broccoli and cheese was so much better. They jumped the shark when they started to go more “upscale,” renovating their locations and spending more money on their advertising. Our White Spot bill last Saturday came to $92 something, not including tips, for 4 adults. Le sigh. I feel like I can’t even go anyplace now that serves halfway decent “Western” food at reasonable prices. Now, I have to go to a HK-style cafe for that! ;P

          2. Brave Bull might be too “down home” for me. I just want the old White Spot back!

          3. LotusRapper

            I was just kidding.

            Not sure if there really is a comparable chain like the old WS nowadays. ABC Country and Ricky’s come to mind …..

      2. Jayda

        Hi LR, I don’t really understand the Safeway reference…. can you please explain?

        1. LotusRapper

          Sorry about that. I just meant, in comparison to other supermarkets, Safeway appears to be the slowest (or not at all) in adopting new trends and product lines (ie: organic produce, milk, meats, better cheeses, deli items, etc).

  6. Pauline

    Ben seems to be enjoying this keep ’em guessin’ game.
    Let me give it a go: Cuisine Brazilian; national dish = feijoada.
    Name of restaurant: still a mystery.

    1. Jayda

      Pauline … yea! you are better than I am at deduction! Now I’m really curious! A Brazilian restaurant in Chinatown? That will be interesting.

      1. Ben

        Hi Jayda: The Brazilian restaurant is near Chinatown but not exactly in Chinatown. It is in Gastown. As a matter of fact Gassy Jack looks at it all the time. Ben

    2. Ben

      Hi Pauline: Good deduction. Goes to show how much you know about food in different cultures. 🙂 Ben

  7. Willow

    I’m guessing Brasil Stone!

    1. Ben

      Hi Willow: YOU GOT IT! Very good and am impressed since they don’t even have a signboard outside the restaurant. 🙂 Have you tried it before? How did you like it? Ben

      1. Jayda

        yeah Willow!

      2. Willow

        Haven’t been but I’ve heard some murmurs… 🙂

  8. LotusRapper

    The winner treats us all to Brasil Stone !!!!!!!!

    Bravo !

    1. Willow

      Hmm… it would have to be meager portions with my starving student budget 😉

  9. Kathy

    These people stole $500.00 from my friend’s debit card over a period of time. He was a regular customer there and is an elder. Do NOT give this den of thieves your business!! Shame!!

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