Kam Gok Yuen in Chinatown, Vancouver

When Lorna and I went to Chinatown Vancouver to buy red dates, we did a little exploration of Chinatown.

The Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Gate is the most prominent structure in Chinatown. Lorna told me that the Chinese characters on the gate was written by a famous calligrapher whose is a friend of her.


We also visited the China Abacus at Keefer Street near Taylor. It is a large abacus artwork with stylized beads of British Columbia jade. I remembered my father have an abacus at home. I never learned how to use it. I’m always amazed when I see people in Chinese stores using it as their fingers danced around the beads.


We also took a walk in the historical alley where Shanghai Alley, Suzhou Alley and Guangzhou Alley is. There were a number of huge posters which showcase the history of Chinatown in the alley. If you are interested in history, take your time to read the posters.


In the historical alley, there is a West Han Dynasty Bell called Yong Bell. The bell was a gift from the City of Guangzhou to the city of Vancouver in honour of the 15th anniversary of the twinning to the two cities.


Finally, I knew where is the world’s narrowest building is. The Sam Kee building is only …6 feet wide. It is not easy to recognize it now because there is another building which is built adjacent it.


The world’s narrowest building has been recognized by Ripley’s Believe It or Not.


It was a nice sunny fall day when we visited Chinatown.


After all the walking, we stopped by Kam Gok Yuen for lunch. Kam Gok Yuen specializes in BBQ and wonton.


We were there around 11:30 AM. It was not too busy but it gets busier when nearer to lunch hour. It is a fairly big restaurant.


Since this is a BBQ place. we ordered a BBQ Duck with Rice to share. We ordered the bowl version which is only $5.30. The dish version is $7.95. Lorna did not quite like the taste of the BBQ duck. She prefers the BBQ duck from a BBQ place in Continental Plaza.


We also ordered a Smoked Pork Hock with Round Rice Noodle Soup (Fun Tei Lai Fun) to share. This is on the special and it’s just $4.50.


There were plenty of thinly sliced smoked pork hock. The skin is gelatinous. I’m sure Ben will love this dish.


We added a Pan Fried Dunpling after we had placed our orders of the noodle and rice. The 6 pieces of dumpling costs $4.75.


The dumpling has pork and chives. It tasted alright but a bit on the oily side.


The bill came to $16.30. This is a CASH only place.

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Sedap Makan

    It has been a long time since we have been to Kam Gok Yuen. I remember going years ago with my father in law. He was enjoying some Hong Kong style curry. It looks the same. Fair prices for ok food.

    I’m sure he was curving some Malaysian curry but back in the 80’s there wasn’t any options for that.

  2. LotusRapper

    I remember my very first time going to KGY in ’77/’78 !

    While their food may not be stellar these days against heavy competition in Richmond, humble places like KGY in Chinatown are part of its near-recent history and I for one am very glad they are still around, and have not sold out and the space leased out to yet another hipster Asian fusion lounge/joint (wow, did I just sound like an old Chinese, albeit banana, curmudgeon ?!?)

    1. Lily

      Hi LR,
      I share your sentiments about the changes in Vancouver’s Chinatown. It’s a place where I grew up and have fond memories, but I have mixed emotions about these Asian fusion types of businesses which are really geared towards tourists and the younger generations of Vancouverites (especially Canadian born Chinese-Canadians) who fear the current state of the downtown eastside. Personally, I won’t give them my business or step foot inside them. Yes I am a banana…loud and proud!

      1. LotusRapper

        Amen !! 🙂

    2. Ming

      I have no objections to keeping tradition, but it’s clear that Vancouver’s Chinatown is a pale shadow of it’s former self, and that chinese community of today, has little memory of the chinatown of the 60-70 and even 80s.

      The community has moved on (migrated to burnaby, richmond, coquitlam, etc), and if they don’t want to come to chinatown, then chinatown has to evolve and adapt to a new clientele… or wither away and die (which is what happened through most of the 90s and 2000s).

      It used to be that chinese restaurants were opened by entrepreneurial immigrants, and targeted other recent immigrants for their customer base. But there are generations of second & third generation chinese-canadians (and lots of non-chinese) that are very willing to explore other cuisines, and are open to fusion and cross-cultural influences. **As long as it’s done well!!**

      1. LotusRapper

        I agree Chinatown has to adapt & evolve. But I wonder if that continues at the current rate, what will it look like in 10, 15, 20 years from now ? And at that time, what will “define” Chinatown’s essence ? A Chinagate, Sun Yat-Sen Garden, some CoV-designated historical sites (ie: Sam Kee Building), and a whack of fusion and cross-cultural restos and lounges (whose proprietors and patrons who know little, nor care, about the real history and significance of Chinatown) ?

        1. Lily

          Hence my mixed emotions. I realize that Chinatown must evolve, but at what cost. I see a trend of Disneyfication to an area of Vancouver that should remain accessible to all residents, and not those who see it as an entertainment destination. The new businesses are courting those who see it as such. Calling dim sum “Petit Plats Chinois” and giving cocktails cute names like “Lost in Chinatown” and charging premium prices is outrageous. If that what they can command and people are willing to pay, I guess more power to these businesses. I’m not willing. I do support my Chinatown though by shopping for groceries weekly and by doing my banking down there. Unfortunately there’s not many who do.

          1. Jean

            I see nothing wrong about rebranding and giving a more diverse view /perception of Chinatown: it does have to reflect not only the immigrants but the next generations who have fused certain culinary tastes.

            But I do protest yuppification of pricing in any Chinatown, by charging alot higher prices. If I buy stuff at those prices, then I might as well go somewhere else in the city outside of Chinatown and pretend to be hip, tres chic chinois.

            The reality is that it is up the entrepreneurial Chinese based marketers and business folks to reclaim the image of Chinatown and transform it. Otherwise other people, who don’t even have a smidgen of Chinese roots in their ancestral background will just grab the best parts of what constitutes “Chinese-Canadian” , not just mainland Chinese, etc. and make it theirs…to make money.

            For instance I am GLAD, that Susar Lee, the Chinese-Canadian celebrity chef is on the radar with his haute, fusion East-West cuisine in Toronto (and NYC I think). And he’s charging high prices. Of course we can’t all afford it, but he is transforming the cuisine that is dynamic. At least he brings in the customers..

    3. neige tyro

      to my knowledge, there is only one hipster asian fusion joint (HAFJ) ?

      everything else hip that has moved in is not catered towards an asian crowd imo. funny thing is: of all places, the HAFJ is the place i like least. maybe it’s the wrong idea they got going on, or wrong part of town.

  3. iluv2fish

    Yep, its been a while since I’ve eaten at any restaurant in CT.

    Surprised at the hours of operation now. I remember it used to be a great place at midnight to get a some warm food. Sign of the times.

    1. LotusRapper

      Yeah, past 7pm and Chinatown feels more like ghost town 🙁

      I think only Hon’s and Gain Wah are open to 9pm or later (Gain Wah to midnight ?). Other places like New Town, Goldstone, The Boss, New Mitzie’s etc. all are closed by 8pm at the latest.

      To eat anything past 9pm I have to go to Wonton Noodle House (Broadway), Kwong Chow (Main) or Hoy’s (Kingsway). Oh how I miss places like Ho Tak Kee and Bill Kee !!

  4. BoBo9

    I remember going there when it first opened, I love there Beef Brisket & Tripe on rice.

    The home made chili sauce is very nice. It does not taste as good as before. But still love it, I go when ever I can.

  5. Pinoy Gourmet

    My take on China Town development now that it has been rezoned to allow 8-10 stories.Just like Beijing torn down 70% of its Hutongs,China Town cannot exist in a time warp.There will be a growing none Chinese population there and the place has to reflect the needs of its growing None Chinese Residents,Once Chinatown was Italian Town until it evolved to ChinaTown>Its Evolution in action to the next stage

  6. Teresa

    Kam Gok Yuen has a special place in my heart. When I was little and Chinatown was busy, bustling, and vibrant, my grandparents and I would go down to Chinatown to do our grocery shopping. Aside from the select HK cafes there, they would take me to this little restaurant for lunch. I remember the many bowls of congee and simple bbq pork on rice we had there

    1. LotusRapper


      When I used to go to DTES/CT with my parents in the ’70s, we’d buy rice from that big rice store on Hastings near Gore, go to Woodward’s, Army & Navy and then the stores in CT itself. We’d buy BBQ items, veggies/fruits, and “treats” from BC Royal Cafe (apple tarts !) or New Town Bakery, then stop for a meal at either the original HON’s (Main & Keefer), Kam Gok Yuen or Park Lok if we were feeling fancy !

  7. Daryl Shim

    Jul 13, 2019

    I visited Kam Gok Yuen Restaurant on
    East Pender St. , chinatown
    13 years ago .

    I had dinner one evening on a Sat
    in the summer .
    I had the soya sauce on steam rice
    and tea , it was very good .

    I went to Kam Gok Yuen way in the
    late 70s with my Aunt & Faher
    we had lunch , we had noodle soup.

    It was very good , I also remember
    the food was always good and hot.

    Way in the late 70s to 80s there were
    alot of chinese restaurants in chinatown .
    There were quite a few dim sum restaurants in that time .

    With my Aunt , counsins and my parents we would always go to
    chinatown in Vancouver for dim sum.

    I miss those days they were the good ole
    days when families got together

    There are not many chinese restaurants
    in chinatown Vancouver .
    There are a few bakeries , grocery stores , chinese medicine stores ,
    banks , some western style restaurants

    Along Fraser St & Main St , Vancouver
    you will find some chinese restaurants
    some serving dim sum .

    All of the good chinese restaurants are
    all in Richmond.

  8. Daryl Shim

    I loved Kam Gok Yuen in chinatown
    the soya sauce chicken on steam rice was really good .

    I also remember Foo’s on Keefer St
    in chinatown where Dr. Sun Yat Sen
    garden is , this was in the late 70s.

    Foo’s was always busy on weekends
    they served Hong Kong style home
    cooking food .
    Like – steam ground pork which may
    be hard to get in a chinese restaurant
    chopsuey , fried rice , steam spareribs
    steam chicken.

    These are all favorites of mine , I
    cook these dishes from time to time .

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