[CRA 2011] Steamed Tilapia with Egg from Bing Sheng

Suanne and I met up with Novi and David for dinner. Novi has a blog. She doesn’t blog about food but I had been following her series on her month long vacation China. There are many travel blogs out there but for some reason I can just relate to her stories.

Novi’s blog is creatively called Novi On The Go. She doesn’t always blog about travel. Instead it is more of a blog of her creative projects. Every Thursday, she will blog about her trip.

If there is one place we want to visit this summer, it would be a trip to China. We are not sure if that is even going to happen because the boys doesn’t want to go to China. They want to go to Europe because they say they can’t speak Chinees. We are just trying to figure out what to do this summer. We did not go anywhere last year and so this year we are going to make it happen!

Regardless whether we are going to China or not, we wanted to meet up with Novi and David and hear first hand their adventures.

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It was easy to pick a place to meet. Armed with the 2011 CRA Critic Choice list, it was just a matter of choosing a location convenient. We went to Bing Sheng and the object of the visit is the winning dish in the Fish category, the Steamed Tilapia with Egg.

Bing Sheng is located quite far from home. The restaurant is located on Renfrew on 2nd Ave in Vancouver. We had heard good things about this restaurant but had never been here before simply because of the distance from Richmond. So this was a good opportunity to come here.

Parking is not a problem here. Bing Sheng have their own underground car park. I drove directly to the underground parking but was confronted with a totally empty car park. I had half of mind of turning around and park on the street (which felt safer!) but we were already running late. We totally misjudged the distance and time taken to drive there. It was Friday at 6PM. Traffic was really heavy.

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I was impressed with the interior of Bing Sheng. It has a nice traditional setting quite unlike many of the Chinese restaurants in Richmond which are more modern.

But we were also surprised that the restaurant was so quiet. I expected that they have more customer for Friday dinner but instead there were just 5 to 6 tables taken the whole evening we were there. Moreover, since Bing Sheng has just won an award winning dish I thought perhaps it would draw a bit more customers. So I was thinking how much impact would winning a CRA award have to a restaurant … like how many people would know or care? I would.

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We were chatting the whole time we did not quite notice the service and all. I guess it was good because it was unobtrusive. We had everything we needed at the right time.

There were some mix up with the tea. We first ordered the Chrysanthemum and then seconds later we decided to change it to Jasmine. They brought both but I am not complaining. It was because I was totally unaware until Suanne told me.

What do I know about tea, right? For me, I only thought the teapot was really nice.

Oh, I can’t find the reference on the internet right now but if I have not confused myself here is some tips about Chinese tea for you. OK, I am sure you had been confronted many times in Chinese restaurant when asked what tea you want to have. So what do you normally order?

If you want to impress people, ask for Longjing or Dragon Well. Most restaurant will tell you they don’t have it and at that point you have to feign you are disappointed (shake your head side to side if you want to). After that you can ask for a cheaper tea. People who knows about tea will nod in approval with your choice of Dragon Well. Find out more about Dragon Well here. Yeah, this is the tea that dignitaries to China are served. It’s the best. Say that you learn this from chowtimes. Chowtimes learned this from Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken. 🙂

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The above is the award wining dish – the Steamed Tilapia with Egg. It is amazing and … (more…)

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Taste Good Wonton: A New Name To An Old Time Favourite

Taste Good Wonton is a name many of you have not heard of before. But if I mention the name Wonton King, I think that name will resonate with many.

We had blogged about the previous incarnation of this restaurant before. Twice as a matter of fact. The first time was with ChubbyPanda when he came up to Vancouver. We had the award winning soup which I still remember to this day. The Chicken Wine Soup was one of the earliest CRA award winning dishes that I tried and since that dish I made an attempt to try every award winning dishes.

The second visit was just last year. That was when the 8GTCC (Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine) team was doing some tasting for the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner. A few of us went to Wonton King to try the Chiu Chow Poon Choi (Big Bowl Feast). It was quite an unique experience.

Wonton King had it rolling even as early as 1 year back but from my perspective, it began to slide. Before we know it, it closed.

Suddenly. Without a warning.

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I can’t remember who now but a friend of chowtimes alerted us a while back that there is a new restaurant in the location of Wonton King. It is called Taste Good Seafood Restaurant.

It is quite a strange name and the English name sounded like a step backwards. It felt that they tried to exude some kind of class by injecting the word “Seafood” in its name but pairing it next to the word “Wonton” seems out of place.

So we went over the Christmas holidays to check this new place out. Back in my mind, I wanted to find out if Taste Good Wonton and Wonton King has any connection at all.

I had earlier heard that they are forced to close due to food safety violation. So I thought the Vancouver Coastal Health would be a good place to find the answer why they closed so suddenly if indeed they closed due to food safety violation.

I found the VCH report in the October 2009 (see here). Anyway, the report stated they were required to close for a few days due to the following reasons:

  • Operating without a valid permit
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Improper food storage temperatures
  • Pest infestation

What was very interesting was the “Operating without a valid permit” line. That is something I had never seen before. So I think the sequence of events may have that they were caught without an operating permit in October 2009 and continued to operate until after our 2nd Poon Choi visit in August 2010 before they removed the Wonton King name.

I think that is what happened. Anyone knows more or can verify this?

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We walked in and there to greet us was the same old familiar wait staff faces from Wonton King. The place is a tad bit better than the last visit 5 months ago.

The restaurant was half full that night we were there which happened to be the Chinese mid winter festival. We were expecting a fuller house but then we know that the closure of Marine Drive that few weeks could played a factor too. Some of you might remember there was a huge sinkhole on Marine Drive the weeks before Christmas. Yeah, it appeared right in front of this restaurant and the city closed the entire section down. We had to drive through a gas station and against the traffic to get to Taste Good Wonton.

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They had put in a few new touches. There are flowers on each table. The table cloth was embroidered which I thought was classy. But other than these small touches, they are by and large the same.

They served salted peanut as free appetizer. Nothing fancy really. A bit “lau foong” already. The tea pot was on the table instantly. This is one of the rare times when Arkensen and Nanzaro does not immediately ask for “two glasses of ice water please”. They don’t particularly like Chinese tea.

That was an opportune time to talk about “Tea Pot Duty”. So I told Arkensen that he being the eldest son, it is his responsibility to pour tea for everyone. Nanzaro was pleased when I said that and tried to irk his brother as he always does.

“Yeah, Goh-goh, yeah. Listen to dad”, smiled Nanzaro. Arkensen gave him an evil stare that says something like “you are gonna get it when we get home”. Both of them DO fight at home but they always do that behind closed doors.

But Nanzaro actually did “tea pot duty” that day although he did say “this is embarassing!”. Things to remember:

  • Keep the teapot close to you
  • Scan always for empty tea cups
  • Always serve others before yourself, starting with the oldest (not ladies first, mind you!)
  • Serve with both hands on the pot (one hand on the lid)

Hehehe … it was good to see him doing it. However, that was only a flash in a pan though. He had not done tea pot duty since that dinner.

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Their menu is almost completely identical to Wonton King’s … the most notable differences is the prices. They are higher now – about 5%, sometimes 10%. I compared this menu above with the old Wonton King menu I had at home.

Yup. We have a box which we keep all the menus we collected over the years.

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We started off with a dish called Cod with Tofu and Garlic Hotpot ($13). It had been a while since we had hot pot like this. We used to order this sort of dishes a lot, particularly tofu hot pot. Our boys love it. To us, it is comfort food.

Besides the cod, this hot pot also has BBQ Pork and Mushrooms. What we like most about the hot pot is the …

(more…)

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Golden Swan: Will The Deep Fried Fish Cheek Fall Victim To The HST?

How bad a shape is the restaurant businesses really these days? I read about it in the news and heard about it on TV that many restaurants will be closing this winter. Word has it that it is because of the HST but I am not convinced that it is mainly due to that tax increase. I mean, an increase of 5% consumption tax to 12% is not insignificant but then I am not sure if this really make people spend less on dining out.

Anyway, Carol emailed us a link to the news reported on sina.com.cn that one of the most successful dim sum restaurants will be packing it up in the next few weeks. Golden Swan had been around for a very long time and won several awards. The restaurant will change hands on January 17th and the reasons given by the current owner is because of the HST.

Update: Raymond informed me the following via Facebook: Actually, the newspaper have a amendment notice on the very next day saying the restaurant is ‘still’ profitable and the owner only selling it as for his retirement.

Oh, BTW, talking about Carol … she is the one who did the documentary on chowtimes and food blogging. There had been several scheduling changes but she informed that it is 99% going to be aired on Fairchild’s Timeline Magazine on Wednesday, January 5th.

I am going to record it on PVR and hope to be able to pull that out to the computer. Does anyone know how to do that?

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The news stated that Golden Swan will be changing hands. I don’t know how much change this will mean. Will it just be a change of ownership with the crew mostly intact? Will the name of the restaurant change? Dunno but we’ll know soon enough.

The Golden Swan Restaurant is located on Victoria at 38th. You cannot miss this restaurant because it is huge and has this large red sign that spans the entire block.

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This is what I meant when I said I am not sure if the HST has any impact on the restaurant business, particularly for Golden Swan. The restaurant was absolutely teeming with customers. While we did not have to wait long for a table when we got there at 11:00 AM but by the time we left at noon, there were almost 30 people waiting for a table. Some of them even had to stand outside the restaurant in the cold because there are no more room at the large waiting area.

Golden Swan has a large dining area. It has that bustling atmosphere of a Hong Kong dim sum restaurant — very noisy! It was so noisy that we can’t hear what the waitress was saying when we talked with them.

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While they have push cart dim sum, it is rather limited. All of the specials are on the menu on the table. We ordered mostly from this 1-pager menu (left, above) and asking for what the neighboring tables were having.

Referring to the order we had (above, right), their prices are on a higher side. The normal dim sum items are as follows:

  • small – $3.20
  • medium – $3.75
  • large – $4.30
  • special – $5
  • supreme – $5.50

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For some reason, we total missed the bigger menu which was lying on the table. We only realized it when we were done and they cleared the table. Gosh, how could we have missed that.

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This one is very good. We got this from the white specials 1-page menu where everything on it is $5.50. This is called the …

(more…)

Continue ReadingGolden Swan: Will The Deep Fried Fish Cheek Fall Victim To The HST?

Richmond Community Kitchens celebrate Christmas at HML Seafood Restaurant on No. 3 Rd in Richmond

Minoo organised a Christmas celebration at HML Seafood Restaurant during one of last cooking session of the Richmond Community Kitchen.  The South Arm Community Kitchen had been to this location, also for Christmas celebration in 2007 but it was Kingford Seafood Restaurant back then.

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Does anyone know why is this restaurant’s English name is HML Seafood Restaurant? I tried to ask the receptionist on my way out but just got a blunt answer that she does not know.

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HML is a big restaurant and it was very busy when we were there at 10:30 am. Minoo had reserved a large table that fits 12 to 15 people.

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But, guessed what? 19 people turned up for this gathering. We had to pull another table in order to fit everyone. There were members from various kitchens, i.e. South Arm Community Kitchen, South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors, Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen and Caring Place Community Kitchen.

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Click on the menu above to take a closer look. The prices are average and the good thing is tea is free and it’s 20% off their regular dim sum items all day, even weekends and public holidays. The dim sum menu is on the right hand side.

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We ordered a lot of food. In fact, I’m glad the captain came to us to alert us that we ordered way too much and cut down on the quantities of some of the items. Yet, we still have leftovers to bring home. What Minoo particular like in this restaurant is … (more…)

Continue ReadingRichmond Community Kitchens celebrate Christmas at HML Seafood Restaurant on No. 3 Rd in Richmond

Dinner at Top Gun J&C on McKim Way and Garden City, Richmond

We went to dinner at a canteen. Actually we had a feast in a canteen. And it was not just any canteen. It was Buddha Boy and Girl’s (BB&G) personal canteen.

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The Top Gun J&C Restaurant is known as BB&G’s personal canteen because they eat there all the time. I think it must be AT LEAST once a week. LOL! They had eaten here so many times that they had loaded over 200 pictures of the food they had on Urbanspoon (see link here) … on just this one restaurant alone! So no one argues with BB&G when they declare that Top Gun J&C is their personal canteen.

The thing is we need to hear from them why they always go to this restaurant. They claim they don’t own shares in this restaurant. Do you believe that?  Let’s see how they “defend” this. LOL!

After reading so much on this canteen, we asked BB&G to organize a chowdown there. We just gotta see what it is that makes them go back again … and again … and again … and again ….

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So nine people went to this dinner and it was well represented too. Representing the foodie group were Crispy Lechon, Doris and Joyce. We even have Derek of PanDa Fresh Bakery … yeah, the very pleasant young chap who is behind the Croissant Bus. Representing the foodie bloggies are Elaine of O My Sweet Tooth who I declare is the second prettiest food blogger in Vancouver. The host is BB&G and of course chowtimes (represented one half by the prettiest food blogger in Vancouver and I think one half by the handsomest food blogger).

So there you go … we have people who eat food, people who sells food and people who writes about food. What more can one ask for?

Actually we had been to this restaurant before but it was for dim sum. I still remember that dim sum (post here) with JS and TS and ET and Christina. Oh BTW, after a hiatus of five months(!), ET and Christina had started blogging again. Go to their site and drop them some comments to spur them on to blog more!

Top Gun J&C is part of a group of well known restaurants. Their restaurants includes

However, Top Gun J&C is the flagship restaurant. The name of J&C stands for Japanese and Chinese but I think it refers to the cuisine that the GROUP specializes on and not that this particular restaurant serves both Chinese and Japanese food. This restaurant is primarily a Chinese restaurant.

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While waiting for everyone to turn up, we had something to munch on. They served us XO sauce and peanut.

The XO Sauce has chunky ingredients with lots of dried shrimps — quite big ones and they were rather chewy. While this is nice, I find that the best is still the ones that I had in (Western Lake).

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Buddha Boy recommended that we mix the XO Sauce with the peanuts. It was good and because BB&G knows the restaurant so well, we could ask for as many servings as we wanted. Remember? This is their canteen?

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We started with Tea Smoked Duck (香茶鴨). This is NOT something from the restaurant at all. BB&G bought this from a place that they refuse to tell us where. There is a story behind this tea smoked duck.

Some of you may remember that Alvin Garden won the Silver award for the Duck Category in the 2010 Chinese Restaurant Award (see this post). Well, according to BB&G, Alvin Garden did not make the smoke duck at all and yet they won silver. We were told that Alvin Garden got their award winning duck dish from another supplier who smokes them at home! LOL!

So, BB&G went out of their way to get the duck from their secret supplier and brought it to us to try — so sweet of them. The duck is very nice but slightly different from Alvin Garden’s (who briefly deep fried it). Word has it that the duck is marinated for a week and smoked for 3 days.

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The first dish was the Winter Melon Soup (冬瓜盅). It was a good start … the soup was steamed in the winter melon itself.

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The soup was … (more…)

Continue ReadingDinner at Top Gun J&C on McKim Way and Garden City, Richmond

Dinner at Good Choice Restaurant on Fraser and 44th, Vancouver

I keep telling people that Suanne and I do not go back to the crime scene. I know that expression does not make much sense. But it sounded good. LOL! What I meant to say is that we hardly ever go back to the same restaurant once we had written about them.

It is kind of sad, isn’t it? I think about 95% of our dine outs are to restaurants we had never visited before. Truth is, I wish sometimes we could be like normal people who has a favourite restaurant they go back to again and again. Do you have one such restaurant? You know, a restaurant you visit at least once or twice a month?

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We went back to the “crime scene”. We had dim sum at the Good Choice Restaurant on the recommendation that this is a good restaurant. It was. We were very impressed with the dim sum which the chef makes on his own. It was one of the better dim sums restaurants we had and I blogged about them here.

While their dim sum was excellent, we were told that it is the dinners that is better. Yeah, I kept hearing the mention of their salt bake chicken and really wanted to try that too. For Chinese dinners, the only way to do justice to this is to gather enough people to fill a table.

I had so much on my plate these days that it is simply impossible for me to organize one. However, before I knew it, a hand shot up to volunteer to organize it. It was Michelle. Michelle did all the planning including the selection of dishes.

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A total of 12 people attended that night. That is already 2 people more than what was earlier intended.

The people attended are mostly new to Suanne and I. These were Michelle’s foodie friends and so it was great to get to know new faces.

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They served peanuts and pickled daikon and carrots as free appetizers. Nothing fancy.

After we got settled down, apparently the waiter who served us during our earlier dim sum visit told us that he remember us and pointed to the very table we were at. He sure has good memory. He also told us that he read the post I wrote too. Gosh … good thing I had good things to say or else you never know what they do to your food.

Yeah, I saw too many Cantonese movies where I see waiters spitting into the food before serving it to the customers they don’t like! I wonder if this sort of things really happen in real life. Who knows right? These waiters and waitresses in Chinese restaurants must have also watched movies like that and they get the idea from the movies.

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Anyway, the service that night was good. Actually it was very good and I am totally impressed with it.

They were very prompt in changing our dishes and what I like best was the way they pace the whole dinner for us. It was only one or two dishes at a time. I hate it when restaurants pile on dish after dish that we lose track of the dishes and felt rushed. Instead, what I like is to be able to slowly savor each dish and talk about them. That is what they did for us that night.

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We started off with herbal soup which was both “ching” (clear) and flavorful. That is a hallmark of a well done soup … that the looks of the soup belies the flavour.

The soup is made with pork, chicken feet and “Chung Choe Far” (don’t know what it’s called in English). The plate of the meat (pictured right) does not have much taste left as all the flavour has gone into the soup. It is also tough and the only way to eat it if you want to is to dip it in soya sauce.

Granted not many people eat this. It is more for show. Anyway, does anyone of you actually enjoy these meat?

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The Beef Brisket was beautifully done. It is so simply served on a bed of julienne cucumbers. The light soy sauce flavour meshes well with the beef which was tender. I normally would stay away from brisket as I just do not usually like the texture of briskets. However, I have to say this was good. I like that it is served cold too.

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There was a bit of indecisiveness on whether to get this or not. This is Scallop in … (more…)

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Hou Lok Restaurant on Cambie Rd, Richmond

It had been almost five years since we last visited this restaurant next to the T&T Supermarket on Cambie Road. The Hou Lok Restaurant is actually one of the earliest restaurant posts I had written.

This restaurant is so low key that for the longest time I had forgotten about them. Even driving past this restaurant I did not even notice it is there. It came back on my radar when Keev organized a “dalang” chowdown with a focus … get this … chicken TESTICLES! You gotta read the fmed’s report on chowhound here.

No we did not join that chowdown because it was held late night on a weekday.

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Suanne and I went to Hou Lok last week to have their late night supper. In Chinese it is called “dalang” but we were not exactly sure what that word means. At that time, we were thinking that it could be from the word “da-lang-jan” as in shivering in Chinese.

Well, Suanne found out the following from a forum:

“Da lang” is 打冷. The 冷 is not pronounced in Cantonese, but same as Chiu Chow pronounciation for 人 (different tone).

In older Cantonese da 打 can mean eat, while the Cantonese 冷 has the same pronounciation as, but different tone from, the Chiu Chow word 人. The Chiu Chow people in HK used to call themselves “ga gi lang” (?) 自己人 among fellow Chiu Chow people.

So combined “Da lang” 打冷 means “eating Chiu Chow people’s food” (it’s more like a slang).

Interesting, huh?

Anyway, Suanne and I are more familiar with using the word “siu yeh” for these late night suppers.

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Hou Lok is one of those restaurants that we feel left out. They have a lot of special dishes pasted on the walls throughout the restaurant and they are all in Chinese only.

The restaurant is quite well maintained but we could see that it is also a well seasoned restaurant. There are so many new restaurants in Richmond that a restaurant this old just stands out.

Service wise we were well taken care of. Anyway there were only three other tables taken that night and so getting service when we need it was not a problem.

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This restaurant is definitely a restaurant that specializes in “da lang”. They open at 5 PM and keeps open until 4 AM in the morning!

As we got seated, they have us a sheet of 2-sided menu. The one on the left (click to enlarge) was the one we ordered from. It’s amazing … they have 80 dishes listed and every one of them is $5 only. If you order four items (i.e. $20), they will give us a complimentary large bowl of congee. If not for the free congee offer, we would have ordered just two, maybe three dishes.

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The first of four dish is the Szechuan Style Spicy Chicken. The Chinese name for this dish is Weird-Taste … (more…)

Continue ReadingHou Lok Restaurant on Cambie Rd, Richmond

Western Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Victoria and 33rd, Vancouver

It is just who I am OK? So you really got to bear with me.

Whenever I get myself obsessed on a certain food, I will go and find out more about it. I am no expert but I have an insatiable curiosity for information.

What I was really obsessed about of late is something called the XO Sauce. Lily was telling us in this post that Western Lake has the best XO Sauce. It is so good that legend has it that they charge $2 for a saucer. Wow, that I had to see for myself.

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Suanne and I made our way to Western Lake on Victoria and 33rd. We had never been to this particular restaurant before. Frankly if not for that XO Sauce discussion I don’t think we would even come here at all.

So I did some research and it seems like this is one place I should have visited long ago. A lot of people like this place and many reviews talked about the long waits for tables. People were telling me that I either go at 9AM (that’s when they open) or you better call for a reservation.

It’s not that they will honor your reservation and have an empty table waiting for you to show up. No siree. This is a Chinese restaurant. LOL! At least with a reservation you stand a better chance of being seated ahead of the walk-in customers.

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We had a reservation and we got there just in time by 10 in the morning. We did not want to go earlier than 10AM because this restaurant does not serve the Kitchen Specialties until that time. We are here for their Kitchen Specialties, not the ho-hum stuff like siu mais and har gows.

The restaurant is big and busy. It was running at full house already. I think in Cantonese the expression is “bau pang” which literally means that the tent had exploded. Something like that.

So we were lucky we had a reservation. We just had to wait for 5 minutes before they jostled us to the far corner of the restaurant. I did not quite like the spot because it has blind spots and we can’t be seen by the waiters in case we need them. Well … take it of leave it, I guess.

We took it. I have a feeling those guys have little patience for my petty peeve.

While waiting we stood there and counted 25 tables, mostly 4 to 10 seaters. Quite big is what I say. You know I like double table cloth.

Service was very prompt, very fast. They will throw you a smile or field a question or two but you sense that they really have a lot on their hands serving all the customers. So in that respect I gotta hand it to them. At least they were never rude or have a grumpy face.

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You may click on the menu above (and below) to show it larger. Sorry I had to constantly repeat this because I know it is not obvious to everyone. Believe it or not, not every chowtimes readers are that savvy like most of you are.

Anyway, there are no push cart dim sum here. It is by order form. On one side (above) is the normal dim sum which is served from opening time at 9 AM. We only ticked one item on this page (#15 Steamed Prawn Siu-Mai with Dried Scallops) because we wanted this to go with the famed XO Sauce. I mean, we can’t eat the XO Sauce by itself right? We gotta had something to “dim” the XO Sauce.

Oh … one more thing. Although there are no dim sum carts, they do occasionally bring out trays of their specials to the table. So for strategic purposes, I advise you to:

  • get a table closest to the kitchen so that you can intercept the good ones faster, and
  • order 1 less dish that you can finish so that when the specials come to your table you don’t have to deal with the dilemma to say no to an absolutely item

What do you think? Good strategy? Trust me … I had eaten enough dim sum and is “kiasu” enough to have these strategy ingrained already. 🙂

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Ah yes … flipping over the page is the Kitchen Specialties. Again, this is available only after 10 AM.

We took quite a while looking over the menu because we wanted so many dishes and yet there is only that many we could order. The waitress came by twice asking if we are ready. I am a charming guy and flashing my usual charming eyeless smile, I told them “why do you have so many good dishes? How am I now gonna decide?”

After consultation with Suanne, we decided that since it is a cold snowy day, we will order dishes that will fit the winter theme. We went for almost all soupy dishes for a change.

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The Clams in Spicy Chinese Wine Sauce is $7.

We would normally not order clam dishes because we thought it has little substance (meat) to it and has lots of light soup. But what made us choose this dish are two words … (more…)

Continue ReadingWestern Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Victoria and 33rd, Vancouver

Vivacity Restaurant on Alexandra Road, Richmond

OK, fine.

I will use the words “duc beet” and not “tak peed” to describe something that is unusual or special. At least this rhymes with the Vietnamese word “Dac Biet” which means the same thing.

We were out looking for some “duc beet” dim sum last weekend. Of late, we had been searching for “duc beet” type of dim sums. As you know we don’t particularly like the run of the mill dim sums like siu mai, BBQ Pork buns and har gow … stuff like that. They are boring. It is the same as salmon sushi and tuna sushi if you know what I mean.

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So we went to Vivacity. This is a popular Chinese restaurant located smack in the middle of Richmond’s glutton street of Alexandra.

Vivacity used to be on No 3 Road and Cambie until 3 years ago. They were forced to move to this new location to make way for the Canada Line Construction.

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Vivacity is big. It is busy. And it is noisy.

The customers here are mostly well heeled as this is a slightly upscale restaurant. The prices were not too bad but this is not the kind of place you would expect $2 dim sum plates for sure.

Yeah, they have chandeliers. The captains are in suits and very professional. I like their service and no snobbishness in them. Remember I told you about the “tai yan” service at Jade where they gives you extra attention if you have an expensive car fob on the table? Well, the service here is not anywhere like that. We were well taken care off and the captains do go around chatting with their customers.

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I just love this place. OK I know. I fall for things like gold colored seat covers and double table cloth. I just enjoy the ambiance here … particularly the noise and the bustle. Felt like Hong Kong.

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Click on the menu above to show it in full width where you can read them easier.

The sections called Chef’s Suggestion and Chef’s Special was the two sections we focused on. To us this is where the “duc beet” dishes are found.

Normal dim sums are $4.00 to $4.50. Their special dishes are $7 to $8 but then they are bigger servings so it is not that expensive. I would say that their prices are comparable to most other places of similar class.

Actually, come to think of it they do not have a lot of “duc beet” dishes.

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Several friends told me that their signature dish is not a dish. It is a sauce. They make great XO sauce.

We almost forgot about it until we noticed that on the table next to ours. As they were just seated, the captain brought over a saucer of the XO sauce to their table even before the tea came. The captain personally delivered that because the customers apparently is their regular customers.

We had to ask for it too. That was even before we ordered our food and we did not know of any dishes this would go with. We just wanted to taste it.

Their XO sauce is not spicy but particularly shrimpy. We all like it.

Remember to ask for it when you are here if they don’t give it to you.

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The Deep Fried Crispy Milk Custard ($5.35) was duc beet to us. It came in a dish of ten pieces and served with granulated sugar on the side.

Actually the sugar is … (more…)

Continue ReadingVivacity Restaurant on Alexandra Road, Richmond

Specialty Chicken and Wonton House on No 3 Road and Ackroyd, Richmond

I would be very interested to know what the average age of a restaurant is in Metro Vancouver, particularly in Richmond. It doesn’t seems to me that there are many restaurants that are older than 10 years. I don’t know … it seems to me there are a lot of new restaurants and there are also quite a number of unexpected closures too.

And since we are on this topic, I am wondering what is the oldest restaurant in Richmond. Anyone knows? I am guessing it has to be one of the HK Style Cafes or Cantonese restaurants. Even if we don’t know the oldest restaurant, I am thinking that if everyone let me know the oldest you can think of, we might just narrow down to that oldest restaurant in Richmond.

Anyone?

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The Specialty Chicken and Wonton House is one of the more hardy restaurants in Richmond. They had been operating in the Ackroyd area for the past 12 years. They used to be in the corner of the strip mall nearest Save on Food.

Just last week, Suanne and I were surprised to find that the familiar name is now a few doors away. It is now occupying a bigger shop lot and it has a fresh new look to it. It was later on we found out they moved to this new location just 3 months ago.

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The dining area is big. It can fit about 20 tables which each seating at least 4 people and quite a number of them are much larger tables. So I guess you can imagine how many people this place fits.

While we did not have to wait for a table, the place was bustling with customers. We had not been to this restaurant for … oh … 8 years now and so we were quite pleasantly surprised to see them still going strong.

Service was cheerful. I would even say exceptionally cheerful. It’s a welcome change to see every worker eager to chat with the customers. They even chatted with us like we are old customers.

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The entire restaurant is filled with the aroma of herbal chicken soup from the hot pot dish. So many customers got this especially because it is a good dish to have in the cold weather.

Yeah, it’s no wonder why too. The Chinese Herbal Chicken Hot Pot is on top of the single page Chef’s Special menu. All the items looked so good that Suanne and I had a hard time deciding what to get.

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This restaurant’s specialty is chicken. Just take a look at the range of chicken they have above. Pictures of menu on this post are clickable to enlarge.

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Empress, Hainan, Ching Ping, Salt Baked and soya sauce … I just can’t tell between all of them. Can an expert out there help me differentiate them?

I can only tell apart the soy sauce chicken — it is dark. See I know at least one type. 🙂

All the chicken are served cold except for soy sauce chicken.

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And then there are the specials on the plastic holders at the table. I was particularly interested in the home style steamed rice which is $7. Since we were there for dinner, we can’t order this. Makes it easier for us to decide what to get since we can’t get this. 🙂

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Since it was cold, we know we want to have a hot pot. This type of hot pot is not the same kind of all you can eat hot pots where you get to cook your own food. This type of hot pot serves pre-cooked ones.

Our table has a built in recessed compartment for the burner for hotpot. I like that because it lowers the hot pot and makes it easier to eat from.

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It was a toss up between the herbal chicken (which most tables got) or the goat meat hot pot. What tipped the decision was that goat hot pot is less common than herbal chicken which we had a lot of times already. Actually we prefer chicken herbal hot pot a lot. Our favourite place is in Jubilant and Neptune Wonton.

So this is it … (more…)

Continue ReadingSpecialty Chicken and Wonton House on No 3 Road and Ackroyd, Richmond