Huang’s Beef Noodle on Victoria Drive and East 54th, Vancouver

As I was loading the pictures for this post yesterday, I was marveling at this picture below.

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I was thinking how amazing it was when we had this. The simplicity of the dish and yet it is delicately complex. The entire process that goes into making this involves techniques that one takes for granted but not many cuisine would even dare to think of.

And then while I was loading the pictures, I came across a website which has a picture of a bag of Pork Floss and under the picture it says something like “Used for getting bacon out from between your teeth!”

It was then I realized how repulsive (for the lack of a better word) the dish above is to other cultures and yet to me this is considered a delicacy.

What I like about this is also that this is cheap. This is called simply the Preserved Egg with Tofu and is $3.50. This is a cold dish and the tofu is sometimes chilling cold when served.

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The thing that is strange to non-Asians is the … (more…)

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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.

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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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Exm0SYVeEhI&h=600&w=400]

One consistent comment I read was that you need …

(more…)

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Flo Tea Room: Free Toasts Before 5:00 PM

Nanzaro is one of those people who unselfishly volunteers his time helping people or be involved extra-curricula activities. He likes doing things like that. He had been spending a lot of time over months training for a first aid competition against some tough competition from St Johns Ambulance. In the days leading to the competition, I could see he was anxious and did not want me to ask him about the competition.

Well, his team did not win anything. Obviously the St Johns Ambulance groups swept the honors. After all this is a first aid competition. The Air Cadets did not stand a chance against the pros. But despite the results, I thought that his dedication to doing the best he can be is admirable.

The competition started in the morning and it lasted to late afternoon. When we picked him up, he was upbeat despite being soundly beaten. The first thing he said was “Taiwanese and Bubble Tea”. Suanne and I laughed at him, particularly at the bubble tea part. We had teased him before why he is not like other Asian boys who hangs out at bubble tea houses. He always says that only Asian girls hangs out in Bubble Tea houses and boys go there because they are forced to tag along.

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Like Nanzaro, I do not find bubble tea houses appealing. But Suanne latched on to the suggestion. She said we should go to the Flo Tea Room because she remembers that they have free toasts in the afternoon. Moreover the Flo Tea Room was just on our route home.

It was quite a rush getting to the Flo Tea Room. You see, the free toast is available only from … (more…)

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Yuen-Yuen Cafe: Ba Wan and Other Taiwanese Food

In the past couple of months we had quite a bit of attention put on Hong Kong Style Cafes, Malaysian Cuisine and Filipino Cuisine. I think I had neglected Chinese Cuisine somewhat but I think it will pick up again next month when I set my focus on getting the 8GTCC project going again.

But there is one cuisine I am not very familiar with and it is the Taiwanese cuisine. This is despite that we had 41 dine out posts categorized under the Taiwanese keyword. Quite a lot isn’t it?

My curiosity was piqued last weekend when Suanne blogged about a dish she learned from the Richmond Community Kitchen called Ba Wan (link here). I had never heard of that dish before – not even after blogging on 41 Taiwanese restaurant. What caught me by surprised is the reactions from readers on that post.

We often get dozens of comments for restaurant posts but recipe posts doesn’t draw nearly as many comments. On a very good day, it will draw about 5 comments but the post on Ba Wan drew 20 comments. So I guess this particular dish does resonate well with a lot of the readers.

[Yeah, recipe posts are very different from restaurant posts. While restaurant posts have a lot of reactions, the comments will die down very quickly within a week of two. However, recipe posts have the greatest staying power as it provides a steady trickle of readers, mostly from Google. That is why recipe posts have the highest hits by far. Just that is draws very little reactions].

So I was really keen to learn more about Ba Wan and what the whole deal is with that simple dish. Crispy alerted us that this dish had actually been reviewed before on 604foodtography.

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We went to the restaurant that Kevin blogged about. It is Yuen-Yuen Cafe and is located on Cambie and 41st in Vancouver. They are actually located just next door to Samurai Sushi … and that is an important point to note!

You know my boys right? They have this thing about driving across bridges. But at the mere mention of the name Samurai Sushi, they have no issues. They love their ridiculously House Roll. Have you seen how big they are? See this! It is so big you have to eat this resting on your palms.

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Yuen-Yuen is basically a bubble-tea house. It is small, clean and neat like most Taiwanese restaurants. Yeah, I noticed that Taiwanese restaurants are generally much well-designed and modern than HK Style Cafes for instance.

They have a funky seating arrangement with a unique wavy table. It is sort of like forcing people to look at the sample photos taken by someone with a photography business. Maybe the owner of Yuen-Yuen also has another wedding photography business or something.

It is self-service. You order the drinks (and food) from the counter, pay for it and when it is ready they will call you over to pick it up. Business was quite empty during that Saturday afternoon. There is an occasional customer who comes in to get bubble tea but no one stays for long. We felt kind of odd coming here for a family meal … to eat and not to drink.

They have limited food available but of course they have Ba Wan. Because of the small selection (which had pictures posted on the wall next to the counter), we practically ordered every food item they have. The prices are quite cheap too but they are mostly snack food rather than full meals.

Oh, cash only also.

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Nanzaro and Arkensen does not fancy bubble tea. They prefer Coke (and water!) over bubble tea. Neither does Suanne, strangely for someone with a sweet tooth.

But we still ordered one to share just because this is a bubble tea house. We got the Mocha Milk Tea with bubble ($4.75).

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This is the reason we are in Yuen-Yuen – the Ba Wan. Their English translation for this is … (more…)

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Boiling Point on No 3 Road Between Alexandra and Leslie Road, Richmond

Stinky-stinky Tofu. Not just any stinky tofu but stinky-stinky tofu.

That was what JS described it when she wrote to a few of our foodie group alerting us of this ad she saw in the Chinese papers. It is about a new hot pot restaurant in Richmond who billed themselves as Taiwanese Stinky Stinky Tofu.

We were not ones to balk on trying such things. As a matter of fact, we relish on trying such stuff. I had stinky tofu before … many many years ago in Taiwan. It was OK then and so this should be easy.

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So, JS, TS, Grayelf and us met up for dinner in Boiling Point.

This restaurant is located on the strip mall on No 3 Road where Celcius is, you know, just across the street from Memory Express?

Boiling Point took over the spot vacated by the Kelong Malaysian restaurant. We were quite surprised to learn that Kelong had finally called it a day. While the food in Kelong had never been known to be good, they had hung on for so long that one would think they will be there forever. As a matter of fact, Suanne just wrote about Kelong about three months ago. BTW, you know what is a Kelong? It is a fishing floating platform which used to be common in Malaysia. See pictures here if you are curious.

Anyhow … The Boiling Point restaurant has outlets on California and Washington state. This is their fifth outlet and the first in Canada.

First thing I did when I got there was stand outside the restaurant and took a deep breathe. It was cold and the air crisp that night. I thought surely if it is indeed stinky I could smell it from the outside.

No, nothing. Nada. Nyet. Nary a smell. On one hand it is a good thing. On the other, I was disappointed.

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When I pushed opened the door, that smell hit home. OMG, that smells awful. To some it will smell awfully nice. To me, it just smells awful. It is like they were cooking rotten meat in sewage water in the toilet. Something like that.

But you know what, the smell gets better as time goes by. After a while, we did not even notice the smell. The first smell is awful. Yeah, I was telling myself the same thing the whole day long. Just to psyche myself up for this adventure. I know that like blue cheese and natto, the first bite is the hardest and the more you eat the better it gets.

The decor inside looks spartan. The ugly unfinished concrete floor just jumps out at me as sloppy decor but then it later dawned on me that perhaps they did this for practical reasons. I mean, if this is carpeted, the smell would collect! Then too I noticed that the chairs are plastics too.

BTW, do you know what is the origin of Stinky Tofu? Stinky Tofu is popular in Taiwan but it is also available in southern part of China including Hong Kong. I googled and found the following article from … (more…)

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Bubble World on Capstan Way, Richmond

Did some of you notice that chowtimes.com went off line earlier on today? It was 6 hours long starting from 11PM yesterday. Good thing it happened during those hours when most of you are already fast asleep.

The outage was apparently widespread and impact all virtual dedicated servers hosted in GoDaddy. I was told that the root cause was with their network. For a while I was quite concerned that with the sudden increase of traffic the past few weeks (after chowtimes was mentioned on The Vancouver Sun), it is deja vu all over again.

Anyway we are back in business.

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Suanne, Nanzaro and I went out looking for dinner that day about three weeks ago. Arkensen said he did not want to go out insisting he is not hungry and had made instant noodles just an hour earlier. He is smart and I think he planned it that way to avoid going out. He had planned with his friends to play Call of Duty: Black Ops. Have you guys seen that game? It has great graphics.

I can’t play those games anymore. These games belong to the younger generation. For my generation, we only have ONE joystick. I know how to move forward and backward and I know how to look left and right. That’s it. With today’s games, you have TWO joysticks and countless buttons. Not only can you move in all four directions with the new controllers, you can look up, down and every direction. So I tried to play these games with my boys. I get killed within seconds … all the time. Even before I can orientate myself, my boys would shout “Head shot!” and laugh out loud. Yeah, they can aim and shoot in a split second right in the middle of their dad’s temple. I give up! I’ll stick to Solitaire on Windows.

Both Arkensen and Nanzaro doesn’t share friends. Weird huh? Arkensen and his friends doesn’t want to have anything to do with Nanzaro and his friends. It is Arkensen’s game with his friends and the rule is Nanzaro stay out of it. So Nanzaro had no choice but to hang out with mummy and daddy. 🙂

So we drove and was planning to go to a small Malaysian restaurant in Union Square. Strange … they were closed when in fact the sign on the door says that they should be opened. I think they decided to close shop that day because of the snow fall. So we walked around Union Square and decided to go to the Bubble World.

We had never noticed this Bubble World before. I think they are new.

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Bubble World … it is a franchise. You get quite a number of them scattered around Metro Vancouver. When they got started, they are more well known for their Bubble Tea outlets. However, this one is different. This one feels more like a restaurant than a bubble tea joint.

The restaurant does look … (more…)

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Accord Food House on Kingsway-Metrotown, Burnaby

Updated 23rd Oct 2014: This restaurant is closed.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. That’s what we often hear.

At my place of work near Metrotown, there are quite a lot of nice places where I could go for lunch. And they are inexpensive and good too. Often when I go out for lunch, I don’t really have to decide what I want to eat. I’ll just take a mid-day walk and stop by a restaurant I fancy.

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But there is one place I never stop at until recently. I did not even realize that it’s restaurant at all until I take a second look. And I had been working in this area some years now and I walk past this place three or four times a week too.

Nestled between a payday loan store and a sex shop (what a name, Male and Female Harmony Store) is a small lot. It is oddly smaller than the rest in the row of shops. That small lot has the words “Music School” in the weather-worn awning. Obviously this is not a music school but it wasn’t obvious too that this is a restaurant.

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I would have never paid much attention to this place. Not many people would. Even the cracks on the windows were just crudely taped up. There were metal bars on the windows and the doors.

Not many people would have paid much attention to this place. Not when there are a lot of other restaurants around too.

So much for the cover.

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A few weeks ago, I peeked in through the curtains and I thought it was sort of neat. I decided to chance it and have lunch here. Pushing open the door, I had a very pleasant surprise. Very very much unlike the outside, the inside was much better. It was very homey.

It was very clean, very tidy. It is also very small. They only have seats for 20 people max. They played soft classical music which I enjoyed a lot. Lunch time is not just a sustenance time for me. It is often a decompression time too. It is a time where I get myself cocooned in my little world with something to read in my hands and just enjoy the food. I like times like that and this was just what I like.

The other popular restaurants around this area was just too busy and too bustling. Some of you will know what I am talking about … Sushi Garden, Green Basil, Lao Shan Dong, S&W Pepper House and the Crystal Mall Food Court … some of my usual lunch places.

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This nameless restaurant is apparently called the Accord Food House. I only got to know the name after I saw it on the receipt.

While this place is small it is homey but also basic. They make it as homey as possible and takes the effort to make it like you are dining in their home.

I asked for permission to take pictures of the restaurant. They said OK but asked that I don’t take the picture of their kitchen. It is an open kitchen and I am very impressed with the setup. One just don’t see a lot of that in a Chinese restaurant where everything is so neat with a place for everything. The ingredient containers were very clean and arranged very nicely. Everything is in its place and there is a place for everything. You just gotta see it to know what I mean. The best “viewing point” is the two counter seats. Go for that seat and observe them work.

Service was very good. They are nice humble people who seems contended with what they are doing. From what I see, it is suggested to me that they care a lot of doing things right than doing it big.

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You may click on the menu above to enlarge it.

It is a very simple 1-pager menu. When I asked them if I could take pictures of it, they were quite hesitant because they said it is so simple. They also added that they had some special dishes that they introduce once in a while and it is all written on the board in the dining area (see the third picture from the top).

One-pager menus is not a problem with me. I had eaten here several times already before I took my camera along last week. Their food is good and that is what matters. So far I had tried two dishes and both of them were excellent.

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The beef noodle seems like their specialty. It is the item on top of the menu. This small restaurant is also filled with the aroma of beef noodle soup. And most tables had their beef noodles too. So yeah, this has to be their specialty.

On the menu, they listed “Beef Noodle $7.50” and “Beef Tendon Noodle $7.50”. No mention of beef flank. All TBN has a beef flank option. They told me they have been flank too, just that the “Beef Noodle” is meant to refer to both flanks and tendon.

But you know what? What scores for me is their … (more…)

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Tapioca Express in Union Square, Richmond

Brrrr … do you feel that today, in particular, had gotten another notch colder? I had my jacket on in the office the whole day. There is a thermostat near where my desk in the office but I think it’s fake. It does nothing no matter what button I press.

He he he … I remember reading articles recently that people install fake thermostat so that people don’t complain and keep calling maintenance to adjust the temperature. Those fake thermostat gives people a false sense of control; a kind of a placebo. In fact it does nothing. I was looking at it this morning and was thinking this thing might be a fake. You think.

The article also mentions that the door close button on elevators is another example. Have you come across that before? The close button doesn’t work and yet people press it. It also gives people a false sense of control when they get impatient waiting for the door to close. Placebo effect?

So I went and try to google placebo effect and guess what I found … this entry on Wikipedia about placebo button. Interesting, eh?

Sorry I was off topic. Let me get back on track.

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We are not Bubble Tea people. It’s not that we don’t like it but we always have this perception that BBT places are young people hangouts, not a place for mums and dads.

And don’t ask me why people use the acronym BBT for Bubble Tea and not BT. People had been using BBT for so long that not many people even think that it should have been BT.

But we went to a BBT place anyway. Despite the cold weather and all. We would have loved to go to a hot pot restaurant but we were not hungry and for hot pot you need to be super hungry to have your money worth. So it was the BBT place because they have light snacks and food items.

We went to the Tapioca Express. This is located in the Union Square a few doors away from Liu’s Taiwanese Restaurant and Richmond Sushi. He he he … you should look at that post on Richmond Sushi. It was post #5 on chowtimes.com and it was the first post about eating out. My boys were cuter then and they could sing soprano parts then.

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This is quite a big place. As we walked in, we came to a large waiting area where there are several big boards on the wall showing their menu. Most of it is for beverage of course. They do have a small selection of food items too. I remember someone telling me that their Fried Pepper Chicken is pretty good in this restaurant.

Tapioca Express is something like a fast food setup. You order and pay for your food at the counter. We had been here twice before and they have a serious expression. We expected something like how-are-you-doing … or … how-can-I-help-you … or … maybe just a simple “hi”. Instead (both times), they just looked at me and wait for me to say what I wanted. Serious-faced.

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After you place the order, they will give you the device above. It is a wireless electronic device which will lights up and plays a tune when your food is ready for collection. Like this:

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I see this quite a bit in the US but I have not come across this in Vancouver myself before. I am sure there are but I have not seen this. In the US, I see a lot of popular chain restaurants (like Cheesecake Factory) use this.

I am saying this because I found out that the Tapioca Express is actually owned by a US company. It is part of the chain with the HQ in Los Angeles. They have only two outlets in Canada, both located in Metro Vancouver — one in Richmond and another on Fraser in Vancouver.

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You may click above to enlarge the menu. Most of their drinks is of the $3.50 range. Yeah … every conceivable combinations you can think of, they got it.

The food section (the 3rd and 4th image above) consists of a small selection of snacks, noodles, fried rice, soup, mini hot pot, rice and the section we are coming here for … the Deep Fried section. The Deep Fried items are about $4.50 each.

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What we liked most was this one above. It is the Crispy Chicken Skin ($4).

We were asked if we wanted it spicy or not spicy. Of course we went for spicy. Actually spicy … (more…)

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YY Village on Anderson Road, Richmond

Shhh …

Don’t tell anyone I told you this. Let this be just between you and I, OK?

🙂

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Does this store front look kind of familiar to some of you? Well, YY Village is the incarnation on an old-time Richmond favourite.

A few months ago we were quite shocked to find Tai Yau Yick closed. At first we thought that they might have just closed for a family vacation or something. After all, it was a small family restaurant and such restaurants are known close for a few weeks in a year for vacation. But it later dawned on us that they were closed for good when we saw a sign outside the restaurant saying so. It was sad to see them go because we like Tai Yau Yick.

While around that area a week ago, I came across a new signboard. Where it once said “Tai Yau Yick Shanghai Food”, the new sign outside says “YY Village Shanghai and Taiwan Food”. Strangely the Chinese name of YY remains exactly the same as the old one. What does the Chinese name mean? Suanne thinks that it means “Spring Once More” … something like that.

We did not know what to expect but Suanne and I went ahead anyway to check out the restaurant.

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YY Village looked exactly the same as it was when it was Tai Yai Yick.  The chairs are the same. The tables are the same. The wallpaper is also the same.

Why even it is manned by a single elderly man. It really felt like the same Tai Yau Yick.

It is a really small restaurant. It can seat 20 people max. The biggest table seats only four people, five is you squeeze. So in essence, this is a mom-and-pop restaurant.

It was full when we were there at noon on Saturday last week. There are no one waiting for a table but every table was taken nonetheless. So, we are thinking that once we write about this place, there might be even more people in the coming weeks. They do take reservations though so perhaps that would be a smart move to make a reservation or go at a time when they are not so busy.

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Their menu looks very much the same as when it was Tai Yau Yick. Well, the system of ordering from a 1-page ordering sheet is the same. We were told that the change of ownership of the restaurant happened four months ago. The previous owner sold this and went back to Hong Kong.

The elderly man also told us that the menu is the same. Somehow the dishes that jumps out at us is not quite the same this time. Our mind was focused on other things … especially the very “heong” dish that EVERY table was having.

Service was good. The elderly man was genuinely friendly and chatty. It seems like he gets along well with every customer, chatting with people at one table and the rest of the tables listens in and chuckles at his wisecracks. Yeah, it is that cozy small restaurant feeling where people feel connected.

You know the strange thing about this restaurant is the language they used. While the signboard outside says that it serves Taiwanese and Shanghainese food (both Mandarin speaking areas), the elderly gentleman speaks Cantonese very fluently. Everyone speaks Cantonese to him.

However, the food came very slow. I think they only have one person in the kitchen working.

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This is the dish EVERY table ordered. And I dare to say right now that YY Village makes the best of this dish I had ever tried.

Very “heong” (in Cantonese).

What is the English word for “heong” anyway? Whatever it is, it smells sooo good that each time they bring a plate out people look up. You can’t ignore it at all.

So we asked what that is and we wanted it too. On the menu, it is called … (more…)

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Liu’s Taiwanese Restaurant on Capstan Way, Richmond

Updated: 29th Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed according Urbanspoon.com.

What a transformation.

I could not believe my eyes how Liu’s had upgraded their restaurant just recently. And the food this time made a much better impression on us that it did the first time.

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The first and last time we went to Liu’s was 2.5 years ago. Liu’s was tucked in a hidden corner in the Union Square in Richmond. Many people will not notice them because the entrance is partly obscured by big pillars and the huge sign of Richmond Sushi next door drew much of the attention away.

That fist visit to us was just so-so although quite a number of people were raving about them. I guess it was because we failed to order their signature dishes and got some of the not so good ones.

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But there are a few winners. The stewed pig intestines left a good impression that they are good in execution of Taiwanese food. The oyster omelette (they call this the oyster pancake) was moist with the eggs partly cooked the way it should be.

Also unique is their House Special Milk Tea. They use whipped cream to top them. Until today, I had not come across any other restaurants using whipped cream on milk tea like below.

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This time we are back because of this newspaper clipping. I had been hearing buzz of their re-opening for a little while already but I did not really paid much attention. With the Hated Sales Tax, the 10% discount with the ad came in handy.

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Looking at the newspaper ad, I was not expecting a lot of transformation. I thought it was quite weird to advertise that they have “3 new 46″ LCD TVs”. I mean, big deal right? Who actually will go to a restaurant to watch TV anyway?

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The above was how Liu looked like 2.5 years ago. They had been operating like this for 14 years already.

The below is how Liu looked like 2.5 years later … with the addition of three 46″ LCD TV.

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Our jaws dropped when we walked in. This is no longer the old Liu’s.

Besides the 3 TV, they should have also mentioned the chandelier, the plush new chairs and new tables. Actually, I think they would have made a larger impact if they had advertised how the insides looked like.

It is like Liu had thrown down the gauntlet to the big boys of Taiwanese Cuisine in Richmond. They actually look a lot like Pearl Castle with the fancy blue light thingy on one side of the wall.

It is definitely more modern. Gone are the family run hole in the wall look. We wonder what brought about the change. It is not easy to change so dramatically. With the “new menu” mentioned on the ad, we were wondering if the management is still the same. Anyone know?

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So this is their new menu. It also tells their hours. They are opened for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday with a break in service between 3:30PM and 5:30 PM.

The combos are still there. I felt the prices are higher but I don’t know. I thought they had always been on the cheaper side compared to other Taiwanese restaurants and now the prices are on par with them.

If you like Taiwanese food, it is worth checking out their menu as it is quite extensive. The last image on the right is where the Chef’s Special is. You may click on the images above to read it.

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Started off with an appetizer. Come to think of it, we had been ordering cucumber appetizer a lot lately.

This is called Taiwanese Style Cucumber ($4). We had mostly been having a lot of spicy cucumber appetizers in Sichuan restaurants. So we wanted to see what a Taiwanese style appetizer looked like.

If you like garlic (which we do) … and lots of it (like we do) … and I mean lots of it, you will love this dish. The garlicky spiciness and sweetness of this cucumber appy is what makes this different. It is served cold. The cucumber, while good, could have been better if it is a lot more fresher tasting.

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This is the dish that everyone was telling me I should have tried in Liu’s the last time I was there. They serve this with rice as a lunch special back then and it was popular because it was cheap and really tasty.

They do serve this with rice but we did not want to have rice that night. So we just ordered the chicken only version called … Deep Fried Chicken Legs (3 pieces) $5.25.

I now know what everyone mean when they said I should have tried this … (more…)

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