Funny Chinese Dishes: Dead Man’s Coffin, Wild Speculation Beef Salamander and More

I did a lot of thinking over the last week.

All this was sparked off by the long comment that Dyn made which I made it into a blog post called Why Do Whites Accept Japanese and Thai Cuisine Over Other Cuisine. I posted it because it was controversial and thought our readers would love to read of it. However, little did I expect that Dyn’s notes sparked off a series of very long, thought provoking comments from other readers.

That got me thinking over a few comments made regarding bad translations in Chinese Menu that puts off diners who are not familiar with the cuisine. So I did some more research on the internet and in one discussion forum, there was a discussion how a western menu differs from a Chinese one.

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In western menu, the dishes often describes the ingredients and the way it is prepared.

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On the other hand, with Chinese dishes, you will not always be able to picture the dish if you are not familiar with it. Traditionally, many Chinese dishes have a 4-word (syllable) names and some of the names have no relevance to the dish. Sometimes they even sound poetic when spoken.

Anyway, Suanne and I thought that over the weekend we just go and check out two funny sounding menu items that we know of. These are from our past restaurant visits that our readers had pointed out which we did not realize. The plan was just to go into these restaurants and order just this ONE item and do a review of them.

Suanne was kind of “mm hoe yee see” going in and ordering one item for the two of us. Taking pictures in a restaurant already catches attention but going in and ordering ONE specific dish, taking pictures and then leave quickly sure got the attention of the restaurant. But that is what we did.

Here is what we tried:

Dead Man Coffin from Sunway Restaurant

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Anyone has any idea why this is called the Dead Man’s Coffin? I can only guess it is because it is … (more…)

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Sunway Restaurant on No 3 Road, Richmond

No sooner had I lamented that Richmond does not have a worthy Taiwanese Beef Noodle restaurant, we found one right at the Empire Square. Winnie was the one who alerted us to the place. [Thanks Winnie!]

In my usual style of getting overly excited over new discoveries, I am going to cut to the chase and say this — this is one Taiwanese restaurant that cannot be ignored. If you like Taiwanese food, you should check it out for yourself. We like it and we were impressed.

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The Sunway restaurant is located at the Empire Square. This is the same strip mall where Hon’s and Shiang Garden is on No 3 Road.

They are situated at the same place where Richmond’s Legendary Noodles used to be. I personally felt this particular location is bad because it is on a blind spot to most people driving around this mall.

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The Sunway restaurant is small but bright. The waitress was friendly and cheerful. She does look a lot like Bjork, no kidding except that she speaks Mandarin.

Since she was so helpful, we took the opportunity to ask her about the restaurant. She told us that they had been opened for over 3 months already. The chef was from Taiwan in a city outside of Taipei. She also told us that they take their cooking serious and uses the best of ingredients and that they do not use MSG, baking soda or tenderizer in their kitchen at all. We were quite impressed how excited she was with her sales pitch. Seriously, all this was said BEFORE we fished out our camera and notebook. So we know she did not put this up because we were going to write about them.

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Our favourite is what they call Deep Fried Pop Chicken. This is like the good Salty Peppery Chicken that we tried just a few days before at Beefy Beef Noodles. The serving is larger than we expected because it was listed as $4.25. We thought it was just an appy size. When it was brought to our table, we could clearly smell the aroma. They don’t serve this with a dipping sauce.

From my memory, the Deep Fried Pop Chicken is crispier than … (more…)

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Beefy Beef Noodle on Main and King Edward, Vancouver

For the past few days, I kept thinking about Taiwanese Beef Noodles. It was because Suanne went with Polly to the Taiwan Beef Noodle King without me. She was raving to me about that place for so long and then she quietly went without me. I was jealous. LOL!

I like Taiwanese Beef Noodles. My favourite places are Lao Shan Dong and the No 1 Beef Noodles Housebut they are both in Burnaby. I can’t think of one decent Taiwanese Beef Noodle place in Richmond. Can you?

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Suanne and I decided to go for a late night supper a couple of weeks ago.

Actually it was I, not Suanne, that wanted supper. Actually I wanted Beef Noodles. Actually I wanted Beef Noodles because Suanne had Beef Noodles earlier and was raving about how good it was at the Taiwan Beef Noodle King.

Beef-Noodle-LogoSince there were no worthy Beef Noodle place in Richmond, we drove all the way across the bridge to Vancouver. We know of one place we had on our list of restaurants to try … Beefy Beef Noodles.

The newly opened Beefy Beef Noodle is actually the sister restaurant to the No 1 Beef Noodle. They share the same simple block logo.

They are located on Main and King Edward. They occupy the same spot where the Rekado’s Filipino fusion restaurant used to be.

I wish they would one day decide to open an outlet too in Richmond. I won’t be surprised if it turns out to be wildly popular given their already good reputation of serving some of the best beef noodles in Metro Vancouver.

Moreover they open till late — midnight on weekdays and until 2AM on weekends. So yeah … Richmond needs a place like this for sure.

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The Beefy Beef Noodles interior is bright and spacious. The restaurant took up two shop lots and that gives it the wide spacious feeling to it. The glass wall on one end of the place adds to that big restaurant feel.

On the other side of the restaurant they have a chalk board of their specials.

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Although I intended to come here for beef noodles, I ended up not ordering it. It was because they had this item called Shang Xi Style Dry Noodle written prominently on the chalkboard. I was curious about it and so I ordered that instead.

What is Shang Xi anyway? Is that the name of a region in China?

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It is noodles with some minced meat sauce. The meat should be pork. The sauce tasted a lot like … (more…)

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Pearl Castle in Richmond Centre

It was the weekend when we wanted to just go out and get a drink — bubble tea specifically. No food, we told ourselves, since we already had dinner that night. We were not hungry anyway.

We knew of just the place to go …

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… the new Pearl Castle in the Richmond Centre. This restaurant is just across from the McDonalds in the western side of Richmond Center. Lots of parking, so no fear of that.

This is a branch of the successful Pearl Castle on Sexsmith (also in Richmond). It seems like Pearl Castle is on an expansion drive. They even have a small outlet at the food court in Parker Place. That food court outlet is kind of odd to me because I would have thought that location would somewhat affect their branding. It would have been much better if they open any food court outlet in the Aberdeen Centre.

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They have a unique wall light thingy which changes colors (see the YouTube video above).  With lightings like these, the crowd is young and is very much an Asian youngster hangout. So it was rather noisy and definitely very busy. We had to wait for a table but since this restaurant is also big, the wait was just 10 minutes.

Anyway, this outlet seems like it will be successful. The location is great and there are no real competition within walking distance.

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Like the original Pearl Castle on Sexsmith, they have a separate menu just for drinks. The problem is they ran out of most of them. We ordered Iced Shaves and Grass Jelly Frappes but they came back a few minutes later saying that they are out of Frappes and Ice Shaves. Not good. Maybe it was because it was quite late in the night already.

The only things they had left was milk teas. So we ended up with … (more…)

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Taiwan Beef Noodle King on Oak St., Vancouver

It’s supposed to be cake meet day.  However, Polly had signed up as volunteer for her girls’ school walkaton.   It was an exceptionally windy day.  After being in the field for two hours,  Polly wanted to have a hot bowl of noodle soup instead of cake.  So, we decided to check out Taiwan Beef Noodle King on Oak St.

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The story is Polly had mentioned to me before that she liked this place called “Lau Wang Ji” (in Mandarin) which was located on Granville St before but was closed some time ago.  I remembered spotting the Chinese name of the Taiwan Beef Noodle King on Oak St. as “Lau Wang Ji” too.  I thought it could be the same restaurant and wanted to go with Polly to confirm it.

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Yes, it was the same restaurant with the same server and even same furnitures.  There is not much of decoration but the place is clean and bright with skylight.

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We ordered a plate of Pan Fried Pork Dumpling as appetizer.  The dumplings were pan fried perfectly outside with the charred marks and still moist inside.  This plate of 8 pieces costs $5.

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I ordered their signature dish, Stewed Beef Noodle in Soup.  The server told us that their beef noodle has 30 more years of history.  The Stewed Beef Noodle in soup has quite a few of chunky tender beef and served with sour pickle vegetable and bok choy.  The noodle is hand made and has a good chewy texture to it.  I enjoyed this bowl of noodle which only costs $6.25. (more…)

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Chiffon Chinese Cuisine on Garden City and Alderbridge Way, Richmond

Updated: 10th Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

Strange as it might seem to you but we had NEVER ever driven into the strip mall at the intersection of Garden City and Alderbridge Way.  I mean, we know fully well there is a strip mall.  I think it’s the way it is laid out that makes people bypass this place.

Firstly there is a hedge all around the area which partly obscure the strip mall from the busy intersection.  Moreover, it is the awkward way the car wash is positioned that partly hides the access road too.  I think if they demolish the car wash, this place will open up to more traffic.

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Little did we know that there is a Taiwanese style cafe located here.  We only knew reading about the Chiffon Chinese Cuisine on Wendy’s Eat n About blog here.

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We are not sure how long Chiffon Chinese had been around but they looked new.  It has quite a big dining area … a signed by the door says that there are 90 seats here.  It is clean with a modern and bright interior.

It is quite apparent to us that this restaurant caters to the younger customers from the decor, and the loud (Mandarin) music.

They have a surprising large number of staff.  Being early eaters, there were hardly any customer on our visit.  So, it felt kind of odd having the staff out number the customers.

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You know, Nanzaro and Arkensen does not want to share dishes anymore.  I am not sure why.  They just wanted to order their own dish.

Chiffon has a $25 Combo for Two which you can pick three dishes and includes dessert, soup and rice.  It would have been perfect to share between three people but none of the boys wanted to share.  Suanne decided it was way too much for the two of us (despite it being a Combo for Two) and dropped the idea of ordering this.

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One thing we noticed.  In Taiwanese restaurants, they normally print your order and cello-tape it to your table.  Did you notice that it’s normally in Taiwanese restaurants only?  You certainly don’t see this from HK Style Cafes.  They mark off the items as each dish is delivered to the table.  It’s a simple way to validate your order and also keep track of what had been delivered.

Is this practice widespread in Taiwan … anyone from Taiwan can confirm this?

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Nanzaro, ever the one who wants to order fancy dishes, decided to get the Pig Intestines in Chili Hotpot.  This is $8.

There were not much pig intestines here.  You get a lot of stuff like pig blood … lots of it … and …

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… beansprout.  It does look full and delicious but frankly, it was just so-so. (more…)

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Taiwanese Cuisine on Sexsmith Road, Richmond

Updated: 26th Sep 2010: This restaurant is replaced with Beijing Cuisine.

Did any of you noticed that there had been a lot of restaurants that had been closed the last few months?  We did.  It is sad that many of our favourite restaurants are no longer there.  What is sadder to learn is that some good restaurants were opened for just a few months.

One such restaurant we like was Vogue.  We had blogged about our lunch at Vogue before here.

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When we were back at the Continental Mall last weekend, we were puzzled standing in front of this restaurant where Vogue used to be.  It is all familiar except that the name Vogue is absent from the signboard.  Vogue had the same distinctive all white signage with black cursive Chinese characters for a logo.  Moreover Vogue had always been known as a Taiwanese restaurant.

In place is a restaurant that is simply called Taiwanese Cuisine.  We decided to check this place out instead of the other place we wanted to go for lunch.

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The interior is different from what we remembered of Vogue.  The same high-back dark leather chairs seems to be the same.  We were curious and so we asked the waitress how recently had they opened.  We were told that it’s the same restaurant as Vogue!  It seems like they had just rebranded the place and did a bit of renovations here.

Obviously, Suanne and I were puzzled as to why would a restaurant want to do that.  The only thing we can think of is perhaps they had some problems with Vancouver Coastal Health but no, they do NOT have that problem, we checked.  I can see that the waitress does not want to answer more of my questions and I just let it rest to focus on food.

Do any of you know what strategic reasons there are that restaurants spend money to rebrand their restaurants?  I can think of another Richmond restaurant that had just undergone rebranding.  Zephyr in the Sky is now known as Delicious Cuisine.  Maybe both Zephyr and Vogue are the same owners and they are consolidating the brand to something Cuisine?  You reckon?  He he he … me and my logic!

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Service was not stellar.  I don’t like it.  You see … this time it was just Suanne and I.  This restaurant has way too many large tables and all the small two seater tables were taken.  What is left are the five and ten seaters.  They want us to take the ten seater tables.  We said no because we sort of suspect they will force us to share tables with other customers.  We pointed that we would like to have the nearest five seaters table but she said it was reserved (no reserved sign was there, fine).  I then pointed to another five seater and only then she reluctantly gave that to us.  Guess what, just shortly after we were seated another party came in was seated at the table they told us was reserved.  From the overheard conversation, the party did not have a reservation.  They lied to us!

Enough of that.  One thing about Taiwanese restaurants … do you notice, most of them stick a printout of your orders on the table?  They check the items off as they deliver each item to the table. I see this method employed mostly in Taiwanese restaurants.

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For starters, we ordered Jellied Pork.  We don’t know what this is and ordered this simply because it was something new to us.  This dish costs $6 and is served cold with julienne raw ginger.  It had an odd texture and tasted quite bland.  Both Suanne and I did not like it at all.  We ate half of this and left the rest untouched.

(more…)

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Delicious Cuisine on Alderbridge Way, Richmond

Do you know how many Richmond area restaurant reviews we had done so far? 145. One would have thought that pretty much covers all the major restaurants. But no … I won’t be surprised that for every one we had reviewed, there are perhaps 10 which we have never step into before.

Who knows, right? Maybe Richmond has the highest concentration of Asian restaurants in North America.

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Delicious Cuisine is one of those places we had always know about but for some reason we have never step into it before. Come to think of it, we had always kept our eyes peeled on the east side of No 3 Road and had pretty much ignored anything on the western side.

Delicious Cuisine is located on the strip mall on Alderbridge Way and No 3 Road. If you are looking for the signboard that says Delicious Cuisine, you will not find it. The sign outside is actually Zephyr in the Sky — that is the old name.

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We were kind of confuse too. The sign outside the restaurant and behind the bar area shows that it’s called Zephyr in the Sky. All other things like the menu and even the paper mats says Delicious Cuisine.

So we asked the really friendly waitress why the two names. She explained that it’s the same restaurant … the same chef, the same owner and same staff. They started to change their image and name about one month ago and the makeover will take some more time.

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It was pretty quiet when we were there. That is despite that it was lunch time on a weekend. The place was spacious and had a lot of different seating configurations. There were private rooms, areas with sofa and U-shaped booths.

Service was great. We always enjoyed it when the waitress do not mind us asking questions. As a matter of fact, she was quite eager to speak to us. It helps too since the restaurant was not that busy.

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They had a new menu along with the new image and name. The menu is a mix of Taiwanese and Hongkong Style cafe food. They told us they are also trying to introduce dim sums in their restaurant too.

We like this kind of menu … they have pictures along with English names.

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We placed our orders on the order form. Despite it being in Chinese, we just need to cross-reference the numbers on the menu and select what we wanted. Prices are indicated on the order form.

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We had Pu Erh Chinese tea with chrysanthemum flavor. It was really thick. We like this because of its purported healthy properties in lowering cholesterol and weight loss. High quality Pu Erh tea leaves could cost hundreds of dollars.

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Nanzaro ordered the less healthier modern tea … the Mocha Milk Tea. This is about $4.50 and came in a very tall glass. The glass was at least 10 inches tall.

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The boys chooses to have their own dishes. They don’t like sharing dishes. We let them decide what they wanted for themselves but for Suanne and I, we went to choose two “zhong” (is that how you spell dishes in Cantonese?).

The first dish was the House Special Smoked Duck. I was more drawn to the words “House Special” because that indicates it is their specialty. The Smoked Duck was good but I do wish they had a more meatier cut and lesser bones. It was quite boney and you perhaps can imagine how sharp duck bones are compared to chicken. The taste and smell of smokiness is pronounced. They did this very well and is $8. Rice are extra though ($1 each).

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The other dish we had was even better. It is called the Deep Fried Shrimp with Salted Egg Yolk. Surprisingly it is just $6.75. Both Suanne and I loved the creaminess from the egg yolk. It is the egg yolk that makes this stands apart from the normal Deep Fried Shrimp dishes. The prawns were both succulent and quite fat too. They are deep fried so well that even the shells are edible.

The really best part of this dish is …

(more…)

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Well Tea on Hazelbridge Way, Richmond

Shortly after we visited the Long’s Noodle House to try the Most Innovative Dish awarded by the Chinese Restaurant Award in Metro Vancouver, we set our sight on the next winner.

Well Tea had been on our to-visit list for so long that it sort of dropped off our radar.

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Well Tea is located on Hazelbridge Way and Alexandra. It is a Taiwanese Bubble Tea place. Well Tea has two locations with the other one located near UBC in Vancouver.

What we found out about this place was a total surprise to us. In many ways we like the place. Looking from the outside, you can’t see much. I also find that the name Well Tea sort of unexciting because it conjured an image of healthy Chinese tea. To me, good food is not healthy and healthy food is not good!

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Like many Bubble Tea houses, Well Tea is also a youngster hangout. The interior is surprisingly very bright even though the windows were tinted and the restaurant is deep. From the outside it seems like it’s a small place but it actually is very big with lots of tables. We like the modern and clean interior which rivals Pearl Castle on Sexsmith.

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They have very imaginative decor. We also like how they space out the tables which leaves a lot of comfortable room to maneuver around.

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We are impressed with the service and noticed that they were well staffed with quite a lot of wait staff on duty. Come to think of it, many of the Taiwanese style cafes we went to are well staffed, with very young workers.

The instant we were seated, they came by with glasses of water and the menu.

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We were given two menus. You might not have guessed that the bigger of the menu is for drinks. Despite the relative smaller size of the food menu, they were quite extensive.

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Nanzaro was quite amazed with their wireless service bell. Can you figure out what each of the buttons are for … particularly the one with the picture of a mug? Nanzaro wanted to know how this whole thing worked, like how did all the wait staff gets alerted each time the button was pressed. He was given a mini tour of the system.

From everything we observed, I think Well Tea places quick, prompt service as an important differentiation from their other competitors. We were truly impressed.

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For drinks, we ordered the Jaded House Special ($5.25). It is made of passion fruit, mango, orange, pineapple and kiwi fruit. It was fragrant but we felt it had too much flavor in this … too many fruits into this that it’s just a mishmash of flavor without any distinction.

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Well Tea is known for their hot pots. I had the Spicy AAA Beef Hotpot. This is just $9. It was very very very spicy. So spicy that you will choke just by taking a deep breath of the soup! (more…)

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