Hot Luck on Kingsway Near Willingdon, Burnaby

Some of my friends at work told me that if I wanted to try spicy hot food, I should go and try the new restaurant on Kingsway just next door to Saffron. And they warned me that their food is super-duper hot. This had been on my radar for a few weeks already and I knew it was just a matter of time before I go with Suanne and the boys.

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Last week, I had one of those heavy days at work. The first meeting started at 7AM and it is one after another with a large group of team members. And I had to run the meetings. It would have been easier if I am just an attendee. So by late morning, I was totally spent and decided to just drop everything and went outside to clear my head.

It was a good thing I had the camera with me that day. So I went to have lunch on my own at Hot Luck.

Outside the restaurant, there is a sandwich board that says that the Lunch Special is just $5.95. I thought it was awfully cheap. I can’t think of any restaurant like this that has lunch specials that cheap. Are you aware of any?

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The interior is clean, bright and neat. Some of the bigger tables even has white linen too. I was impressed particularly because they serve such cheap lunch specials here.

Hot Luck is a Sichuan cuisine restaurant. They had been opened for 3 months already and words had spread that their food is super hot.

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You know it is super hot when all the pictures on the menu are red in colour.

I was so enticed by their House Special and Combo Special items above. Unfortunately they are meant for a minimum of two people and up. I guess I got to come back another day to try them.

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If you look at the rest of the menu above, you will find that it is not as cheap as the sandwich board outside makes it out to be. Most of the Lunch Specials are $8. The main dishes are above $10.

Their food are not expensive but just that it is not as cheap as you might be led to think.

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As usual, I asked for their recommendation for a starter. The waitress said that their Spiced Beef with 5 Spices ($5) is one of their favourite and pointed to the table next to me. It seems like that table was not the only one that had this starter.

This is a cold dish. Even the dish it was served on was cold. The beef slices were not as hot as it looked.

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I did not want to get the Lunch Special because lunch specials being what it is are not true representation of what the restaurant serves well. After asking me if I can take hot food, the waitress said I should try their … (more…)

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Chuan Xiang Ge Szechuan Restaurant on Westminster Highway, Richmond

Update 15-Feb-2011: Sadly this restaurant had closed.

There is this thing about the Mao Tai Restaurant (with its distinctive garlic bulb and chili pepper logo) that I was curious about.  No, this post is not about Mao Tai but the new restaurant that is now in its place.  As far as I know there were at least three Mao Tai’s in Richmond throughout the years.  I think there is one last one still operating on Park Road.  Something tells me they have a colorful story behind that name, you know like the saga of Koon Lok and Koon Po restaurants in Vancouver.  Does anyone know about the people or story (if any!) behind Mao Tai?

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We had on our list to visit the Mao Tai on Westminster Highway but it’s gone now.  In its place is a new Szechuan Restaurant called Chuan Xiang Ge Szechuan Restaurant.  At one point they were called Mascot Enterprise until the signboard came up.  This is located in the same strip mall as Tsim Chai Noodles and Banzai Sushi House.

Parking had always been a challenge here for us.  However, the turnaround time is quite quick because most people who parks here goes for shopping groceries, meat, fish and produce.

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Chuan Xiang Ge is new — they are four months young.  The decor is simple but importantly it is clean and organized.  Being organized and having everything in its proper place is a sign that gives us confidence that it is also the same in places we do not see … the kitchen and storeroom.

They were not extremely busy when we were there.  It was half full at its peak.  I thought that perhaps that they are new and many people does not know of this place yet.

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They speak perfect Mandarin and had trouble communicating in English.  That is quite fine by us because their menu was quite user friendly anyway.  The translation on the menu was pretty good and does describe accurately what the dish is.  They do feature their specialty with pictures at the bottom of every page.  Our selection was based on those pictures.

Most of their main dishes like meat, fish, soup, and tofu ranges from $10 to $13.  A number of them ranges as high as $30.  However, they do have a lunch menu too which is really cheap — just $6.50.  So the lunch menu should be worth checking out but not for this time.

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We had chrysanthemum tea as our choice of tea this time.  I like their plates and cups.

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They recommended this dish above.  It was absolutely superb.  They call this the Marinated Chicken with Spicy … yup, you read it correct.  It is called “Marinated Chicken with Spicy” on the menu.

It is listed on the Appetizer section.  I thought the dish is more of a main than an appetizer.  It came in two serving sizes, small for $9.50 and large for $17.  We ordered the small one expecting it being a small appetizer.  It was more of a main dish.

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The chicken is served cold.  Perhaps that explains why they consider this an appetizer.  They told us they only use free range chicken for this dish.  Not only is the boney chicken delicious, but the main character of this dish is …

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Szechuan Harvest Moon Cuisine in Richmond

Updated 23-May-2009: this restaurant is now closed.

We went out again for a weekend dine out with ET and Christina from doesnttaztelikechicken.com. It was our turn to chose a location. We opted for one of the recommendations from a chowtimes reader.

Marc recommended Szechuan Harvest Moon Cuisine located on No 3 Rd at the strip mall where Hon’s is. Actually Harvest Moon is located in one of our favourite restaurants called Evergreen Garden which had recently closed down. What a waste … Evergreen had great dinner combo specials.

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From the outside, the decorations looked really garish. With the red lantern and red faux banners in the door, it looked really like a Chinese wedding ceremony is happening here. Frankly, if I were them, I would re-design the entire entrance. If not for the recommendation from Marc, we would have missed giving them a try.

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The inside of the restaurant is something else though. The place was clean and neat with real tablecloth. What we noticed mostly was the red seat covers which we felt lent an air of sophistication to the place. Real nice.

According to Marc, the Szechuan Harvest Moon Cuisine is an off-shoot from the Golden Szechuan Restaurant. It is opened by Danny, who used to be the restaurant manager of Golden Szechuan. It was strange, we felt, when Marc mentioned Danny’s name like he knows him. Well, we soon found out why … apparently, Danny knows everyone! When we got there, Danny greeted us like he had known us for years!

Anyway, Danny told us that although he is from Hongkong, he insisted that the chef is from Szechuan. We asked him about Szechuan cuisine and he seems to have an answer to everything.

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We were there early and so while waiting for ET and Christina, Danny suggested that we get a bowl of Dan Dan Noodle to share first. We fondly remembered our $1.99 Dan Dan Noodle and thought why not try it here and compare. This one is $5.99 though but at least they have ground pork unlike the $1.99 version we had which is just noodles. Also, this one tastes different in that it is spicy and lightly sour and does not have sesame oil. According to Danny, this is authentic Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles.

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A little trivia for non-Chinese. In some higher-end Chinese restaurants, they provide “communal chopsticks”. They are generally darker in color from the rest of the chopsticks. This is what you use to pick the food from the dishes to your bowl. Since we were dining with ET and Christina, we play along and use the communal chopstick … otherwise, when my family were dining on our own, we all just dig in.

Also, better Chinese establishments will provide you two pots … one for the tea and another for hot water to fill the tea pot when it is running low.

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Danny came by and gave us a complimentary sample of what he calls the Salty Vegetable. It was good for vetting our appetite but it was so little.

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Danny talked us into getting their crab. It was the name — Cold Pot Crab — we would not have gotten it. And no … the above is NOT the way it was served. They came by the table to show us it is a live crab they are serving us, all 2.8 lb of it.

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Imperial Court Beijing and Szechuan Cuisine in Richmond

We went to the Imperial Court Restaurant for breakfast more than two months ago. Although we know of Imperial Court, we had never been inside simply because it looked expensive from the outside. To us, it is expensive when they have “captains” (chief waiters) in black vests, have tablecloth and expensive chairs.

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It sure does look like an above average Chinese restaurant, don’t you think? Well, it does to us. Because of our limited use of the Chinese language, we are somewhat intimidated and uneasy in these kind of places.

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As usual, the boys asked for water (they don’t like Chinese tea). Even then the water came in a nice looking glass. We like little touches like this.

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We went to the Imperial Court only because of the ad they put up in the Richmond area papers. They had special discounts then for dim sum between 8AM to 11AM. I don’t think they have the discounts now. So don’t just go there now and say that chowtimes said they are suppose to give 25% discounts for dim sum, OK?

Back then they have a Peking Duck special for just $10.80. Anyone have any idea how much would a whole duck normally cost? The last time we had Peking Duck was … oh … 12 years ago in HK!!

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The Imperial Court is located in the strip mall right across from Richmond Center on No 3 Road. Their address is #6-6360 on No 3.

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This is not a push cart dim sum place. You place your order on the order form. We prefer push cart types as we can see what it is we are ordering. It is hard for us trying to figure out the English descriptions. Most of the dim sums are below $3 which is inexpensive for a place like this. Their most expensive ones are those with shrimps which even that is below $5.

For this post, I would like to get the reactions from the non-Chinese readers of chowtimes. You see, I had often brought my non-Chinese friends to dim sum but more often than not, I get a lot of reactions to the food — mostly of uncertainty over the content of it. Here goes … my impressions of non-Chinese’s impression of Dim Sum.

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Siew Mai ($2.96), I find is the one that is a favourite among non-Chinese. (more…)

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Golden Spring Szechuan Restaurant in Richmond

Since the last time we had Szechuan food at the Golden Szechuan Restaurant, I was was intrigued with the cuisine from the south western province of China. For many of you Szechuan (or now being spelt as Sichuan), was where the devastating earthquake in May 2008 that killed about 70,000 people.

Here is a little bit of what I learned about Chinese cuisine and where Szechuan cuisine stands. Chinese cuisine are officially categorized into 10 regional cuisines. These cuisines are as follows:

  1. Cantonese
  2. Shanghai
  3. Beijing
  4. Sichuan
  5. Anhui
  6. Fujian
  7. Hunan
  8. Jiangsu
  9. Shangdon
  10. Zhejiang

Of the above I can only recognize Cantonese, Shanghai and Sichuan. As you can see, there’s a lot to discover for me concerning Chinese cuisine.

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Suanne and I went to this little known place called the Golden Spring Szechuan Restaurant. Frankly, the reason why we went there was the word Szechuan. We had absolutely no idea how good or bad they were.

The Golden Spring Szechuan Restaurant is located on 4200 No 3 Road in Richmond. It is on the east side of No 3.

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The restaurant seem quite clean … not too upscale because they don’t use white table cloth. We noticed that everyone speaks Mandarin here which is good because we see it as a sign that “real” Mainland Chinese eat here.

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Since its just the two of us, we ordered two dishes. The first one was the Chongqing Style Spicy and Dry Chicken. This one costs $12.95 and has more than enough for two people. (more…)

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Golden Szechuan Restaurant on No 3 Rd in Richmond

We’re back from vacation and I must add, dead tired. So, it’s back to normal programming. I have about a week of dine out blog entries to go and right after that I will be sharing with you all the vacation Suanne and I had the past two weeks.

You might find this hard to believe but we had never been to a purely Szechuan restaurant before. It is because we were unfamiliar with the food and also feared that ordering would be a problem as most of these authentic Chinese restaurants does not have (proper) menus in English.

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Anyway, we decided to just go in an try the Golden Szechuan Restaurant which is located along No 3 Road in Richmond. It is about across the road from the Yaohan Mall. You will never miss it because this is perhaps the restaurant with the most imposing facade along the busy No 3 Road.

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The restaurant is kind of upscale. Well, not upscale, upscale but at least they have white table cloth and sturdier looking chairs. We kind of always judge how much we would likely pay based on whether they use table cloth or not.

Szechuan food is reputed as being hot and spicy and it’s just not spicy but the numbing type of spiciness.

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We ordered three items in all between the four of us. The first one was the Hot Pot Chicken. We thought we order that because it’s on their highly recommended list even though it was $29.95.

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It was downright spicy and was quite good. (more…)

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The Place on Granville, Vancouver South

Update 07-Apr-2011: Please note that this review is from Jul-2008. We have a newer review of this same restaurant in Apr-2011. Here is the link to the newer blog post: http://chowtimes.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/the-place-on-granville-vancouver/

The other day, a foodie friend commented about this place called “The Place” where he claims that they have the best spicy beef noodle soup, we simply had to check it out for ourselves.

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The Place is located at about 63rd on Granville in the southern part of Vancouver. It is such a nondescript place that most people would not have noticed it let alone giving it a second glance. But I tell you … it’s a gem of a place.

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The Place is a no-frill smallish Chinese restaurant. I don’t know how to categorize it … maybe the best way to describe it is it’s Mainland Chinese restaurant. They serve both Shanghai and Sichuan dishes.

Service is excellent and I like the sweet and polite server which sometimes I find so wanting in many such restaurants. She was so helpful in helping us choose the dishes as we could not read Chinese. Although there were English translations on the menu, it does not do justice to the type of dishes they have.

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The Place have very unique dishes and does seem very authentic. The server recommended the Family Hot Pot (Chien Gar Fook in Cantonese). It was great. (more…)

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S&W Pepper House in Richmond

Updated: 6th Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed.

Suanne and I are beginning to brave the “chow-choy” type of Chinese restaurant. Some of you might already know that both of us are almost illiterate when it comes to the Chinese language. Well, I said “almost” because at least I know how to read and write 13 Chinese characters in all — the numbers 1 to 10 and my name!

The thing about these “chow choy” restaurants is that they are so Chinese that at times they don’t even have an English menu. And even if they have it, the translation is so bad that it’s of no use at all. Moreover, it is sometimes useless to ask for recommendations because they would speak so fast that we can hardly make out what they are saying.

For us, “chow choy” refers to the type of restaurants that serves dishes in a communal style … i.e. we order vegetable, meat or soup dishes for sharing.

So, a few weeks ago we went to this new restaurant called the S&W Pepper House. That name was familiar to us as there is a small outlet with the same name in Crystal Mall in Burnaby. We had blogged about it more than 1.5 years ago (see here).

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Unlike the S&W Pepper House in Burnaby, this is a full service typical family Chinese restaurant. I would say that this is more China Chinese and the customers are typically mandarin speakers.

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In such a restaurant, they have more exotic dishes. For the Chinese, the most common meat is pork and chicken. Some don’t even serve beef for religious purposes. Lamb is certainly not a common meat used in Chinese cooking.

This is because most Chinese finds the meat very “sow”. I don’t know the English word that best describes “sow” but I think it has to do with the strong smell and taste which is something like it’s two days from being rotten — know what I mean?

Anyway, we got Lamb for the first dish. It’s simply called the Lamb with Green Onion. The lamb meat is sliced ever so thinly and the meat was tender. I like it … Suanne still thinks it’s “sow”. This dish costs $12.95.

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S&W Pepper House in Crystal Mall

Life is an onion that you peel crying.
~ French Proverb

Suanne came by my office today during lunch time while on an errand. We decided to go out to lunch together nearby my office in Burnaby and landed up in the Crystal Mall along Kingsway. Crystal Mall is an Asian Mall and is a great place to get really good and cheap food. He he he … Crystal Mall is also known as MSG City! We wanted to try a new place and chance upon this small place called S&W Pepper House. We decided to go in because we saw a few people having noodles eating out from a huge bowl.

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The S&W Pepper House is a mainland Chinese type of joint with almost everyone speaking in Mandarin. It’s not a big place, with seating for about 30-35 people max. You could easily give it a miss. If you are the adventurous type and liked trying new and authentic mainland chinese food, you simply MUST try it out. S&W Pepper House in located on the ground floor.

Suanne ordered the “Guo Qiao” Rice Noodle in Special Soup. “Guo Qiao” meant Crossing Bridges in Mandarin. This $6.75 dish is served in four different portions. The main part is the soup in which we were told we need to put the ingredients in order and eat from the large bowl of soup. The raw quail eggs, sliced meat and prawns goes in first. This is followed by mixed vegetables and finally the noodles.

Suanne told me that there’s a story behind “Guo Qiao” in old China. The story goes that there was once a very poor scholar who need to study for the provincial exam in a place far away from his home. His wife had to bring him lunch everyday over long distance and needing to cross many bridges to get to him. The food got cold by the time she brought the food over. So, she had an idea to keep the food warm by keeping the ingredients separate and keeping the soup piping hot in a separate container. The soup has a layer of oil to conserve the heat. Anyone heard of this story before?

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