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Chinese in Vancouver 2007 -


SushiCat
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Any suggestions for decent Sichuan hotpot in yvr? Not your average spicy hotpots from the Cantonese places around town. It's either there or The Xiang for me but I don't think I can eat another Hunan meal for a while.

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  • 1 month later...

I dig Chuan Xiang Ge 川香阁 in Richmond. First, they're consistent, from dish to dish and visit to visit. I'd drop the name of the chef if I didn't forget it. He's got a deep knowledge of Sichuan food and prepared some really interesting off-the-menu requests that my girl and I have made. The daily specials are good and so are the rustic dishes. The last time I went there I had Northern Sichuan liangfen (北川凉粉), Yuzhou chicken, and an off-menu-request, very authentic kaishui baicai 开水白菜, and a big ol' fish head. A good Sichuan place, you can order four spicy dishes and they're all spicy in different ways: the liangfen was served ice cold, heavy on the huajiao, left the mouth buzzing... the Yuzhou chicken was a perfect rustic dish, full of pickled peppers and dried chili... the fish head was made with chopped chilis 剁辣椒 sauce which worked well with the fattiness of the fish head. Good place.

I haven't tried enough Sichuan places in town, because I'm so often disappointed, but I like this one.

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I dig Chuan Xiang Ge 川香阁 in Richmond. First, they're consistent, from dish to dish and visit to visit.

I haven't tried enough Sichuan places in town, because I'm so often disappointed, but I like this one.

Wow - Chuan Xiang Ge sounds amazing DylanK!

How's the Gong Bao chicken (宫保鸡丁) and Ma Po Doufu (麻婆豆腐)? I've been searching high and low for a true Ma Po Doufu in Metro Vancouver. And the Gong Bao chicken is what I always use to judge the quality of a Sichuan restaurant - and it's tasty too of course.

I wonder if they have shuizhu yu (水煮鱼 - spicy water-boiled fish)? If so I might just have to move to Richmond... :wink:

健啖家(kentan-ka):A hearty eater

He was a wise man who invented beer." - Plato

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I think shuizhu yu 水煮鱼 is on the menu, since they do a ton of fish dishes. I'll check for that the next time I go. I love shuizhu yu.

I haven't tried the mapo doufu there. I'm weird about mapo doufu. Even in China, I rarely get the version of it I want. Even in Sichuan! In Canada, I find the sauce is usually too mild, or even sweet, and it doesn't have any real punch. In China, I find it's usually drowned in oil.

The plate of mapo doufu that I measure all others against:

mpdf2.jpgmpdf.jpg

I think someone was asking about Sichuan hot pot and I was kinda curious about that, too.

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I was there a couple of months ago and am dying to go back. I only had a few dishes....but my own litmus test (dan dan noodles) passed with flying colours. (Lots of Sichuan peppercorn and cruncy fried soybeans in a "proper" chili-oil sauce. The noodles were also nice and chewy.)DSCF2425.JPG

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just thought I'd post a quick report on Chuan Xiang Ge. DylanK, grayelf, grayelf's SO - J, and I went there a couple of nights ago. Overall, the food was very polished and delicious. There were some subtle compromises made to appeal to the local palate (eg, a bit of Cantonizing, toning down of heat, etc).

DSC02037.JPG

From the sounds of things (and DylanK can back me up), we can ask for a purely Sichuan meal from the chef and he can deliver it without compromises. The slight authenticities were most likely a result of a their misunderstanding of our expectations. This is my 4th time there (first 3 for lunch) and I would definitely recommend it....just make sure to be clear to them about your preferences.

I'd also add that everyone at the table prefered S&W Pepperhouse (Burnaby) for its bustling ambiance, unmuted flavours and in-your-face Sichuaness.

I would personally like to complete the snapshot of the current state of Sichuan here in town with a couple more visits to Chuan Xiang Ge and a couple more visits to Golden Spring (Xiao Sichuan).

Are we missing any authentically Sichuan places that we should check out? I've discounted Golden Szechuan, Szechuan Restaurant on Saba, Szechuan House (two locations - Bby, and Cambie) for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they have improved of late and deserve a second chance?

-f

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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I'd also add that everyone at the table prefered S&W Pepperhouse (Burnaby) for its bustling ambiance, unmuted flavours and in-your-face Sichuaness.

Not to discount your tastes and opinions, but my two-cents:

A lot of the items on S&W's menu are not Sichuan. And I find that their "spiciness" is more fiery than numbing; the latter, as well as the complex inter-play of the four flavours (sweet, sour, bitter and spiciness) are the true hallmarks of Sichuan cuisine. The all-out peppery-fire at S&W somewhat makes its dishes a little too one-dimensional to me. Besides, Sichuan cuisine is known for its non-spicy dishes as much as its spicy ones; it's much easier to over-whelm the diners with spicy dishes than to subtly charm and seduce them with non-spicy ones, which a Sichuan chef must do to be worth his salt.

As for Golden Spring, it might just be isolated incidents, but on more than one occasions, either myself or my friends did not feel well after dining there. I personally would not be going back, although I am sure others would have better luck.

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They do list dishes from Guizhou (including their new signature Conde Nast approved dish - Guizhuo Fish in Cilantro/Chile/Peanut sauce).

I think what appeals to me most about S&W is the rustic quality of the food. Some of the dishes can end up too fiery for sure (eg the Water Boiled dishes in the Richmond branch was just too one-dimensional in its chili flavours) - however, in our last group dinner at the Burnaby location, the chef managed to balance the flavours well. I think we ordered well too.

I must reiterate that the CXG may have misread us when they prepared the dishes....so my experience was coloured from that perspective.

Edited by fmed (log)

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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From the sounds of things (and DylanK can back me up), we can ask for a purely Sichuan meal from the chef and he can deliver it without compromises.

That's genius fmed! I never thought to tell the chef our preferences - I guess I'm just used to accepting whatever we get.

My gf and I went to CXG last week for the first time. While it was good and spicy, the dishes that should have had huajiao (花椒 - Sichuan pepper) didn't have any. Could it be because most diners in Richmond don't like the tingly numbness of huajiao? We asked about the chef, and the waitress said he's from Chengdu so I'm sure he'd be happy to make the dishes as close to Sichuan style as possible. We'll definitely try that next time.

BTW - Is the S&W Pepper House you're talking about in the Crystal Mall?

健啖家(kentan-ka):A hearty eater

He was a wise man who invented beer." - Plato

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That does tend to happen a lot. Even here at CXG, one person at another forum "hated it". I wish CXG would take a non-compromising stance the way Xiang/Alvin Garden (Hunan) does. There is some negotiation in terms of chili heat, but the food there never crosses the line.

PS I actually talked about both locations of S&W - Crystal Mall and at No 3 Rd in Richmond. I prefer the food at S&W.

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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That does tend to happen a lot. Even here at CXG, one person at another forum "hated it". I wish CXG would take a non-compromising stance the way Xiang/Alvin Garden (Hunan) does. There is some negotiation in terms of chili heat, but the food there never crosses the line.

PS I actually talked about both locations of S&W - Crystal Mall and at No 3 Rd in Richmond. I prefer the food at S&W.

In the last sentence above, I meant to say "I prefer the food at S&W Burnaby."

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just thought I'd post a quick report on Chuan Xiang Ge. DylanK, grayelf, grayelf's SO - J, and I went there a couple of nights ago. Overall, the food was very polished and delicious. There were some subtle compromises made to appeal to the local palate (eg, a bit of Cantonizing, toning down of heat, etc).

DSC02037.JPG

From the sounds of things (and DylanK can back me up), we can ask for a purely Sichuan meal from the chef and he can deliver it without compromises. The slight authenticities were most likely a result of a their misunderstanding of our expectations. This is my 4th time there (first 3 for lunch) and I would definitely recommend it....just make sure to be clear to them about your preferences.

I'd also add that everyone at the table prefered S&W Pepperhouse (Burnaby) for its bustling ambiance, unmuted flavours and in-your-face Sichuaness.

I would personally like to complete the snapshot of the current state of Sichuan here in town with a couple more visits to Chuan Xiang Ge and a couple more visits to Golden Spring (Xiao Sichuan).

Are we missing any authentically Sichuan places that we should check out? I've discounted Golden Szechuan, Szechuan Restaurant on Saba, Szechuan House (two locations - Bby, and Cambie) for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they have improved of late and deserve a second chance?

-f

Hey fmed -- sorry to contradict you just a trice, but I actually prefer both the grub and the atmosphere at CXG so far (having visited it twice and the two S&Ws once each, so a tiny sample). Not that I disliked either S&W, I just preferred CXG. I was in love with the water boiled fish at CXG which although deffo milder than the other two's versions, was I thought a better fish (not sure what kind).

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I think I have turned too and now prefer CXG for its more refined take on Sichuan. I do think that S&W's much more robust and rustic approach with its cafeteria ambiance has its own appeal. I like them both. If anything - the cold peanut and cilantro dish at S&W is worth the trip....and their water boiled dishes are certainly a lot scarier looking in terms of the sheer amount of chilies and huajiao.

I'm still in for fried rabbit heads at CXG if anyone dares.

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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I think I have turned too and now prefer CXG for its more refined take on Sichuan.

This is how positive feedback loops work -- the more people asking for and appreciating authentic dishes, the better the chef will strive for them. If more of us keep up our demand on CXG's authentic Sichuan food, I can see a lot of potential there.

I'm still in for fried rabbit heads at CXG if anyone dares.

Sounds like I'll just have to give it a try next time I go in!

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  • 5 weeks later...

Are there any decent Chinese (non dim sum) restaurants in Chinatown?

Sadly, no. (Though, I have a couple of nostalgic hole-in-the-wall favourites - Gain Wah, Newtown, Foo's Ho Ho).

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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another gain wah fan here, i think it is quite decent for what it is, and find the service miles ahead of the average completely indifferent service at most hole-in-wall chinese restaurants, the owner in particular is always genuinely friendly and attentive

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  • 3 weeks later...

Went to CXG last night and I loved it. Water cooked rabbit was delcious - in fact, it was so succulent, it had me second guessing if it was really rabbit (the tiny bones would indicate that it was rabbit). Star Dish was live spotted prawns stir fried with dried chili's, sichuan peppercorns, garlic and scallions. Spicy lemony tingle contrasting perfectly with sweet fresh prawns (which were cooked superbly).

Now I am curious about the fried rabbit heads!

Question - I though I saw a picture of a steamed rice/meat dish that was served with steamed white buns to wrap everything up in. But CXG says that they don't make it. Am I thinking of another place?

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Went to CXG last night and I loved it. Water cooked rabbit was delcious - in fact, it was so succulent, it had me second guessing if it was really rabbit (the tiny bones would indicate that it was rabbit). Star Dish was live spotted prawns stir fried with dried chili's, sichuan peppercorns, garlic and scallions. Spicy lemony tingle contrasting perfectly with sweet fresh prawns (which were cooked superbly).

Now I am curious about the fried rabbit heads!

Question - I though I saw a picture of a steamed rice/meat dish that was served with steamed white buns to wrap everything up in. But CXG says that they don't make it. Am I thinking of another place?

To try the rabbit heads, you'll have to join us when we have our Watership 'down. (Thanks for that one grayelf). Glad you liked CXG...the cooking can be inconsistent, but when the chef is 'on' (and he thinks you want authentic Sichuan), the food is really good. (BTW there is a dedicated thread to CXG here.)

The steamed dish you are describing is 粉蒸肉 fěnzhēngròu which is served at Xi'an Xaochi at the Richmond Public Market.

DSC02436.JPG

Edited by fmed (log)

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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