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Chinese in Vancouver 2002 - 2006


mamster
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I've been eating at the same Chinese restaurant in Vancouver since 1987:  Szechuan Chongqing.  Since then they've moved once, possibly changed ownership, and lost a Best Places star or two, but the food hasn't changed at all.  Still the best dandan noodles, scallion pancakes, and orange peel beef I've ever had.

I'll never forsake the place completely, but I'm planning to head up to Van next month and would like to try something different.  Where should I go for dim sum?  And where should I go to order off the menu?

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Sichuan cuisine isn't necessarily what I'd seek in Vancouver. The serious action in my opinion is at the Hong-Kong-style seafood and dim sum places.

It's worth noting that Vancouver, while still in my experience overall the best place in North America to eat Chinese food, has slipped a bit of late. A significant portion of the Hong Kong money that drove the Chinese restaurant boom has been repatriated, and Chinatown itself is but a shadow of its former self. THe action right now is in the satellite Chinatown of Richmond, and also in the commercial part of Vancouver over the bridges. Save for the always reliable Hon’s Wun Tun, all the best Chinese food I had in Vancouver on my last visit was outside of the downtown-Chinatown core:

The two best examples of dim sum and Hong-Kong-style seafood I’ve had outside of Asia, for example, were at Sun Sui Wah on Main Street and President in Richmond. And throughout Richmond, there are shopping centers and supermarkets that evoke today’s Asia so strongly it’s no wonder they call Richmond “Asia West.”

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The two best examples of dim sum and Hong-Kong-style seafood I’ve had outside of Asia, for example, were at Sun Sui Wah on Main Street and President in Richmond. And throughout Richmond, there are shopping centers and supermarkets that evoke today’s Asia so strongly it’s no wonder they call Richmond “Asia West.”

I second Steven's recommendation of Sun Sui Wah. In addition to dim sum, tasty items there include: (1) squab -- simply roasted, with crispy skin, and served with traditional accompaniments of a flavored salt (this is the item on which the restaurant gained its reputation), and (2) when available, Alaska King Crab. One crab is large, and probably requires 4+ diners. However, it can be offered in two services with different preparation methods. The crab is usually not the least expensive price-wise, but reliable. For dim sum in Vancouver, I would also recommend Kirin in a large mall on Cambie St. (beware, there might be two Kirins). The lines are significant on weekends, though.

Other observations on Vancouver's Richmond area follow. There are several large Japanese supermarkets (including Yohan, sic), as well as Chinese markets. Certain large Asian shopping malls in Richmond have decent food courts, featuring 20-40 stalls with all sorts of Asian cuisine possibilties at very low prices. Richmond is very close to the Vancouver airport, and could be the location selected for a quick meal if one is driving to Whistler or to Vancouver Island.

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I agree with Steve, that a lot of HKG money flowed in in the the late '80 to YVR.

In fact, when I used to stop over at HKG in those era, that was the buzz.

It led to a resurgence of good Chinese food.

Before SEA had its own food awakening, it was so convenient to schlep over to

YVR from Seattle for the weekend, just like going from Buffalo to Toronto is  :smile:

anil

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  • 9 months later...

We are heading back to Vancouver next week after an absence of seven months. Be pleased to know of any suggestions for Chinese (dim sum or the regular menu) in the City or Richmond. Our normal haunts are Fook Yuen Place (for just about anything), San Sui Wah in Richmond (dim sum and the regular menu) and Fortune (for dim sum).

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I would have to agree Kirin on 12th is very very good, the suckling pork ( crispy ) is perfect and also try the pork dumplings with crab roe.....delicious!!! I've heard " President " in Richmond is very good, never been. SSW is crazy, example .....arrived at 11:30 on a sunday only to find about 100 people lined up the stairs trying to get a table....we finally got a table at 1 pm and it was REALLY not worth the wait. But I've heard many positive reports so maybe dinner is the better option.

DH

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I would have to agree Kirin on 12th is very very good, the suckling pork ( crispy ) is perfect and also try the pork dumplings with crab roe.....delicious!!! ...
After having sampled the dim sum at SSW again, I continue to prefer Kirin for dim sum (the one on Cambie Street, in City Square or City Place? mall).

David -- I agree the dim sum at Sun Sui Wah leaves a lot to be desired, and believe it has deteriorated (from a position that was already not as good as Kirin's). Kirin's dim sum is more delicate. However, the line at Kirin is also long and Kirin is more expensive.

Edited by cabrales (log)
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David -- I forgot to mention that SSW (at least SSW Main) is better during meals other than dim sum. SSW has very good Alaska king crab (when in season; a larger specimen is better, and requires at least 4 diners; it can be prepared in two services). Also, the squab at SSW is good; sometimes lobster and Vancouver crab are fairly good. Geoduck is one of my favorites -- a good preparation (not yet sampled at SSW) is to have raw geoduck slices, and have the restaurant bring a bit of bouillon to the table, for quick immersion of the geoduck by diners at the table. There is sometimes a bit of wasabi with this dish, served on the side.

For everything except Alaska king crab and squab I have sampled at both places, I might subjectively prefer Kirin.

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  • 2 weeks later...
SSW is crazy

I dined on dim sum at Sun Sai Wah 3 different times this past September, both at the Vancouver and Richmond locations. The food was excellent and equivalent to some of the best I've had in HK and Taipei. None of the visits was on a weekend. The restaurants were full, but service was quite good anyway.

Kirin may have better dumplings, but surely we are talking levels of excellence here. The idea that the food isn't very good any more (as was mentioned elsewhere in this thread) is preposterous. I would rate my experience at 95 out of 100. Most of the items I tried were from the dim sum kitchen, though we did sample a squab that was terrific

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SSW has very good Alaska king crab (when in season; a larger specimen is better, and requires at least 4 diners; it can be prepared in two services).

On Alaska King Crab, SSW (at least Main St.) sometimes has the very rarely captured (due to governmental constraints, I indirectly heard) female crab. It tends to be smaller, and its roe and other qualities are supposedly interesting. It is a few dollars more expensive per pound than male crabs, but the ratio of availability is less promising than even, say, 1:100. :blink:

Ed -- I don't think anybody is saying that SSW's *general* (i.e., non-dim sum) quality has declined. In fact, my previous post points to the very high quality of seafood at SSW. However, the SSW dim sum, while not bad, is not of the most *refined* quality in Vancouver. And it is not just Kirin Seafood on Cambie that casts SSW in a negative *relative* light. :hmmm:

Edited by cabrales (log)
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  • 2 months later...

Have any of you tried the dimsum selection at the Imperial Seafood restaurant in the Marine building downtown? I have been going there regularly for the last 5 years and never have been disappointed. Having lived in Hong-Kong for 4 years, I found their flavours reminiscent of my time there. The prices are not as friendly as some of the locations quoted in this stream yet I must recommend it to you.

Another location, although nowhere near as beautifully decorated as the Imperial, is the Fortune Garden on West Broadway and Granville Street. Now here is a place where you don't find nice table cloths or even nice tables...I was seated once at what could only be described as a card table! But, they know how to cook!

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I also like Kirin on Cambie for dim sum, worth the extra cost. Are you aware they take reservations for dim sum? Sure helps on a busy weekend. SSW on Main can be very good on occasion but you need to be there by 11:15 or you are gonna be waiting for a good while. Shoot this is my first post and I don't know how to get my name here - I'll have to do more reading.

capers

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  • 3 months later...

Question!

Years ago when I went to Vancouver, my friends took me to a place where they specialized in seafood hot pot. They had live prawns and fresh fish fillets.

It was one of the best hot pots I have ever had in my life. I can't remember the name.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't like Fortune for dim sum at all, but I do like Sun Sui Wah a lot.

A new(er) place that seems very popular is Shiang Garden in Richmond (city next to Vancouver). It is next to Parker Place, and maybe 2 minutes away from the Sun Sui Wah in Richmond if you know where that's located. :)

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  • 2 months later...
Ho Tak Kee on Broadway at Main has the best won ton and noodles for only $3.75 cdn!

Speaking of good wonton..."Jim Jai Gei" (I have no idea what the English name is--either it's similar or entirely different, I'll find out if anyone wants to know) on Westminster Highway in Richmond (near Cooney, across from Pizza Hut) has really good wonton. Although not the "traditional" kind of wonton (which I've been told doesn't contain seafood), the shrimp in the wonton is plentiful, and crisp (as opposed to mushy) as well. It's also nicely flavoured. The noodles there are also good--nice texture ("song" in Cantonese--anyone know the translation for this? The word "springy" comes to mind). Anyway, the place usually has people lining up at the door but the turnover is really fast.

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I've heard " President "  in Richmond is very good, never been.

It is quite good, but it's closed now. I'm not sure if their chefs have changed--I know the waiters haven't left. Maybe new owners? I keep forgetting the name... Last time I went, the food was still quite good. I didn't like the honey garlic spareribs for dinner though--they were drenched with honey and were overcooked, with little meat left. The line ups there are crazy though--good luck getting a table if you don't have connections there! I think they have "early" dim sum though, so perhaps that would be a good time to go.

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