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Seeking feedback/help on my eating itinerary


dimsumfan
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I originally envisioned writing some creatively crafted story, complete with photos and fireworks, to tell the tale of my recent Chinese food frenzy. But time is slipping away from me—and I’m already preparing for the next food trip. So, some initial thoughts:

1. Chinese food in general: It’s far better in Richmond than anywhere else I’ve been in North America, and certainly better than my hometown of Seattle. (Chinese food in Seattle is generally bland and unimaginative; that said, our Sichuan scene is becoming something special.) When I say Richmond, I mean Richmond. We didn’t leave Lulu Island for three days! (That is, unless you count a failed attempt to cross the airport by bicycle.) What a thrill to know that Chinese food paradise is so close, without entailing trans-Pacific flights.

2. Xiao long bao: We tried them at five different places, and I’m still not sure which I liked best. Shanghai Wind’s and Shanghai River’s are such interesting contrasts. Top Shanghai was a nice compromise between the two, but I might have to bring my own black vinegar and ginger next time. Far better than what I can find in Seattle, but not as good as the ones at Joe’s Shanghai in New York (especially the Flushing location). I’ll be back at Joe’s in a few weeks for an update, but compared to xiao long bao I’ve had in Taipei and Shanghai recently, I like Joe’s best (even better than Din Tai Fung, though I really admire the delicate wrappers there). Now if I can only find some Zao ni xiao bao in Vancouver. They’re dumplings filled with plum paste—I only found them at a place called Jing Ding Xiao Guan in Taipei, and they’re amazing!

3. Wonton soup: Only tried a couple of places, but hard to imagine anything better than Mak’s.

4. Har gow: Like the xiao long bao, we tried this at five different restaurants, and the clear winner remains Shiang Garden’s version. Superb shrimp taste and delicate wrapper made Shiang Garden the overall winner.

5. Dim sum: As much as I love the experience of choosing from carts (it adds to the atmosphere, and it’s always fun to ask to see what’s hiding in the baskets), I’m a convert to ordering off the menu and getting the items fresh. We enjoyed the early morning discounts (going for breakfast enabled us to have more dim sum or something different for lunch!) and watching the restaurants slowly (sometimes not-so-slowly) but surely fill up, increasing in noise and excitement. Seems strange that some places charge for tea; I thought I read a discussion about this in another forum but I can’t find it now.

6. Vancouver: I’m jealous, but we’ll be back (perhaps for American Thanksgiving). Loved the spicy food at Golden Szechuan Restaurant, and want to increase the heat by going to the First Hunan Chinese Restaurant next time around. I appreciate all the incredibly helpful advice people offered in these forums. We ate a lot of great food, and our stomachs thank you!

[Note: I have photos of just about all the dishes we ate, so if anyone wants a look at something, just let me know.]

And some highlights:

Thursday

Shanghai Wind: A true hole-in-the-wall somewhat overcrowded (like the parking lot and the group assembled at the door) with tables topped by soiled tablecloths; it feels like you can reach out and help with the food preparation.

Xiao Long Bao ($3.95 for 6): large, rustic with a thick wrapper and strong-tasting broth (sauce needs more ginger)

Turnip Cake ($4.95 for 3): delicious taste and great pastry

Pan Fried Rice Cake with Beef Roll ($4.25): enhanced by the crunch of the cucumber and a dip of the hoison sauce

Wonton in Spicy Sauce ($3.95 for 12): fun dish of pork-filled wontons with a sesame-spicy sauce, topped with green onions

Shanghai River: Elegant in its contrast to Shanghai Wind, with a showcase window where you can watch the dumplings and other delicacies get made.

Xiao Long Bao ($5.80 for 8): smaller with a more delicate wrapper and less intense broth than Shanghai Wind

Bean Curd with Celery ($6): excellent knife-work and good interplay between softer (yet firm) tofu and the crisp celery—nicely seasoned

Goose Liver with Sticky Rice ($5): disappointing—trying for a foie gras appeal?

Shredded Jelly Fish ($6): had as an after-thought upon seeing others ordering; better to have with meal

Fried Dumplings with Red Bean ($7 for 6): yummy beignets with egg white texture and powdered pink sugar on top

Tsim Chai Noodles: We gave the Fresh Prawn Wonton soup ($4.25) a try. Ten (I think?) large wontons in a slightly fish-tasting broth. Nice freshness to the shrimp in the wontons, but the soup cried out for some additional seasoning.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant: Feels a bit like a royal banquet hall with nice place-settings and attentive service; it’s fun to watch the presentation of dishes at the nearby tables (or walk around and gawk at the food like we did).

Dungeness Crab with Pumpkin and Black Bean Hotpot (market price): you get introduced to your future feast before it’s sent back to the kitchen for its final “bath,” this dish quiets the table as everyone savors every drop of food and then looks for other things to dip in the gingery, garlicky sauce—even if against etiquette (if the dish is not on the menu, impress your waiter by asking for it)

Chayote with Minced Pork and Preserved Vegetable: a well-rounded dish featuring different textures and tastes, and a nice introduction to this lesser-known squash

Beef with Garlic (and Chinese Broccoli): our mistake of the meal, as we asked the waiter for something to complement our other dishes; he assured us this couldn’t be made at home, and we decided it wouldn’t be, as it was nothing special

Red Bean Soup: a nice finish to the meal with the usual application of azuki for dessert

Friday

Shiang Garden Seafood Restaurant: We discovered this restaurant during a previous visit and realized we didn’t really miss the cart service typical of dim sum. (20% off 9:30-11am)

Har Gow (4): we try the shrimp dumplings at every dim sum restaurant as a test to the quality of the rest of the food; these large dumplings with delicate wrappers were as outstanding in freshness and taste as we remembered them to be

Duck Tongue with Tofu: we also had positive memories of our last duck tongue dish (the first time we’d ever had duck tongue), and this preparation was also delicious and provided another excuse to make “quiet duck” jokes

Crab Meat with Spinach Dumplings (3): nice, but far more shrimp than crab meat; we’d rather have one or the other instead of both

Braised Oxtail with Wintermelon: enjoyed this combination

Pork Siu Mai (4): above average, though nothing special

Char Siu Bao (3): we always like to have steamed pork buns if there are more than two people to share them; they are filling and their sweetness always makes us wonder if we should save them for dessert

Richmond Public Market: This second floor food court provides hit-and-miss cheap eats; we bypassed $6 tins of whole Dungeness crab and other pre-prepared dishes in favor of food cooked to order. Having come from a long bicycle ride, we forgot to bring the camera and failed to take good notes.

Xian stall: lamb skewers with spicy cumin rub and wontons in spicy broth that were both fun eats

Halal stall: “cool noodles” ($2.00) that were deceptively spicy but a small portion

Stall next to Beijing Shanghai Delicacies: xiao long bao ($4.50 for 8) that were, well, not bad, but nothing special

Golden Szechuan Restaurant: A kind host walked us through the menu and helped us pick out dishes that tempted us.

Szechuan Tan Tan Noodles ($5.50): nice, somewhat spicier version of this dish

Boiled Beef with Chili ($12.95): fiery and delicious, with napa cabbage, celery and bean sprouts

Crispy Rice with Peanuts ($13.95): and prawns, but our least favorite dish of the night—though we enjoyed the variety of mushrooms

Fried Green Beans Szechuan Style ($9.95): with onion, garlic and dried shrimp

House Special Chicken ($16.95): requested meat with bone and extra Szechuan peppercorn—the favorite dish of the table

Saturday

Jade Restaurant: Ran the vacuum cleaner at the start of the meal and charged for tea; the place filled fast for Saturday morning dim sum. (20% off 9-11am)

Har Gow ($4.68 for 4): good, but smaller and less tasty than Shiang Garden

Steamed Pig Liver Dumpling ($4.38): actually pork liver served over a dumpling; always enjoy the texture and taste of liver, so this was fun to try

Steamed Chicken Wrapped with Fish Maw ($4.38): tasty dish of blue chicken on the bone bundled with fish maw, and wrapped by bamboo pith

Pickled Ginger with Century Egg and Prawn Roll ($4.28 for 4): loved this dish at Shiang Garden in the past and was just as delicious here—great spectrum of flavor and texture

Mak’s Noodle Restaurant: The second restaurant of our wonton taste test, we again ate the Fresh Prawn Wonton soup ($3.80?). A smaller bowl with a slightly more golden broth, the 8 smaller wontons packed punch with better shrimp taste than Tsim’s, and the broth was more flavorful. Everyone else was eating noodles, but we didn’t try, as we wanted wontons.

Kirin Restaurant: Fancy, fancy, fancy was our first reaction upon walking in. And packed. This looked like the hot spot for tourists and locals alike.

Har Gow ($4.25 for 4): relatively small but very nice wrapper and excellent shrimp taste (still, we liked Shiang Garden’s better)

Sticky Rice with Pork and Dried Scallop ($4.50): unwrapping the lotus leaf, we could see the quality even before tasting it—great preparation

Steamed Sparerib in Black Bean Sauce ($4.25): succulent and suck-worthy

Taro Gok: tasty!

Steamed Dried Scallop, Diced Wintermelon and Scallop Dumpling ($4.75): nice

Egg Custard: not as warm as we would have wanted them, but great pastry and custard taste

Top Shanghai Cuisine Restaurant: A mess of a place as it was packed on a Saturday night and we had to be assertive to get our reservation honored—and then have hoards of people hovering nearby while we ate.

Xiao Long Bao: high marks for wrapper, broth and meat content; maybe best of the trip but still falling a bit short overall compared to others we’ve had elsewhere in the world—and what’s up with the clear vinegar with almost no ginger?

Hot and Sour Soup with Wontons: wontons were large and soup was flavorful, but could have been helped by a little more black vinegar (do they not have it at this restaurant?)

Rice Cakes with Preserved Vegetable: nice texture, but needed more salt

Eggplant with Garlic and Beef: found the eggplant to be too soft and overcooked

Tofu Sheets with Edamame and Salty Vegetables: after failing to bring us this dish, they proceeded to get the order wrong and served us tofu cubes instead—very disappointing

Richmond Night Market: We didn’t realize we could have made a meal out of the stalls here, as there were more than we expected. A bit high on the grease factor, but fun nevertheless. We enjoyed takoyaki from one of three such stalls. A friend drove in from Seattle just to sample the red bean “bing” (like a fried hockey puck) that he misses from his days in Taiwan.

Sunday

Empire Seafood Restaurant: One last dim sum meal; we got there just past 9am only to find the place completely crowded. We got the last table before lines started forming outside the door. Charged for tea. (20% off 9-11am)

Har Gow ($3.95 for 4): shrimp taste and wrapper better than Seattle, but inferior to others sampled this trip

Sauteed Duck Web with Abalone Mushroom ($3.95): after seeing duck web continually on the menus, we had to give it a try, and it was quite tasty

Deep Fried Spring Rolls ($3.65): ordered by mistake, but had a nice crispiness and shrimp taste

Sun Sui Wah: We stopped by simply to get Mango Packets (or what I call Mango Pillows, as they’re so fluffy and comfort-inducing—3 per order) to go—soft crepes with mango slices and cream inside. Yum!

Granville Market: Bought items from Oyama Sausage and Terra Bread.

Rangoli: Alas—a non-Chinese meal! Enjoyed our two curries and shared drink at this café next to the infamous Vij’s:

Portobello Mushroom and Red Bell Pepper Curry on paneer with beet/daikon salad and naan ($11.50): salad provides a great texture change

Lamb Stewed in Vij’s Masala with rice and naan ($13): salad of bitter greens with a strawberry

Mango Pineapple Lassi ($4.50)

Chocoatl: Loved the hot and cold chocolate drinks at this new chocolate shop in Yaletown. Tasty truffles pair chocolate with things like avocado, cucumber and chile. Before choosing my hot chocolate drink, Themis (one of the co-owners) encouraged me to sample various chocolates to detect notes like smokiness (Papua New Guinea), banana (Peruvian), etc.

Azteca Hot Chocolate (made with 2% milk; $4.60 for a large): featured cinnamon and other spices—nice, exotic taste, but next time will want to try something that lets the chocolate stand out more

Tropical Orange (cold; $5.00): great mandarin and orange flavors seemed perfect for an unusually hot day (might try Explossion next, featuring coconut and lavender)

Northern Delicacy: One last meal in Richmond on the way back to Seattle.

Xiao Long Bao ($4.50 for 5): good broth but not enough of it, so the wrapper (a little sticky at first touch) and meat dominate—again, better than what we can find in Seattle, but fell short compared to others we ate in Vancouver

Dan Dan Noodles in Soup: nice spicy peanut taste with cucumber and black sesame seed, then found dried shrimp and salted vegetable at the bottom of the bowl

Edited to add one forgotten dish at Shanghai Wind!

Edited by dimsumfan (log)
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Dimsumfan

Tremendous write up! Looks like you are basically on the same page as alot of the other chinese food fans on this thread. Impressive quantity and a good eye on quality.

I particularly agree with on Shanghai One - which has quite good food but the service issue are ridiculous. I had to pull all of my HK-ness pushiness to make sure that my table got seated. The whole hovering over the table is simply unacceptable - but it is made necessary by the lack of FOH control.

Sounds like you had a great trip - let us know when you are coming up next and we can give more advice. There are a still a number of places that are worth checking out that you have had not had the chance to hit yet.

Dude - I love food pictures. How about the 5 best things you ate?

Edited by canucklehead (log)
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I particularly agree with on Shanghai One - which has quite good food but the service issue are ridiculous.  I had to pull all of my HK-ness pushiness to make sure that my table got seated.  The whole hovering over the table is simply unacceptable - but it is made necessary by the lack of FOH control.

Top Shanghai? (rather than One?) If so, can't get past the crowds of folks waiting to get into the restaurant. Guessing they didn't expect the large groups waiting on their doorstep?

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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Thanks for the review, dimsumfan. Sounds like you ate lots of good food. :smile:

I went back to Top Shanghai two days ago, and the service was again, pretty bad. I got there at 8:45pm and there was STILL a line at the door! I waited at the door for a good 20 minutes before anyone even came over to take numbers. We finally got a seat close to 9:30, but only because I said it would be OK if we 'dap toi'--share the table with 2 other couples.

I see the same service issues at most busy Chinese restaurants, though. I figure it's the price you kind of have to pay when the food is good and cheap.

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I love food pictures.  How about the 5 best things you ate?

I agree it's great to see photos. I guess I'll have to find a few minutes to research how to post a few to this site.

Favorite items, in no particular order:

1. Har gow at Shiang Garden. Loved them before, and love them now. Best of the best for shrimp and wrapper taste. Large!

2. Pickled Ginger with Century Egg and Prawn Roll at Jade, but also have had them at Shiang Garden. Great combination of flavors.

3. House Special Chicken at Golden Szechuan. We asked for chicken on the bone, as we thought it would have better flavor than boneless. And we made a special request for Szechuan peppercorn. I've been cooking a lot with it, and love the effect.

4. Dungeness Crab with Pumpkin and Black Bean Hotpot at Sea Harbour. Great flavors. Others in my group were even more enthusiastic about it than me.

5. Boiled Beef with Chili at Golden Szechuan. I love fiery food, and this dish makes me crave even spicier Hunanese food.

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I agree it's great to see photos. I guess I'll have to find a few minutes to research how to post a few to this site.

To help you with uploading images from your computer, there's a detailed overview of ImageGullet here, and one of our members has a quick step-by-step here.

Let's see the pics!

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I have been searching, in vain, to find Lin's Taianese Kitchen, in Richmond. When last I ate there, a year ago, it was occupying a shabby cinderblock building on Granville, east of No. 3 Road. That builing has since been demolished and the site is now under construction.

It seems unthinkable to me that Lin's could just disappear; but I cannot find a trace or trail.

If anyone knows where they moved, I would appreciate the tip. If not, who can suggest a place in Richmond to get a beef roll -- hoi sin'ed beef wrapped in a scallion pancake, not an item with which I was familliar before finding Lin's -- worthy of the name?

Edited by mbjesq (log)

mbjesq

www.memestream.org

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Okay, hopefully I've learned how to post the photos correctly. Here, again, were the favorite dishes of the recent Chinese food frenzy:

1. Har gow at Shiang Garden. Loved them before, and love them now. Best of the best for shrimp and wrapper taste. Large!

gallery_24301_3416_140906.jpg

2. Pickled Ginger with Century Egg and Prawn Roll at Jade, but also have had them at Shiang Garden. Great combination of flavors.

gallery_24301_3416_399558.jpg

3. House Special Chicken at Golden Szechuan. We asked for chicken on the bone, as we thought it would have better flavor than boneless. And we made a special request for Szechuan peppercorn. I've been cooking a lot with it, and love the effect.

gallery_24301_3416_262043.jpg

4. Dungeness Crab with Pumpkin and Black Bean Hotpot at Sea Harbour. Great flavors. Others in my group were even more enthusiastic about it than me.

gallery_24301_3416_59414.jpg

5. Boiled Beef with Chili at Golden Szechuan. I love fiery food, and this dish makes me crave even spicier Hunanese food.

gallery_24301_3416_106839.jpg

Maybe that's got some mouths watering and stomachs crying (in a good way). I must have about 100 food photos from the trip, so perhaps with time I can post more in an album.

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  • 3 months later...

Hooray... we're heading back up to Richmond next week for another food frenzy for the (American) Thanksgiving weekend.

Any new food finds for us to explore in Richmond? I read about Ping's on another board, so maybe we'll give that a try. And will definitely try to get to the Hunan place in Burnaby, since the one closer to Richmond is closed.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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glad you'll be coming back up to visit us during the long weekend.

i really hate to give this place up since they only seat about 25-30 people, but if you love xiao long baos, try Long's Noodle House on main street (mandarin: xiao long ji; cantonese: xiu long gae).

they have all of your yummy old-skool shanghainese favourites. for lunch, they close at 3pm, so i usually get there around 2:15pm and not have to wait for a table. between my bf and i, we usually just get one green onion cake, one order of xiao long bao (6 pcs.), and one bowl of noodle--either the braised chicken & veggie in soup if we're feeling blah, or tza tzeung meen (translation: fried sauce noodle (?)-wow, my parents would have a coronary if they ever saw how badly i butcher chinese...*sigh*) when we feel like a bowl of "chinese spaghetti" as my bf calls it.

the 3 items, more than enough to share between the two of us, usually puts our bill just under $13 CDN. crazy, eh?

keep in mind, like many chinese restaurants in town, they only accept cash.

they're on the west side of main street, between 32nd and 33rd.

have a wonderful visit!

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A genuine discovery is the prosaically named Szechwan Restaurant (sic) on Saba Road in Richmond. The website is: www.szechwanrestaurant.ca The place is virtually hidden from view as the windows are entirely covered up and is located at the eastern end of Saba about a block from #3 Road. Inside, one enters a veritable museum world of the Qing Dynasty. In my view, it is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Lower Mainland. The owner is from Beijing and he told me he wanted to bring good Chinese food to the Vancouver area. When I replied somewhat incredulously that there are already good Chinese restaurants, he qualified further, adding that he wanted to bring good non-Cantonese to the Vancouver area. The pickled fish soup is to die for.

Edited by Kloom (log)
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Interesting website. Anyone else been to this place, with other thoughts and/or recommendations of things to try?

A genuine discovery is the prosaically named Szechwan Restaurant (sic) on Saba Road in Richmond.  The website is: www.szechwanrestaurant.ca  The place is virtually hidden from view as the windows are entirely covered up and is located at the eastern end of Saba about a block from #3 Road.  Inside, one enters a veritable museum world of the Qing Dynasty.  In my view, it is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Lower Mainland.  The owner is from Beijing and he told me he wanted to bring good Chinese food to the Vancouver area.  When I replied already are good Chinese restaurants, he qualified further, adding that he wanted to bring good non-Cantonese to the Vancouver area.  The pickled fish soup is to die for.

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A genuine discovery is the prosaically named Szechwan Restaurant (sic) on Saba Road in Richmond.  The website is: www.szechwanrestaurant.ca  The place is virtually hidden from view as the windows are entirely covered up and is located at the eastern end of Saba about a block from #3 Road.  Inside, one enters a veritable museum world of the Qing Dynasty.  In my view, it is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Lower Mainland.  The owner is from Beijing and he told me he wanted to bring good Chinese food to the Vancouver area.  When I replied already are good Chinese restaurants, he qualified further, adding that he wanted to bring good non-Cantonese to the Vancouver area.  The pickled fish soup is to die for.

Mentioned here, and here.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Back in Richmond/Vancouver again, and off to a great start! Thanks to the great tip below for our first delicious meal, at Loon's Noodle House (note the spelling, per their business card).

Everything was good in quality, especially the drunken chicken (nearly every table ordered it). Green onion pancake was refreshingly not greasy. Spicy wontons were tasty. Xiao long bao was good, but not as good as at Top Shanghai or Shanghai River. The wrapper was a little thicker than usual, and they were a bit small - but the broth was good. Kind of on par with what Shanghai Wind serves.

I was most impressed with our server. She was patient, pleasant, helpful, attentive, and smiled a lot - amazing since she was the only server for the entire place. What a welcome contrast to the erratic service at Top Shanghai and many other places!

Four of us, a total of 7 dishes, with a final amount (including taxes and tip) of $32.

Up next... a return to Golden Szechuan tonight, and then tomorrow to Crystal Hunan. We'll likely hit Shiang Garden, our favorite dim sum place, a couple of times before we leave Sunday.

If anyone wants to join in on our Chinese food frenzy, perhaps for Saturday dinner or Sunday morning dim sum, feel free to PM me.

i really hate to give this place up since they only seat about 25-30 people, but if you love xiao long baos, try Long's Noodle House on main street (mandarin: xiao long ji; cantonese: xiu long gae).

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