Though traditionally working class staples, bao’s and rice bowls are now trendy – complete with cute names and fusion toppings. Fortunately, Heritage Asian Eatery’s Chef Felix Zhou understands that street food is real food, and deserving of care and attention.
Pork belly bao’s are rendered beautifully with hoisin providing sweet tannic backbone.
The creamy congee, lively with sharp pickles, gets its rounded depth from duck broth.
And the five spice fried chicken wings, with their slide off the bone tenderness, are a must order.
Help yourself to the excellent housemade chili sauce – grounded by sesame oil and lifted by Sichuan peppercorns, you’ll want to put that sh*t on everything.
When I lived in Shanghai – there would be these temporary stalls that set themselves up around bus depots and wet markets in the morning – catching people on their way to work or school. Providing them with carefully made, tasty, economical meals to fuel their day. The stalls would disappear as soon as the morning rush was over. The cooking at Heritage Asian Eatery captures those flavors and mood perfectly.
At bit of fair warning here – the lunch service at HAE is absolutely NUTS busy – a literal riot, but a fun one. Tables turn relatively quickly, the diners all seem to understand the unwritten rule of not lounging around and letting others get their turn. Very Chinese, actually.
The underlying goal of Felix Zhou’s cooking is not about dazzling or impressing you. Though the service is fast, the cooking is slow. The flavors are rounded and rich – and come from within, and not from the condiments sprinkled on top. He wants you to be happy and stuff you full, he wants to you enjoy the tastes that he grew up with.
In this way, he part of group of young Asian chefs and restaurateurs who are helping Chinese flavors find a wider audience, but still be true to it’s roots. It’s an example of how Vancouver incorporates Chinese influences and makes them its own in a organic and authentic way. Isn’t that fantastic?