[Written for and edited by the Westender]
The quality of Chinese restaurants continues to improve around the world as China’s growing middle class travels and lives abroad with greater frequency. But Metro Vancouver’s number and diversity of experienced restaurateurs, resourceful suppliers and knowledgeable diners has created an unmatched excellence at every level – from inexpensive holes-in-the-wall to budget-destroying fine-dining temples. I’ve written about and judged Chinese food for over a decade, and here, in alphabetical order, are 10 I consider to be among our best.
4850 Imperial, Burnaby
Lke it really hot? Beef with pickled peppers, cumin-spiked lamb, and stir-fried smoked mushrooms and bacon each pack afterburner heat. Icy beer, soothing rice, and delicious tea-smoked duck will provide much-needed relief to the palate. Serious spice-heads who are tempted to risk Big Heat (they call it “da la”), consider yourselves warned.
Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie
With organic and sustainable ingredients, and informed traditional techniques, Bao Bei defines how Vancouver has embraced modern Chinese cuisine. Sharp Sichuan cucumbers awaken the appetite, lamb shao bin warms with cumin and spice, and fried rice hums with hot wok immediacy. The smart cocktails, enthusiastic service, and stylish room sparkle with ease and sophistication.
Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant
101-4600 No. 3 Rd., Richmond
Among the new ultra-high-end Chinese restaurants, Chef Tony has best made the leap from shiny novelty to local favourite. The baked goods at dim sum are superb – particularly the legendary steamed egg sponge cake. Dinner dishes such as bubbling ling cod hot pot, roasted squab, and Dungeness crab in spicy eggplant sauce glow with exuberant generosity.
Dynasty Seafood Restaurant
108-777 W. Broadway
Chef Sam Leong Dynasty ambitiously imbues Cantonese cooking with West Coast sensibilities of clean lightness. Dim sum must-orders include pepper pork pastry, mushroom dumplings, and stir-fried Buddha’s feast. For dinner, Dungeness crab – served with spicy garlic chips over sticky rice – is a showstopper, and the Peking duck is the best around.
Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant
8071 Park Rd., Richmond
Blink and you’ll miss this hidden gem of restrained Cantonese cooking. The dim sum menu is full of delicate charmers like crab-and-pork dumplings, daikon spring rolls, and deep-fried wontons. A dinner of their salt baked chicken, pan-fried oysters, and superlative sweet-and-sour pork is both homey and sophisticated.
HK BBQ Master
4651 No. 3 Rd., Richmond
The gloriously succulent BBQ pork (char sui) draws aficionados from across Metro Vancouver. (Those in the know ask for both cuts: half fatty, half lean.) Take it to go, or settle in for an unpretentious meal of roasted meats over rice. Don’t let the strange location (in the parking lot under Real Canadian Superstore) or the line-ups put you off. It’s that good.
Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant
The crowd-pleasing flavours of Sichuan cuisine are executed with Taiwanese refinement at this long-standing room. Fried pork in red fermented sauce, chili stir-fried shredded beef with bamboo shoots, and tilapia blanketed under a pungent hot bean sauce are all firm favourites. Great prices, and the jostling atmosphere actually adds to the family-friendly charm.
Kirin was a pioneer in applying classic Cantonese technique with top local ingredients to create a distinctive Vancouver style of Chinese food. Seasonal fresh sheets and ever-changing dim sum menus reflect the best of the season. When in season, there’s no better place to feast on local spot prawns (wok-seared with soy sauce).
Landmark Hot Pot House
This immensely popular hot pot restaurant distinguishes itself with fastidiously sourced seafood (and crippling prices to match). Smart diners build a delicious meal by focusing on the gorgeous vegetables, dumplings, and iced tofu. Don’t miss the magically delicate house-made fish tofu puffs, fried silver fish with spicy salt, and meltingly fatty beef.
Long’s Noodle House
Tender-skinned steamed soup buns bursting with broth, tan tan noodles richly slicked in a dark meat sauce, and tender drunken chicken are just a few of the menu items that draw a devoted crowd. The tiny space is perpetually packed, but Sandy, the force-of-nature hostess, keeps things moving at a brisk pace – whether you like it or not.
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