Since the 1990s, the Hong Kong diaspora has provided the Cantonese food scene in Canada with perfect conditions to flourish. And since summer is such a great time to re-visit Vancouver, where I’ve had so many great meals in the past few years, let’s go!!!
YVR Airport: The Japadog stand greets all who emerge from the terminal. So great to be back in Vancouver, and with such a delicious reminder! From left to right: Oroshi (pork bratwurst, grated daikon, green onions, special soy sauce), Okonomi (Kurobuta pork, Kewpie Mayo, fried cabbage, Okonomiyaki sauce, bonito flakes), and Kurobuta Terimayo (Kurobuta pork, teriyaki sauce, seaweed, fried onions, Kewpie Mayo)… Oishi!
Dynasty Seafood: Chiuchow cooking is the order of the day here at this grande dame of Chinese gastronomy.
Strong in character, Tieguanyin (Iron Goddess) tea is the traditional drink of choice here.
British Columbia local live spot prawn, steamed and served with seafood soy: We are coming towards the end of the spot prawn season here. Fortunately, Dynasty GM Bill tells me he has a few last live prawns in the holding tank. Score!
Such great prawns! Never forget enjoying those shrimp heads, for maximizing the experience!
Shrimp scrambled egg with truffle: I know, I know… Truffles?! A luxury ploy? In the case of this dish, not actually. The truffle (no truffle oil used) contributes not just to the taste, but also to the texture of this winning combination. There is perfect runny-ness to the delicious eggs. Technically, this is a perfect iteration of this typical Southern Chinese dish.
Deep fried crispy chicken with lotus: Whoa. Really nice! Juicy meat, crispy skin, and the lotus adds an earthy tone as well!
The last bird was so good, we just had to try the roast duck also! And this did NOT disappoint. The dripping juices were presented, and went so well with some rice!
Sauteed Buddha feast: Again, the wok hei is really on full mode, even with this vegetarian dish. Five different mushroom types were used here. Kitchen skills on display!
‘Typhoon shelter’ Dungeness crab with sticky rice (pre-ordered): This highlight dish is just marvelous. The sticky rice, redolent of the crab roe, exhibits masterful “wok hei”, in a balance of umami, just the right hint of heat, and texture!
Desserts figure prominently in Chiuchow meals. We were offered sweet osmanthus soup with dates, ginger & goji berries. The chowpup (lucky kid!) got a supreme version of mango pudding with sago pearls!
‘Yes’ to the Toto question here!
Late night bang bang at Excellent Tofu & Snack, in Richmond. Douhua (“tofu flower”), with ginger syrup added by the customer to sweetness level preference. For fun, since we were in Canada, I asked to try the douhua with maple syrup also. Result: Winner! The maple syrup works with the douhua in marvelous ways! Old world melds with the New World!
Snacks at Excellent Tofu included gluten “3 ways”: Gluten is a vegetarian meat substitute popular in East Asia. There are many ways to cook it - The ladies at the counter presented my gluten in curry, sweet & sour, and hoisin - All good. Soy milk with red bean was fresh, and the pan-fried turnip cakes with house special hot sauce was as good as any I’ve had in the upper echelon dim sum shops.
Taro paste cake with sesame: Baked in-house, this was splendid! This was soooo good, I ordered another for the road!
Konjac: Another vegetarian dish, this time resembling stewed beef tendon. The version at Excellent Tofu bears a startlingly close resemblance to real beef tendon! Yum!
I ordered a mango pudding (with condensed milk) ‘to go’ for the road: It was decent, but nothing earth-shattering.
Next day, we had to hit some dim sum, of course! And we wanted to return to Chef Tony, where we enjoyed the finest dim sum in Canada on our last visit. We wanted to see if the restaurant has kept up its relentless pursuit of excellence… Answer: A resounding yes!
Live spot prawn: As good as Dynasty Seafood the day before! Love those critters!
Geoduck clam congee (rice porridge) in seafood broth, with ginger slivers, scallion and fried cruller: Oh man, can it be possible?! Because this was even better than on my last visit!
After a fabulous dim sum at Chef Tony, we sauntered over to Kam Do Bakery to buy some “Wife Cakes”. The store is glitzy, bright, and clean. But as for the cakes, they were OK - nothing better than what we can get here in L.A.
Dinner consisted of an all-out Canto-banquet at Golden Paramount Seafood in Richmond!
Yuba “pastry” with shiitake mushrooms, served with pickled jellyfish: Awesome! Delicate meets crunchy!
This king crab tried to make a run for it…
But we all know how this story ends… Scrumptious king crab (three ways), steamed with baby garlic, fried with ginger and onions, and then the crab roe was braised with egg noodles. Excellent in all forms.
Fried oysters with scallions: Smashing!
Pea tendrils sautéed with garlic: Terrific! I expected nothing less from a kitchen of this caliber.
Egg white, dried scallop and gai lan stem fried rice: Fabulous. The perfect starch for the wonderful next dish…
Sweet and sour pork may seem pedestrian and “westernized”, but this dish has deep roots in the Cantonese repertoire, and can be ethereal when done right. This was a genuine learning moment when I first bit into the version at Golden Paramount. The delicately, wok-fried pork was well-battered. It was fatty but not overly unctuous, having soaked up all the sweet and sour notes from the accompanying ingredients. Wow!
Dessert: Sweet hot taro soup, and cool green bean soup. Yin and yang round out the meal, along with house-baked almond cookies.
This meal at Golden Paramount was stupendous. Not a single miss!
Bang-bang #1 afterwards at Mui Garden Restaurant, in the Golden Village section of Richmond: This beloved local eatery serves Malaysian fare, made with Hong Kong sensibilities, to lucky locals and visitors to Vancouver alike. Their fragrant beef brisket curry, Hainan chicken rice, and bak kut teh (rib soup) burst with authentic flavors!
Bang-bang #2 at Max Noodle House (麥奀記) in Richmond BC: A seemingly simple order of shrimp wontons in tossed (house-pulled) egg noodles, served with a side of shredded pork in spicy sauce (炸醬) blew us away with its flavor, depth and deft preparation. The fragrant shrimp roe base broth brought us right back to Hong Kong. Transcendent…
Bang-bang #3 at MeetFresh, in Richmond: Taiwanese food culture has made inroads into all Asian populations, and Vancouver is no exception to the prevailing trends. At MeetFresh, we indulged in their classic signature herbal grass jelly with mango, taro mochi and brown molasses sugar bread base, topped with condensed milk… Beautiful, indulgent goodness!
Much has been said about the burgeoning Chinese food revolution in the metro Los Angeles area, especially within the past few years. But when it comes to Cantonese-style cooking, at both high and low ends of the price spectrum, Canada currently still reigns supreme in North America - undisputedly so, based on this visit to the Vancouver area.