Golden Phoenix – Vancouver, BC

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Golden Phoenix Chinese Seafood Restaurant
2425 Nanaimo Street
Vancouver, BC
Tel: 604-253-9717 & 604-253-6183
Hours: Sun-Thu, 9am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 9am-1am

Popularized in western culture, dim sum is a style of Cantonese cuisine that revolves around an array of small dishes that are eaten with Chinese tea, and typically in the morning hours.  The act of drinking Chinese tea (yum cha) plays a key role in this type of dining, and its roots go back to the long ago times of teahouses where people would gather, socialize and share some simple meals.  There was an older Chinese gentleman sitting nearby who took this to heart, as I watched him drink tea constantly, and then occasionally taking a bit of some dish he had ordered, and this continued in ten minute bursts.  Personally for me, I think its a great combination as despite that fact that many dim sum dishes are steamed, and thus have the image of being healthy, a lot are fatty, oily and darnright salty, so the refreshing Chinese tea does aid in digesting it all.

The addition of the word “seafood” in this restaurant’s title is a bit deceiving, as checking out the menu, there is indeed a section for seafood but its just 14 items on a full menu that boasts a total of 106 dishes.  My main intent on this day was to check out their dim sum offerings, which still get delivered to your table by staff pushing around carts or carrying them around by hand.  There is a narrow yellow sheet of paper that tallies up your choices that ends up being totaled up to generate your final bill.  Items ranged from $2.95 to $4.25.  The randomness of it all is part of the appeal to me of going to these old-school dim sum places like at Golden Phoenix.  Its always a game to discover what is indeed under those little lids and sometimes it takes a tearing apart of the food itself to know what is contained inside.  Sure there are the staple beef, chicken, pork, prawn and vegetable offerings that I’ve gotten familiar with over the years, but sometimes there are many unknowns out there that raise my curiousity level.

At the Golden Phoenix, I felt that the servers were a bit pushy with trying to get your to try just about all the dishes that came around.  Everything was “very delicious” according to the staff, who must have seen that the overcrowded table could not possibly accept any more plates or steamed baskets.  I think I took more than was needed, and some I regretted: the lo mai gai (glutinous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf) is one of my favorites and it contained some chunks of chicken and mushrooms and was very flavorful; deep fried and coated in black bean sauce chicken feet – not my cup of tea; shaomai (steamed pork dumplings) were good, though you can’t get anymore basic than this for dim sum; something that resembled har gow (a large shrimp inside topped with a layer of scallop) was probably my favorite on this day, the shrimp was big and tender; and then some sweets whose names I can’t recall (one was a ginger flavored sweet potato mixture inside).

The Golden Phoenix is a mid-sized restaurant, with round tables scattered about and tight seating, which made it impossible for some of the carts to navigate around the room without bumping into someone or something.  Its brightly lit, with some simple faux-wood paneling on the walls and the tables were all clean.  Its a little out of the way for those who don’t live on the east side of Vancouver, and there are many other choices for dim sum in the downtown core or out in Richmond, but the Golden Phoenix should meet your dim sum craving should you be in the neighborhood and want to avoid the monsterous and busy caverns elsewhere where dim sum is served.  And this way, you can better enjoy your Chinese tea and not feel rushed.

Golden Phoenix Chinese Seafood on Urbanspoon

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