Shang Noodle House 350 Gifford Street New Westminster, BC (604) 527-3388
I suppose its kind of fitting as I’m about to head off on another trip – this time to the gambling capital of America – that I visited Shang Noodle House which is connected to a casino. Having the image of folks who are serious gamblers as not really caring much about taking a long break to eat between their money chasing activities, nor perhaps about the quality of food they consume while gambling, I don’t have high hopes for restaurants that are located right next to gambling establishments.
Seemingly dedicated to serving noodles in a bright, contemporary setting, it was refreshing to enter the doors and see this rather clean, well-lit seating area. Anchored in the middle of the floor was a prep station (and sushi conveyer belt?), although with the high counter I couldn’t really see what was being done over the wooden bar. Fitting with what you find in many a bar near casinos, was a set of flat panel displays showing various sports, hanging on above for a good viewing angle.
Kalvin’s Szechuan 5225 Victoria Dr Vancouver, BC (604) 321-2888
As far as Food Trends go, Pork is an odd duck. After many years (even decades) of virtual banishment from many restaurant menus, this “other white meat” has surged with a vengeance. Pork Belly Anything, Pulled Pork on Anything, and Bacon Anything is all the rage in restaurants from casual breakfast joints, all the way to fine dining establishments. It is getting quite tiresome to be honest. The Chinese diner, insulated and bemused by these strange Western trends, have never shied away from this beautiful meat. Kalvin’s – a relatively unsung Chinese restaurant on the East Side of Vancouver serves two of the finest examples of Pork dishes in town.
Kalvin’s Szechuan, is a Taiwanese-run restaurant that specializes in Sichuan cuisine by way of Taiwan. Taiwan became an incubator for Sichuan-Taiwanese cuisine when the civil war forced the defeated Chinese nationalists to retreat to the island of Taiwan and declare the Republic of China (Taiwan) as a sole governing authority over all of China. The connection to Sichuan (and thus its cuisine) is a primarily symbolic and spiritual one as Sichuan province was the last stronghold of the Republican forces and the last to fall to the Communist troops. Chongqing (in Sichuan province) was also the home base of Chiang Kai-Shek’s Republic for many years. The two dishes examined here, however, are not Sichuan in nature – they both probably originate from other parts of China. We will have a look at the Sichuan inspired dishes here in a later post.
Hee Rae Deung Korean Chinese Restaurant #24 435 North Road Coquitlam, BC (604) 939-0649
Normally I’m not one to wait in line. Blame it on impatience or a sense that my time is worth more than waiting for my turn at something. Especially something as mundane as getting something to eat. As a result, you’ll never find me in line at the latest, hippest joint in town despite what all the critics might be spouting on about regarding the place. It might not even be that “cool” of a spot either, just the fact that there is a queue will deter me from stopping and joining the line of lemmings. Are you the same or perhaps different (e.g. more patient)?
The photos from this meal at Hee Rae Deung are actually from a trip there that dates back a few months to early May. I’ve driven by a few times since and just like that first visit, I could clearly see some waiting customers just inside the door, and some even outside on the sidewalk. It kind of baffled me when I walked up to the doors and had to get in behind about six other people for a late dinner meal. Was there something special about this place? Was the food something amazing? Or were the prices incredibly pleasing and could you get fantastic value? All these things swirled in my head as I tried to rationalize what I was seeing…
Calgary Court Restaurant 119 2 Ave SE Calgary, AB (403) 264-7890
[Note: I had a “brain fart” and posted this incorrectly and prematurely earlier today, sorry folks! Reminder to self not to blog after a night of too much wine.]
With the typical “over a hundred choices” kind of menu booklet you can find in places like this (a Hong Kong cafe), which covers off various subsections such as rice, noodles, beef, chicken, vegetables, etc., its always a chore to decide what to eat. I suggest sharing (if you’re in a group) that way you can sample everything and not be limited to what can end up becoming a single monotonous dish in terms of flavors and textures. Having said that, sadly, I usually end up ordering pretty much the same types of dishes. To change things up this time, I allowed my trusted dining companion to order for us.
Looking to have just a very light meal given the time of night, other than some simple steamed Gai Lan, a dish that I’ve frankly never heard of before, let alone tried, was our main. How do I describe this? Well, I was told it was a baked rice dish with a breaded and deep fried chicken cutlet, and topped with lemons and a thick layer of cheese. A monster of a dish! Almost casserole or baked lasagna in appearance. Frankly, I was shocked. Never had a I really associated Chinese food with such bright color cheese. As I scooped out my first spoonful, I had no idea what to expect…
Bushuair 121-4600 No 3 Road Richmond, BC (604) 285-3668
Those who are familiar with Bushuair know that it is infamous for two things: its many names (it has been called Gordon Park, Aroma Garden, the Xiangcai Museum/Pavilion, and now finally Bushuair); and its menu is peppered with hilariously endearing Chinese to English mistranslations.
Hunan cuisine will probably never attain the level of acceptance of Sichuan food in this part of the world. Hunan and Sichuan share some similarities – they are both known to be spicy cuisines that rely on the chili pepper for much of their flavour profiles. Hunan cuisine is more assertive in its use of chilies. Hunan cooks use fresh and pickled chilies about as much as dried. One type of Hunan dried chili – Hunan White Chili is particularly incendiary in the Scoville scale of chili pepper heat. It is this heat – which can go on unabated throughout the meal – that provides a challenge for the prevailing Cantonese palate here. Sichuan cuisine has the potential to reach this level of spiciness, but more often than not, the dishes are mitigated by a a balance of sweetness and spiciness…and most importantly of ma la – or the numbing heat introduced by Sichuan peppercorn. (The Sichuan peppercorns provide an antidote to the chili pepper’s capsaicin.)
Wen Xin Chinese Restaurant 5240 Rumble Street Burnaby, BC (778) 737-8898
Though I’d seen it a few times while in this little corner area of Rumble Street and Royal Oak Avenue, I’d never thought to bother with stepping inside Wen Xin until local readers (LotusRapper and Karl of thefridaylunch) mentioned/wrote about it in one of the comment threads of a previous south Burnaby post. My visit was actually back in the late-summer, while school was still out so a lunch hour timing actually turned out to be perfect – as it was just me who was inside getting a meal (to go). No annoying teenagers to get in the way. 🙂 Its in the same general area as Makoto and Georgio’s.
Unsure about what to get as the extent of my ability gained over the years of travel that I’ve done to read any Chinese characters is limited to beef, chicken, fish, pork, and perhaps a few of the preparation terms (fried, stewed, roasted, etc.). The English descriptions really don’t do it justice, as I’m sure the Chinese readers can attest to. That chalkboard you see pictured below, looks like it could be a special menu for Chinese-readers only, but I didn’t bother to ask. Also note here, they are a cash-only establishment with a CIBC ATM inside the nearby Seven Eleven if you are out of greenbacks.
Now that we’re rolling into the fall season and coming back from various journeys over the summer, I thought it would be a good time to do another one of these consolidated posts and provide an update on previously visited places again as a refresher. The links throughout will lead you to original posts and/or commentary on follow up visits. If in doubt if you’ve viewed them all, please do a search on the main page for all your queries…
Previous editions of multi-restaurant/monthly recaps: 1, 2, 3, 4