Golden Spring – Richmond, BC


Golden Spring Restaurant
Suite 160
4200 No. 3 Rd
Richmond, BC

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Sichuan food is a bit of an obsession for me. My introduction to this cuisine was not in China, but here in Vancouver at a popular restaurant on the East Side called Szechuan Chongqing many years ago. The first time my parents took us to this restaurant’s original location, I instantly fell in love with the robust flavours and the fierce heat of the food they served. Over the years, this place became a regular spot for our family. We would meet there at least once a month when we were attending university.

It was not until much later when I came to realize that the food I had been enjoying at Szechuan Chongqing bore only a passing resemblance to the cuisine of Sichuan Province in China. What we have been eating was Sichuan  food that evolved in a parallel universe far from its roots.  It is a hybrid of the common “Chinese-Canadian” cuisine with some sort of distant interpretation of Sichuan cuisine. The “Szechuan” dishes that we are most familiar (for example, Orange Peel Beef, Ginger Beef, etc) are very different or is non-existent back in China.

For many years, the real deal was hard to come by in the Vancouver  area where the Chinese food was dominated by Cantonese – and to a much lesser extent – Shanghainese cuisine. Trudeau-era immigration policies and Expo 86 were largely responsible for this predominance. This second-wave influx of  Chinese immigrants (mainly from Hong Kong) elevated the level of Chinese-Cantonese cuisine here. This area has been long famous for having some of the best Cantonese-Chinese food in North America (and some say the world).

As Chinese immigration patterns changed over the last decade, the prospects for Chinese cuisine from other parts of China improved. In Richmond BC, Vancouver’s  Chinese ethno-burb, the changes became slowly apparent. More and more, you started to hear Mandarin and other Chinese dialects being spoken by restaurant staff (instead of the ubiquitous Cantonese). Nowadays this area is blessed with some of the best Regional Chinese food anywhere.

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Golden Spring Restaurant in in the epicenter of one of the best areas to eat in the Lower Mainland – just off the soon to be completed Aberdeen Centre Skytrain Station. I have dined here a number of times now, and I still have barely touched the surface of its extensive and uncompromisingly Sichuan menu. Its menu has many of the Sichuan region’s favourite dishes and a number of unusual sounding dishes that use ingredients unfamiliar to me.

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Today, I ordered fairly conservatively as I was feeling considerate for my rather unadventurous dining companion. We had the Tofu and Century Egg appetizer which not necessarily a Sichuan dish, but I thought it would act as a nice mild counterpart for the more spicy dishes up ahead. It was drizzled with a pleasant, subtly-sweet sesame-oil and chili-oil dressing.

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Century Egg is one of my favourite ingredients (I have it often with congee) so I thought I’d post a gratuitous macro closeup here.

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The Water Convulvus stir fry was simply prepared with dried Sichuan chilies. It was not as spicy as I have had it in the past (dried chili is notoriously unpredictable that way).

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The Twice-Cooked Pork is a dish I often order at Sichuan restaurants. The Twice-Cooking technique involves slow poaching of pork belly or ribs in a flavoured broth. The resultant poached meat is sliced thinly and then wok fried with vegetables and aromatics — fermented Broad Bean Paste, Chile,  and Sichuan peppercorn. This was a very good rendition which included Chinese Leek and firm Tofu.

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I had ordered a Smoked Pork with Garlic Shoots, but we were presented with Slivered Pork with Garlic Shoots instead. No worries, it was good, but I was really looking forward to the other dish. I will make sure to point to the right item on the menu next time. This was not the first time I had experienced a miscommunication due to the language barrier here.

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Finally, Dan Dan Mian (or “Tan Tan Noodles”). The menu listed two types for Dan Dan Mian…one is labeled “Authentic Dan Dan Mian.” Once again, I believe there was a misunderstanding. The last time I was here, I recall that their “Authentic” version is dressed in a “proper” Chili-oil and Sichuan peppercorn-based dressing. This one uses dark sesame paste in its sauce with peanuts and the requisite ground Sichuan peppercorn (an elemental ingredient in Sichuan cuisine.)

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This particular rendition is a common preparation in Sichuan Province (in Chengdu in particular). It is not the most common preparation type of Dan Dan (the version with the Chili-oil dressing is the most common). It was good, so I’m not really complaining.

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Despite the recurring language-based service issues I experience on this day (and on previous visits), I will continue to patronize this restaurant. The food is good and authentic and its menu still still an unexplored frontier to me. This place seems to fly under the radar for some reason….but if you are ever in Richmond and you like Sichuan cuisine, give this place a shot.

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Ginger and Chili Szechuan Cuisine – Vancouver, BC


Szechuan (Sichuan) cuisine, is best known for its liberal use of Szechuan (Sichuan) peppercorn and thus generally thought of as being very spicy.  This regional cuisine also uses in copious amounts, both ginger and chili.  This neighborhood Chinese restaurant took these ingredients as their house name, and occupies a decent sized establishment in the Point Grey area of Vancouver, close to other area favorites such as Burgoo, Candia Taverna, Provence Mediterranean Grill, and Enigma.

Ginger and Chili Szechuan Cuisine is proud of those popular North American-Chinese dishes: Ginger Beef and General Tso’s Chicken, and call theirs the best versions of these dishes in town.  I’ve had this chicken-based creation ($10.50) which is stir-fried with a mix of vegetables – it’s not bad.  But I refuse to try the Ginger Beef.

Every time I’ve been inside, customers have been a mix of Caucasian and Asian diners.  Takeout represents a good portion of their business, judging from the walk-in-and-pick-up customers, the constantly ringing phone, and the female manager with a Bluetooth earpiece to handle the flood of calls.  Delivery orders are also possible within a 3km radius and a minimum order of $20 and after 4:30pm.

On this evening, I ordered a trio of dishes, all of ample portions, from the menu that is separated into sections labeled appetizers, soups, seafood, chicken, pork & spareribs, beef, lamb, hot pot, vegetarian, rice, and chow mein & rice noodles.  In total, in typical Chinese menu fashion, they are all numbered and amount to 165 different items, with the most expensive individual item being the whole barbecue duck that goes for $21.95.  Most other dishes go for around $10~$15.  There are even two options for a combination dinner for one ($13.75) and family dinner sets (2 to 8 people) that range from $23 to $92.

Firstly, the Deep Fried Squid with Peppery Salt ($13.25).  This dish is one of many marked with a red chili symbol on the menu, signifying the heat factor.  The finger-length long strips of breaded shrimp were crispy (thought probably would have held up better if eating at the restaurant itself), but not overly so, and tossed with small bits of onion and garlic.  The peppery salt, though not very visible, was evident once I started taking some bites.  The heat coming from the salt was of that sharp piercing variety.  This dish was decent in my books, the squid was well sized, and was not rubbery or chewy.

The second dish was from the pork section – Sliced Pork with Hot Pepper & Dry Spinach ($10.50) – again with the red chili mark.  This was stir-fried in a bland thick sauce, and despite the claim of having some hot peppers, there was not heat coming off this dish at all.  The combination of pork and spinach was a first for me, and tasted well together but the false advertising on the spiciness left a bad taste in my mouth.  Near the bottom of the container, there was this thick layer of oil, very unappealing.

Finally, to get some more substance, the House Special Chow Mein ($10.50) was selected.  This was described as a pan-fried skinny noodle, topped with meat, vegetables and sauce.  What this really entailed was pork, squid, scallops, broccoli, mushrooms, and green peppers.  Perhaps because it was the take-out version, the noodles were really soggy with the sauce, as I hoped they would be a lot more crispier.  A very mediocre dish overall.

As I was afraid of again, the overall high use of vegetable oil in all the dishes, really turned me off this place, despite it being the best of the limited neighborhood lot when it comes to Chinese takeout.  I have some friends who used to go a lot more often and now don’t venture in anymore because of this.  I think I will join them in the boycott crowd, as by just taking a sample of each dish onto my plate, I was getting that heavy, weighed down feeling from the over oily food, and the limited heat just did not measure up either.

Ginger and Chili Szechuan Cuisine
4423 10th Avenue West
Vancouver, BC
Tel: (604) 222-2223
Hours: Tue-Sun, 11:30am to 3pm & 4:30pm to 10pm; closed Mon


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