Well, here we are…New Year’s Eve, the last Friday of 2010. It’s been a damn good year, eats-wise. Plenty of new, local discoveries along with trips to Zacatecas and Merida in Mexico…some of the best Mexican fare I’ve encountered. Ten days spent in Vietnam left me hungering for many more southeast Asian explorations. So, it being the last Friday of the year, I got together a rather skeleton crew of lunchers and headed to Meishan Restaurant.
Meishan is on the concourse level of the Crystal Mall in Burnaby. They’re right across the way from S&W Pepper House, a fine spot for Sichuan fare. Meishan offers up Taiwanese as well as some real good Sichuan. Many times, coming and going from S&W, I’ve stopped to stare at their droolworthy façade.
This is a compact space. They make the most of it, however. There’s a couple of big tables for eight, about eight four-tops and one two-top.
At lunchtime on New Year’s Eve there’s a decent crowd…about a dozen total. I’m guessing this place packs up on regular days.
Meishan has a pretty substantial menu. This is about half of it. The Lunch Special menu itself (top-right & bottom-center) is quite impressive. I’ll be back for the Sichuan Beef Noodle Soup and their Dan Dan Noodles.
For today’s feast, we started with Shuizhu (Boiled Beef with Assorted Vegetables). A steal at $11.99.
We had this dish over at S&W. It was so good yet medium on the heat-scale. This time, however, our server listened when Jacky told them ”Extra-spicy!”. It was, and then some.
This is a well-placed, solid punch in the face…a direct hit. Oily, yes, but not so much as you’d complain. It’s simply teeming with flavour. The chili hits you first but it’s backed up with a big beefy broth, a ton of garlic and a whack of tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Enough of this and your ever-lingering winter cold will be terminated.
The Dumplings Stuffed with Pork and Cabbage had the eye-catching chili logo alongside. Unfortunately, these were out of stock. Second choice: Dumplings Stuffed with Three Fresh Delicacies.
I’m guessing the three delicacies are scallion, pork and prawn. Not quite ”delicacies”, but they make for a helluva dumpling. Big, juicy and very solid pockets. A dip in the Chin-kiang (black vinegar) was sensational but, even better, a quick trip into the fiery Shuizhu broth kicked ’em up considerably. These are so big you need some refined chopstick skills. I had to resort to the not-so-subtle “stab & grab” technique. No worries. Just got to keep practicing! The menu said 14, we got 12.
The downside of a near-perfect lunch was the Fortress Spicy Chicken.
Deep-fried, bone-in chicken, Sichuan-style, is always exceptional. However, when the chicken is cut up this small, it becomes laborious. The meat, what there is of it, is dry and all you do is pick out bone fragments. At twelve bucks, very steep.
The Shredded Pork with Garlic and Chili was, on the other hand, outstanding. I’ve had this many times, even made it at home. Meishan’s version tops ’em all, even mine!
This is a plate popping with texture and a load of flavour…salty, garlicky and very vinegary…a wonderful combo. The strips of pork wide enough to stand out and stay tender. Lots of bamboo strands, crisp scallion and whack of crunchy wood ear. A superb dish I’ll definitely be back for.
Our visit to Meishan was a great meal to round out a great year. I’m so looking forward to exploring 2011’s menu!
Happy New Year, everybody!