Dim Sum at Sun Sui Wah

I love Dim Sum. It’s the perfect way to gather a gang of good folk and sample a wide range of snack-sized plates. There is a catch, however. Much like grocery shopping, if you do it on an empty stomach, you may buy too much. With four empty stomachs, it’s inevitable.

Sun Sui Wah is amongst the vanguard of Vancouver Dim Sum restaurants. If not the best, it is certainly one of the most popular. On a Sunday afternoon the place is teeming with several hundred diners and a small army of servers.

Upon entering the room I was stunned at the sheer size of it and the vast amount of people. Luckily, one of my friends keeps his head shaved so it wasn’t a problem finding our table. Gotta say, so far that’s the best reason for keeping a clean melon that I’ve come across.

Along with a colorful, pictorial version, there is also a menu checklist.

With no time given for pleasantries or excess chit-chat, the list was attacked with abandon. I got me some serious, very hungry foodies here.

First up, one of my all-time faves, Wu Gok (Taro Dumplings).

With a light and crispy taro exterior, the inside is a mix of ground pork, mushroom and pine nuts. The version here is somewhat average. Although the wrap was nice and crunchy, the inside of it (the wrap) was a bit too pasty. The filling decent, a bit bland.

Gau Choi Gau (Pan-fried Shrimp and Chive Dumpling). These tightly wrapped bundles were fantastic…a healthy portion of fresh, snappy shrimp with a load of full-flavored oniony chive. After a good steam, they’re given a sear on their bottoms for a nice balance of textures.

Next up were a couple of plates of Yau Yu Sou (Deep-fried Squid).

Although laden with a load of deep-fried, crunchy goodness, these could’ve spent about thirty seconds less in the hot oil jacuzzi…a tad chewy verging on rubbery.

The trio of Guo Tie (Pork Potstickers) were simple and tasty. As with the Gau Choi Gau, these were steamed then pan-fried. The pork filling was still juicy, oozing garlic and ginger.

Our next selection was a duo of Cheong Fan (Rice Rolls).

The shrimp version was fairly standard…a good amount of prawn, your typical rice roll. Being quite slippery, it’s best to use the “lift-plate-and-slide” method here.

The beef version had a bit more personality, cilantro-wise.

Dishes are coming fast and furious now. Our rather small table-top is hitting its max and we’re not even at the half-way point, not even close. Fortunately, our gang had enough power-eating skills to match the onslaught.

The Pai Gwat Shu Mai (Steamed Spare-Rib in Black Bean Sauce) were a ten on the flavor scale and about a five on the quality scale. The meat-to-bone ratio too much in favor of the bone. Trying to pry off the bits of pork amidst the excess fat was one arduous and messy process. On the bright side, the phenomenal sauce was great for flavor-boosting other dishes.

Some really good Sing Chow Mai Fun (Singapore Style Fried Vermicelli). Lots of crisp prawn, bits of BBQ Pork, a bunch of julienned veg tossed in light curry. A slightly bigger platter would’ve been nice but considering our ever-shrinking table space, this worked just fine.

The Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) were a definite highlight. Big hunks of prawn tenderly wrapped in a silky skin. Nuff said.

Lo Mai Gai (Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf). 

A savory mix of pork, mushrooms and glutinous rice is seasoned with ginger and soy then wrapped in a lotus leaf. It’s then steamed, infusing the rice with the fragrance of the leaf. This version was delicious but a bit shy on the pork.

I’m starting to get full just writing this! By this point the chopsticks feel about a pound each. Gotta plow on though…the hits keep a comin’.

Another in the long list of Dim Sum mainstays is Sui Mai (Pork and Mushroom Dumplings). I figured this would be a standout here. Turns out they were average, maybe a bit below.

Gānbiān Sìjìdòu (Green Beans with Minced Pork). All around the table, this dish was a home-run. Smoky beans and minced pork swimming in garlic heaven. Absolutely brimming with Wok Hei, this dish could in no way have been improved on. Sensational.

As if all these dishes weren’t enough, we were informed that we should have to have dessert. After much groaning and moaning it became apparent that no was not an option. Alrighty then, Natty. Bring it on!

The Mong Guo Bo Din (Mango Pudding) here is a cool, lightly sweetened and very delicious treat. After today’s huuuuuge meal, this was a perfect antidote.

Even better were the Mango Pancakes.

Incredible, these were. Sweet, ripe mango and whipped cream are wrapped in an amazingly light crepe. One bite and I knew what she was raving about.

Gotta say, that was an insane amount of food! Some great, some good, some meh. Considering the scope of the room and the vast sea of diners, the service and speed of delivery was very good. Being short on time, we packed all this into ninety minutes. A feast like this should be spread out over three hours, at least. Naptime, now.


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9 responses

  1. It’s odd that the Lo Mai Gai was lacking pork (or any other type of meat). “Lo mai gai” literally translates to “sticky rice chicken”.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm

  2. Karl

    Thanks, Patricia. I stand corrected.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm

  3. As always, thank you for your restaurant review.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    • Karl

      You’re welcome, Joan. Glad you’re enjoying the site!

      March 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm

  4. LotusRapper

    Wow, quite the feast !! Those chive bundles and the mango pancakes look awesome.

    The Wu-Gok (taro fritters) seem to be lacking the taro paste under the crunchy exterior. I had some awesome ones at Fraser Court Restaurant (Fraser/19) last weekend ….. crispy light exterior around a light fluffy taro interior.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:07 am

    • Karl

      It was a gutbuster, LR! Took me the full afternoon to recover.

      They used to have great Wu Gok at Tasty Village. Also, believe it or not, the ones at the infamous Po King were great. Seems I’m in the minority when it comes to that place!

      Have to check out Fraser Court…thanks for the tip!

      March 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm

  5. Love this post! This is my favourite restaurant but I can’t believe I have never had those mango pockets of whipped cream!! I must visit again soon. Do they have push-carts though? Carts at dim sum is incredibly mandatory to me.

    April 2, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    • Karl

      Hi Munchkie! The mango pockets were sensational, a definite standout. I’ll be going back again and again for just for those!

      No carts, I’m afraid. Seems they got rid of them a few years back. You can always trek out to the infamous Po King in Burnaby. They still do it old school.

      Loved your series on London. Hoping to get there ASAP!

      April 3, 2011 at 12:01 am

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