Dim Sum at Spicy Court Chinese

During a recent visit to Sun Sui Wah we decided to start a gluttonous run through the vastness of Vancouver’s top Dim Sum spots. Next stop…Spicy Court Chinese on Cambie at 41st.

Upon arrival, it was obvious that street parking nearby wasn’t gonna happen. That meant only one thing…scary underground parking. Having read about Spicy Court’s parkade, I got a tinge nervous. A parkade four levels deep with tiny stalls and no exit…yikes!

Spicy Court’s spots are on the third level down. Being Sunday at peak hours, this is a ridiculous situation.  With the upper two levels completely empty, Spicy’s spots are near fully packed. Can’t y’all work something out?

Funny. It was much easier getting out than getting back in some twenty or so dishes later.

As with Sun Sui Wah, we arrived on an early Sunday afternoon, absolutely famished. Even worse, Benzie and I had to wait for a couple of stragglers. Being somewhat polite diners, we held off ordering for fifteen minutes. When they still hadn’t shown up, we chucked the politeness out the door and started ordering like it was a death row meal. As the first plate arrived, so did the other half of our crew.

Before the dishes arrived we were sure to grab a saucer of Spicy Court’s fermented bean chili paste. This has a nice, dense flavour with a mighty kick. Perfect for virtually any dish. Especially this one:

When this hit the table I was worried that they were Wu Gok gone horribly wrong. Being the same shape and size with a similar looking filling, they looked like the Mexican Hairless version of my favorite Taro Dumpling. My fears were quickly allayed when our server returned to tell us these were the Deep Fried Filled Dumplings.

With a nice, chewy pocket, a filling of minced pork, scallion, mushroom and a bit of prawn, these were a good start to today’s feast. A nice dollop of the chili-bean paste jacked them up two notches.

Compared to Sun Sui Wah’s version, the Wu Gok here were easily the better dumpling…much closer to what Grand Dynasty had to offer. A nice, crispy exterior and a much tastier filling…a lot less pasty.

Next up are a pair of inconsistent Har Cheong Fun (Rice Rolls).

First, the Dried Scallop w/ Dried Shrimp Rice Roll. I had figured that this dish would be swimming with much more savory dried seafood flavor. Alas, not so much. Although the rice rolls were steamed well, nice and soft yet not falling to bits, the main ingredients were completely lost. The sea of soy drowned things out even further.

On the other hand, the Shrimp and Chive Rice Roll was popping with a load of fresh prawn. Solid, this was.

Speaking of popping prawns…

I’ve had Sui Mai (Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumpling), I dunno, a couple of dozen times. Inevitably, there’s 70% pork (hence the top billing) with a few bits of prawn. Spicy Court’s version is the direct opposite. Virtually composed entirely of snappy prawn with a bit of pork and mushroom encased in a tender wrap. Fantastic stuff.

The Shrimp and Chive Spring Rolls were also tasty…in a greasy goodness type of way. Again, a good amount of prawn but in the end quite average.

For a much needed vegetable dish we opted for the Sauteed Garlic w/ Kai Choy. Good hits of garlic…fresh, juicy veg. But, like Natty said, the oyster sauce sauteed veggies are way better. She was probably right. These needed a little sumpin.

The Scallop and Prawns Pocket were quite good yet rather unwieldy. Well put together but a touch too long yielding a quite floppy dumpling. Similar, but so much better, were the Steamed Shrimp & Vegetable Dumpling.

These are extremely well-crafted dumplings in a ultra-tight package. A small fistful of crisp prawn jammed into its wrap with an added crunch from the water chestnuts. Near textural perfection.

The Peppercorn Salt Squid were rated  “so-so” all around the table. A good and chewy bunch of squid…just lacking anything special. Another example of why a solid chili-bean paste can be so essential to the table.

Another dish with the “average” ranking were the Won-Tons in Chili Sauce. Nothing to see here. Just move along.

Much like the Steamed Spare-Rib in Black Bean Sauce at Sun Sui Wah, the Beef Short-Rib version here tasted incredible. Unfortunately, it was also similar in the amount of actual meat. The meat component here was less fatty, therefore the better dish. At $3.95, I really ought not complain too much.

Steamed and pan-fried dumplings are always fine but, every now and then, an added crunch seems in order. That first gum-searing bite of a proper deep-fried dumpling is a wonderful thing. Spicy Courts’ Deep Fried Shrimp Wonton are some of the best I’ve come across.

There was quite a good pattern here, shrimp-wise. Of the half-dozen shrimp dishes today, each and every one was hefty with prawn. Not a bit of skimpiness in sight.

The Xiaolongbao went by almost unnoticed. A far-too-thick wrap and minimal soup make for a poor Soup Dumpling .

As if this massive load wasn’t enough, it’s time to hit up the dessert section. At this point no one had enough energy to utter a single “Noooo!” to the Dessert Queen.

The Dan Taat (Crispy Egg Tarts) looked flaky, creamy and delicious. I just couldn’t manage to stuff one in. Next time.

I did manage to give the Coconut Pudding Cubes a shot. They packed a lot of flavor into these. As well as a lot of weight. Really, really dense.

On the flipside, the Chilled Mango Pudding

Very light and beautifully presented, this was the perfect ending to an extremely large meal.

Admittedly, there were too many comparisons to Sun Sui Wah in this post. The Dim Sum there had as many highlights and lowlights as Spicy Court…the “Wows!” and “Mehs” were about equal. If I were to compare today’s meal (or Sun Sui Wah’s) to the one at Grand Dynasty…not even close.

Spicy Court Chinese on Urbanspoon

5 responses

  1. LotusRapper

    Wow, ‘nother DS feast. Looks terrific.

    I’ve not been there for at least 4 yrs. And the time I was there, service was atrocious. Come to think of it, it was right smack-dab in the middle of the Canada Line construction phase. But the food was quite alright.

    That Wu Gok looks to die for. The Deep Fried Filled Dumplings you had just before that is made of glutinous rice flour on the outside, hence a bit of sticky chewiness to it. Somewhat akin to a mochi, but filled with pork goodness.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    • Karl

      Hi LR! Yeah, it seems I’ve got together a hardcore crew of Dim Sum lover’s. We’re planning a wide-ranging attack throughout the GVRD…or as you folk call it, Metro Vancouver. With any luck, we may actually cross the river and visit Richmond! One of the crew lives over there and has been peppering me with suggestions. Feel free to offer your own! Chen’s Kitchen looks to be our first stop…start small and work on up. Gotta hit those food court’s real soon, too.

      Thanks for the info on the dumplings. That’s exactly the kind of input and insight I’m looking for.

      March 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm

  2. LotusRapper

    So wut’s with that first special-FX pic, Karl ?

    March 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    • Karl

      One of the guys showed up in an especially bright hoody. Made for a cool shot, no?

      March 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm

      • LotusRapper

        Oh ok. II thought maybe he’s in a witness protection program. Or ….. you’re harbouring dim sum insurgents, LOL.

        March 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

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