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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the flipside, the Chilled Mango Pudding…
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.