Private Home Chinese Cuisine 一點心意南北私房菜
To me, places like Private Home Chinese Cuisine are the perfect type of Chinese restaurant. If I’m on my own I can choose from a good variety of lunch specials. Here they are eight bucks and you get a small mountain of food. And with a group there’s plenty of spicy Sichuanese to choose from as well as an extensive Shanghainese menu. In the past few months I’ve made this a regular lunch spot and now it’s become a Friday Lunch favorite.
For a while, Private Home had two locations in Burnaby. We visited the Imperial St. location last year but came away very unimpressed. Of the eight or so dishes we’d tried, not a single standout. It was just one big table of bland. The newer location on Kingsway, near Highgate Mall, is nothing like that. If you want heat, look no farther.
The first half of this post is from a few months back (with crappy iPhone photos). We went mostly from the Sichuan side of the menu. We dragged along a couple of teens from a high-school job shadowing program. We gave them fair warning but there was no fear.
Sliced Chicken with Hot & Peanut Sauce. Served cold and bone-in, this is bursting with flavor and texture. The chicken is poached to perfection…tender and still juicy. The slather of chile sauce and oil, nice and salty, yet not overpowering. A good hit of numbing peppercorn. The cilantro and peanut giving freshness and a good crunch. A solid starting point.
The Xiǎo Lóng Bāo (soup dumpling) are fairly standard. Some plump and full, others starting to sag. As you see the friendly grandma preparing them beside the cash register, you know they’re as fresh as can be.
When we asked for a recommendation, we were told the Pepper and Pork with Spicy Sauce was a top-seller. Not quite what we’d expected. I mean, I love me jalapeñoes and all, but this is borderline nuts. You know how sometimes you get a tame, milder jalapeño? Well, these aren’t them. These are the fiery ones. As the pork was on the bland side all the flavor came from the peppers. After a few bites this just became painful.
The other side of that coin was the Shuizhu Niurou (Water Boiled Beef with Assorted Vegetables).
Full flavor here. A deep, heady broth jacked with chile bean paste, red chile and Sichuan peppercorn ladled over soft flank, bean sprouts and veg. Avoiding too many of the pods is an acquired necessity.
On our more recent visit, we toned it down a tad for our European summer student. She’s definitely not a heat-freak but she loves all the different places we visit. Plus, she’s become the first person in the office to ask, “What’s for lunch!” on Friday mornings!
At $5.98 for the small version, the Hot & Sour Soup is a heckuva bargain. The low price is due, I’m guessing, to it being vegetarian. It worked out to about eight small, satisfying bowls. Just the right amount of heat with a strong, sour black vinegar hit served piping hot.
When I come here to dine solo, this is my usual pick. It’s Pork in Chile and Garlic Sauce on the lunch menu and Shredded Pork with Sour Spicy Sauce on the regular menu. By any name, it’s freaking awesome! I first had this dish at Meishan in Crystal Mall. Their version is quite good. This one, though, is stellar! Tangy, very garlicky, popping with ginger. A mouth-watering mix of thin, not-too-lean pork, crunchy wood-ear fungus, bamboo and scallion. A thoroughly memorable plate.
I must admit I have a fondness for Sweet & Sour Pork. It takes me back to a buffet joint in Guildford my family would visit in the seventies. Ken! Help me out here! Having that sweet sauce oozing onto the rest of my plate made it all good. You won’t find that here at Private Home. This is even better.
General Tso’s Chicken is so very addictive. Battered, deep-fried hunks bathed in sweet chile slathered in garlic and scallion. If there’s one person taking a bigger cut from the plate, that’d be me!!
This final plate is another great version of an old favorite. The Shanghai Noodles here are excellent. The amount of wok char sets these apart. Without the smoky, slightly caramelized flavor, this would be just average. It imparts an element vital to this dish. Good, high heat keeps the noodles chewy, the pork tender and the veg crisp. The end result is outstanding.
Over the time I’ve been visiting Private Home, the food has gradually become better and better. I had wanted to write about it sooner but it was somewhat hit or miss. Lately, though, we’ve had a string of very good meals and are looking forward to checking out a varied and interesting menu.