Noodles

Lee Garden Seafood Restaurant

Lee Garden Seafood is a somewhat new resto in Burnaby that replaced the infamous Grand Buffet. For many years, Grand Buffet was a solid, go-to spot for a cheap fill…the Uncle Willy’s of Asian fare. As the years went by, it slowly deteriorated into an unseemly dive with barely warmed chaffing dishes of nastiness alongside crunchy, past-due sushi and frostbitten ice cream. On our final visit, I pulled a ladle of soup from the tureen with a foot-long hair attached. Rock-bottom. They shut down, thankfully, a couple of years ago. This past spring the space was transformed into a rather luxurious new restaurant. Miss Vancouver Piggy captured the room beautifully in her post.

As is tradition in our office this time of year, we say goodbye to our summer students with a feast. This time around we went with a rather major meal at Burnaby’s newest Dim Sum joint.

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Lee Garden is an extremely popular spot. On most days the parking lot is full by 11:30 a.m. with the overflow lining the side streets. Most dim sum items are in the $5 range so it ain’t bargains drawing in the crowds. It seems cleanliness, good eats and great service are the main attractions.

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Har Gow will always be ordered. It’s a standard to go by. Here it’s labelled Lee Garden Special Prawn Dumplings. And these were pretty special. There’s a sizeable amount of fresh, firm prawn encased in a light wrap all steamed to a perfect degree. I haven’t come across many better executed.

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Another standard, of course, is Sui Mai (Steamed Pork Dumplings). These were prepared very well. Tight, fresh ground pork, still juicy and full-flavored. The haphazard tossing of tobiko seemed odd. Why finish a nice dish so sloppily? Sherman noted this in his post as well. It’s very strange that a higher-end establishment would allow this kind of inconsistency to hit the table repeatedly.

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From the Chef’s Specialty menu, we went with the rather inexpensive Pan Fried Noodle with Chive ($5.98). Nothing special but tasty, nonetheless. A good noodle cooked right.

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Deep Fried Pork & Shrimp Dumplings. I love these mainly for the crisp and chewy wrap. The minced ingredients are on the minimal side but it is one addictive morsel!

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For another crunchy, grease-laden treat, we grabbed a couple plates of Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls with Garlic. These were well-packed with crisp prawn and almost enough garlic. A sweeter dip would’ve helped but that’s just me being a gweilo.

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Sushimoto

Right next to the Holdom Skytrain Station in central Burnaby, is a comfortable, friendly, slightly surreal sushi joint called Sushimoto. It’s a somewhat sleek and very unique venue.

Aside from the great fare, the room is full of interesting knick-knacks. Some traditional Japanese, some quirky eye candy. There’s the requisite paper lanterns but there’s also a cool collection of action figures.

The detail on Tony Montana is freaking eerie…right down to the five o’clock shadow!

I’ve been meaning to hit this place up for quite awhile. Since I first saw their vibrant menu and then read the continuing stream of positive commentary, it was obvious that this was a spot to go to for stellar eats.

Sushimoto offers up some pretty decent lunch specials. One of them is the Maki Roll, Miso Soup, Sunomono Combo. For $9.99 you choose from one of eight specialty rolls and your choice of Vegetable, Tako or Ebi Sunomono.

Quite a substantial sunomono. Nearly double the size I’ve become accustomed to in a combo setting. Clean, cool and very fresh.

The Red Hot Chili Roll really hit the mark. Great sushi rice to start…perfectly cooked and seasoned. A nice, creamy scallop filling topped with spicy tuna and drizzled with spicy sauce & mayo. It has a bit of zip…no serious heat factor, though.

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Spicy Legend, the Lunch Menu

Sometimes the best meals are the unexpected ones. A few weeks back the plan was to hit Mezbaan for their inexpensive lunch buffet. No luck…closed, on vacation. Plan B was Congee Noodle King, just down the road. While waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive, we noticed Spicy Legend right next door.

I’ve heard mention of their excellent AYCE Hot Pot but the lunch-only menu posted on the door was flush with intriguing items. Unfortunately, it’s only available from 11:30 to 2:30. Click on the image for a much bigger and clearer view.

As this was an unexpected visit, I was without my DSLR. I took a bunch of iPhone snaps but they just didn’t do the food justice. We returned a few weeks later for another meal and a batch of somewhat decent photos.

Spicy Legend is a medium-sized, very colorful room. Lunchtime, it seems is fairly quiet…at least on our two visits. I’m guessing the crowds come later for the AYCE Hot Pot.

To get things started, spice-wise, we were given a complimentary bowl of Sichuan snack treats.

Although many are mild, a few are crunchy sticks of dynamite. Sort of Chile Pepper Russian Roulette. A fun, albeit, painful start to today’s meal.

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Long’s Noodle House

Long’s Noodle House has been on my “hit-list” for far too long. It’s a tiny, easy to miss spot on Main St. between 32nd and 33rd with a great reputation for their Shanghainese cuisine.

Don’t be too dismayed by the shoddy exterior. Long’s is another one of those places that puts emphasis on their food without much attention paid to aesthetics…my favorite kind of place!

We arrived during the noon-hour on a Monday. The restaurant was about half full. Before too long, it was packed. Our friendly server/owner, Sandy, was running the floor single-handedly. When I told her we were going to order about ten dishes, she didn’t bat an eye or even grab a pad of paper. As I reeled off our choices, she simply tapped a fingertip for each one. Amazing, really.

Our first dish is a must-order here. The Wine Chicken is served at room-temp in a beautiful ceramic crock. Chicken legs are poached in Shaoxing wine, broth, pepper, ginger and a bit of sugar. A great display of simplicity.

A sensational way to treat a chicken. Keep it simple and bring out the best of your product…works every time.

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Grazing Through Crystal Food Court

Crystal Mall, for those of you that haven’t been there, is a circular two-level Asian shopping center in Burnaby. On its street-level perimeter and on its inner concourse, are a plethora of small (some very good) restaurants. On the upper level is the mall’s food court, a wonderland of various Asian food stalls. They are all primarily Chinese-run and most offer Chinese fare. There is a smattering of Japanese and one that serves up Thai and Malaysian. All told, there’s about thirty vendors to pick from…they run the gamut from so-so to darn impressive.  When lunchtime rolls around and I’m not 100% sure what I’m hungry for, I head to the food court and start grazing.

Today’s first stop is Red Persimmon Taiwanese Cuisine for their Gua Bao (刮包) aka the Taiwanese Burger. This pick was due to a tip from Kim from I’m Only Here For The Food.

It doesn’t look like much…kinda boring actually. But that’s far from true. The big chunk of pork has been braised a good looong while…very tender, very moist. The massive, pillowy steam bun has nice chew, slathered with sugary peanut powder and crunchy pickled greens. Excellent value at $3.50.

After perusing around the net awhile, I came across this mouth-watering post from eatingclubvancouver as well as a great recipe page from nibbledish.

Seems most recipes call for cilantro. That particular fresh herb would have livened things up nicely.

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Ali Shan Taiwanese

Ali Shan is another one of those places I’ve walked by many times on my way into Crystal Court. I’ll pause awhile, peruse the colorful array of food photos, and keep on going. Finally, after many months, I stopped in for a quick lunch.

This is a small, comfortable and welcoming room that fills up fast over the lunch hour. It’s located on the south side of the mall, across from the library, right next to the entrance to the parkade from hell. Here’s a tip for whenever you want to hit Crystal Court…grab a spot at Station Square. It’s a short walk and it’s free. You will, however, miss the never-ending entertainment of circular parking.

***Since I started writing this (yesterday), Ali Shan has closed this location and moved shop around the corner. They are now two doors down from Green Bamboo, a big-time favorite of mine! The new store hasn’t yet opened. A server told me they plan on opening sometime in May.

This post is a compilation of three visits. The first two were solo scouting missions, the third one I dragged in Becky & The Gut for a table-filling chowdown.

Ali Shan’s menu consists mainly of cafe-style Taiwanese with a few hints of Korean and Japanese.

Dang. Too many good options. Being in the mood for something spicy (as usual) but not soup-wise, it took awhile to choose. Luckily, there was a big poster displaying the ”Spicy Stired Beef with Rice Cake”. Sounds good to me!

At first glance, I was just a bit worried. The tubes of rice cake looked to be on the hefty side. Turns out they weren’t at all…fantastic these were! Rather light, actually. They picked up the sweet and spicy sauce beautifully. A great plate, this.

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Hand-cut noodles at Legendary Noodle

A week or so ago, the plan was to check out Lin Chinese. Benzie, already there, called with the news that they were closed for two weeks. Grrrrr! On to Plan B…Thai Basil. Closed on Sunday. Double grrrrr! Whilst cruising down Denman on the way to our third option, Gyoza King, I called an audible and we wound up at Legendary Noodle.

Legendary Noodle has been on my wish list for some time. Any place that takes the time and effort to create their own noodles is always worth a visit or five. It turns out, at least in our case, that they make noodles to order!

We arrived to an empty, very decorative, small room. As soon as we ordered, the head chef/La Mian Master sprung into action.

It’s always fascinating to see hand-pulled noodles being created. Yes, a lot of it is about show, but seeing your noodles being made before your eyes is always a novelty…it never gets old. When a noodle-maker puts himself on display, you know right away he takes pride in his work. You’ve just got to admire that.

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