Rice Rolls

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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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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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:

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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).

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Grand Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

A couple of months ago a new, up-scale Chinese restaurant opened its doors in Burnaby. Grand Dynasty Seafood Restaurant is located in the Grand Villa Casino complex. With a mix of high-quality Dim Sum and top-notch plates, it seems to be the go-to place for well-heeled locals.

Upon arrival, we asked for a table for six. There were a few tables available but we were seated at the biggest one, a ten-top. When I asked why we were given a table so big, the service captain said, jokingly, “So you order more food!”. I knew he was kidding, but in the end, he was spot on.

The service here, it must be noted, is well above average. There’s a small army of suited waiters looking out for their customers. While waiting for the other half of our party to arrive, I realized I hadn’t plugged the parking meter. On my way a server actually followed me outside to offer suggestions on where to park for free. As I was parked just outside, and it was a dollar an hour, I just paid the meter. You’ve got to appreciate that level of attention.

Seeing as how we are a group of five and a half Caucasians, there was a small amount of trepidation. Three of us were adorned in our finest work clothes, the other three nattily attired in office gear. But, as Kim says, “I’m only here for the food!”.

We started with an array of dim sum. The price points are a tad higher than most. Small $4.50, medium $4.95, large $5.25, special $5.50 and Chef’s Special $6.50.

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