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).
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.
About a month ago, in the midst of a whole bunch of stupidity, Kevin from 604foodtography, suggested a big ol’ chowdown at Kalvin’s Restaurant. Within a day or so, thirteen of us responded with a resounding “Hell, yeah!“. From a rather depressing, unfortunate day, the focus was returned to where it should always be in the food blogging community…on the food! After all, that’s what we’re only here for…right?
Other bloggers at this night’s feast included:
- Sherman from Sherman’s Food Adventures
- Ben & Suanne from Chowtimes
- Angie from Sea Salt With Food
- Jessica from Yum-O-Rama
- Ed from Ed Eats
- Diana from Foodology
- Russell from The Daily Slif
Strange thing about Kalvin’s…the awning says “Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant” so I was all geared up for a fiery, chile-laden feast. Turns out they put up mostly Taiwanese fare. No problem…I’m game for anything! There were a few spicy dishes and some interesting Taiwanese I’d not yet tried.
This’d be one of those dishes I’d put in the “I’ll-try-it-one-time” category. The Fondue Spicy Pork with Organ Stew was actually quite tasty if you can get your head around the intestine part. It’s obviously a cultural thing that I’ve yet to adapt to. Texturally, it was fine. No excessive chewiness…not rubbery at all. For me, it’s all about the funky aroma. There’s a load of foods I love that give off strange, unique smells. It’s just that when the smell originates from that part of the animal, it can be difficult to adjust to.
The Pork & Ton Choy in BBQ Sauce also had a unique flavor to it. If you close your eyes, you’d swear you were eating a seafood dish. That was due, according to Kevin, to the use of a satay sauce or, as I later found out, it can be called “Shacha sauce“. It’s a much different flavor to most satay sauces due to the addition of brill fish and dried shrimp. The ton choy itself was nicely cooked giving the dish a well needed fresh, crisp element.
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.
Seems most recipes call for cilantro. That particular fresh herb would have livened things up nicely.
Well, here we are…New Year’s Eve, the last Friday of 2010. It’s been a damn good year, eats-wise. Plenty of new, local discoveries along with trips to Zacatecas and Merida in Mexico…some of the best Mexican fare I’ve encountered. Ten days spent in Vietnam left me hungering for many more southeast Asian explorations. So, it being the last Friday of the year, I got together a rather skeleton crew of lunchers and headed to Meishan Restaurant.
Meishan is on the concourse level of the Crystal Mall in Burnaby. They’re right across the way from S&W Pepper House, a fine spot for Sichuan fare. Meishan offers up Taiwanese as well as some real good Sichuan. Many times, coming and going from S&W, I’ve stopped to stare at their droolworthy façade.
This is a compact space. They make the most of it, however. There’s a couple of big tables for eight, about eight four-tops and one two-top.
At lunchtime on New Year’s Eve there’s a decent crowd…about a dozen total. I’m guessing this place packs up on regular days.
Meishan has a pretty substantial menu. This is about half of it. The Lunch Special menu itself (top-right & bottom-center) is quite impressive. I’ll be back for the Sichuan Beef Noodle Soup and their Dan Dan Noodles.