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).
I’ve said it before. And I’ll say it again. The food court in Crystal Mall is a wonderland of delicious fare. Yes, there’s the mediocre. But with some perseverance and a bit of research, one can find a great lunch. As I’m already loaded with perseverance, all it took was discovering Selina’s Vancity Noms post on Crystal Mall’s latest treasure, Bubble Waffle Cafe.
Normally, upon seeing the words “bubble” or “waffle” on a food stall sign, I’d quickly veer away to seek out one selling some form of spicy soup. “Bubble” and “waffle” don’t quite conjure up thoughts of Laksa, Szechuan, Thai or any form of chile-laden soups. It turns out, Bubble Waffle serves up some seriously spicy soups in many varieties.
Bubble Waffle has it all going on. And at great value to boot. There’s fifteen or so soup bases to choose from. All come with crunchy cabbage, cilantro and silky tofu. You load on two toppings of your choice. Pick a noodle and voila! A customized bowl of somewhat healthy soup. 🙂
I have a personal favorite that I just can’t stop ordering.
Malaysian Laksa with Fried Shrimp Ball and Fried Fish Cake. On the menu checklist it’s listed as Curry Sauce. The sign at the counter says Malaysian Laksa. Confusion, yes! Seriously freaking delicious? Yes, as well! There’s incredible flavor going on here. Rich coconut milk teeming with chile oil, dried shrimp, curry, garlic topped with snappy fish cake and bouncy shrimp balls. I’ve tried this with the rice noodle. They don’t quite hold up to the heat. The ramen, on the other hand, stay nice and chewy here. A killer bowl, through and through.
We are blessed with a huge variety of southeast Asian restaurants in Greater Vancouver. There’s a phở joint seemingly around every corner. Excellent Thai food can be a had with a short drive. There are several good Malaysian, Singaporean and Indonesian choices as well. One cuisine we haven’t seen much of is Burmese. It doesn’t even appear on Urbanspoon’s cuisine list! Perhaps it just wasn’t offered as a choice. It’s time to put it on the list!
Wahh Tee is a tiny, four table, sixteen seat resto on Joyce St. in East Van. A few years back, just two doors down, Burmese restaurateur Bo Han staked his original claim to fame, Bo Laksa King. He then moved on to a bigger shop on Hastings. But that, unfortunately, is no more. *big sigh*
Today I got together with über-foodie Lotusrapper and Uncle Ben from Chowtimes to see what Wahh Tee has on offer.
One big letdown was that Burmese Fermented Tea Salad (Lahpet Thoke) wasn’t available. I was so hoping to try the highly-caffienated appetizer I’ve heard many rave about. Instead, we opted for Pennywort Salad (Min Kwa Yuet).
Apparently pennywort is an extremely healthy herb. Regardless of the “healthy” aspect, mixed with lime, garlic, shrimp and bean powder, this is quite a delicious way to get your vitamins. Our friendly server stated that you’ll feel healthy just thinking about it!
Uncle Ben’s first choice, Myanmar Biryani Rice, was available but the chicken curry was not. Fortunately, Ben knew that pork was a better version.
Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro is a small and hugely popular French restaurant in North Burnaby. On my first visit, this past Monday, I managed to snag the last table. I walked past on Thursday around 1:30…not a seat to be had, people waiting. On Friday I made a reservation for 11:30. Again, full house.
One reason for this venue’s popularity is the friendliness of the owner/server, Isabelle. Each guest is greeted with a happy “Bonjour!” Even with an over-flowing lunch service her temperment never wavers, creating a homey, warm vibe. Another reason is this concise and well-planned menu.
Along with the soup, salads, sandwiches and “Plats”, they also do an amazing breakfast, I’m told.
Great food, a fine selection of beer and wine…life is good!
On my “scouting-mission” visit, I went with the Snitzel.