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.
As Ben from Chowtimes was headed off to Beijing for an extended work stint, a bunch of us got together for a send-off. The original plan was for a spicy feast at Aree Thai. Turns out they were closed that night so I put out a call for some different options. The ever-intrepid Fmed came up with a very unique suggestion…Khyber Pass.
Khyber Pass is right near Kingsway & Victoria in East Van in what was formerly the Red Fort. They offer Afghan and Pakistani fare in a cozy, kitschy, old-school dining room.
Not the most modern or elegant of settings but a nice sense of comfort sets in immediately. We had originally planned for a dozen or so diners. Fmed had wangled us a set rate of $14 a head. Come mealtime, we were down to seven folks. Not sure if the kitchen got word of the down-size because we got hit with a massive amount of food.
We had a rough idea of tonight’s menu…some kebabs, some curry, some rice. The appies, however, were to be a mystery. The first plate was a simple form of spring roll.
About as simple as you can make it. There’s cabbage, carrot, pepper and a bit of seasoning. A mildly spicy tamarind dip alongside.
The Mantoo are Afghanistan’s (and neighbouring regions’) dumpling. They are full of spiced beef or lamb and covered in a minty yogurt sauce. They’re then topped with a ratatouille of beans, corn, peas and peppers. Not sure why the addition of the stewed veg…seems to obscure the mildly flavored dumpling and delicate sauce.
The Naan was hot, fresh and tasty…just a bit flat. That’s flat as in not quite leavened enough. A bit too chewy, not very flaky. It is, however, a great vehicle for this:
Bouranee Baunjan (Afghan Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce). A nice, rudimentary sauté of eggplant, tomato, onion and garlic. The minty yogurt sauce makes another well-placed appearance.
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.
A couple weeks back, while waiting on a table at Red Star Seafood, we noticed Talay Thai right across the street. Even with a reservation, we’d been waiting almost thirty minutes. We were three empty stomachs dying for a feed. The thought of Thai curries and spicy noodles was starting to overwhelm us. Just as we were about to head over, the hostess called us in. Ah well, dim sum it is…
Talay Thai is a spot I’ve been meaning to hit up for a long, long time. With a continual stream of raves around the web, I got to figuring that this place was a sure thing.
This is one vibrantly colored, tiny room. It’s about as clean as you could imagine, to boot. The moment you enter there’s a warm, comfortable vibe. I’m sensing a great feed!
Por Pia Tod ปอเปี๊ยะทอด (Vegetarian Spring Rolls). Nothing too spectacular yet really well made. Knowing the plum sauce is homemade gave these a step up. It’s not too often a place will take the time and effort to create their own.
The Satay Chicken were sensational. Just plump enough to withstand the grill time without getting dry. A good, long marination gave these so much flavor that the peanut sauce was almost unnecessary.
Ah, Sunday..the best day of the week. Everything gets slowed down a notch or two, it seems. More often than not, it’s a late snooze, a slow meander to Starbucks and then off for another dining adventure. Lately we’ve been hitting up a lot of Dim Sum. This past week was no exception. Our mission on this day was to check out the award-winning Red Star Seafood.
Red Star has won a plethora of awards. Last year they took home the gold for their BBQ Duck at the Chinese Restaurant Awards. This year it was the “Most Innovative” award for their Dungeness Crab with Wild Rice.
As with most large, upper-scale Dim Sum restaurants, this one was packed to overflowing on a Sunday afternoon. Even with a reservation, we had to wait thirty minutes for an opening. After the third time the hostess told us, “Five minutes, we’ll call your name!”, we seriously considering crossing the street to Talay Thai. Just as I was about to bolt, our table was finally ready.
The ordering system here is somewhat confusing. The checklist is only in Chinese. The numbers correspond to the items in the regular menu. Photos of the menu can be seen here.
Here it is! The 2010 CRA Critic’s Choice Gold Medal winning BBQ Duck. I gotta say, this is damn good! Make that great! Very tender and juicy…the fat melted away to create the most succulent duck imaginable. The duck is basted for hours in a sweet five-spice marinade to achieve the beautiful lacquered finish.
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.
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.
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.
Lin Chinese is a busy, little Northern Chinese restaurant at the equally busy intersection of Broadway & Granville. Many fellow bloggers have written about it over the years. Most of the write-ups were positive but several weren’t. Last weekend I got together some friends to find out what’s what.
This is a spot that’s been on my ever-growing “to-visit” list. I’d heard good things about their Tan Tan Noodles…a big favorite of mine. As that is more of a “solo” dish, I’ll have to make a return visit.
I arrived on a crappy, very wet and chilly Sunday afternoon…the perfect weather for feasting. Actually, any weather’s great for feasting!!
When I ordered the Crispy Daikon Pastry, I was told it wasn’t available. In lieu of that, our server suggested we try the Five Spice Tofu Sheet. Not too sure why she’d offer this kind of substitution. Oh, wait! I know why…it’s more expensive. Silly me…fell for that old trick again. Anyway, it was a pretty good suggestion…a nice refreshing start. Maybe there was “five-spice” in it but the only discernible flavor agent was sesame oil. It completely overpowered any additional elements.
The Hot & Sour Soup was a WTF moment. When I say WTF, I mean, “Where’s The Flavor”? It certainly wasn’t hot and was definitely missing the sour part. Nowhere near what we’ve come to expect. At six bucks for a huge bowl, a very good deal. If you’re looking for authenticity, not so much.
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.
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?
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:
After a string of rather pricey Friday lunches, we decided to dial it down this week. One of our favorite places for quality, quantity and low price is Mezbaan at Kingsway and Melbourne in Vancouver. Please don’t equate a bargain price with average quality and shoddy service. There’s none of that here, I assure you.
This really is tremendous value. For $8.99, today’s selection includes Butter Chicken, Yogurt Chicken, Chili Cheese, Chickpea Curry, Aloo Mutter, Lamb Biryani, Chili Potatoes, Rice Pulao, Tandoori Chicken and Veggie Pakoras. In addition to all that there’s Naan, several salads and Seviya Kheer for dessert.
A week or so ago, Jefe reminded us that it’s Alaskan King Crab season. With a single text, several stomachs started to growl simultaneously. The only question was where. He suggested Congee Noodle King on Kingsway. Good choice considering they’re open late and were offering it up at $13.88 a pound. With the entire kitchen staff in tow, we sped off for a major midnight feast.
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.
I’ve been meaning to hit up Penang Delight Cafe for some time now. A couple of weeks back, a trusty colleague went on a scouting mission and returned with two thumbs up. This past weekend I gathered three very hungry cooks together for a Saturday brunch.
Penang is located at Rupert & 23rd in East Van. Over the last couple of years the location was a Filipino restaurant then a Pakastani joint and is now a purveyor of “fine” Malaysian cuisine.
This is a small room. The best way to describe it is “cozy”. The tables are adequate, almost. We got, I think, one of the bigger booths but things were very tight knit. With our hefty appetites and me crazily wielding a DSLR, we made full use of our space. The room was pretty near full and buzzing. Being near mid-afternoon, I was surprised by the crowd. Gotta figure that’s a good thing.
Our server was a very enthusiastic young chap. After we ordered seven or ten dishes he started in with recommendations. Dude! We’re hitting maximum table capacity here! No need for the up-sell!
The Penang Satay were very solid. Four big skewers of beef with a rich, well-made peanut sauce. Tender chunks, these. The chicken version was very close (it’s just not beef!). A great start.
If you’re looking for an inspiring story to start the new year, look no further than Bo Han, proprietor of Bo Laksa King‘ s. Recently, The Province’s Elaine Wong did a story about the ongoing struggles in Bo’s homeland, Myanmar. About midway, she tell’s his riveting story. Here’s an excerpt:
“Bo was a Grade 12 student in Mawlamyine during the summer of 1988 when protests swept through the country. Thousands of citizens joined the uprising, only to be viciously quashed in a bloody military attack. It is believed thousands were killed in that crackdown.
Like so many other young Burmese, Bo left his family and fled to the jungles on the Thai border where he camped out for four years with student freedom fighters. Finally weakened by constant bouts of malaria, poor diet and living conditions, Bo illegally crossed into Thailand. He squatted in a UN refugee camp for another two years before Canada welcomed him. He has not seen his family in more than twenty years.“
Go ahead and read the entire article. It’s a rare glimpse into a beautiful, forgotten corner of the world.
Luckily, for us, Bo learned how to put out some damn good food. I first experienced his amazing Laksa and Roti Canai a year ago. Since then, he and his wife, Tiffany, have moved from a grocery store on Joyce to a brand new shop on Hastings.
This new venue consists of Bo’s kitchen, a bubble tea bar and a compact dining area for sixteen or so. He’s brought the best of his old menu and loaded on a wide variety of ‘Pan-Asian’ cuisine.
I’ve got a rather big problem here. A solo gut and a menu packed with favourite dishes. Beef Rendang, Mee Goreng, Pad Thai, Butter Chicken to name but four. Every one of the five salads look tantalizing. What to do…
One night, a few months back, I told my chef and sous chef about this place that serves up meat skewers for a buck and Chinese beer for two bucks. I knew they’d be hungry and thirsty after toiling in the kitchen for eight hours, so I dragged their tired butts to Nine Dishes for a load of cheap beer and very spicy food.
I’d arrived just past 11. While waiting on the boys, I started taking shots of the exterior. Within a minute, or so, a tall, lanky, bald fellow comes out to clear off the sidewalk tables. Right away I knew that was If, the owner.
I first learned of this spot from Dylan at Jiaoqu. His very well-written post not only intrigued a load of foodies, it told the tale of a man who really, seriously wants to bring authentic Chinese fare to the working man.
If presides over an ultra-casual and partially do-it-yourself room. You’re handed the menus and an order pad.
The rice is free. It’s on a table over in the corner. Help yourself.