Cheap Eats · Chinatown

Lucky Place

Ms Biz and I met up for lunch at Lucky Place in Chinatown. I love going out with Ms Biz. Her extensive knowledge of Chinese cuisine and history is amazing. Every foodie needs a friend like her. For this post, let’s listen to “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake.

Ms Biz brought her own jasmine tea to the restaurant. She buys all her tea from a tea distributor in Richmond, BC. She gifted me a premium jar of tea to enjoy at home.

Ms Biz asked me if I wanted my usual – beef shank and tendon on double fried chow mein, shrimp dumpling with wood ear mushrooms, pork and preserved egg congee, and Thai style fried rice noodles. I asked her if we could try something different, so I could write about something new. She ordered Green Beans with Fried Rice Cakes in XO Sauce ($12.95) and a special order of Squid, Fermented Shrimp Paste & Chinese Greens ($16.95).

There are three things you need to know about Lucky Place. First, if you can’t speak Cantonese, it’s better to come to the restaurant and point at the English menu. Second, you have to be patient. Usually it is just the owners doing everything, from taking orders, serving, clearing dishes and cooking. Third, the food is about substance, not style. You don’t get off on the appearance but the taste of the food. The wok hei (breath of fire) is on point, and this is the sole reason you should visit Lucky Place.

The squid is scored, resulting in a bouncy but not chewy texture. The shrimp paste gives off umami, similar to the effect anchovy provides in proper Caesar salad. We noticed lots of fresh ginger in the sauce, which Ms Biz says help to tame the salty pungency in the shrimp paste. The stems of the choy sum was juicy and sweet.

When the rice cake dish arrived, the steam was still rising from the plate. The rice cakes were warm and chewy, soft and glutinous. We enjoyed the flavour off the deep caramelization on the rice cakes and the charred flavour on the beans. The beans were sweet and crunchy, sprinkled with ground pork. Ms Biz says when she comes to Lucky Place, she will always order the stir fry so she can enjoy the flavour of the wok. I agree. No one can cook vegetables better than a wok hei master.

For our next lunch, Ms Biz wants to check out South Block Barbecue and Brewing. I said yes, but I had to hide my disappointment. Whenever I see her, I always want to go to a Chinese restaurant because she seems to knows every owner and server in the community, and therefore can special order dishes I can’t get otherwise. However, for her, I’m willing to branch out and try something new.

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