Dim Sum

Vancouver – Red Star

I like Red Star. My parents hosted my wedding reception at the Richmond location. I heard that their dim sum is pretty good too. I suggested to Beep Beep that we enjoy our last lunch together at Red Star’s Marpole location.

Red Star offers free parking, though there are limited stalls. When we arrived, I noticed several parties were ordering crab and lobster to supplement their dim sum feast. It took a while for the dishes to come out, but everything that arrived was hot and fresh.

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Beep Beep asked me to order radish cake.  The image below is what showed up at our table. I mistakenly ordered radish shrimp cake instead of radish cake with pork. She wanted the latter, which comes in stacked white pan-fried squares, soft on the inside and the perfect comfort food. I didn’t care for shrimp cake that I ordered,  as it had a gummy texture and was too oily.

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The how gow wasn’t bad. The shrimp ball was large, sweet and crunchy. However, I found the wrapper too soft and moist. The how gow wrapper broke too easily when I picked it up with my chopsticks.

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The pan-fried soy sauce rice rolls with chives and sprouts is one of my all-time favourite dim sum dishes. Red Start does a good job. The chives were a flavourful  addition.

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Beep Beep wanted to order the rice roll doughnuts. I don’t care for this dish because I always find the deep-fried doughnut greasy. We received a little dish with two dark sauces you can use to dip the doughnuts into.

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The deep-fried bean curd with pea tips and shrimp was the best dish. I found the filling vibrant from the generous amount of pea tips. Red Star doesn’t cheap out in the amount of shrimp either. I would happily order this dish again. I noticed most tables ordered the stuffed bean curds.

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The sui mai was tasty. The juicy pork, Chinese mushroom and shrimp mixture made for pleasant chomping. Again, I found the wrapper over-steamed.

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Overall, I enjoyed dim sum at Red Star. Some of the dishes are superior to what I get in Calgary but the how gow and sui mai could use a little more finesse. The total bill for seven dishes was around $60.00.

Red Star Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chinese · Seattle

Seattle – A+ Chinese Restaurant

Beep Beep’s little brother, And Tony and his girlfriend Spring Time joined us for dinner on Saturday night. I told them that Beep Beep I were going out for wonton in the International District. They skipped their original plans to visit a BBQ shack and opted instead to tag along.

My first pick was Mike’s Noodle House. However, upon arrival we saw that the restaurant was closed. Odd since on Yelp states it is open on Saturdays. Spring Time noticed the line-up outside of A+ Hong Kong Kitchen. I remembered reading positive reviews on Yelp so we got in line.  We must have waited at least half an hour. Our server recommended to order our food while we were waiting for a table, as some dishes take up to twenty minutes to bake.

When Spring Time and I were discussing what to order for the group, she denied my request for a seafood rice dish. I stood up straighter and leaned in close to Spring Time face and said passive-aggressively, “Okay, since I’m the oldest and despite in Chinese culture, you know, how we respect our elders, I’m going to let you pick because I’m the nice one here.” And Tony and Beep Beep nervously laughed and Beep Beep responded diplomatically, “Just order both dishes Spring Time. I’m eating for two now and I’m starving.”

Spring Time ordered four dishes: Seafood Rice Clay Pot, Tomato Baked Pork Shop, Seafood Spaghetti Bake, and the Lamb Noodle Soup. Spring Time went overboard with the seafood and didn’t order her beef dish. I felt bad for being so hangry.

Each dish was around the ten dollar mark. Was the food worth the wait? Only one dish stood out for me and it wasn’t the seafood dish. The lamb soup noodles.

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The broth tasted like it was cooked with love. The clear soup was surprisingly rich in flavour, with an undertone of a deep, spicy heat. The amount of tender lamb slices was generous and filling. The thick, bouncy glass noodles were slippery and hard to catch with my chopsticks.

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The pork chop was covered in a mild tomato cream sauce. The rice was dry and fluffy. I enjoyed the addition of the peas in the sauce.

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The seafood and rice dish was good, but I could do without the fake crab sticks. We were given a little pot of soy sauce to pour over the seafood and vegetables. The rice on the bottom of dish was crispy but stuck to the pot.

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Beep Beep’s pick, the baked seafood spaghetti, could have used some salt and pepper and perhaps some other seasoning. The spaghetti was topped with squid, shrimp and again, fake crab sticks. I thought it was odd we got two seafood dishes when I only wanted one, but I thought it would be best to shut my mouth.

I would return but I would order what A+ does really well. Noodle soups. The regulars in the restaurants, most flying solo, would order a big bowl of noodles and slowly slurp away. I noticed these customers would monopolize a whole table for over an hour despite the servers polite attempt of trying to settle the bill. Would I give this place an A+? No. But I think a rating of A- just for the soup is fair.

Hong Kong Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Cheap Eats · Chinatown

Chong Fat – Best Eats in Chinatown

Chong Fat is one of my favourite Chinese restaurants. The hours are odd. The restaurant closes early for dinner and isn’t open on Tuesdays. The room itself is utilitarian. However,  none of that matters to me. It’s the food and service I love. The dishes are simple and well-cooked. The food isn’t sloppily cooked like so many other Chinese restaurants in Calgary.

Most customers order the hearty noodle soups, like the meatball, brisket or seafood balls. The homemade fish cakes have a nice bounce and a nice sweet, clean taste. I often see customers chowing down on plates of chow mein and duck. Lately, there’s one dish that has caught my fancy but it isn’t on the menu.

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What is this mystery dish? Eggplant, tofu and peppers are stuffed with shrimp paste. Doesn’t sound exciting but it is amazing. The eggplant is silky smooth. The peppers are crunchy and spicy. The exterior of the tofu is crispy and the interior is soft and light. The savoury oyster sauce has that wok hei smell and taste that I love.

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You can order this dish with rice or soup noodles. I prefer rice, so all that sauce gets soaked up. A whole plate of the stuffed vegetables and tofu with rice will fill you up.

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A warning if you drop by during the lunch rush. If you’re only one or two people, you might have to share a communal table. The last time we sat at a shared table, Office Dad chatted with a group of four. When I got up to leave I said jokingly,”Thanks for the meal. That was very generous of you. Next time it’s our treat.” Everyone at the table knew I wasn’t serious with the exception of one guy. He looked alarmed and said firmly, “No, I’m not treating.” I walked up to the front and I made a big production of pointing to his table while I paid for our meal. The guy stood up and shouted, “No. You pay for yourself!”. Hahahahaha. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Chong Fat is located in Far East Shopping Centre. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you smell the Chinese herb store. There’s a reason why this shopping centre is commonly referred to as the ‘stinky mall’.

If you want to try the dish I described above, just show the server the picture on my blog. I always find the service to be welcoming and kind, despite my limited Cantonese. Cash only.

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Chong Fat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch · Burgers · Happy Hour · Patio · Pizza · Pubs

Bank and Baron – Happy Hour

I like the Bank and Baron, with its high ceilings, impressive digs and heritage status. My colleague is getting married soon and at her request, we held her office shower at the Bank and Baron.

I forgot my wallet at home and had a 6:00 pm yoga class that night, so I refrained from ordering booze. However, I did snag a big piece of  Kathy’s pizza (50% off on Thursday) which was tasty. The crust was thin and crunchy. For $10.00, there was absolutely nothing to complain about.

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Our table ordered $5.00 house wine and $5.00 pints of Mill St Organic. Twilight and MacBeth ordered fish and chips ($18.00). This picture doesn’t do the food  justice. The two pieces of cod were huge and the fish was fresh. The fries were plentiful and served hot and crispy. One order is big enough for two people. I will try the fish and chips when I return.

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Unfortunately, the bride to be wasn’t as impressed with her fish tacos. The trio of tacos looked pedestrian and she thought the portion was small for $14.00. She picked at Twilight’s fries instead.

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The food at the Bank and Baron has improved since it first opened. For Stephen Ave, the prices are cheap. If you work downtown and haven’t been yet, check it out!

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The Bank and Baron Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese

Sun’s BBQ

I persuaded Clingon, Leng Lui and Office Dad to have lunch at Sun’s BBQ. We picked up Leng Lui’s friend, Sun (no relation to the restaurant) along the way. The restaurant was bustling with customers devouring succulent BBQ meats on noodles or rice.

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Office Dad and I have started to share an entree for lunch in an attempt to eat less and save a little. We ordered the Red Curry Beef with Spaghetti ($12.99). Leng Lui and Clingon always order BBQ Duck and Roasted Pork on Rice, while Sun ordered curried something in a noodle soup.

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Leng Lui and Clingon’s dish came with boiled lettuce and complimentary soup. Both are light eaters, so they both gave most of it to me. The soup was tasty and simple.

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The BBQ meats at Sun’s are very good. I like the dark roasting of the duck skin and the leanness of the meat. The roasted pork has a thin layer of white fat and a crunchy, salty skin. I bought over $60 worth of roasted pork, BBQ pork and a whole duck home with me. I freeze it and use in my fried rice and ramen.

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I enjoyed the curry sauce which was rich, creamy and buttery. The beef was tender and a good amount. I liked the addition of water chestnuts and baby corn. The broccoli was still crunchy. I wish there was more spaghetti, there was only a small fistful. However, with Leng Lui and Clingon’s charitable contributions of boiled lettuce and soup, I was comfortably full.

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As for service… let’s just say you come here for the food. Don’t wait for the server to come to the table with the bill. You have to go up and pay at the cashier. Oh yeah, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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Sun Chiu Kee BBQ Restaurant 新釗記 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinese · Dim Sum

Forbidden City Dim Sum & Seafood

My work buddies Office Daddy, Playboy, and Leng Lui coerced me to join them at Forbidden City for dim sum. The food was good, the company even better, though I suffered a major headache after the meal. I thought initially that the MSG got to me. In fact, I came down with an illness, which has visited most of my colleagues on the third floor. Ah, the joys of working in an office. I ended up working from home the next day.

Back to the theme of this blog… which is my food experience, not my physical well-being. The restaurant is nicer than most dim sum joints. The linen on the table was fresh and crisp. Sparkling chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Servers were easy to wave down and for the most part, were pleasant.

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The first of ten dishes we ordered was BBQ Pork Pastry. The pastry was buttery and light. The filling was still warm, sweet and tangy.

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Everyone except for me ate Chicken Feet. I tried it once and didn’t like the texture of the skin. Also, these feet were particularly intimidating – big and claw-like.  Leng Lui  told me she thinks I need to try chicken feet at least three times to give it a fair try. I agree, but I “chickened out” this time.

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Leng Lui ordered Deep-Fried Won Ton. The wrapper was delicate and not overcooked. The shrimp filling was a small portion. I couldn’t resist dipping the won ton in the side dish of sweet mayonnaise.

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Taro with pork. This was the winning dish. The exterior was airy, the batter delicate and melted in your mouth. The taro was smooth and creamy. The pork filling was hot and saucy.

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The Fried Meat Dumplings were tasty, in a greasy sort of way. The dough was thick, gummy and warm (the way it should be). The meat filling consisted of ground pork in a gravy like sauce.

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The BBQ pork crepe was my second favourite dish. I liked how much lean pork and cilantro filled the rice wrapper. I find most places don’t have the right proportion, as they skimp on the meat.

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The Pork and Preserved Century Old Egg Congee was good. The soup was served in a hot black cauldron, which bubbled for a good five minutes. The texture was smooth and more fluid than the fluffy thick congee served at Lucky Place.

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Office Daddy ordered Cow Stomach, which I have grown to like. The texture was bouncy and chewy, flavoured by a light, clear sauce.

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How Gow was pretty good. The shrimp filling sweet, mixed with water chestnuts which gave it more texture. I prefer a less wet filling.

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The Sui Mai was tasty too. Again, it’s a personal preference but I prefer a less wet filling. I liked how we were served five dumplings for the how gow and sui mai instead of the standard four pieces.

I agree with my friends that Forbidden City has some of the better dim sum in Calgary. I prefer Forbidden City over T.Pot China Bistro. Central Grand makes better meat buns and dumplings, but Forbidden City does a delicious taro and pork dumpling and a far better BBQ pork crepe. Also, the food at Forbidden City taste quite fresh and the service is better than T.Pot.

Thanks to my buddies for taking me out to check out Forbidden City. It’s been on my bucket list for a while, but I never usually get out into NE quadrant of the city due to limited mobility. Our next adventure? Oiishi!

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T.Pot China Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chain Restaurants · Cheap Eats · Chinatown

Quickly

AC took me out for lunch, again. I don’t know what’s gotten into the guy. I won’t question his goodwill. I think I’m going to give him the pseudonym “Office Daddy” because of his paternal tendencies.

It’s been a while since I was in a bubble tea joint. I noticed a lot of young teenagers bopping around. We shared the Singapore Laksa ($10.95) and the Taiwanese Braised Pork Rib on Rice ($10.99). Office Daddy also ordered a dessert, Mango Pudding ($5.50).

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I loved both dishes. The laksa came with a boiled egg, sprouts, a generous amount of white chicken, fish balls, and tofu puffs. The white rice noodles were slippery and were the perfect medium to such a rich, sweet curry soup.

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I found out from the owner of Quickly that the pork rib soup was made the previous night. I drank every drop of the broth. The soup is almost medicinal, filled with little bits of herbs, orange peel and roots that my late grandmother used in her soups. The pork was so tender and flavourful. Office Daddy said he suspected we got an extra portion of pork.

I was surprised that I enjoyed the mango pudding. The texture was soupy. I liked the tapioca balls and the fresh grapefruit and mango. I didn’t find the pudding too sweet.

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Office Daddy knows the owner, of course. Office Daddy calls her “Mommy”. No joke. I didn’t ask him why he called her Mommy, I’m going to guess because she’s a mother? In any case, I noticed that service was slow until Mommy returned to her restaurant. Let’s just say our food didn’t come so “quickly” until Mommy was in the house.

Quickly has three locations, the closest to me is located in Kensington. If the food is always this good, I’m going to be a regular. I can’t wait to come back. I left stuffed and happy.

Quickly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chinatown · Chinese · Dim Sum

Regency Palace – Dim Sum

A & W took AC, Gee and myself out for lunch at Regency Palace. I have to say on this second visit, the dim sum was much better than my first experience. The food was hot, fresh and the seafood dishes were really good.

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As with most lunches with AC and his friends, this was a work lunch. The last time I went out with AC friends, we talked taxes, customer service and finances. This group of friends were chatting about some private venture overseas. I occupied myself by eating and posting the photos on Instagram.

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One of the best dishes I tried was Beef Tendon. The tendon was soft and took on the flavour of the light sauce. The beef and tendon was served piping hot. I only like tendon when it’s served really hot, as I think it makes the texture smoother and richer.

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I really liked the Shrimp Rice Crepe. One prawn per half rice roll, the seafood was crunchy while the wrap was smooth and glossy in texture. The soy sauce was sweet and just enough to flavour the crepe.

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The Salt and Pepper Squid was tender but the batter was too soft and bland in flavour. The batter also had this sweetness to it that reminded me of plastic. I would skip this dish.

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I remember that the last time I wasn’t impressed with the How Gow. This time, the shrimp ball was full and plump. The rice wrapper was perfectly steamed so it wasn’t gummy or too soft.

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The Sui Mai was scarfalicious. These were big balls (that’s what she said). The flavour of the dumpling was really tasty. I particularly liked the big piece of shrimp and I thought it had a nice crunch to it.
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The sticky rice was a no-go this time. The rice was over-cooked and the meat tasted quite bland. I wouldn’t order this dish again.

Overall, I was really pleased with the food. I would hit Regency Palace the next time I’m craving me some haw gow, sui mai, and beef tendon.

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Regency Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato