Crystal Mall's Food Court isn't your typical Food Court. You will not find a New York Fries, Orange Julius, or a Starbucks here. Instead, this Food Court offers a tantalizing survey of regional Chinese cuisine all under one roof. Cuisines of Guizhou, Dong-bei, Taiwan, Sichuan, Shanghai, Guangdong, Hong Kong are all represented.
This past Friday, I met up with three Chowhound diehards to introduce them to my favorite stalls here. There was a lot of ground to cover, so we (mostly by chance) did quick "Northern" (as in North of Shanghai) tour of Chinese food. We each all dispersed and ordered somewhat randomly at the following stalls: Wang's (Shanghai), Beijing Restaurant (Dong-bei treats), Northern Meixi (Heilongjiang).
Wang's specializes in Shanghai cuisine. Wang's, to the unfamiliar, is one of THE places to get Xiao Long Bao in the Vancouver region. So of course, we ordered one order to share and one order of their Beef Roll.
Beijing Restaurant is a relative new comer here - taking over the stall that used to occupy a Xi'an cuisine stall (which incidentally used to serve a good sliced "pancake noodle" dishes from the Shaanxi region). Beijing Restaurant specializes in Beijing streetfood - typified by food from Dong-bei (the provinces of Northeast China - Heilongjiang, Jilin, Shandong and Liaoning ). We ordered two types of Chinese "hamburgers" - both were very good and authentic...and their (quite large) version of the Beef Roll.
Northern Meixi serves food also from Northeast China - but with a particular specialty in pulled noodles from Heilongjiang (where the proprietors are from.) I ordered a plate of their handpulled noodles with "meat sauce" - a sweet, spicy, full of umami sauce topped with slivers of cucumber. I also ordered some Shandong-style buns and Pumpkin Pancakes to round out the survey.
We didn't end up ordering from another of my favourite stalls - Huaxi Noodle Specialists - because we already had waaay too much food. This particular stall excels in noodle soups from Guizhou - a province that borders Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi and Sichuan provinces. The cuisine of Guizhou is typified by hot and sour flavours in a sort of amalgam of flavour profiles found in surrounding provinces. (Called "Qian" - it is also one of the Eight Traditions of Chinese Cuisine). They also serve up some very decent renditions of some Sichuan classics such as Twice-Cooked Pork. (I think we will leave this stall for extra credits.)
All in all a very filling meal. And the food, I might add, is excellent (if somewhat rustic), and cheap - and considering that it is all prepared at the back of tiny food court stalls, it really is nothing short of phenomenal. (The food court also offers Sushi, Malaysian, Hotpot, HK BBQ, Teppanyaki, Bubble Tea, Beard Papa, Japanese Waffles...if regional Chinese isn't your thing)