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Sampling Vancouver's wares with Oakland Hounds

grayelf | Oct 15, 201106:21 AM

A couple of Hounds were visiting from Oakland for two weeks in late July and thought I’d belatedly post about some of our dining exploits together.

First up was a foray to the Richmond Night Market. We went earlyish on a Saturday in hopes of snagging parking onsite and were successful. We made a beeline for the food stands and sampled spring rolls (okay), stuffed egg plant (excellent) and stinky tofu (very good) from the Kam Wai dim sum stand. I understand this tofu was not the “real thing” but it was still delicious and Hound-worthy. Also not available at their bricks-and-mortar place in Chinatown. Next up was duck wraps which were also very tasty and a bit unusual. Only one stand was selling them that night. Not a bad deal either at $2.50 each or $3.75 for two. For our next snack, we got a tester of four yaki balls – one was tako, then there was shrimp, scallop and veggy IIRC. My veggy was quite good though a little “sadder” inside than I like. A long wait at the popular and disorganized (despite the high tech audio setup) Xin Jiang Man bbq stand netted a trio of skewers, two lamb and one chicken which were reliably reported to be worth the candle (I didn’t indulge as I am not a fan of cumin). While waiting my eye was inexorably drawn toward the stand next door with the uber-cute tiny cream puffs, thus giving one of our guests the chance to sample durian for the first time. I had the coconut and would recommend it. Another lap around netted us our final tastes: for me a crunchy sugar covered fruit stick, and then the pork-wrapped enoki rolls that we’d seen the first time around. Sated, it was time to check out the tchotchkes in the rest of the market and head home. I believe we spent around $10 each for food so quite a good value as well.

The next day we met up with some Hounds who had already been planning dim sum at Shun Feng. While this was an enjoyable meal for the company, I didn’t find most of the dishes to be remarkable. The one exception was the pan-fried turnip cake with XO sauce (the one in the little basket, $7.25) which was topnotch and is number 56 on the menu though that may change. The dishes available at this restaurant turnover fairly frequently it appears – one that I really liked last time was gone. Service was also a bit off this time, with a lot of effort required to get tea refills etc. It was $159 for 8 (27 dishes) of us before tip. One of our guests nabbed a good sampling of the pork products from the Parker Place bbq house on the way out.

Later that Sunday, Ningtu for Shanghainese was our next shared meal. Five of us feasted on their special dinner for four plus one extra dish with lots of leftovers. Hot and sour soup, wine chicken, rice cakes with chicken subbed in for the usual ham (I’d do that again!), yellow fish with seaweed, crispy rice minus the ham, and tea smoked duck were included in the special for $54. With rice, soup, an appetizer and four dishes from the list on the inside of the menu, this is a super deal. We superfluously added another favourite dish of mine, the steamed minced shimp with egg which was deemed unusual and tasty by those who hadn’t tried it before. All the dishes were well executed and delicious. If you order judiciously, Ningtu is a winner every time. Great service as usual in a busy room.

One afternoon, three of us hit Seri Malaysia for lunch. Our initial target was Bo Laksa King but he was closed just for the day (we met him heading out) so we resolved to return later and walked down a couple blocks to the lair of Jamal. As is often the case, the room was nearly empty but this time we got very nice service from a young gentleman, and Jamal pulled up a chair and told us about how he ended up in Vancouver. They have smaller “tasting” portions of their main dishes for around $6 on the menu which was perfect for us. We got the beef rendang, the chicken curry, the sambal udang prawns and the mee goreng mamak. With a bandung and a rose water beverage, this repast came to just under $30 before tip. My DCs had not really tried Malaysian food before and pronounced themselves well pleased and ready to seek out more.

A few days later seven of us hit up Kalvin’s for some Sichuan/Taiwan grub. We ordered too much food (my bad) but everyone was happy. I’ll run down the dishes cued to the takeout menu, which is differently numbered than the regular menu. There was only one real frog among the princes and that was the kung pao shrimp (“prawn and peanut with chili pepper” number 69). It was too sweet but mostly the problem was that the shrimp were overcooked and rubbery. We also had cold shredded seaweed with garlic and herbs (number 18), spicy pork ears, number 12, chicken with chili sauce aka saliva or mouth watering chicken (number 19), Taiwanese style cold noodle (number 141), fondue with fish in spicy sauce aka water boiled fish (number 56, this is a different version than I am used to, much smaller and includes glass noodles), three-spice chicken aka three-cup chicken (number 69, the large is REALLY large), pan-fried chive in dumpling aka chive pockets (number 134 I think), shredded fish with yellow chives (number 77) and pork and cabbage with chili and garlic sauce (number 93, another dish that I personally was not a fan of, finding the pork to taste quite stale and the dish to be rather one-notedly hot).

I am a fan of their seaweed, pork ears, and three-cup chicken and they did not disappoint this visit. The SO really liked the Taiwanese noodles which were a new dish for us. I loved the shredded fish, which was incredibly delicate and mild without being dull and is currently my favourite dish here, having sampled it again recently. The saliva chicken was quite respectable but even the medium is one-notedly hot. I enjoyed the water boiled fish despite it being different from my most beloved version, but it is quite a small portion, albeit for $12. I liked the chive pockets more than others did, enjoying the baked and the grassiness of the filling.

For one lunch, three of us made our way back to Bo Laksa King to test out the laksa (with vermicelli), the roti canai, the tea leaf salad, the pickled mango salad, the spicy squid and the special of chicken bryani. We also shared one hot and one cold Burmese tea. This was a lot of food for three ($49 before tip) and seemed to meet with approval. I as usual enjoyed the salads the most, and was delighted with the return of my addiction, the pickled mango. The bryani was a tad dry but had good flavor. Roti was as good as it’s ever been, which is to say very good.

For our final dinner together, we hit Zakkushi on Main to try some things on sticks. They limit your reservation to two hours which is adequate. They warned us that orders might take a while, but this was only an issue on our supplemental order. Service was lovely all evening, despite it being very busy. Five of us ordered 47 (!) skewers, two salads, ebimayo, a sake flight and a pitcher of Sapporo for about $150 before tip.

We had one last chance to raise our forks/chopsticks together before our guests headed back to the Bay Area, this time at the Richmond food courts. With only four of us, we didn’t do as much justice as I might have liked but we did manage to hit a few of my favourites and give the Oakland Hounds a bit of a feel for the food court scene. Sadly, my top stall at the Richmond Public Market was closed for a holiday, so we just ordered from the halal stall. We had some lamb skewers, cold noodles plus stir fried potato shreds, all good quality and tasty on a warmish day. After a quick turn around the lower floor to check out the produce and seafood, we headed over to President’s Plaza. O’Tray served up the usual delicious fare – tofu brains, another cold noodle dish, roujiamo, and their signature crepe. We rounded this out with one order each of the pork and the vegetable jao zi from the dumpling guy. As always there was a bit of a language issue but we got what we wanted with the help of a passerby :-). I was surprised to discover that I preferred the veggie dumplings, not that the pork ones are slouches. Really glad to have tried them and will get them again. I had hoped to take our guests to Hong Kong BBQ Masters to try my favourite bbq but alas tummy space was limited. We hit up T and T to collect some spicy peanuts for later, headed over to Aberdeen for a bit of retail therapy and then it was back to town.

Thanks to the Hounds who helped with the “hosting.” I know I had a great time sharing Chow opportunities with our guests escargot3 and her companion.

Dishes below are eggplant, duck wraps, skewers, tofu and fruit stick from RNM, the radish cakes from Shun Feng, and the shrimp/egg dish post-stirring at Ningtu.

Seri Malaysia Restaurant
2327E Hastings St E, Vancouver, BC V5L1V6, CA

Ningtu Restaurant
2130 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N2T5, CA

Bo Laksa King
4910 Joyce St, Vancouver, BC V5R, CA

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