So good we each ordered our own.
I worked hard today. I spent a good three hours in some deep meetings with a bunch of smart and talented friends who are helping me on some projects and to say thank you I offered to take them out to dinner. It would be easy to go to our usual haunts but since it is Chinese New Year and I’ve just begun my 30 Days Of CNY adventures I thought it would be fun to try a place I’ve never been to but only heard about. Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House makes some of the best Xia Long Bao (XLB) in Vancouver according to my Chinese friends in the know. It’s just across the Granville Bridge from downtown which means we can get there in under 10 mins and did I say they make some of the best Xia Long Bao in the city? To Lin’s we go!
Like I said Lin Chinese Cuisine is located just over the Granville Street Bridge at West Broadway, 1537 West Broadway to be exact. From Downtown it’s a quick trip on any bus that picks up from Granville Street. The #10, #14 and #16 all stop at Granville and Broadway while the #4, #7 and #50 stop off at Granville & West 5th leaving just a short 4 block walk to Lin Chinese Cuisine.
From the outside it doesn’t look like much which probably explains why I’ve never considered going inside. Inside is no different than the outside, bright lights and relatively simple decor. What I’m discovering about Chinese restaurants though this adventure is to not judge them by their exterior or their interior decor. Chinese restaurants live and die by the reputation and quality of the food they serve. Very different than Western-styled restaurants that place as high a value on design and decor as they do on food.
With my friends gathered around the table it is time to order. Once again I am honoured to have an expert handle the ordering. Nancy Wong is well known at Lin Chinese Cuisine so we are in very capable hands as she places our dinner order. This won’t quite be the 12 course feast I’ve been eating lately, just 5 courses tonight should be more than enough for the four of us.
The dishes we order arrive in no particular order, kinda fun and very different than Western-style dining where you know exactly what your getting and in what order. The first dish to arrive is Pea Shoots with Minced Garlic. Fresh as Spring this dish reminds me of. I’m not sure if these are flown in from a warmer climate or if they are grown in a greenhouse but they taste so good with just a little snap still left in the stems. The garlic is very mild in this dish so if you run into a Vampire or a potential date later they won’t avoid you.
The second dish to arrive is also our other vegetable, Braised Spicy Eggplant. This could have used a bit more heat for my liking but it was still very tasty. If you like eggplant you’ll like this dish hands down.
Our next dish I didn’t even know we had ordered until it arrived and to be honest I can’t recall if it is the House Special Chow Mein or the Shanghai Style Chow Mein. I think it’s the House Special because it has prawns, chicken and has a touch of curry spice. Very light and flavourful, I am a big fan of this dish. When I go back to Lin Chinese Cuisine I will have to ask to find out exactly which one it was so I can order it again. *** Update I just found out this dish is the Singapore Fried Rice Noodles ***
Ginger Beef and Kungbao Chicken with red peppers and peanuts came next. Now who doesn’t like Ginger Beef? This was a dish that Leeann asked for and I was secretly quite happy because I love Ginger Beef as well. The Kungbao Chicken was a first for me and this Sichuan dish is a bit milder at Lin Chinese Cuisine than I would have expected. There are plenty of peanuts in this dish so if you or someone at your table is allergic please don’t order it.
Last but not least, the dish I’ve been waiting for, Xia Long Bao arrives. Four orders of them to be exact. Everyone laughed when I said we should order four but trust me not a single XLB was left by the time we were done dinner. We each got 6 pieces of XLB and I couldn’t have been happier. They are so delicate and biting into one and having the filling explode in my mouth is a true culinary joy. Rumour has it that they make over 1200 of these a day at Lin Chinese Cuisine. They are so good I can see why!
- Step 1 you pick up the dumpling with your chopsticks by the little knot that has formed at the top of the dumpling.
- Step 2 you dip the dumpling in the sauce that accompanies it and then you place the dumpling in your spoon.
- Step 3 with the dumpling in the spoon you cause a small tear near the top of the dumpling to allow some of the steam to escape.
- Step 4 when you are confident it is cool enough not to burn your mouth you place the spoon with the dumpling in your mouth and eat it. Explosion = awesome.
We have no room left for dessert. Full, bursting with goodness in our bellies, we are done. It’s time to pack up a small doggie bag and head home happy and sated. I’m so glad that I discovered Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House because the next time I’m craving XLB I know where I can find some of the best just 10 mins from my Yaletown condo. I’m a very happy camper. Gung Hey Fat Choy – Best Wishes and Congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year.
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