Over the past six weeks I’ve eaten at as many Chinese restaurants as I could, well over 25 so far. The challenge for me now is to come up with the 5 must visit Chinese Restaurants in Vancouver and Richmond. This isn’t going to be easy because I’ve had some pretty great meals but I think I know how to choose from amongst the exceptional dining experiences I’ve had. What I’ve discovered over the past six weeks is that Chinese restaurants in general are known for their signature dishes and these are what they excel at. The rest of the menu is good but it’s the signature dishes that they are known for that make them a stand out and is the reason they are usually packed with customers. So with that criteria in mind I am going to pick five restaurants for their signatures dishes that you must try.
1. Best Xia Long Bao or XLB – Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House
To start off the list I have to pick the place that I think makes the best Xia Long Bao in the whole Lower Mainland and that is at Lin Chinese Cuisine on West Broadway at Granville. Trust me this was hard because I enjoyed some amazing XLB but at Lin in my mind they were just perfect. A light dumpling wrapper and flavourful filling makes these just absolutely delicious. If you’ve never had XLB before here’s a step by step to eating them like a pro:
- 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.
2. Best Wontons – Old Buddies Seafood Restaurant
Without a doubt Old Buddies served me the biggest wontons I’ve ever had and definitely the best as well. Located in Richmond just a short walk from the Lansdowne Canada Line Station Old Buddies is worth a trip to Richmond for. Whether you order the crispy fried wontons or you try the wontons in soup you will be blown away by these tasty little flavour bundles. If you order the shrimp wontons you will get a full sized prawn in each wonton. Delicious. Remember to bring cash because they don’t accept cards for bills under $50.
3. Best Noodles – Peaceful Restaurant
I’m sure this comes as no surprise to those that have eaten the noodles at Peaceful Restaurant. With three locations to choose from in Vancouver you are bound to be close enough to visit them easily. All the noodles are made fresh daily and on site. Hand pulled are my personal favourite. They are thick and tender while perfectly imperfect in their size and shape. I could eat these noodles day and night and never get tired of them. I’d also highly recommend the Peaceful Beef Roll which is another stand out dish in my opinion.
4. Best Cantonese – Hoi Tong
This is a tough one to pick because I ate at a lot of great Cantonese style restaurants in Richmond but for me Hoi Tong wins the prize. The Chef is 70 years old, they only have 6 tables and you have to make a reservation. This isn’t a mass market, let’s feed the crowds restaurant. Hoi Tong is Cantonese cooking as an art form. Hands down the BEST Sweet & Sour Pork I’ve ever had. If I was asked to explain what makes Hoi Tong stand out above the others is the way that each ingredient is elevated to be its best self. Sauces are light and delicate and exactly the amount that is needed to flavour the dish. In Cantonese cooking if you over sauce it’s because you think the food quality isn’t very good. The less sauce the better the dish.
5. Best Chinese Bakery – La Patisserie
Another tough category for sure. I could have chosen New Town Bakery in Chinatown but the reason I choose La Patisserie with their locations in Vancouver and Richmond is because of their pastry. The pastry on the Egg Tart is amazing and is as flaky and as light as I’ve ever had. The curry beef filling for the Puffs and the Buns is also amazing and definitely worth a try. If La Patisserie was a bit closer to my house you can bet I would be here at least once a week gobbling up a treat. If you work hard you deserve a little treat every now and then.
So there you have my 5 must visit Chinese restaurants in Vancouver and Richmond. I can promise you that if you visit any of the other restaurants I visited during my Chinese culinary adventures you will not be disappointed. In fact you may have a different top 5 from me but that is what is so exciting about the Chinese culinary scene in Metro Vancouver, we have choices! Enjoy your own exploration and let me know if you find any hidden gems I’ve missed.