Dim Sum (with a twist) Comes to Yaletown

dim sum

For a while now, tapas – little plates of food you nibble and share – have been big in Vancouver.  But, long before tapas ever came to the city, we had dim sum.  As much a social experience as a meal, dim sum involves sampling from dozens of different bite-sized Chinese dishes, usually served in small, bamboo steamer baskets.

Filled with everything from shrimp dumplings to fried radish cakes, the steaming baskets are wheeled out on a rolling cart that makes the rounds through the restaurant.  If you see something  you like, you just flag it down.

There are literally hundreds of Chinese restaurants serving dim sum in Vancouver.  In fact, for many people, sitting down to a weekend dim sum is the culinary highlight of the week:  It’s cheap, the food is authentic and, when you get down to it, it’s like a buffet that comes right to your table.   Options are plentiful in Chinatown, along Main and Fraser Streets and in Richmond and Burnaby.  But there hasn’t been a great dim sum place in Yaletown.

Until now.

Earlier this winter, a new restaurant called Chinois opened on Mainland Street, right in the heart of Yaletown.  Chinois is one of a wave of updated, trendy Chinese-themed restaurants in the city (Bao Bei, Terracotta Modern Chinese and Wild Rice come to mind).  The interior has stylish brick walls and wood floors, and the menu emphasizes local and organic ingredients.

Chinois

Chinois serves dinner nightly – with a focus on North American Chinese classics like kung pao chicken, sweet and sour pork and orange beef.  But, on Saturday and Sunday, they also serve dim sum from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Menu options include most of the dim sum standbys: sui mai (pork dumplings), ha gow (shrimp dumplings), steamed pork buns, gai lan with oyster sauce and lo bak go (pan-fried radish cake).  There are also some less common items including honey walnut prawns and crispy prawn toast.  Prices for all items range from $5-$10.

Through Feb. 5, Chinois also has a nicely discounted three-course Dine Out menu for $28.

Been to Chinois’ dim sum?  What did you think?  Any can’t miss dishes? 

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