Exploring Vancouver’s Chinese Cuisine

photo: Siu Mai at Jade Dynasty | Flickr

photo: Siu Mai at Jade Dynasty | Flickr

Fed up with the same old sweet-and-sour pork, fried rice and lo mein? Say no more.

Among Vancouver’s culinary treasures is “the best Chinese food” outside of China, according to no less an authority than The New York Times. For diners seeking a taste of exactingly authentic cuisine from across China’s many regions, it’s a virtual Shangri-La.

The best place to start is Vancouver’s Chinatown, one of the oldest and largest Chinatowns in North America. Along streets lined with traditional Chinese herbal shops, fishmongers and butchers, you’ll discover restaurants packed with locals who come for a taste of the real thing.

A favorite for dim sum – small, shared plates of Chinese standards – is Jade Dynasty, where patrons line up for shrimp dumplings (har gau) and pork dumplings (sui mai). Nearby, New Town Bakery is the place to go for pillowy steamed buns, filled with everthing from spicy pork to sweet black bean paste (At $1-$2 each, they’re a budget diner’s dream). While not in Chinatown, Kirin Restaurant – offering perhaps the city’s most upscale Chinese experience – is also a must-visit.

The undisputed heart of the Chinese scene, however, is in the suburb of Richmond. With some 75,000 Chinese residents, Richmond offers an astounding diversity of cuisine, from Cantonese to Szechuan, Hunan and more. Options range from mom-and-pop eateries to elegant, white tablecloth restaurants with internationally renowned chefs.

A convenient way to take it all in is along Richmond’s central Alexandra Road, a.k.a. Food Street. Literally hundreds of Chinese restaurants span the space of just a few blocks, offering diners a smorgasbord of traditional and contemporary delicacies. Favorites include the elegant Jade Seafood Restaurant, renowned for traditional dishes like its steamed eggs with local Dungeness crab and green onions, and Cattle Café, a Hong-Kong-style café offering Cantonese-inspired hot pots, steamed rice dishes and even sandwiches.

A useful resource for diners eager to do more culinary exploring is the Chinese Restaurant Awards website, which lists Vancouver’s most acclaimed Chinese eateries.

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