We planned to visit my grandmother-in-law at Vancouver General where she's recovering from hip surgery. Funny how she thinks that she didn't have the surgery because her hip hurts. We tried convincing her that it hurts because of the surgery, but she insists it hurts because it wasn't operated on. Go figure. Anyways, she seemed quite docile today, maybe she has accepted that she's actually had the surgery? Of course anytime I have an excuse to go out, eating at a restaurant is in the plans. We took advice from Snake, who recommended Sushi Town to me and went to Lin Chinese Cuisine on Broadway near Granville. He had heard a friend raving about this place and relayed the information to me. Of course I had to try it!
The one thing that defines Lin is their handmade fresh noodles and Xiao Long Bao. We started with with a fairly large bowl of Hot & Sour Soup (a pretty good value at $5.99). On the surface, the soup looked pretty appetizing with a nice rich colour and plenty of ingredients. However, we felt that there was way too much sesame oil and not enough hot & sour. Therefore, the flavours were not remotely balanced. Good soup; but not hot & sour at all. Of course, a visit to Lin cannot go without having their famous Xiao Long Bao. Recently voted the #1 XLB in Vancouver (as of 2010), these teamed Shanghainese soup dumplings are indeed very good. With a super thin dumpling skin and bursting with juice (more like pork gelatin), these were comparable with those from Shanghai River and Shanghai Wonderful. Depending on your personal preference, there can be a debate about which one is the best.
One dish we got that was a little off-topic, since it's not exactly related to the other Shanghainese-style Dim Sum items, was the Honey Prawns. Usually found on appetizer platters in a Chinese wedding meal, these fried prawns are tossed in a mayo-honey sauce. The result is a predominantly sweet product. In this case, the prawns were cooked perfectly crunchy and there was just enough sauce. The Szechuan Beef Noodles arrived in a mildly spicy broth, and had a generous helping of tender beef. The noodles themselves were fresh, being quite soft. A solid bowl of noodles; but it was missing something. Probably a bit more spice would've intensified the broth. We got a bowl of the Chicken Noodles for the kiddies (not something I'd particularly want to order for myself). It arrived in a very flavourful chicken broth. Despite tasting very much like a rich chicken soup, I couldn't get over the fact it maybe the result of MSG. I hope I'm wrong... The noodles were accompanied by strips of chicken and vegetables. The kids like it and in fact, so did the adults, which is rare since we are not that usually that enthused with chicken anything.
Another popular Shanghainese Dim Sum dish has got to be the Potstickers. So, why not, we ordered some of those too. Nicely plated, these arrived golden brown on the bottom - exactly how they should be. The nice crisp bottom is a nice textural contrast with the rest of the soft dumpling. Although these are not known for their juice like the XLB, there was a decent amount of juiciness. Combined with an excellent filling with a good balance of pork and veggies, these were quite good. Last but not least, the carb overload continued with an order of the Shanghainese Stir-Fried Rice Cake. Just like the name implies, the dish consists of sliced rice cake (which is very similar to the Japanese mochi) which is stir-fried in dark soy accompanied by spinach and pork. Exemplified by good "wok hay" (or a really hot wok), there was a nice caramelized flavour while the spinach was still crisp.
Service at Lin is generally quite friendly; albeit the staff are very busy and overworked. For a small restaurant, the 4 staff members should be sufficient, but they always seem a bit hurried. Decor seemed updated, but the orange walls seemed a bit odd to me. Not sure if there was a clearance sale after Halloween on paint. Also, it seemed that the renovations ended at the washrooms. It was like walking from Yaletown into a Vancouver Parks and Recreation public washroom in one trip. Despite being clean, the washrooms are old and in need of updating. Parking could be an issue with Lin because it's in a very busy area of Broadway; so there is limited street parking. The food in general is not bad for Vancouver; but may have a hard time competing with Richmond.
- Excellent Xiao Long Bao
- Good prices considering the prime location
- Friendly staff
- The staff are hurried and always busy
- Parking is scarce
- Dining room is super cramped
Lin Chinese Cuisine and Teahouse
1537 West Broadway