Sherman's Food Adventures: Dinner @ Victoria Seafood Restaurant

Dinner @ Victoria Seafood Restaurant

Generally, a city's Downtown core is home to some of the best dining in the area. That is a given since many people associate good food with the city centre. Furthermore, these "exclusive" restaurants depend on tourists. Thus, many become destination restaurants where not only the locals dine. For a city that is predominantly Asian, there is a surprising lack of good Chinese restaurants in Downtown Vancouver. Quite possibly, the nature of the cuisine doesn't usually exude elegance. After all, you can quite possibly get the best Chinese meal of your life at the local dive. Honestly, some of the best Chinese food can be found at mom 'n pop operations in East Vancouver and Richmond. But back to the tourist thing. If you are not local, it is quite difficult to know of these hidden gems. Of course, you can just read any Vancouver food blog, including this one, and find those out-of-the-way beauties. But if you must eat Chinese food in Downtown, there are really only a few choices, especially if you want a "nice" place. There's Kirin, Imperial , Victoria and to stretch the location into Chinatown, Floata. But honestly, stay away from Floata, it is both underwhelming in terms of food and service. In terms of dinner, Kirin and Imperial would edge out Victoria. However, Victoria gets the nod for Dim Sum by virtue of being better than Kirin and at the same time, less expensive than Imperial. By no means is it the best in town, there is better in Richmond. I am exclusively talking about Downtown only. Tonight, it was another random dinner at Victoria. You see, my parents love the place. It is not really because it is the best. It is because they feel comfortable here and I guess it is habit as well.

We started with an Appetizer Platter consisting of fried chicken knees (yes, that is right), smoked black cod and soy chicken. The knees were meaty and crunchy while the black cod was melt-in-your mouth good. The soy chicken well, was soy chicken, albeit cooked perfectly. Let me get this out of the way first, squab is a young pigeon, where the meat is very similar to duck. Generally, most people would tell you that Sun Sui Wah has the best Squab in town. However, for all the times I've had it here, I think it is equally good where it is moist and tender with perfectly fried skin. My mom loves Lobster in Cream Sauce and despite the lack of diners, we ordered a whole one to ourselves. The trick here is to fry the lobster meat until it is cooked while still retaining moisture and a slight chewiness. Then it is wok-tossed in a cream sauce consisting of butter, cream and broth. This version was pretty good. Maybe the sauce could've been a bit more aggressively seasoned though.

Another classic dish in a Chinese meal is Steamed Rock Cod. This is actually quite difficult to order these days since rock cod have been over-fished. This particular fish was steamed correctly where the flesh is cooked separating from the bone easily. Still moist and slightly chewy, it is dressed with sweet soya sauce and hot oil. So far the meal has been good, you might think why I rate it behind Imperial and Kirin? Well, the next dish, Sea Cucumber and Duck Webs with Pea Shoots, will shed some light. Nothing wrong with the perfectly cooked sea cucumber (soft while retaining its shape). But the veggies here are often water-logged. I'm not sure if it is because they lack a hot wok or whether they water-blanch their vegetables before stir-frying. The bottom-line is that their veggies are sub-par.

When it comes to dessert, I think that Victoria has probably one of the best selections for a Chinese restaurant. In addition to their daily dessert (which is usually a dessert soup), all of their Dim Sum dessert offerings are available. We got a Sweetened Soup with Water Chestnuts and Tapioca tonight. We also added a Coconut Pudding too. Typically, we get really good service here since my parents are regulars. However, I have both heard and witnessed less than stellar service as well. So it can be a bit of hit and miss (generally on the hit side more than miss). Again, the Dim Sum is a good bet for those wanting to eat in Downtown, with Dinner being decent.

The Good:
- Dinner is decent
- Comfortable dining space
- Prices are actually okay considering the location

The Bad:
- The vegetable dishes are watery
- Service can be hit and miss

Victoria Chinese Restaurant
1055 W. Georgia
Vancouver, BC
V6E 3B2
(604) 669-8383

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