Having driven by Kintaro Ramen and witnessing the really long lineup, we tried to decide on an alternate place to eat. One place that came to mind was Cafe Gloucester, which is a Hong Kong-style cafe on Cambie near 18th. This place has been here for quite awhile and had closed briefly in 2007 because of the dreaded Canada-Line construction of the Skytrain. It's now apparently under new management and I wanted to check it out (I actually visited it last year, but I wasn't blogging yet). For those who are not familiar with Hong Kong-style cafes, it's basically a restaurant (western-like decor), that serves up Hong Kong versions of other ethnic foods. However, they do still serve up stir-fried Chinese noodles and rice dishes. I've been to Cafe Gloucester many times in the past and I do consider it one of the better Hong Kong-style cafes. It's in a nice location (lack of parking withstanding), the food is consistent, service is decent and it's clean/modern.
Upon our arrival, there was only a short wait for our table. However, I must give credit to the hostess, because some waitress was going to give our table up to a group that had arrived after us. The hostess immediately stopped the waitress and pointed out that we were first. That is refreshing, a Chinese restaurant that not only keeps to the list; but also is not afraid to correct a mistake.
The menu at Cafe Gloucester is a bit classier than other Hong Kong-style cafes in the GVRD. They even have a prime rib carving station at the front of the restaurant. However... the person carving the prime rib was butchering the poor thing. Looking over the menu, I chose the set meal, as I always do. Even though the set meals at these places are usually well over $10 (except for Alleluia), you do get good value. Similar to most other places, the set meals at Cafe Gloucester include soup (Russian borscht, cream soup, fish chowder or clam chowder), bread, 2 or 3 meats, one carb (rice, spaghetti, mashed potatoes, fries or baked potato), vegetables, sauce (black peppercorn, garlic, demi-glace, onion, mushroom or curry), coffee/tea and dessert. There is no one set price here at Cafe Gloucester; rather, it depends on which combination of meats you choose. I chose S7, which included Ox Tongue (yes, my favourite, you can never get enough tongue!), Rib Eye Steak and Fried Pork Chop. This particular combination cost $15.88. Viv wasn't that hungry so she was going to eat whatever else we ordered. Since my son likes noodles, we got the BBQ Duck Lai Fun. I got one more dish for good measure and decided on the Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice.
I chose the "Russian Borscht" for my soup and it was balanced; being tart but not too tart. I put Russian Borscht in quotations because an authentic borscht would be more red because of the beet content. This one had beets, but just like other Hong Kong-style borschts, it's closer to vegetable soup. My meal came on a sizzling hot plate and it kept everything hot, including the lemon wedge that I picked up without thinking... HOT! The tongue was tender and seared perfectly. The pork chop was very crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I still laugh at the mayo that's served with any fried items in a Hong Kong-style cafe. But I guess Viv ended up doing the laughing... I used it for my pork chop. The rib eye steak was quite large; but was cooked all the way through. I did find it odd that the waitress never asked me how I wanted my steak done. However, the steak still retained its meatiness since they did not marinate it in baking soda. I liked the peppercorn sauce that came with my meal, it was loaded with peppercorns and was very flavourful.
The BBQ Duck Lai Fun was actually pretty good, considering the fact we were not at a noodle joint. The soup was light, the noodles were not overcooked (still had elasticity) and they gave us the duck leg (it was tender and not too salty). The fried rice was not bad, the rice was dry (which is good) and there was plenty of salted fish flavour. However, I wish they would put some lettuce in it, the rice was very plain without it. I prefer the one from The Boss. Lastly, my dessert was a piece of coffee pudding. Don't judge it by how it looks because it was quite good. Velvety texture and lots of real coffee taste. Although the service was hurried, it was always polite and attentive. So there it is, Cafe Gloucester is still a good place to get your Hong Kong Cafe fix, even after the whole Canada-Line mess.
- Clean, modern dining room
- Food is consistent
- Service is good
- A bit pricier than other Hong Kong-style cafes
- Parking is hard to find
- Seating can be a bit tight
3338 Cambie Street