Honestly, if my parents didn't recommend this place, I would have never eaten at Lucky Gate. First of all, it's in Coquitlam. No offense to Coquitlam, I used to live there, but it ain't the hotbed of Shanghainese cuisine. Second, it looks rather dumpy from the outside and trust me, I've been to some dumpy looking places. When Viv and I arrived at the restaurant, I was extremely skeptical and was bracing for the worst. Upon entering, my fears were tempered somewhat since there were other Chinese people dining - that's a good sign. Surprisingly, part of the kitchen is open with only a large plexiglass window separating it from the dining space. From time to time, when a noodle order is placed, the chef begins making fresh noodles by hand. Again, something I didn't expect here.
Foregoing the dinner fare, we opted to order mostly Shanghainese Dim Sum since it would probably be the best indicator of the food. My parents assured me that the food is decent because they have been going here for awhile. We started with the Wine Marinated Chicken. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly and seasoned really well. Maybe a bit too well because as I continued chewing, it became more and more salty. Despite that, the chicken did have good wine flavour. As always, we ordered the Hot & Sour Soup. It was a vegetarian version; thus it did not have the usual shrimp and slivered pork. Despite that, the soup still looked and tasted pretty good. I only wish that it was more bold in both the spicy and vinegar department.
Another favourite dish of ours is the Stir-Fried Sliced Rice Cake. It was available in Shanghai-style (spinach, shredded pork, shiitake mushrooms and dark soy) or with sprouts, pickled vegetables and shredded pork. We went for the latter this time and despite looking a bit pale, it tasted quite good. There was a good mix of saltiness, sweetness and zing from the pickled vegetable. Continuing on the pale theme, the Noodles in Soup with Tendon was completely lacking in colour except for the baby bak choy. I was surprised to see the tendon (which was soft) devoid of any colour. Thank goodness everything tasted much better than it looked. I especially liked the fresh hand-made noodles, they had really good elasticity and flavour (fresh noodle flavour, hard to explain).
The one dish that had plenty of colour was the Peking-Style Shredded Pork with Steamed Flour Crepes. The addition of hoisin and dark soy gave the shredded pork a really nice deep colour. It tasted as good as it looked. Wrapped within the large soft flour crepe, the pork had a sweet, rich and almost smoky flavour. One interesting thing was that the pork was not marinated in baking soda and retained it's natural chewy texture. We actually liked this quite a bit because we also go the natural pork flavour as well. It's rare to find places that serve meat without baking soda and still being tender enough to eat.
Okay, eating Shanghainese Dim Sum without Xiao Long Bao is like going to Richmond and finding polite drivers. It just doesn't happen. The Xiao Long Bao at Lucky Gate were unusually large looking. I was nervous at first, expecting to find a really tough and thick outer skin. This was not the case. Although I've had better Xiao Long Bao, these ones were not half bad. Only complaint would be that there was not really all that much juice in them. Also, the vinegar served with the Xiao Long Bao was a bit too powerful, it would have been better if they stuck with a lighter malt vinegar.
The last dish that we ordered was the Pan-Fried Dumplings. They resembled potstickers; but were not really potstickers per se. They were lightly fried on the bottom and pleasant to eat. I only wish they would've been fried a little bit more, so that there would be more of a texture contrast. I think the one word that would sum up the food at Lucky Gate is "home cooking'. Most of the food didn't look very refined and lacked presentation. However, it usually tasted better than it looked. In comparison to the big boys such as Shanghai River, Shanghai Wonderful, Top Shanghai, #1 Shanghai and the sort, Lucky Gate may be inferior. But, it is decent for where it is located since there is no competition within a country mile.
- Decent portions
- Decent prices
- Food is fresh
- Food presentation and colour are lacking
- Friendly service, but since it's a family operation, not enough servers
11:00am - 3:00pm, 5:30pm - 10:00pm (Thu - Tue)