So you have 5 bux in your wallet and you're plenty hungry. What are the options? Nachos with mystery cheese sauce at 7-11? Nope, not that, I'm talking about a real meal. There are the usual fast food joints such as McD's, Wendy's, Burger King and so on. So sure, it is possible to get a full meal for that amount of money. Now if we ignore these places, where else can one go? Pizza slices, sandwich shops and something like Kent's Kitchen could do the job as well. And let's not even mention food carts. I dare anyone to get full from any of the new food carts in Vancouver for less than $6.00. A good bet is Chinese food. Generally inexpensive and plentiful, it is one of the best values out there. Sure, it ain't pretty sometimes and generally greasy; but for quantity, it can't be beat. Yet, even with that being said, for $5.00, that is still a tough thing to find even at a Chinese restaurant.
So imagine my curiosity when I heard that On Yuen in Surrey had lunch specials for $4.95. Normally, when it is advertised that there are lunch specials from $4.95, there are usually a token dish while everything else is much more expensive. Not here though. The majority of the lunch specials were indeed $4.95. With all the choices available, I went for the Brisket in Portuguese Sauce on Rice. Now, this was more of a curry sauce than Portuguese. Even with that, a "Portuguese" sauce is actually a Chinese interpretation, so don't expect anything remotely related to Portugal. This was the result of the Portuguese influence on their colony of Macau. Anyways, the curry was actually very flavourful and had a noticeable amount of heat. There was a considerable amount of sauce for the rice on the plate. The brisket itself was not too fatty while being extremely moist.
Ma had the Yeung Chow Fried Rice, which is better known as the BBQ Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice. I found the rice to be too soft. It was probably either not day-old rice or it was too wet to begin with. Hence, it ended up to be a bit clumpy. It was properly seasoned though; yet the shrimp was very bland. Too much cold-water rinsing? It probably washed away all the flavour and they didn't do anything to season it. At the very least, the cold-water rinsing resulted in a desirable texture. When the Chicken in Cream Sauce on Rice arrived, it looked a bit too saucy. However, it was better than it appeared. The sauce itself wasn't exactly creamy. It was more milky-starchy than anything else. However, it had a good flavour with tender slices of chicken and vibrant veggies. With that being said, I would take a HK-style cream chicken rice over this.
Looking over the menu, it was baffling to some that there was no Chicken Chow Mein. In place of that, there was a Broccoli Beef Chow Mein. I've seen this on rice; but rarely on noodles. In the end, I thought it really didn't work. Possibly it was the wrong choice of noodles though. We got the soft noodles and the whole thing ended up to be wet. Maybe it would've fared better with the fried noodles. If we looked at the broccoli and beef independently, it was okay. The beef was sufficiently tender without losing its texture while the broccoli was still crunchy. I wasn't a big fan of the sauce though, it was a bit heavy on the oyster sauce.
Moving along, we also had the Satay Beef with Rice Noodles. The rice noodles were fried up nicely where there was still texture without being clumpy. However, the entire dish was extremely oily including the sauce. The sauce was decently flavourful without being spicy at all. Once again, the beef was properly tenderized without losing its texture. On the same note, the Beef Fried Rice Noodles were equally greasy. That was not surprising though since the only way to keep the rice noodles from sticking to the wok is the use of oil and high heat. Overall, the food was okay. Hey, what can we expect for $5.00 + tax and tip? While we were there, we noticed a diverse crowd getting takeout. Hey, if you can get a meal for $5.00 that doesn't involve a drive-thru, it's a deal.
- Cheap lunch specials
- Friendly if not sparse service (it got really busy)
- Food is alright
- Food is alright (there is definitely better; but probably not nearby)