"I'm not going to $(#&$(#&$ Richmond", mumbled Costanza with disdain when I suggested we go for Dim Sum. Wow and I thought I was the one that gives Richmond a hard time. At least I still go there for food. Last time we went to The Place, it was a detour from all the great choices in Richmond. Can it be? Costanza dislikes going to Richmond more than me??? Anyways, that eliminated some of the best Dim Sum joints. Since he wanted to stay in Vancouver for eats, I had to dig deep for an idea. This was especially difficult since I really was in no mood for a re-visit. Then I remembered that we've never been to the restaurant that occupies the former Sun Sui Wah on Main and 32nd. Since we were bringing all the kiddies, I made a reservation for 11:00am which hopefully ensured that we got a table without waiting. Thankfully I did so because the place went plain nuts after 11:30am! So much so, they started putting 2 tables where there was room for only 1! When I turned around to get something, I was shocked to see someone sitting so close that it would constitute invasion of personal space. The old lady behind me had a great discussion about how my daughter was so cute. Maybe this should renamed the place "Golden Harvest Social Club but for Older Folk".
Joining me for the first time for eats, we had Ip-Man (Elaine's brother). When we got down to ordering, the first thing to arrive was the Pea Shoots with Bean Curd Skin and Ginko Nuts. If the amount of liquid on the plate looks concerning, don't be alarmed, this version is supposed to be that way. This was not bad, but the pea shoots were slightly overcooked. It was very lightly seasoned and could've used a touch more salt. With memories of the crappy Shrimp Mousse Stuffed Eggplant from Empire a month ago, we were hoping for a better experience this time around. Thankfully it was nowhere like the one we had at Empire. This one was fresh-tasting with "bounce"-textured shrimp and fried eggplant that was moist. The accompanying sauce was quite good with plenty of garlic and black bean flavour.
Increasingly common these days is a big plate of deep-fried Daikon Radish Cake rather than the typical 4 square slices. As such, this was the perfect time to order it since we had more people to share it with. I really liked how they prepared these as thick sticks instead of cubes. This way, the cake remained moist and appeared to be less oily. These were tossed in XO sauce which provided a slight spice. As always, we had the Haw Gow and Sui Mai since they are generally a good gauge of any Dim Sum service. They were pretty solid with the Haw Gow having a nicely textured dumpling skin which was slightly wet and not too thick. The filling was mostly whole pieces of shrimp that exhibited a good snap. There was a mild amount of seasoning which could be bland for some, but for me, it was good. The Sui Mai were very large (as evidenced in the picture) and equally good. The pork was tenderized nicely so it had a bouncy chew, yet there was a considerable amount of fat as well. I liked the ample amount of crunchy shrimp as well as the pieces of shitake mushroom. It broke up the monotony. There are too many places that make a predominantly pork Sui Mai which is usually one note in texture and flavour. This one had a good mix.
Despite being somewhat pale, the Beef Meatballs were also prepared correctly. The meat was tenderized just enough so it had some resistance, yet soft to chew. There was a good mix of water chestnuts and green onion for flavour and texture. We ended up getting both the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll and the Beef Rice Noodle Roll. We found the rice noodle to be a touch stiff. However, the fillings were good. The shrimp were big and crunchy while the beef was tenderized properly much like the beef meatballs. Furthermore, there was a hint of dried orange peel which added a nice essence to the meat. Shockingly, we didn't go for any pan-fried rice noodle rolls this time, instead opting for rice. And this was at the suggestion of my son. I guess he got bored of rice noodle rolls! We had both the Pork Sparerib Rice and the Minced Pork Patty with Salted Fish Rice. Naturally, these were not the "real" hot pot rice we would get from a place such as The One Spot Soup House, yet with that being said, the rice was chewy and only slightly wet on the edge. The pork patty was a little different where we saw a mix of tender hand-chopped meat with shrimp and shitake mushrooms. The textures were good as well as the varied flavours. Combined with the salted fish, there was more than a one-note flavour. The sparerib rice was equally good with plenty of nicely tenderized, meaty rib pieces and a large chicken foot on top.
For some odd reason, we keep ordering Xiao Long Bao during Cantonese Dim Sum even though we can predict the end result. I guess if one goes in with reasonable expectations, there will be less disappointment. Well, what can I say? There was not much in the way of soup in these dumplings and the skin was thick (although not that thick considering others we had). At the very least, the meat was tender and had a good amount of flavour. Normally, we do not order the Lo Mei Gai (sticky rice) because it would mean doubling-up on the starches. Good idea if you want to get full, but it doesn't leave a whole lot of room for ordering anything else. With 5 adults and 4 kids, there would be someone bound to finish it. That would be Ip-Man, the endless pit of destruction (in terms of food that is). He arrived late and cleaned up everything we could not finish. Every group needs one of these, especially during Dim Sum because it never fails - one of each item is left! As for the lo mei gai itself, there were 2 large ones in the steamer. Clearly from the picture, it was not merely sticky rice. There was an abundance of meat and sauce to both flavour the rice and to keep it moist. I thought this was pretty good.
Whenever Elaine joins us for Dim Sum, we have to get an order of the Phoenix Talons (chicken feet). Interestingly, she doesn't really prefer offal, sashimi or rare steaks, but she likes chicken feet. Go figure. Anyways, these were pretty spot on. The skin was intact while the gelatin and cartilage were soft underneath. As evidenced in the picture, there was a pronounced garlicky flavour. The peppers on top were more for colour than flavour as we really didn't taste any of it. Lastly, but not necessarily served last (it arrived mid-meal), we had the Egg Tarts. At the very least, it showed up near the end of the meal (don't really like it when it shows up first!). Although light in colour, the tart shell was flaky and buttery. The filling was sweet, but not too much. The kids seemed to really enjoy them. And in the end, we really had no real big issues with the food - pretty good quality at reasonable prices. Service was pretty sparse because the staff seemed quite busy with the full restaurant, however, they were pleasant. The one thing we really didn't enjoy was the seating arrangements. We couldn't believe they stuffed 2 tables where only one existed before. I could hear the complaints from the table next to us. Well, how could I not hear? They were literally sitting right next to me! So if you don't mind getting really friendly with the table next to you and the long lineups, Golden Harvest is a good mid-range choice in Vancouver.
- Above average food
- Reasonable pricing
- Intrusive seating arrangements
- Sparse service