Sherman's Food Adventures: April 2023


Oh boy, we haven't officially been back to Suhang since 2010.  Now I say "officially" because I have been back in 2016 in my quest to find the best Xiao Long Bao in Richmond.  In reality, Suhang has been one of the best places in the Lower Mainland for XLBs for quite some time.  Hence, with my cousin (Cable Car Guy) was visiting from the Bay Area, I felt this was the place we would go since he was craving XLBs (he went to Shanghai River with us last time he was in town).

Not sure why we ordered the Peking Duck (because we normally want to eat more of the Dim Sum items), but my mom wanted it.  It turned out to be a bit hit and miss though.  We asked for more meat attached to the skin and they did that perfectly.  However, the skin wasn't uniformly crispy and there was quite a bit of fat.  The accompanying crepes were excellent being thin, soft and a bit chewy.

We chose the Lettuce Wrap as our second course for the Peking duck.  There is no way around saying this, but it was terrible.  The pieces of duck were stir-fried far too long, hence became dry and chewy.  Furthermore, the amount of dark soy not only meant the dish was not particularly appealing to look it, the caramelization made the dish rather salty.  At the very least, the veggies were still crunchy and the lettuce was prepared properly.

So here we are with 2 versions of their Xiao Long Bao.  We had the regular version first and noticed right away that the dumpling skin was rather thick and somewhat chewy.  For some reason, half of them were deflated where the soup had leaked out.  The other half did have soup and it was good with a meaty sweetness as well as gingery and shaoxing wine notes.  The pork filling was tender, yet a touch gritty.  As for the Crab Xiao Long Bao, we also found that half were also devoid of soup.   They were pretty much the same as the regular version except for the addition of crab meat.  It did add some sweet brininess, but I would've liked a bit more impact.

Continuing on with pork-stuffed things, we had the Pan-Fried Pork Buns as well.  These were pretty solid with perfectly seared bottom where it was brown (bordering on becoming burnt, but that is a good thing) and crispy.  Due to that, it was nutty and aromatic.  The bun itself was somewhere between fluffy and dense.  Inside, the pork filling was similar to the XLBs being a touch gritty.  The soup inside was sweet and a touch porky.

Cable Car Guy and I noticed the Spareribs with Wuxi-Style Sauce on the menu (the picture was quite delicious-looking).  However, the actual dish did not resemble the menu photo in any way.  With that being said, it still was quite tasty and the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender.  The whole dish ate quite sweet and it could've used a bit more vinegar for balance.

Of course we had to order the kid's favourite dish in the Shanghai Stir-Fried Rice Cakes.  Despite its pale appearance (this needed some more dark soy), the dish did have enough caramelization via sufficient wok hei (with a very hot wok!).  Therefore, the flavours were caramelized.  Texturally, the rice cakes were a bit soft, but still had chew.  We really wished to added more shredded pork and veggies to it though.

Staying on the carb train, I decided to try their Dan Dan Mein (noodles).  As you can see, this was rather brothy.  This resulted in the watered-down flavours.  That was really too bad as the peanut sauce, chili sauce and peanuts were really tasty together.  The peanut flavour still came through and the spice level was muted (due to the amount of broth).  Noodles were nicely al dente though.

Staying with the classics, we ordered the Szechuan Beef Noodle.  This was pretty good with a broth that was on the milder side in terms of seasoning, but it did have enough spiciness.  Again, the noodles were al dente and the spinach was not overcooked.  The best part was the ample amount of sliced beef shank.  These were fall-apart tender and took on all the flavours of the stewing liquid with some spice and liquorice notes.

To get some more veggies into the meal, we opted for a pretty standard choice in the Stir-Fried Pea Shoots with Garlic.  We found the portion size to be quite generous (as pea shoots cook down quite a bit).  In terms of preparation, the dish as wok-fried with enough heat that there was not residual moisture on the place.  It was seasoned well and it was not greasy.

Our last dish was the Salted Salmon Fried Rice and for me at least, I really enjoyed it.  The big chunks of moist salted salmon were plentiful and hence impactful.  Chewy and nutty, the rice was texturally on point with enough seasoning.  Plenty of high wok heat caramelizing the flavours.  So this dish was good, but the whole meal itself was inconsistent.  Maybe our expectations were too high?  I felt our recent Shanghainese meal at Yuan's Garden to be superior all across the board.  Maybe this was an off night?  Hope not, because it lags behind many of their competitors in Richmond.

The Good:
- Surprisingly attentive service
- Decent portion sizes
- Seating is fairly spacious

The Bad:

- Food is hit and miss

Yuan's Garden

The Shanghainese dim sum game in Richmond is pretty much the best in the Lower Mainland.  Sure, we have some spots scattered around that are pretty good, but yah Richmond is king of all things Chinese and parking lot chaos.  Speaking of which, we decided to check out Yuan's Garden on Alexandra Road and yep, their parking lot is woefully insufficient for the businesses in the complex.  Hence, we found cars parked in spots that weren't even spots (not that we were surprised).  For those familiar with Shanghai Morning, this is essentially their new location under a new name.

Anyways, unlike parking spots, we could reserve a table and thankfully we did as the place was packed.  We kicked things off with the Hot & Sour Soup that featured a chili oil slick on top.  Despite that, the soup itself was not that spicy.  I found it rather mild with enough tanginess.  There could've been more ingredients as it wasn't that fulfilling.  Overall, the soup was decent though as the viscosity was right and textures were good.

Onto the Xiao Long Bao, we ended up ordering 2 steamers, but only one at a time.  Good strategy when you want to keep them hot and steamy.  These featured a medium-thick dumpling skin that was tender with a bit of elasticity.  There was a considerable amount of soup inside that had strong ginger and shaoxing wine notes.  The meat was plentiful and plump being juicy and moist.

We also got the Drunken Chicken as this is one of my mom's favourite dishes.  This was also pretty solid with a good portion size for the price.  It featured an equal amount of dark and white meat.  The skin was nicely gelatinzed while sporting an appealing colour.  As for the meat, both types were tender and a touch firm due to the use of free-range chicken.  There was enough wine flavour to give some floral notes to go with the saltiness.

As we already had the chicken, we decided that we'd get the Nanjing Duck as well.  Personally, I thought this was better than the chicken.  Neatly cut, the slices of breast meat were tender without any dry portions.  It was flavourful with a muted saltiness with background liquorice notes.  The skin was gelantized and it was completely edible without being flabby.  One of the better versions of this dish I've had lately.

Off to my kid's favourite dish, we had to the Shanghai-Style Stir-Fried Rice Cakes.  As you can see in the picture, they used enough dark soy to give the dish colour.  Furthermore, there was enough wok hei (a really hot wok), to caramelize each slice of rice cake.  It was cooked enough that they were tender and soft while keeping their classic chewiness.  Seasoning was on point too.

Instead of getting the usual spicy beef noodle, we opted for the tamer Five Spice Beef Noodle instead.  Yes, this was indeed very mild and in fact, perfect for young kids and those who do not like spice.  For me, I would've preferred the Szechuan style instead.  With that being said, the noodles were al dente while the broth was clean and slightly sweet.  As for the sliced beef shank, it was light on flavour, but quite tender.

In addition to the XLBs, we got the Pan Fried Pork Buns as our second dumpling dish.  Although you cannot see it, the bottoms were nicely browned and crispy.  Hidden within the relatively fluffy bun, was similarly juicy and moist ground pork as the XLBs.  There was also a good amount of sweet meaty soup that was not all that greasy.  In fact, the bun itself did not soak up too much oil either.

So our last 2 items consisted of the Fried Salty Donut as well as the Shao Beng with sliced beef shank.  I have to say the donut was quite interesting as the texture was akin to an egg puff pastry.  The outside was super crispy, but the inside was fluffy and eggy.  Not typical, but still good.  As for the shao beng, it was flaky and crispy with lots of tender beef inside.  I did find it a bit too delicate as it shattered after being cut.  Overall, the food at Yuan's Garden was solid and reasonably-priced.  It is a good alternative to some of the usual spots in Shanghai River, Suhang and Top Shanghai.

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Reasonably-priced
- Ok service

The Bad:
- Super tight seating
- Insufficient parking lot

Sirius Craving @ Coho Eatery

For me, at least, Between 2 Buns rocks the best smash burgers in town.  For those unfamiliar, a smash burger consists of a ball of meat, "smashed" by either the spatula or cast iron weight into a thin patty.  This usually results in the patty being cooked quickly and develop some crispy parts (especially along the edges).  Now there is a new challenger in town with Sirius Craving and their smash burgers.  They are actually a food truck, but now have set up shop in the Coho Eatery in White Rock.  We stopped by to check it out after picking up some parcels in Blaine.

To get a baseline, we went for the Single Smashburger with American cheese, caramelized onions, Sirius pickles and Sirius sauce on a brown butter-toasted potato roll.  Now compared to many other smashburgers I've had including B2B, the beef patty here was significantly bigger and more fulfilling.  Usually single patty burgers are not substantial, but this one was.  Loved the crispy and aromatic edges, yet at the same time, the entire patty had crispy parts.

For myself, I had to get the Triple Smashburger with all the same goodies except with 3 large smashed brisket & chuck beef patties.  OMG, this was quite the burger!  I would say this satisfies even the largest of appetites.  Furthermore, ensure you have enough napkins because this was a "siriusly" messy concoction.  Everything about the burger worked including the soft buttery roll to the generous amount of beef with a load of sauce and tangy pickles.  However, the thing that put the whole thing over the edge was the impactful caramelized onions.

For our sides, I decided to go for the baseline again in the coated Sirius Fries with brown butter and sirius seasoning.  These were nicely crispy and full-flavoured.  For me, it tasted like I was eating pizza with a shot of Mexican spices.  There was some earthiness to go almost a cheesy nuttiness (but it was really the butter).  Although it was tossed in brown butter, the fries weren't incredibly greasy.

Then we also went for the Crazy Fries with Sirius fries, American cheese, caramelized onions, Sirius Sauce, and Sirius Seasoning.  So think of this as somewhat similar to In-N-Out fries "animal style".  However, these Sirius fries are way better than In-N-Out fries (even if you ask for them to be done medium-well).  Hence, the whole thing was pretty tasty with the same elements as the regular fries, yet smothered by caramelized onions, cheese and sauce.  So it was the same taste as the burger without the meat.  Overall, we thought the burgers here were every bit as good as B2B.  They are different, but great in their own way.  Would come back out here to eat them!

The Good:
- Large crispy beef patties
- Love the bun and the caramelized onions
- Nice spot with the view of the pier

The Bad:
- Would've loved something other than takeout containers, but we get why they use them
- Like any business on the Marine Drive, parking is tricky

Fish Cafe

Now most people know about Fish Cafe as it has been around for quite some time.  However, I haven't been back since 2015, so I couldn't tell you if it is still good.  That prompted us to visit the place on a whim without reservations.  We were lucky to score a table especially since it was the weekend.  The place is small and cozy with super reasonable prices for fresh seafood.  As I've mentioned in many of my posts, the cost of food is through-the-roof these days and finding reasonably-priced places is becoming increasingly difficult.  I believe Fish Cafe is one of those spots.

To start off, we went for something simple in the small Salad and a side of Garlic Bread.  Normally, I do not talk about green salads, but this one was pretty solid with fresh greens and a bevy of seeds and sprouts.  That garlic bread didn't look like much, but it as done right.  Nicely toasted with colour, the bread was soft and warm while the exterior was crispy.  Plenty of garlicky butteriness to go around.

If you've never had the Grilled Calamari at Fish Cafe before, you are truly missing out.  This has to be one of the best dishes in the city.  Most other places that do grilled calamari often do not establish any charring or crunchy bits.  At Fish Cafe, they accomplish this expertly featuring tender squid complete with caramelization and crispy charred bits on the outside.  The result is a textural delight as well as intense flavours.  I suggest you give this a try even if this is the only dish you have here.

However, there is more than squid here that is good as evidenced by the wonderfully prepared Blackened Swordfish with rice and garlic butter.  This swordfish was prepared masterfully where it was moist and flaky.  The blackening spices were flavourful without being overpowering.  The key to this dish was the delicious garlic butter.  The fact it was not completed melted meant that we could "spread" it onto each piece of fish.  It was impactful where the creaminess of the butter added texture while the amount of garlic provided an extra jolt of something something.  I'm not a huge fan of their rice, but it wasn't bad being chewy and seasoned.

Also couldn't resist getting some Grilled Scallops accompanied by fries and also garlic butter.  Considering the price, this was a generous portion of perfectly prepared scallops.  They were well-charred while still being buttery and soft.  Naturally sweet, there wasn't a huge need for too much seasoning (it was seasoned though).  Of course, we dipped it into the addictive garlic butter.  If I were to choose a side, the crispy fries would be it.  Much better than the rice in my opinion.  There was plenty of potatoey goodness beyond the golden crisp exterior.

I originally wasn't going to get the Clam Chowder, but decided to do so anyways.  Instead of a bowl, I went for the cup.  However, they essentially used a bowl and filled it a little more than halfway.  I wouldn't say this was especially briny, but the clams were definitely there.  I found the viscosity to be on point without being too creamy.  Veggies were softened, but not to the point they were melting away.  Overall, it was a good chowder and really, the rest of the food was excellent.  Considering the reasonable prices here for seafood, I would say this is one of the better deals in the city.  I am already planning my return visit!

The Good:
- Well-prepared and fresh seafood
- Reasonable prices
- Friendly service

The Bad:
- Seating is tight
- Chef and staff interaction is cringe-worthy

Shawn's Chicken

If you haven't already noticed, the proliferation of KFC joints (Korean Fried Chicken) within the Lower Mainland has been exponential.  Hey, I'm not surprised because KFC is freakin' delicious.  However, there is an under-represented version of fried chicken - Chinese Fried Chicken.  Is that really a thing?  Well, kind of...  We have Taiwanese fried chicken where it is often served as nuggets with five spice and fried basil.  There is also a version that is pounded and is as big as your face.  But there is a new place in town that is not Taiwanese, but rather, it is called Shawn's Chicken.  It is actually Yongshun Fried Chicken out of Beijing that has some flavour elements that are similar to Taiwanese fried chicken, but is unique in its own right.  Jacqueline and I were invited to check it out.

We started with the 2-Piece Combo served with a choice of fries or yam fries and a soft drink.  For any of their fried chicken options, you can choose between original or spicy.  For this one, we had the original and it was flavourful as promised on the menu.  It was well-brined (in a broth) being super juicy and succulent.  There was a multitude of flavours, of which was definitely not like any other fried chicken out there.  It had some elements of Taiwanese fried chicken with some liquorice notes.  The accompanying fries were starch-coated (seems like Cavendish) and crispy.  You can also choose yam fries as well.

We then tried the Spicy Chicken Wings which were actually the original version, but tossed in seasoning.   This featured a super crunchy exterior with rendered skin.  The meat was just as juicy and tender as the drum and thigh.  In terms of flavour, the meat itself tasted like the original, but the seasoning spice had considerable impact with heat, earthiness and slight numbing.  If I had to choose, I would definitely go with the spicy over the original.

The most dramatic item we had was the Axe Chicken which was a fried chicken leg that was as big as my face.  Again, it was well-brined with juices literally squirting out of the meat as I tore the drum from the thigh.  That batter was nicely-seasoned and firmly crunchy.  It stayed as such even as it sat for quite awhile.  Loved how they drain the chicken after it is fried in their special rack deep-fryers.  Hence, it wasn't greasy at all.

In addition to the usual soft drinks, they have 2 special beverages in the Lemonada and Plum Juice.  These are only $1.00 more than the price of a regular soft drink ($2.75), so I think they are worth it.  Unlike most fountain drink lemonades, this one here was so natural-tasting and didn't rely on the sugar for flavour.  The plum was surprisingly not too sweet and had a mild essence.  As you can see, the menu at Shawn's Chicken is completely focused only on fried chicken.  They do that well and the chicken is both juicy and well-marinated.  Batter is crispy where the spicy is the one to get (in my opinion).  Prices are on the higher side, but reflect the freshness and size of the product.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Juicy and well-marinated chicken
- Crunchy batter with rendered skin
- Made-to-order

The Bad:
- On the higher end of the fried chicken price spectrum

Daan Go

If you are fan of Masterchef, I'm sure you know that David George and Christopher Siu are former winners of the show.  David George took season 2 (where Christopher finished 5) and went on to be the corporate chef for S+L for a few years.  Christopher Siu won season 7 being well-known for his precision and natural talent with desserts and pastries.  After his first appearance on the show in season 2, he finished his pharmacy degree and went on to open Daan Go Cake Lab.  He has expanded to 2 locations in Ontario and now he has ventured into the GVRD, specifically Richmond, with fellow season 2 competitor David George as a partner.  I was invited to do a sneak peek of the new store and all of the whimsical treats they offer.

Getting right to it, let's talk about a slice of cake (or phonetically in Cantonese: daan go).  We had the 3:15 consisting of HK milk tea mousse, coffee crémeux, evaporated milk crémeux & pineapple bun crumb.  Upon first bite, the promised flavours in the description came through brilliantly.  The tea was apparent with a creaminess that made way for the coffee.  I found the sweetness level to be purposeful without going overboard.  As for the sponge, it was fluffy and moist.

Onto their whimsical creations, we tried the Cheesecake Fromage with white chocolate, lime & passionfruit cheesecake and citrus ganache truffle mousse.  This was probably my favourite because it had a good amount of tanginess from the lime & passionfruit that was balanced by the right amount of sweetness.  Beyond the fruity tang, the actual cheese flavour was quite apparent, especially at the finish.  Texturally, I loved how light and creamy it ate.

Another delicious dessert was also one of the cutest in the Lucky Duck.  No, the bathtub was not edible (only thing that wasn't), but it did contain a tasty combination of lemon curd, pistachio cream, almond sponge and white chocolate mousse.  Once again, the balanced flavours made this a delight to eat.  There was a creamy tanginess accented by nutty aromatics.  Loved that the almond sponge had an appealing chew to it.

Could this dessert being any more intricate trying to look like a Ramen Bowl?  That is certainly Christopher's attention to detail.  Contained within the dark chocolate bowl, we found coffee jelly, milk chocolate mousse and caramelized pear.  Cleverly masquerading as the broth, the coffee jelly was quite mild.  I loved the caramelized pear as it was texturally appealing while lightly sweet.  Chocolate mousse was light and also not overly sweet.

Looking very much like a cactus complete with chocolate "dirt", the Firmi sported malted milk chocolate, dark chocolate mousse, salted caramel and chocolate almond sponge.  Similar to the ramen, the pot was edible as it was made of dark chocolate.  Once again, the sponge was firmer and was a nice contrast to the creamy mousse and malted milk chocolate.  This wasn't very sweet but the layer of salted caramel really stood out.

They also have a good selection of character Macarons that are super cute.  For my selection, we had mango, earl grey, pistachio, black sesame, matcha and HK milk tea.  Beyond the impactful and natural-tasting filling, the macaron itself was texturally pleasing.  From the initial shattering of the exterior to the soft and chewy interior, the macarons were really good.

Our lone savoury treat was the Furikake Scroll Croissant.  This was a little different, but for me, I love the seaweedy and savoury flavour of furikake.  Hence, this was right up my alley with pointed seaweed notes.  The croissant itself shattered and featured soft insides.  It was buttery and aromatic.  Overall, the stuff at Daan Go is playful and appealing in appearance.  However, there is also plenty of substance behind the cuteness.  Flavours are impactful and delicious while the textures are also on par.  I think I've found a go-to spot for treats to bring to parties!

*Some of the items were complimentary (I paid for the half of them)*

The Good:
- Whimsical and cute
- Impactful flavours
- On point textures

The Bad:
- Maybe for the future, they could use some more savoury pastries

B&D Authentic Viet Cuisine

So here we are again, on the corner of Kingsway at Salisbury in Burnaby...  Why is this so significant you ask?  Well, the restaurant on this corner has changed so many times, I've lost count.  If someone can help me out, please fill in the missing restaurant...  Right now, it is B&D Vietnamese (and the subject of this blog post), and before that, we had (in descending order) Asian Cuisine by 18 Chefs, Queen's Cafe, Wonderful House, Private Home Cuisine and ???.    Okay back to B&D, we finally headed out there to give the place a try.

We stared with the Salt & Pepper Crunchy Wings with a side of pickles.  These were indeed crunchy as the skin was well-rendered and firm.  Since they fried these pretty aggressively, the meat was on the drier side, but not overly so.  The wings did have some flavour, but could've benefitted from more salt and pepper.  Loved the pickles on the side, they added nice crunch and tang.

Next, we had the Mini B&D Spring Rolls stuffed with ground pork, taro, carrot, jicama, wood-ear fungus and vermicelli.  These bite-sized springs rolls were fairly firm due to it being filled with plenty of ingredients and also being wrapped tightly.  Would've preferred rice paper, but these were still good with lots of texture (especially the taro).  They were a little light on the seasoning, but the side of fish sauce helped alleviate that.

Our last appie was the Papaya Salad with shredded unripe papaya, pickles, shallot, Vietnamese herbs and prawns.  This was a good version as the textural crunch from the unripe papaya was both appealing and bright.  Herbs added aroma while the pickles provided tanginess.  Add in the fish sauce and this was full of flavours including the usual fermented saltiness.  I personally like this salad to be on the spicier side and I wished there was that option.

Onto the mains, my daughter had a hard time deciding (as she usually does) and finally took our suggestion to try the Bò Kho (Beef Stew Noodles).  As you can see, there was no absence of beef shank which was super tender and flavourful.  The broth was aromatic and had good meatiness in addition to the seasonings.  The noodles were also prepared properly being al dente.

For my mom, she went for the Braised Duck Noodle featuring 6-hour braised duck leg, fresh coconut broth, shitake mushroom, sher-li-hon, red date and goji berry, served with egg noodles.  Although the broth was rich and full of depth, it could've used maybe a touch more salt.  Besides that, the duck leg was fall-off-the-bone tender while the egg noodles were appealingly chewy.

My dad had the B&D Special Pho with 18 hr simmered beef broth, rare beef sirloin, flank, tripe, tendon, and beef balls.  This was blessed with enough toppings to make this a fulfilling bowl of noodles.  The meats were tender, including the soft tendon.  As for the broth, it was not bad with sweetness and a background meatiness.  It was clean and pleasant.  Noodles were perfectly al dente.

My son went for the Grilled Pork Chop Rice featuring pork chop marinated for 24 hrs with our house sauce, green onion oil, and fried egg, served with cucumber, tomatoes and fish sauce.  This was a large portion of food with 2 nicely charred pork chops.  They were fairly tender with good marinated flavours.  Rice was dry and chewy, great for accepting the fish sauce as moisture and flavouring agent.

Viv and I waited a long time for our dish being the Lẩu Bò Đà Lạt (Da Lat Beef Hot Pot) featuring 24 hr simmered beef broth, beef flank, beef bones, beef tendon, taro, tofu, egg noodles, and veggies served with house special fermented tofu sauce.  This was more than enough food for both of us where the broth was flavourful with some lemongrass and meaty notes.   I found the brisket cubes in the broth to be a bit chewy while the tendon was soft.  Generally, this was satisfying but I would've been happy with my own bowl of Pho.  In the end, we found the food at B&D to be pleasant if not needed just a bit more seasoning.  Prices were completely fair for the portion sizes and the service was friendly.

The Good:
- Nice people
- Fair portions
- Fair prices

The Bad:
- Maybe more impactful seasoning needed
- The wait for the hot pot was very long

Search this Site