Wah Wing Szechuan Restaurant

Despite having been settled in Vancouver for the last seven years or so, my family had never been to dimsum before. I mean, I’d gone for dimsum before, but always with friends, never with my family. I’m not sure why, but it was probably due to the fact that we almost always go out for dinner, rather than lunch, and sometimes ordering at a Chinese restaurant can be daunting when you don’t speak Chinese. In any case, though, we finally decided to satisfy our cravings for dimsum by trekking out to Wah Wing one Sunday afternoon.

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If you’re like me and aren’t too familiar with the world of dimsum, it can be difficult trying to decide what to order, especially since the English menu descriptions are usually less than helpful. Still, I know enough to order the Siu Mai ($4.25). The shrimp on top were a nice touch, being aesthetically pleasing and letting us know how much care was put into the food. The siu mai themselves were moist and meaty with a nice bounce, while the shrimp on top provided a nice textural snap.

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I guess I’m still a kid at heart because one of my favourite items to get is always the Lo Mai Gai ($4.25), or the sticky rice wrap. It’s just so fun to unravel that lotus leaf and discover the sticky rice within. Anyways, the rice here was moist, but not too wet, and quite filling. It was also filled with meat and other savoury treats, like mushrooms, which added a slight note of earthiness.

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Next up, we had the Steamed Beef Balls ($3.95), which were nicely cut up for us as to be more sharable. Beef generally isn’t my meat of choice, but here it was nicely tenderized, smooth, and tender. There was a subtle textural crunch from the water chestnuts. These balls also had a distinct aroma from the greens, and although I’m not sure what they were, I really enjoyed it.

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We had another kid-friendly item in the BBQ Pork Buns ($3.95). The pork filling was predictably sweet, but also slightly savoury at the same time. I thought that the morsels of pork were also quite substantial, with less filler and fatty pieces than other dimsum I’ve had. For me, though, the highlight of these is always the bun itself, and here it didn’t disappoint, being pillowy soft.

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I also ordered the Pan Fried Turnip Cake ($3.95). Here, it was not too greasy, again both combining the natural sweetness and savouriness of the ingredients. However, I found it a bit dense for my liking, and a little too dry, as I kept having to reach over for my tea. Still, I enjoyed it, as it was one of the more filling items at the table, compared to the dumplings or the beef balls.

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Last up, we also ordered the Fried Green Beans Special ($7.95), which is a lunch special that includes a bowl of rice and a soup of choice. The beans themselves were very fresh and quite crisp. The taste of the beans themselves was allowed to shine, as the dish itself was neither too salty or spicy. Unlike other versions I’ve sampled, these also included some diced onions, which also provided an enjoyable textural crunch.

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As part of the lunch special, we also received a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup. I can’t pretend to be an expert on this, but I thought this was one of the best versions I’ve personally had. There was a good balance of flavours present, and the mushrooms added a subtle silkiness and earthiness. But then again, I enjoy mushrooms in just about anything. In any case, I especially thought that the fried green beans special was a good deal, considering that the meal includes both rice and soup.

Thankfully, though, my family enjoyed our first Vancouver dimsum experience, and so we decided to return for a dinner service. The restaurant was quite crowded, but the service was excellent, as it had been during dimsum. Our tea was promptly replaced without us having to hail down a waiter, and the servers, knowing that we weren’t Chinese, were thoughtful enough to identify each dish for us.

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Once I saw it on the menu, I eagerly suggested that we order the Half BBQ Duck ($12.95), since I love duck in any form. To be honest, it was a bit pricey, but I think it was worth it, as the duck was moist and tender, and not at all tough, which can often be a problem with duck. The skin was crispy and flavourful without being too greasy, and there was plenty of meat on the plate as well.

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My parents always like to order the Mongolian Beef ($12.95). This version was fine, but ultimately nothing memorable. This version was seriously lacking in the vegetable department. Some kind of broccoli would have definitely helped matters. It was fine, but nothing we would order again.

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Moving on, we also had the Tofu with Minced Beef ($12.95). This pretty much had everything we were looking for. The tofu itself was silky soft, and went perfectly with the steamed rice we ordered. It was a little salty and a little spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. The beef had soaked up the sauce and was admittedly quite salty, but I find that that’s the way it is at every restaurant. The portion size was also perfect for the price we paid.

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Lastly, we had an item we always order for my mom’s benefit, the Pan-Fried Soy Sauce Rice Noodles ($10.95). The noodles were a tad too soft for my liking, as they could have been chewier. The onions, meanwhile, were undercooked, being too raw. Still, there was a nice assortment of ingredients on the plate, including large, tender slices of beef, so I suppose that makes up for it.

After two visits to Wah Wing, we were well-satisfied, and we would definitely return. I can’t say that I or my family are experts on dimsum, but both of our experiences here left us impressed with the food, the service, and the prices.

Wah Wing Szechuan Restaurant
2748 Lougheed Highway
Port Coquitlam, BC

Wah Wing Szechuan Restaurant 華榮川菜館 on Urbanspoon


Tip Thai Restaurant

Living out in the burbs definitely has its benefits, but sometimes it can be difficult to find new and exciting places to eat. (Going all the way out to the West End for ramen is always a pain). Generally my eating adventures have me journeying westward from my home base of Coquitlam, but sometimes my family likes to travel east into PoCo for some eats. Since we’re all big fans of Thai food, we decided to try out Tip Thai one night to see if it’d measure up to the Thai restaurants in Vancouver.

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We started off with the Tom Yum Kung ($6.95) as usual. The soup consisted of halved tomatoes, prawns, and button mushrooms. It tasted like every other version I’ve had of this soup, sour and refreshing but also quite spicy. The broth tasted strongly of lemongrass, while the prawns were pleasantly fat and juicy. We used the soup to clear our palates when consuming the other dishes. I liked that they didn’t hold back on the spices, which made it taste that much more authentic and delicious.

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And of course we had to have the Green Curry ($9.95), which is a personal favourite of mine. We were able to choose the level of spiciness for this dish, and we opted for medium. As expected, the curry tasted strongly of coconut milk, and was both sweet and savoury. It was full of large pieces of soft eggplant, and small pieces of moist chicken. The curry itself had a strong, spicy aftertaste, making it great to eat alongside the rice.

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Instead of ordering a plain rice on the side, we had the Tip Thai Fried Rice ($9.95), Jasmine rice stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, and broccoli. This was a normal fried rice, really, with nothing blatantly Thai about it. But then again, it was a good dish to have at the table, especially if you’re not crazy about spicy foods. The rice itself was slightly salty, but other than that, it was tasty, if slightly unmemorable.

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We had another Thai classic in the Pad Thai ($9.95), served with egg, bean sprouts, onion, pressed tofu, and topped with crushed peanuts.  I was well-satisfied with the version here, which had none of that ketchup stickiness but instead the tanginess and sweetness from tamarind sauce. The noodles themselves were chewy and toothsome, exactly the way they should be.

DSC_0014We had more noodles in the form of Pad Se-Ew ($9.95), thicker rice noodles stir-fried with soy sauce, egg, carrots, cabbages, and broccoli. Like the pad thai, the noodles here were pleasantly chewy, while the beef was moist, tender, and easy to chew. The dish had an overall savoury, slightly salty taste, which was to be expected, I suppose. While I enjoyed these noodles, for me, nothing can ever beat a good pad thai.

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And lastly, we had the Pad Pak Ruam-mit ($9.95), which was, for me, the least familiar dish out of the ones we sampled. Despite the unfamiliar name, the dish was rather simple, with vegetables and chicken stir-fried in garlic sauce. It wasn’t a bad dish to be sure, but nothing incredibly memorable, and to be honest, there was no real discernible taste other than the saltiness. If I were to visit again, I probably wouldn’t order this dish a second time.

Overall, the food we had at Tip Thai was decent, but nothing special, and quite typical of a restaurant its size. I suppose we should also factor in the location. Let’s face it: I wouldn’t expect mind-bogglingly amazing Thai food from a small restaurant in PoCo. In any case, though, the service was prompt, and the food arrived at our table at the speed of light, despite the presence of other patrons in the restaurant. So if you happen to be in PoCo and in need of a quick lunch or dinner, Tip Thai would be a decent spot. I mean, of course there’s better places for Thai food, but probably not anywhere close by.

Tip Thai Restaurant
2606 Shaughnessy Street
Port Coquitlam, BC
Tip Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Sushi K Kamizato

After a tiring day of shopping at the Seattle Premium Outlets, my family decided to eat out for dinner, since my mom was too exhausted to cook anything. We decided to try out Sushi K Kamizato, which had been recommended to me by my friend Pickles. It’s a small restaurant located in a fairly new complex of buildings which include a large Shoppers Drug Mart and a pet supply store.

I found the decor of the restaurant interesting. It’s a blend of modern, minimalist furniture, traditional Japanese elements, and, somewhat oddly, a wall of LP covers. From this, I figured that the chef is a fan of classic rock–an inference supported by the music that was playing throughout our visit. Personally, I didn’t enjoy this, partly because I had somewhat of a headache after the long drive, but also because I didn’t feel that the music really complemented the atmosphere of the restaurant, or the food. I suppose that’s just nitpicking on my part though.

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We started off with four small bowls of complimentary Salmon and Tuna Karaage. The bite-size morsels of fish had been freshly fried in a light layer of batter, and drizzled with what tasted like spicy Japanese mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce. These pieces of fish still retained a tiny bit of their natural fishiness, which I enjoyed–why eat fish if you can’t stand a little fishiness? Overall, these unexpected snacks were a pleasant way to start off the meal, and gave off a positive impression, especially to us as first-time patrons of the restaurant.

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We shortly received our order of Appetizer Sashimi ($9.95), which included two pieces each of tuna, wild salmon, ebi, and hokkigai. The fish itself was incredibly fresh and obviously of a high quality. If you’re used to the huge portions and low prices at Sushi Garden, this might seem a bit pricey, but here the focus is clearly on quality over quantity. Still, the slices of tuna and salmon were quite large. I liked that the sashimi was served alongside some cucumber slices, which we used to clear our palates.

DSC_0002I felt bloated from having spent the majority of my day sitting in a small car, so I decided on the Tuna Tataki Salad ($9), which consisted of baby spinach, slices of cucumber, cubes of tuna tataki, and some small pieces of pickled daikon, red pepper, and some other pickled veggies. The dressing was a mixture of vinaigrette and soy sauce. This was exactly what I wanted from my salad, as the veggies were fresh and crisp, and the tataki was perfectly seared and flavourful. I especially enjoyed all the tiny pieces of daikon, which added an extra crunch and refreshing acidity.

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My brother, meanwhile, had the Tuna Don ($11.95). There were two kinds of tuna here: the regular slices of tuna sashimi, alongside tuna in some kind of spicy mixture with pickled veggies and julienned carrots. We were especially impressed with the chef’s attention to detail, exhibited in these small pieces of ginger dispersed throughout the rice, which added an element of freshness to the meal. However, I suppose this could be a turn-off for people who dislike the taste of ginger, though. The fish itself was fresh and tasty, without being too mushy, as tuna often is.

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My dad had the Chicken Teriyaki Teishoku ($8.95), which included ebi sunomono, miso soup, and rice. The sunomono was tasty, while we found the miso soup a tad salty (which is nothing unusual). Although the food came in a small quantity, nothing was amiss. The chicken was moist, and the whole thing wasn’t doused in overly sweet or salty teriyaki sauce. The flavours were quite mild, which we appreciated. I liked how this version of chicken teriyaki tasted very clean and allowed the simple ingredients to shine.

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My mom opted for the Yakisoba ($8.95), which comes with either chicken or veggies. It was a small portion size, but the chicken was once again nice and moist. This bordered on being bland, but my family happens to prefer bland food to oversauced dishes, so it was perfectly fine for us. The noodles were chewy and had good bite. Overall, we were pleased with this dish, although I personally prefer it when yakisoba is served on a sizzling hotplate.

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Lastly, we also had an Appetizer Tempura ($5) to share. This consisted of two prawns, and two pieces of carrot, and one piece of zucchini. The tempura had clearly been freshly fried in clean oil. It arrived at our table quite hot, but the veggies were still naturally crisp underneath the light layer of batter. Along with the requisite dipping sauce, this was also served with some grated daikon. As far as tempura goes, this was excellent, satisfying our craving for deep-fried food while not leaving us feeling too disgusting for having consumed it.

Overall, we were pleased with our experience at Sushi K Kamizato, although it failed to eclipse Matoi Sushi as our all-time favourite spot. I would happily recommend this restaurant to anyone in the neighbourhood, and will definitely return to try their specialty rolls, which we weren’t in the mood to try during this visit.

Sushi K Kamizato
2105-2850 Shaughnessy Street
Port Coquitlam, BC

Sushi K Kamizato 神里 on Urbanspoon