After reading the Vancouver Sun article about a new chinese barbeque shop in Chinatown, I figured to give it a try. I wanted to buy some bbq pork anyways.
Ordinarily, a new chinese bbq shop opening is not a news story. But in Chinatown, it is. Chinatown has been shedding chinese merchants at a steady pace since the early 1990s. In recent years, there have been more fusion restaurants and hipster bars making Chinatown home, than chinese merchants.
This is not necessarily bad, but having grown up visiting Chinatown weekly throughout my childhood, it hurts to see how much has been lost. But it’s better than the vacant stores and hollow shells that were so prevalent in the 2000s.
There’s room for both the new and old, I hope. And there is a history here that’s worth preserving, at least to some degree.
At a glance, it’s a pretty standard bbq shop with the classic roast pork belly with cracklins, chinese barbeque pork, barbeque duck, soy sauce chicken. They also had cold deli items like marinated jelly fish and pork hock. I didn’t notice any chinese sweet sausage though.
There’s a limited menu of other food coming out of the kitchen. They have curried brisket, and blanched gailan, among other simple dishes.
The room is bright, clean and reasonably spacious. It seats probably 30-40. It’s fairly minimalist in design and decor, white walls and checkered floor and a few framed black &white photos depicting Chinatown from generations ago.
I ordered a plate of two meats (roast pork with kracklins, and bbq duck) with rice.
I was quite pleased with the roast pork. The seasoning was spot on, and the meat was a nice ratio of lean to fat, and the kracklins were light and crunchy.
I like the flavors in my roast duck. It had nice savory tones and was moist, but my pieces were all from the back of the duck, so there was a lot of bone, and not a lot of meat.
The rice was a little grainy and slightly dry (it needed a tiny bit more water in rice cooker), but it was seasoned nicely with the dipping sauce from the bbq duck.
I also got my bbq pork to go.
I was quite pleased with the bbq pork. The flavors were just right. It’s a nice combination of sweet glaze and savory marinade, and despite this being a fairly lean piece of meat, it was still moist and tender.
The service was actually fairly friendly, for a chinese restaurant (yes, I have a double standard for restaurant service: one for chinese restaurants , and one for just about everything else).
The prices are a little higher than many other bbq places around town, so I wonder how they will fare in Chinatown, a neighborhood that tends to draw a thrifty crowd.
I returned to the Chinatown BBQ and had the roast pork and soy sauce chicken on rice plate
The roast pork was a nice balance of fat and lean, but the cracklins were thin and less crunchy than the previous visit. The chicken was a cooked to the right doneness, and it was slightly sweet and savory from the dark soy. It came with a small dish of crushed ginger and scallions in hot oil, but I didn’t use it, I didn’t think it was necessary. I like the chicken more than the pork on this visit.