Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bother posting a review of Hon’s. It’s not really “blog worthy” because it’s been around for over 40 years and hasn’t changed much during that time. That said, I’ve blogged about Cheesecake Etc and it’s kinda the same deal. So WTH, I’ll do it.
This was the new location on West 2nd Avenue, near the Olympic Village. And this was their opening day.
As mentioned previously, Hon’s is kind of a local institution, it’s been dishing up Cantonese comfort food since the 70s, and this little place continues the tradition.
Their menu was actually very narrow. Just a single page (in contrast with the other locations that seemed to have multiple menus, that vary in size from a single page to six pages, with endless variations and combinations of dishes.
This is probably because, this location is kinda small.
It took over the space previously occupied by Bibo Al Taglio. The dining room has a mere ten tables, and the kitchen is fairly minimal too. It’s probably a wise move to keep the menu narrow (so the kitchen staff doesn’t need to learn hundreds of dishes, and so the food inventory turns over quickly).
I was on a timetable, so I ordered take out, a bowl of beef brisket noodle soup.
Curiously enough, it’s not quite like I remember it from the other locations. When I lived downtown I’d frequent the Hon’s on Robson at least once a month, and this was my favorite noodle soup.
What’s the difference? Well the noodles are the same, should be since they all come from the same noodle factory. The noodles are a egg and wheat flour noodle cut in very thin strips and simmered quickly before serving. They were tender with just a little bit of al-dente chew. The soup broth was thin and savory with subtle chicken and pork notes. The broth seasoning was right, and it was garnished with minced scallion for a little freshness.
The beef brisket was lean, tender and meaty, and the seasonings were about right. There was a little hint of star anise and szechuan peppercorn. There were some thin dollar slices of ginger and quite a lot of fried garlic slices. The garlic slices were the most notable change. I’m not sure I cared for the hard garlic note, but there were easy enough to pick out.
The blanched Shanghai bak choy was fresh with a slight al-dente bite.
Since this was a takeout order, I won’t further comment about the service or the ambiance.
I had a recent revelation. The Hon’s that I’d known for decades was more like a franchise operation. The locations in downtown Robson street, New Westminster, Coquitlam, and formerly Chinatown, were actually independently owned businesses that leased the Hon’s name and used Hon’s Food Manufacturing as a supplier for their noodles, pot stickers, rice dumplings, etc.
The Chinatown location closed a few years ago, and reopened as a Jang Mo Jib (korean) restaurant. But I patronized that location recently and noticed that it still had Cantonese dishes on the menu (including Hon’s pot stickers).
This Olympic Village location is the first location fully owned by Hon’s since the Richmond No 3 road location closed in 2009.
I would understand there are plans to open several more of these smaller format Hon’s outlets in the near future.
I returned for a second try.
I ordered the brisket and wonton noodle soup.
This time the brisket was a little fattier (which I like) and the broth and noodles were much like before. The wonton were tender and meaty, filled with pork and shrimp. But the wonton were a little heavy with white pepper. This I remember from the last time I had wonton at Hon’s, it seems their recipe is like that.