Restaurant review: Little Bird Dim Sum & Craft Beer

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A new chinese restaurant opened in Kitsilano in December 2019, one of very few such establishments on the west side of the city.

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Little Bird occupies the space previously home to Yak & Yeti, and they offer a select menu of popular dim sum dishes plus a short menu of a dozen beers and wines, including small batch craft brews.

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Little Bird is open for dinner service every night (except Monday) plus lunch service on Sundays.  We arrived on Sunday at about 12:30 and it was a near full house.  We scored one of the last tables in the house.

This was the sticky rice in lotus leaf

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This is minced pork, dried shrimp, chicken and chinese sausage, surrounded by glutinous rice, wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed.  This was pretty good, it was cooked a tender sticky consistency, but has a heightened ginger note.  It’s not overpowering and doesn’t hurt the dish, but it’s a little unusual and stands out.

These were the steamed shrimp dumplings (hargow)

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This is a dimsum staple; dimsum feels wrong unless it’s included.  This is whole shelled shrimp with shrimp pate stuffed in a rice flour dumpling and steamed.  Hargow often have pork fat mixed into the shrimp pate to add moisture and a smoother mouth feel, but these had little or none, the result was they seemed a little drier that most, but the seasoning was about right.  The dumpling wrapper was a decent thickness.

These were the steamed pork dumplings (suimai)

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These are seasoned minced pork and shrimp meat, with dried (reconstituted) shiitake mushrooms in a wheat flour wrapper.  It was topped with a goji berry, and steamed.  These were pretty good suimai.  The seasoning was right, but they were a little firmer than I normally like, and the goji berry is an unusual twist.  I’m more accustomed to seeing either fish roe or crab roe.

These were fried shrimp toast

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These were finely minced shrimp pate, attached to a toast point, and deep fried to a light crisp.  It was served with sweet tangy dipping sauce. These were just okay.  They were hot and crisp, and properly seasoned, but a little greasy.

These were sweet rice puffs

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They are thick rice flour dumplings, filled with seasoned minced pork, dried (reconstituted) shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp.  They are deep fried and served.  These were just okay.  The filling was tasty and well seasoned, but the rice flour shell was fairly thick and chewy, but crisp on the outer edges.

Little Bird is run by the same family that owns the Flamingo Chinese restaurant (now on South East Marine Drive in Vancouver), but is following the “izakaya” business model (alcohol & small plates of food).

Little Bird has smaller portions that many other dim sum places, but prices are reasonable given the serving size. And the smaller portions are better suited for small groups.  In addition, that the menu is in english only, indicates a different target audience, one that is undeserved.

I have felt for a some time, that there’s an audience for “real” chinese cuisine in the non-chinese community.  Because this city has such a large chinese population, most of the chinese restaurateurs aim at that group, and neglect the wider community that may want authentic chinese cuisine, but are intimidated because of the language barrier.  So those that are outside of the community either settle for “chinese & canadian cuisine” restaurants, or they wait until someone from inside the community will invite them to a “real” restaurant.

The room is very compact.  The tables are quite small (mostly seating two people), and spaced very closely together.

Our server was pleasant and friendly, but a little stretched thin, because the restaurant was so busy.

Little Bird Dim Sum + Craft Beer

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