We visited Happy Valley Food City, on Lougheed Highway in Burnaby, now residing in the space formerly home to Swiss Chalet.
They’ve combined the restaurant concepts of the old Happy Valley Dim Sum Seafood Restaurant (on the Vancouver side of Lougheed Highway, closed in 2021), and the Gold Stone Bakery (from Chinatown, closed in 2020) as separate kitchens operating under the same roof.
Half is the HV Cafe, a Hong Kong style Cafe, operating all day. And half is the Wonder House which serves Dim Sum in the daytime, shuts down briefly, and then reopens in the evening, serving a grill menu of skewered meats from different asian influences.
This was actually the second time trying to visit the place, the first time I came, it was very busy, and we went elsewhere, rather than wait.
But this time, we arrived before the crowds, and grabbed a table for Wonder House, to try the dimsum.
The menu looks fairly standard for restaurants serving dimsum.
We ordered a selection of favorites, and they trickled out of the kitchen over time.
The first to arrive was Fried Taro Dumpling
These dumplings are a center of finely minced marinated pork, stuffed in a ball of cooked mashed taro root. It’s deep fried to a crisp before serving. These were very good. They were hot and very light and crispy on the outside. The pork filling was warm and properly seasoned.
Next to arrive was the steamed beef short ribs with black pepper.
This is flanken cut marinated beef short ribs, steamed and garnished with a some colorful bell pepper pieces. These were pretty good. The beef was fairly tender and properly seasoned, with sharp garlic and black pepper notes.
Then came the steamed sui mai
This is minced marinated pork with shitake mushroom pieces, stuffed in a wheat flour wrapper, topped with a fish roe, and steamed. These were pretty good. The dumplings were properly cooked, and well seasoned, albeit slightly dense. The portion size is more generous than most places.
Next we had the deep fried vegetable spring rolls
These are wheat flour wrappers stuffed with threaded onions, carrots, mushrooms, and green cabbage, all deep fried to a light crunch. These were hot, lightly crunchy, and savory. The use of the green cabbage is unusual, and gave it a (for lack of a better term) chinese-american flavor profile.
Then we had the steamed beef balls
This is finely minced seasoned beef, seasoned with cilantro, formed into a ball, and steamed before serving. These were pretty good (although I’d admit, I’m not usually a fan of this dish). The beef balls were tender and savory, with the earthy herbaceous note from the cilantro.
Finally we had the baked egg tarts
This is the classic egg custard in a flakey pastry tart, and baked before serving. These were pretty good. The pastry crust was quite flaky, and the egg custard filling was smooth and tender, and lightly sweet.
The dining room is quite large and fairly spacious, and seems to have a lot of curious non-sensical signage in a mix of chinese and english, and the room still has some residual Swiss Chalet look to it.
The service was actually pretty good by my double standard for chinese restaurants. The servers were fairly attentive, and polite.