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Aug 14, 2007 08:25 AM

Authentic Chinese cuisine in Calgary

Before I get into it, I'm not one really super-picky about Chinese food as it may seem; I love my potstickers and beef fried rice noodle too!

I'm speaking more in reference to places that Chinese people have the insider info on; having been in Edmonton for the last 3 years, it's become kind of something I hoped I could find here (I'm originally from Vancouver - love Golden Harbour in Kerrisdale!)

I've been to MBA BBQ and Noodle House in Chinatown, I've been super-impressed with the cleanliness and quality. The BBQ Pork is great, and the gai lan (chinese broccoli) is a generous portion and really tender. Probably my fave place right now, but it's nice to not always go to a place like that!

Calgary Court's decent too, I like HK-style cafes and that one is decent enough. Tried Happy Valley also, but not too impressed - pretty rough around the edges, and their bbq meats weren't as good as MBA's except for the BBQ Duck which was really good and superior to MBA's.

I'm interested in places like Gee Gong on Centre Street in Chinatown which claims "authentic Chinese cuisine" and Happy Hill; I've been to Sun Chiu Kee and Forbidden City which are both pretty decent.

Any other recommendations or hidden treasures? Any word on how Gee Gong is or other places? And most importantly, any decent semi-authentic delivery places in the SW? :) Much appreciated.

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  1. Do you want "good" or "authentic"? They're not necessarily the same.

    My favourite Chinese in Calgary is Han's, because I've never had anything there that wasn't absolutely delicious. It's Taiwanese, but as was pointed out to me on here, perhaps not perfectly "authentic" Taiwanese (why, I cannot recall, something about Malaysian owners or something). Do I care if it's not "authentic"? Not a bit.

    3 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      Like I said, I'm not an ogre about it. As long as it's good, and not fraught with ginger beef and lemon chicken! :) I care more that it's something outside of Westernized Chinese food, and most importantly that it tastes good.

      Authentic would be the bonus - I'd love some rock salt and pepper crispy tofu, lamb hot pot, beef with bitter melon, and quality soup (watercress, etc.) along with GOOD Peking Duck, or crispy squab.

      Where is Han's? I'll definitely try that out. Thanks!

      1. re: John Manzo

        The owners are about as Taiwanese as can be. They opened up where Malay Wok used to be, perhaps you're confusing them with the previous Malaysian restaurant's owners? The Malaysian owners went and started their own hot sauce company - look for the octoganol bottle with the Malay King label - delicious hot and mild malaysian curries.

        1. re: taiphun

          found it- this is from Yen, April 24, 2006:

          "Han's? Oh, i thought it was someplace new. It's been there for 3 or so years now. I agree that they're beef noodle soup is excellent - even if they (the Taiwanese couple) are from Malaysia. The food is good, but not all strictly Taiwanese, and not all necessarily in the style im looking for. I was hoping there was a new wave of Taiwanese restaurants coming, like they had in Southern California about 10 years ago."

      2. apologies in advance for the extremely vague reply, but for some reason my memory for chinese restaurant names is non-existent. I'm hoping some other chow-hounders can help me fill in the details.

        anyways, there's a good chinese place at varsity drive and shaganappi called Peking Garden. It was mentioned in a previous thread here:

        I've also had a very good meal at the large chinese place on the east side of 14th street NW b/w kensington and 4th. Shan Tung i think it's called? I could be way off.

        i've also had great authentic chinese meals at the Pavillion in Hawkwood. this would've been a few years ago, so I can't speak to it recently. But i had fantastic oysters and fish dishes, not to mention duck's feet (which must be an acquired taste)

        I vaguely recall eating at a chinese restaurant in the deep south (maybe on Sun Valley in Sundance, or possibly in Midlake) which specialized in a rare northern style of chinese cooking. I recall the food being quite good, but also quite unlike anything 'Chinese' i'd ever had before.

        I should preface this by saying that all these meals were had with some chinese friends, and most of these places seem to have a dual menu system for whites and chinese.

        2 Replies
        1. re: marcopolo

          Haven't tried Pavillion myself, but I love Peking Garden and Shan Tung.

          1. re: taiphun

            Pavillion is still really good; it's a little out of the way but worth the drive.

        2. I like U & Me in Chinatown. It's got a huge menu with great food (including fresh dim sum); is open from 8am-4am daily; and is always busy with a huge Chinese clientele (in fact, I'm usually one of the very few non-Chinese patrons, regardless of the time of day).

          1. For me, it's Silver Dragon in Chinatown. I know many Chinese people who have that as their number one place for gatherings, family dinners, weddings, etc. And the proprietor, Jack Wong, has also won some prestigious culinary award, which hangs on the wall, and the name of which escapes me at the moment.

            Awards aside, it is seriously tasty.

            1 Reply
            1. re: feuerzeug

              I like Silver Dragon, too. My HK-born mother thinks it's better than Harbour City for dinner. That's probably a personal preference thing.

            2. For me, it would be Shan Tung on 14th (get the Chinese menu or get the hostess to interpret). Taro root duck...

              Central Grand in New Asia on 16th Ave is very good as well.

              Cheung's Garden is sort of a hole-in-the-wall place by 16th Ave & 4 St NW, but very authentic (sorta like a place you'd find in Richmond).

              Edgemont City (former Edgemont Palace) just opened up in my neighbourhood and looks to be very good - will see how they do over time...

              For Chinatown, Regency Palace has picked up as of late, and Emperor in the Chinese Cultural Centre was good (although I haven't been lately). Silver Dragon is the other big place, but I've haven't been there in a couple of years (long story - friend had a wedding issue with the owner, so I've semi-boycotted it - but that's only me).

              Dim Sum - I agree with U&Me. Central Grand is good too (ask for the freshly made egg tarts).

              HK-syle cafes you seem to have covered (the place besides Forbidden City is quite good too.)

              Sorry, but I haven't tried anything down in the SW.

              15 Replies
              1. re: ybnormal

                Hey Ybnormal, your remark about Silver Dragon intrigued me. I am thinking about having my Chinese Wedding Banquet at that place since there isn't much place in Calgary that is as good as Kirin (Richmond) that is not already booked up for Aug next year. I am concerned when you mentioned "Wedding Issue". Care to elaborate? Anything I should be aware of since I am about to give them a deposit... thanks :)

                1. re: nuxmanica

                  Sure - my friends had their wedding banquet there, so I was tasked with being the head organizer. Me and my crew had to get there early to distribute weddings favours, drinks, flowers, centerpieces etc. They had booked the whole restaurant, so there was quite a bit of work to do.

                  The problem I had was that the Silver Dragon scheduled a tour group to have supper there literally before the wedding banquet. So, there were people showing up for the banquet, and the tour group was still there, so we couldn't seat them right away, or get the tables set up.

                  Needless to say, I (and the wedding party!) was very annoyed with the Silver Dragon trying to squeeze in another group, when they knew full well a full-house wedding banquet was occurring.

                  Just make sure they don't pull that stunt on you!

                  By the way, also be warned that Calgary Parking Authority does patrol that street in the late evening (even at 1:00 AM) - so if you trying to load up your vehicles with gifts and stuff, and you are parked illegally, they WILL ticket you. Happened to us - same wedding!

                  1. re: ybnormal

                    Thanks for the info. How was the meal itself? OK? I recently went there for dinner and I find the proportion really small and the waiters and waitress were not entirely friendly either. How did you find their services during the wedding banquet? (Except that particular incident you've mentioned?). I was left with Silver Dragon since the rest of the better restaurants are all booked up even for only 150 or less guests. Singapore Sam is another choice but I think they were closed just end of Jan this year due to a Health Services Order and their chairs looks pretty rundowns IMO.

                    Any other suggestions from anyone who had experience in hosting a Chinese Banquet will be welcomed as well? Thank you :)

                    1. re: nuxmanica

                      Does it have to be in the downtown core, or are you willing to move it out to the suburbs?

                      1. re: nuxmanica

                        Food is OK, but I prefer Regency for food for wedding banquets. Service is adequate, but like you said, non-friendly.

                        For 150 people or less, you may want to try some of the smaller out-of-downtown places, like Yen is suggesting. How about Shan Tung? I think it'll hold that many,although the room shape may not be entirely satisfactory for everyone to see the head table.

                        1. re: ybnormal

                          Shan Tung does indeed hold that many--I went to a 150-person rehearsal dinner in the restaurant (the actual reception numbers were over 500!). If you seat the head table in the bend of the "L", most people should have a view of the wedding party.

                          Another option is the Italian club in Bridgeland (kinda by Edmonton Trail). My friend had her reception there--I think the club has some sort of arrangement with Harbour City Restaurant as it catered the event, with the restaurant's staff cooking the food in the club's kitchen. Or maybe the restaurant just catered the event, sans arrangement with the club. I'm not sure.

                        2. re: nuxmanica

                          "the waiters and waitress were not entirely friendly either"

                          ha ha ha. I can't remember ever having 'friendly' service in a chinese restaurant. i think it's probably a cultural thing. Efficient and fast? yes. Friendly... not so much.

                          1. re: marcopolo

                            Thanks for your reply everyone...

                            It doesn't have to be DT, it could be in the suburb as long as the setting and facility is adequate, great food & service will do.

                            Yen, thanks, maybe I will check out Shan Tung first (on 14th street right?)

                            Aktivistin, I know a friend of a friend had his reception at the Italian club and I heard that there is regulations and club policy where they ended by paying for more then average. I am not sure however if they went with Harbour City. I will look at that as well. Thanks

                            Marcopolo, my comment regarding the Staff being "not entirely friend" is indeed an understatement LOL. The cultural or language barrier is one thing, the care-less and reluctant to help attitude is another story which I find not acceptable in the hospitality industry - we are not talking about your neigbourhood "Hole-in-the-wall" place here!

                            Thinking twice about having the banquet there. :)

                            I may have to go back to Singapore Sam and just look at decoration rental to cover up the chair...anyone has experience doing a banquet there?


                            1. re: nuxmanica

                              Places outside the core worth considering (IE places i've had banquet food at that was decent)...

                              Forbidden City
                              Peking Garden (small, not sure it seats 150, but worth checking)
                              Ginger Beef @ Sunridge
                              Edgemont Palace, though since the change in ownership, i've heard a few scarier comments.

                              Give those a look see.

                              1. re: yen

                                edgemont palace is no more... a japanese restaurant now. And a good thing too, according to a CHRA inspector I met.

                                1. re: alex8alot

                                  Edgemont Palace is now Edgemont City + the japanese restaurant, whose name I cannot recall.

                                  Edgemont City is new ownership & menu - went to a baby banquet there, and the food was good and plentiful. Not sure if it'll fit 150 though...

                                  1. re: ybnormal

                                    Thanks Yen, Alex8lot & Ybnormal...

                                    Peking Garden in Varsity doesn't do banquet. I called and asked :(

                                    Forbidden City is booked up on the theme wall side

                                    Harbour City is booked.

                                    Ginger Beef's has decent Peking Duck 3 course meal especially when you subsitute the soup with lettace wrap. I haven't really tried other menu outside of that...

                           OK on Silver Dragon's Banquet meal - you meant
                                    A)It's better then Manchu Wok
                                    B)It's inconsistent depending on if you have a lucky day or not
                                    C)It's no Kirin but it can be 80% Bobby Chow or Gee Gong

                                    I like the Silver Dragon's setting/decor but am concern about...
                                    *Food Quality

                                    I am hoping that there won't be any tourist since my reception will be on Friday!

                                    BTW, a bit of topic but anyone tried Catering from Jim Yee at Hotel Art? Someone recommended him as my caterer for the Ceremony but judging from the Hotel Art label I think it could be costly...

                                    1. re: nuxmanica

                                      Hey, I choose C), but I must confess its been several months since I've been there...

                                      Having gone through this before, I'm sure you'll make the best of whatever you choose. Just designate an organized friend to handle the headaches for you that day! ;-)

                              2. re: nuxmanica

                                Is the new restaurant out by the new T&T in Harvest Hills (run by the same guy who owns Sun's, Calgary Court, Forbidden City, etc.) a "formal dining" place or just a café? That might be another location to look into for the banquet.

                                1. re: aktivistin

                                  T-Pot or something right? Not sure if that's a formal dining either-don't recall seeing any reservation either but will look it up as well. Thanks