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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: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/369459

        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)
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/108002

        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?

                            Cheers,

                            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...

                                    Ybnormal...by 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...
                                    *Services
                                    *Food Quality
                                    *Consistency
                                    *Proportion

                                    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

                    2. Unfortunately they do not deliver but I have always enjoyed Leo Fu's just off Macleod Trail and about 70th Ave. SW. As for Gee Gong I have always found it to be consistently very good.

                      1. Coming from a Chinese guy myself (you wanted insider info, right?? ;) ), my favorite dim sum places are U&Me (as already suggested), and Peking Garden for Northern style dim sum. It's a bit different, and they serve a dish called "Peking Chicken", which is like it's duck cousin but with chicken. Also a bunch of different dumplings and hot dishes on the dim sum menu.

                        For dinner, Harbour City is probably the best in the city, I used to go to Imperial Palace on center street near 16 ave, but I think there were some CHR violations :S, but nontheless they have a great crab there. U&Me is also good for dinner.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Hoj

                          Hey, another latte art profile pic! Nice! :-)

                          I've only ever had dim sum at harbour city- what's the dinner menu like? Any recommendations?

                          1. re: John Manzo

                            Haha, yeah, one of my better latte art attempts...

                            Dinner is excellent, everything is good. What you should do is ask the waiters to talk you through your decisions for dinner. There is a waiter there named Ken, he makes great selections. Their lobster in cream sauce is delicious, they put it atop fried glass noodles, it's great. They also cook a really good beef and deep fried spinach dish, as well as spare ribs and white buns, but some of those you have to order ahead of time. I'd reccommend talking to the waiter and telling him you want to be a bit more adventurous and not have the same old stuff.

                          2. re: Hoj

                            Whereabouts is U&ME in Chinatown?

                            1. re: Hart50

                              U&Me is at 233 Centre Street SW (403) 264-5988

                            2. re: Hoj

                              We went to U & Me for the first time for dim sum the other day and were quite impressed. The deep fried items were really crispy and fresh. The one thing that didn't get eaten was a taiwanese style rice roll. As it is microwaved in saran wrap and presented as such, the rice became inedibly hard and tasted of plastic. I don't know if it is always served this way, as it was my first time, but we didn't like it. We will definitely be returning.

                              1. re: alex8alot

                                I remember having a rice roll like that at Pebble Street, next to Forbidden City. It was also served having clearly been microwaved in its saran wrap-per. My parents claim it is not supposed to be served that way, but they are not Taiwanese so I'm not sure.

                            3. My parents (from HK) really like Bobby Chao's. It's across Centre Street from Gee Gong. Get the waitress to suggest items from the Chinese menu.

                              I'll also throw in a vote for Harbour City for dinner. As I recall, there isn't too much discrepancy there between the Chinese menu and the English menu.

                              1. Twenty three years ago, I worked in Calgary and had the delight of eating my way through the menu of a Chinese restaurant north of downtown, in a house that was painted gray.
                                The folks who ran it were from the mainland and one worked for Petrocan.
                                I've dreamed about finding it once again, or at least their cooks.
                                Does this ring any bells?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: shallots

                                  Might it have been Sun Teen Teen? I can't remember if that restaurant was in a house or not. It was on Centre St.

                                  1. re: shallots

                                    Shallots ~ The only one that fits that description is the Silver Inn. Centre St N and 27th Ave. It has been around that long, (one of the first Chinese Restaurants in Calgary), it is north of downtown, and is in a residential neighbourhood in a stand-alone building resembling a house.

                                    It is as good as ever, it was on the cutting edge back in the '80s, though most of the dishes now would be considered "Westernized" The dumplings, ginger beef and chicken in yellow bean sauce are still as good as ever!!!

                                    1. re: newJJD

                                      Thank you JJD.
                                      Their dumplings were the first I ever had.
                                      And the one dish...beef with carrots ...I make a pale imitation that my husband likes, but I really want him to taste the real thing.
                                      I do regret not trying the feet (don't remember if they were chicken or duck) but I was younger (much) and less adventurous (even more so).
                                      So...many, many thanks.

                                  2. I love Happy Valley, we always get Soya chicken with green onion/ginger sauce, BBQ duck, BBQ pork. One of my favourites in Calgary.

                                    I have to agree...I also enjoy Calgary Court. I love the baked pork chop with tomato and rice...that is my favourite comfort food.

                                    1. Not sure if this thread still alive.

                                      Can anyone comment about Malaysian food in Canada, particularly Calgary?

                                      Would caucasians like steamboats? Steamboats are basically fresh seafoods and meats served to a customer to cook in a boiling pot of prepared broth. This broth can be in a variety of tastes like chiken broth or spicy thai broth. It tastes great because of the fresh meats and very healthy too. I wonder if this style of food will be popular.

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: ngtom70

                                        Hotpots? Of course! And so would non-Caucasians... but I think Calgarians would be happier to find a plain old Malaysian resto, period.

                                        1. re: John Manzo

                                          Hi John Manzo,
                                          You seem familiar with Malaysian food. Any reason why Calgarians would love an authentic Malaysian restaurant?
                                          Are there any specialised hotpot restaurants in Calgaryr? Are they popular? Hotpots are great for cold nights. Hotpots are in many varieties as well ie. chinese, korean or japanese style depending on the food served and broth.

                                          1. re: ngtom70

                                            Why? Because it's a delicious cuisine that's almost nonexistent here! I would kill for roti canai and chicken rice!

                                            Help me out here, people.

                                            1. re: ngtom70

                                              Strange question to resurrect a 2 year old thread with. I'm assuming that you're looking into business opportunities and thinking about opening a hot pot restaurant. I'm hoping your market research extends beyond the internet / chow forums.

                                              In response to your question, there's one specialized hot pot restaurant called Gold Wonton in Falconridge in the NE. You'd have to do your own investigating as to whether it's popular, demographic, etc. There's a few other restaurants in Calgary that offer hot pot in the winter season, including Regency Palace, Forbidden City. Again, you'll have to do your due diligence...

                                              I'm not sure about the Malaysian restaurant comment... IIRC, Tropika - the one Malaysian restaurant that stands out in my mind, shut down a few months ago... I don't think it was ever really that popular.

                                              1. re: ngtom70

                                                Calgary is indeed severely lacking in the Malaysian cuisine department. Sungate Cafe makes a pretty good Malaysian-style curry (thank you for your chowhound recommendation, Mr. Manzo!), but unfortunately that's all it has.

                                                I've been to Malaysia a number of times (mainly staying with family in KL and the Johor area) and I miss the food so much that I've resorted to drooling over pictures of local specialities on Malaysian food-blogs. (Or attempting to make street-food in my kitchen. Generally not very successful.) I was quite disappointed to find out that Tropika had closed (in another chowhound thread, a few months ago), especially since the website still lists it as being open. They had satay and ice kacang -- possibly two of my favourite things in the world.

                                                It would be lovely to have a good Malaysian restaurant in Calgary. It's not as though people aren't interested in having one -- if you google Malaysian food and Calgary, lots of forum threads about the sad lack of Malay restaurants come up.

                                                1. re: kemen

                                                  Yeah, I agree with Strider that ngtom is really just getting my personal preference- but also, times change and I've met many people in Calgary who've travelled to Malaysia and Singapore and I do think that a Malaysian resto done right could succeed here. When I moved to Calgary there were two, Malay Wok and Sizzling Wok; Malay Wok had some gems on its menu but I found the service frustatingly slow (nothing like what I experienced in the country itself); the menu at Sizzling Wok seemed (this is going way back in my memory to August 2000) to be pretty westernized and not that great. Tropika has always had mixed reviews (I loved it myself) and it's true that it never seemed to do much business, but again, get a nice mixture of authenticity, price location service and of course marketing and this is one chowhound you'll see there all the time.

                                                  I have to add that it seems based on a very limited sample that turnover at Malaysian restos seems very common- in addition to the three closures in Calgary, right after I left Toronto to move here in 2000 one of my favourite places in the world, a delightful cheap fast-serve place called Kuali (think a tiny Malaysian version of Green Mango if anybody knows TO) closed and it seemed to fire on all cylinders but also never had the business. But as I say, times do change and there seems, to me, to be great demand for Malaysian today.

                                                  1. re: John Manzo

                                                    Hope I am not too annoying with my questions. I am checking out western taste for exotic eastern cuisine. I am a Malaysian chinese still residing in Malaysia and may invest in a restaurant in Calgary in a few years time. The fact that Malaysian restaurants closed down seems discouraging. But other than true Malaysian style food, a hotpot is not strictly Malaysian, it being mainly far eastern (eg chinese, korean, jap). So what do westerners think of hotpots? Is it something that a caucasian family will go for in a normal weekend?

                                                    1. re: ngtom70

                                                      There are hundreds of thousands of people in Calgary who are not "caucasian" so please stop asking this. The question is if CALGARY could/would support for something like this, and I say again- and this is only my opinion- that we need a more "general" Malaysian place, a place that serves things like laksa, chicken rice, roti canai and beef or chicken rendang, before we get a place that serves a more specialized subset of Malaysian food.

                                                      1. re: John Manzo

                                                        Thanks for your comments John. My apologies for remarks that unintentionally caused misunderstanding.

                                                        1. re: ngtom70

                                                          I really miss having Malaysian food in Calgary. Having just got back from SE Asia last month, I bought as much laksa and curry paste as I could. Many people I know would definitely go for Malay/Singaporean food.

                                                          Missing Nasi Lemak (can you even get ingredients for that in Calgary?)

                                                          1. re: Office Broccoli

                                                            I've heard that you can get Prima Taste sauces and pastes at T&T. Have yet to check it out myself, but it sounds promising.

                                                          2. re: ngtom70

                                                            If there was a good, authentic Malaysian restaurant in Calgary I can pretty much guarantee that my whole family would drive down to eat there.

                                                            Up here in Edmonton (3-4 hours drive north of Calgary) there are still 2 locations of Tropika and another restaurant (Matahari) that serves a few Malaysian dishes, but we would love more variety and availability of dishes.

                                                            As for hotpot - I'm not sure how popular yet another restaurant would be. I know that up here, while there are restaurants serving hotpot, many families have bought their own burners and make it themselves. T&T makes it really easy now with their pre-sliced meats and even Superstore (a western grocery store) was selling pots and burner sets in their Asian section.