Lin's (Vancouver BC, pictures)
- fmed Mar 16, 2008 09:22 AM
Lin's is run by the same team that run The Place Restaurant on Granville and 64th (?). Those in touch with the Chinese food word-of-mouth will know The Place as a great hole in the wall that serves great northern delicacies - notably their great xiao long bao (XLB).
Well, they have branched out and Lin (co-owner) recently opened up her own restaurant near the corner of Broadway and Granville. It occupies the space that Galing-Galing (the Filipino 'turo-turo' restaurant) used to occupy.
The management has made an attempt at upscaling - the space is cleaner and more 'designed' than The Place. The menu is different, but offers the stuff for which the The Place is famous - steamed buns. They also serve some adapted Sichuan, some typical Cantonese, and other assorted regional dishes. (Lin is reported to be a trained Sichuan chef - so I will make an effort to try some of the other Sichuan dishes). They have an inexpensive lunch menu - the run-of-the-mill dishes with rice. I recommend not bothering with those.
So far I have had the dan dan mian (here, a Northern adaptation of the Sichuan hawker noodles - this one uses a deep, sweet, toasted sesame sauce as a base); the XLB (great); Pork and Chive buns; and the Sesame Flat Bread. All of the dishes were very tasty and a cut above your typical Cantonese style Chinese small restaurant.
I have been there twice. The first time, the service was a bit chaotic as a result of (from my estimation) some inexperienced FOH staff. The second time I was there, the service was prompt and efficient. I chalk it up to the newness of this place.
With all the foot traffic and transit stops here, Lin's has the potential to succeed at this location. Check it out.
A bit of an update: I heard from another source that the owners of The Place Restaurant actually sold that restaurant to another group....can't confirm this right now. So I may be off in my statement that Lin is still co-owner of The Place.
I have to add to avoid confusion: Lin Restaurant (Broadway and Granville) and Shao Lin Noodle House (Broadway and Cambie) are not the same place and are unaffiliated.
Lin's is actually called "Lin Restaurant and Tea House" according to their sign. Which brings up - they have a large assortment of teas on their menu...in case you are into Chinese Tea.
So five of us hit Lin's for lunch today, eschewing the 6.99 lunch specials at FMed's suggestion. We ordered the XLB (6 for 4.99, number 6 on the menu "Shanghai style juicy dumplings", handmade in front of us 'cause we had the back table near the kitchen), tan tan noodles 5.99, number 36), lemon chicken (10.99), fried green beans Szechwan style (9.99), braised beef noodle soup (6.29, numbeer 44), pan fried dumplings (6 for 4.99, number 7) and sizzling house special fried noodles (9.99, number 96). The last two items were add ons when we decided we hadn't ordered enough food.
General comments: The room is pleasant and a bit cosier than many Chinese restos IMHO. The service started out well but fell apart a bit in the latter stages, as it appears all servers serve all tables (potential for chaos and wasted steps very high with no overall plan). Oh and we had to ask for tea which was a bit strange. Communication was a bit of an issue as one of the servers only spoke Mandarin, as we discovered when one of my Cantonese-speaking fellow diners attempted to request something. In their defense, they were pretty slammed by 12:20 and stayed busy for the full hour and a bit we were there.
On to the food: the XLB were X-L-ent (sorry, couldn't resist). I'm no expert but yum. I forgot to warn one XLB newbie about the squirtiness but hey we've all been there, right? We would have had another order but by the time we asked for it they had run out (downside of making them by hand I guess).
Tan tan noodles: very different than any I've had before, crushed peanuts on top only, broth very dark (almost black) and super garlicky with almost none of the sweetness that often characterizes this dish. The noodles themselves were delightful, soft but firm, I suggest housemade or at least super fresh. I really liked this version of a favourite dish.
Lemon chicken: I have a soft spot for this dish when done well (thin coating, yellow not nuclear pink/orange sauce, tender chicken) and we all gave high marks to Lin's version.
Green beans: really well executed, done to the perfect tender crisp, dried garlic topping not too gnarly but flavourful, perhaps slightly less spicy than the other local contender at Szechuan Chonqing, which I think these beat. Another winner for all.
Braised beef noodle soup: same noodles as tan tan and just as good, beef was tender and not gristly (except for one small piece), group was split on the broth, which a couple found an odd colour and oddly spiced but others liked. All but one felt it might have benefited from the addition of spinach or sprouts.
Pan fried dumplings: very tasty, thin but not too thin wrappers, nicely fried, not too greasy
House noodles: probably my least favourite as it was basically a version of chow mein which I'm not a huge fan of. The veggies, chicken and shrimp were all nice but likely would not order it again because I think there are other more unusual dishes to try.
Summing up: no failures, some really great dishes and some good dishes. We paid $14 each including tax and tip. Will definitely be back to try more of the dumpling options (we were not able to suss out what FMed meant by "pork and chive buns" this time as nothing like that is listed). Great to have this option so close to both work and home.
Made it out to Lin's earlier this evening after deciding I needed to broaden my Asian cuisine horizons beyond my usual Japanese/Vietnamese/Thai haunts. Ordered the pan fried pork buns (I couldn't figure out the xiao long bao on the menu... but greyelf's post below explains) and the tan tan noodles. Everything came timely and was very very tasty. The sauce on the noodles was strong and rich with just a tiny kick; the server warned me it was spicy, but I am pretty white... :P
I'll definitely be back. I left stuffed after eating all of it, and it was under $12 (without tip).