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Johns Barbeque Chinese Restaurant - Surprisingly good Cantonese cuisine!!

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For years, I have been getting take out food for my lunch from 'Johns Barbeque Chinese Restaurant - 328 Hwy7, Richmond Hill'. Quality of their rice and noodle dishes has been consistently good. However, I have never had a sit down dinner at that place, until tonight!. Man! did I missed out all these years!! IMO, the 'wok-hay' stirred fry dishes I had tonight could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the area including Tanchikee, Big Mouth Kee, Judy's Cuisine, O Mei.....etc. The beauty of the dinner menu is that a lot of the best dishes are available in ' tapas' size. (Prices range from $5.99 to $7.99), so one can try out a lot of different dishes ( not unlike JKWB ) without breaking the bank.. The high light dishes of the evening were the 'Stirred fry Chinese broccoli with preserved meat and sausages' and 'Steamed free range chicken with wood and enoki mushrooms'. Both ultra delicious especially the former! And I mean delicious with a 'D'!!

Another interesting thing I noticed was the promotional posters on the wall that feature exotic specialties like seven varietal of sea cucumbers! Dried abalone from Japan, Middle East and South Africa (advanced order). and even 'Braised rice with sharks fin - an extremely decadent dish! The table next to us set eight elders and they all ordered the '$ 28/2oz double boiled shark's fin'. Must be good! They also ordered the ' FRESHLY made b-b-q half lean/half fatty pork ( char-sui)' which require a wait time of 15 minutes' Must be delicious because some of them were 'moaning'!! Ha!

Lastly FYI SkylineR33, Royaljelly and Bokchoi, they charge a whopping $19.99 for their 'Hand held poured oil roast pigeon'!! Even more expensive than Full House version a few stores down. For that price, it better be good!!

I'll try out a few more of their other dishes this weekend and report back.

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  1. Thanks for the review Charles Yu. Seems promising. May try it out soon!

    Went to Tanchikee a few days ago, and I found it to be not bad. Not great - I prefer Fantasy (from what I remember - I have long given up due to the long lines to get a table). They no longer had the goose liver special you mentioned though (I asked the waitress)! Sounded very good... Tried the sweet and sour pork recommended by Royaljelly and it was quite tasty! I enjoyed the 'dryness' of the pork (harder than the fattier/meatier ones that are usually served).

    BTW, it appears that Judy's Cuisine (Midland location) is no longer there - not sure if they just changed the name, or have changed locations. Not sure if that was the one you had in mind. Found out the last time I stopped by Lotus.

    Cheers!

    4 Replies
    1. re: BokChoi

      I was at Tanchikee a few ago too and the goose liver special is still on the blackboard on the rightmost side of it above the cashier. Judy's Cuisine is always at TIme Square besides the big chinese dessert place.

      1. re: skylineR33

        No way. I was there this Saturday night and no goose liver on either the boards by the cash register or on the taped sheets.

        What intersection is John's BBQ?

        1. re: tksh

          Hwy7 and Chalmers. Same plaza as Saigon Star, Full House, Richmond Court or Luculus the bakery.

          1. re: tksh

            Why no way ? I was there on last thursday and they have it. Please note this is an item that is on a special menu that might not be there every night.

      2. Hey Charles, nice review ! I was in there long time ago when they first opened like 2 years ago ?! The thing is cheap there and got lots of dried stock seafood dish written on the wall. I still remember it is pretty good.

        1. Hey Charles, this place is da bomb! I made the drive all the way up to Richmond Hill (I live midtown now, argh, I miss my Hwy7 restos) on a thursday night and the place was empty except for 3 mahjong tables playing in some side rooms (really get that Hong Kong feel to it). Place is surprisingly clean and new still, even the bathrooms didn't frighten me like most chinese places do. I saw a lot of people coming to order take out, probably the BBQ items.

          We quickly ordered the special 15mins prep time BBQ pork (char shiu), and then sat down to browse through their 88 small tapas style menu. We chose the following:

          1) Soy (maggie sauce?) style fried jumbo shrimp - the sauce was perfect, tons of flavour, nice crunchy shells that I could chew on. Only problem was that the thicker parts of the shrimp was a bit undercooked.

          2) Steamed free range chicken in mushrooms - my chinese-reading wife had trouble finding the dish on the expansive menu, so I put my limited Cantonese to use and asked the waiter if they had a steamed chicken dish with chickens that can "run around wildly" (I didn't know how to say free range). He quickly noted the dish to me. It totally reminded me of the similar dish my mom makes, with lots of mushrooms and a touch of chinese wine. I found the chicken a bit lacking in meat and presentation was a bit sloppy.

          3) Deep fried tofu triangles with diced meat/mushrooms - nicely fried tofu, buttery soft inside, sauce was good.

          4) Fried fish fillets with deep fried silver fish? (the tiny ones) and green string beans in spicy sauce - really like the fish fillets, very tender, wasn't too crazy about the tiny fishes though, good and fresh string beans. Not too spicy either.

          5) Char shiu - only took them about 10 mins to get it out (as we were the only table for the first hour or so). Nice balance of lean/fat/char on the pieces. Comes with a handful of those brown beans that the kids (and myself) love. Very large portion, enough to share amongst 4 people. A bit too much sweet ?honey sauce for my liking (I'd probably ask them to go easy on the sauce next time), but it was probably the most juicy and tender BBQ pork I've had in a restaurant in a long time (probably better than a few places my uncle treated me to in HK many many years ago). They must do some last minute cooking to keep it so fresh and juicy. Now I want to go back and try some of their other BBQ dishes too.

          Final bill was $44 plus tax (cash only). The guy was surpised that my wife, myself and 3 yr old son could finish all 5 dishes (we're pigs!). I think I like this place better than Fantasy Eatery, since I find it less chaotic, good service, more BBQ meats selection, and less MSG (I always find that I'm a bit too thirsty after eating at Fantasy).

          I'll try to post their menu a bit later for you guys.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Royaljelly

            Here's the menus as promised (each about 250k), first 2 menus are chinese only. My wife is out dropping off the kids to school, so I don't know which # dishes we ordered last night, but perhaps others can help out by noting which are the standout dishes (i.e. Charles playing 6/49 again).

            88 item menu:
            http://img139.imageshack.us/my.php?im...

            Menu #2:
            http://img55.imageshack.us/my.php?ima...

            English Menu Page 1&4:
            http://img353.imageshack.us/my.php?im...

            English Menu Page 2&3:
            http://img116.imageshack.us/my.php?im...

            Address:
            John's Chinese Barbecue Restaurant
            Unit 10-11, 328 Hwy 7 East, Richmond Hill
            tel: 905-881-3333

            1. re: Royaljelly

              Hello Royaljelly,

              I'm so glad to see you report back on the meal you had at John's BBQ. Thank God the dining experience was a satisfactory one! My reputation was at stake! Ha! Actually, with so many Chinese restaurants in town churning out inconsistent food, I'm becomng more and more reluctant and skeptical in making recommendations on this board. More often than not, its turning out into a hit or miss affair. If one is lucky enough, one might hit the 'forte dishes' of the kitchen and have a great experience, otherwise, the extreme could be simply a plate of bland, starchy junk! Thats why I am keeping my fingers crossed about next Wednesday Chowmeet at Fantasy Eatery. Hope the kitchen is in form and its not the Chef's day-off!!

              BTW, based on the afore-posted menu, I believe you ordered E or F, # 58, 83 and 88 plus the BBQ pork. I had 'T' which was beautifully cooked and tasted spectacular. Boy, you should have contacted me and SkylineR33 to join you folks! We are less than 10 minutes drive away!! That way, we can order tons more dishes to try! May be next time!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                I will have to visit Johns soon ! Regarding Fantasy Eatery, I believe it is a great choice if one knows what to expect. And the soy chicken is a must for me at that branch there. I am sure it will be great to dine with a foodie like you, Charles !

                1. re: skylineR33

                  Contact me and we'll join you!!
                  Thanks for your kind and reassuring words, skylineR33! However, even Robuchon can have an off day. If Fantasy's chef lose a whole bunch of money in Mah Jong the day before, then anything can happen! Ha! Wonder if I should order the crispy fried pig's intestine, the stirred fry pig's stomach or duck's tongue that night? Compare to scorpions and silk worms..etc serve in Beijing, thats nothing! Right?!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Want to show some old style chinese eating culture as everything nowaday (including chinese restaurant) emphasize on less-oil, less salt, less fat ? haha. That will be adventurous for some people, and may be some will get addicted !? There is a szechuan regional dish "蒸燒八戒", Pig Eight Way, a dish with eight part of a pig includes mouth, ear, tongue, heart, liver, stomach, tail and brain. Wonder if we will ever see it in a restaurant in big city like Hong Kong or Toronto ?! Or Canton's 36 courses pig whole banquet dinner which feature every part of a pig from head to toe ?

                    BTW, I have tried John again with my family after a few years and it is great ! Order the Freshly made b-b-q half lean half fatty char-sui (which is different from their regular char-sui), $15 but highly recommended. Honey glazed nicely, with a little bit burnt on the edge which intensified the taste of it, quality can match with some of the good ones in HK ! Other dishes we ordered, like the steamed fish which comes with a very delicious soy sauce top with hot oil, are mostly good.

                    Thanks for your recommendation. Let's go there together one day and order more dishes.

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Charles and Skyline - what makes the pork 1/2 fatty, 1/2 lean better than the normal char siu? I usually don't like fatty, so I would have probably gone in to order the regular, not knowing that I was missing out on something. What sets it apart from the regular char siu offerings? TIA

                      1. re: BokChoi

                        Hey Bokchoi, I think the fat adds the additional flavour dimension to the meat that you just can't get with the ultra lean cuts (kinda like why wagyu beef tastes better than regular beef?). But if there's too much fat, then it's just disgusting. I'm like you in a way, such that when I eat roasted pork (the crunchy skin version), I end up spitting out the thin fat layer after the first few pieces.

                        On my way to the restaurant, I was trying to recall the ideal chinese term for ordering the char siu... fay/long/sow (fatty/charred/lean)?? I could be totally wrong on this, my chinese is so bad nowadays.

                        Plus the one at John's I think they must do some sort of last minute cooking/heating such that it's not hanging on a metal hook drying out under the heat lamp like most BBQ places do.

                        1. re: Royaljelly

                          Thanks for the response Royaljelly. I do like fatty meat (well marbled steaks, extra fatty cuts of Schwartz's meat), but in Chinese meats, I do find them less well-incorporated into the meat itself. From your review, you really enjoyed it, and since you also dislike the fatty roast pork, I can see our tastes being similar! So if you liked it, I am sure that I will appreciate it as well. Thanks and I'll report back once I do.

                          Cheers!

                          1. re: BokChoi

                            I would say the fat and the lean meat are well incorporated together in John's case but can certainly do better. Not all the half lean, half fat char siu are good, it depends on the quality of the meat and how it is prepared. Agree with RL that It is boring, too rough and no dimension if the char siu only comes in lean meat. I think it is at par with some of the best one I had at Shark fin city very long time ago. The $15 char siu at John claims that it is roasted after you order it so it is always fresh.

                            1. re: skylineR33

                              Thanks for the information skyline. I'll keep that in mind. Hopefully it'll be a good piece when I get around to heading there.

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                Hmm, I wonder how it is for take out then... ie. how it'll keep for about 15 minutes? Or, that its best to eat in, eat right away after they serve it? ..

                                1. re: jennjen18

                                  It is best to eat in. Take out won't be the same. But if you are talking about for only 15 minutes, it should not be much difference.

              2. Hi Charles...my office is in your neck of the woods. Can you recommend some dishes to order for take-out lunch?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Apprentice

                  My pleasure!
                  For take-outs, do you want rice or noodles by the plate or are you looking for individual dishes to accompany rice? They have a luncheon take-out menu featuring over 40+ choices! Personally, for lunch I only order their rice/noodles by the plate like Diced chicken with creamy sweatcorn or stirred fry rice noodle with beef etc, For 'wok-hay' dishes, I prefer eating in since ingredients like vegetables will get spoiled by the condensed water inside the container rendering it much less appealing! First off, you should pop in a grab their take-out menus and we'll discuss further. Cheers!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Thanks Charles. For lunches and take-out I agree with you, rice/noodles by the plate is what I enjoy.

                    I grabbed the menu today and couldn't resist ordering the Diced Chicken with creamy sweetcorn. It was delicious but I wish I added some chilli sauce to it (I didn't open it until I arrived at the office). Essentially it's chicken corn soup poured over rice? Never occured to me that it would work.

                2. Thanks for your detailed post. I'll for sure give it a try soon for dinner.

                  Just curious, where is Tanchikee? I'm pretty bad at translating it to Chinese name. I always like Peak Top's roasted pork and char-siu. How does this place compare to it? Thanks.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kaka

                    If you like the char siu (pork) at Peaktop, you'll love the made to order Char Siu at John's BBQ. It's just that much more juicier and fresher. I haven't tried the roasted pork yet at John's (the crunchy skin version).

                    -----
                    Tanchikee Restaurant
                    360 Hwy 7 E, Richmond Hill, ON L4B, CA

                    1. re: Royaljelly

                      Thanks for your information! Definitely will try John's Char Siu. :)

                  2. Will you consider having a chow meet at this place? Wouldn't mind having you pros do the ordering.
                    Cheers
                    SC

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: sugarcube

                      +1 to the chowmeet request. It's always a little more fun with people in the know, rather than trying to drag along non-foodies for the sake of company.

                      Charles, thanks for the original review and heads-up on a great-sounding place. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who envies those of you who live up in that area.

                      Royaljelly, good secondary review. I'm sure if my family joined you, we'd have to order another five dishes, with still no leftovers! :)

                      1. re: homebaker

                        We finally got to try Johns BB.Q last night.
                        The Char Sui half fat half lean was outstanding, and worth the $15., and the trip.
                        The other dishes including the free range Chicken, an steamed fish, etc. were excellent, as well...but, not worth the gridlock of the DVP.
                        DH was the only dissenter, as they seem to use lots of garlic, and this always pleases him.
                        Possibly the prices are generally cheaper on the Chinese menu, as this meal, was fairly costly by standards of similar restaurants, especially compared to Full House where we ate on Monday.
                        If we lived in the 'hood, I would return, but again the Char Sui might draw me back there.

                        1. re: erly

                          We were there last night too, in the corner with the screaming baby girl (you must've heard us!). Had a great meal with Charles Yu and SkylineR33 as well (our own little mini chowmeet that was in the making for over a year). These two guys really know their food, they're in a league above mine, that's for sure. :)

                          We tried their roasted pigeon, definitely better and juicier than Sun Star's, but the "experts" thought that Full House's version was better (I haven't had theirs yet).

                          1. re: Royaljelly

                            The food, especially the char sui was indeed very good, however, the company was top notch!!

                            1. re: Royaljelly

                              Yeah, we had a very relaxing time with some great food and conversation at John's last night !

                              erly, glad you like the food there. I agree for myself, their selling point at this point is more on the Char Sui too, as I have yet to find a chance to try their hugh list of "dried seafood" like shark fin, abalone and sea cucumber which seems like they are charging at a reasonable price.

                              I tried some of the sea cucmber with their combo set (a selection of 3 or 4 or 5 dishes and an upgrade of one of the dish to dried sea cucmber with a few bucks), but the sea cucumber they used in that dish is subpar, possibly may be I need to order an more expensive one as they have a whole long list of different kinds of dried sea cucmber on the wall (written in chinese) ?!

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                Sorry we didn't get the chance to say hello to our cyber buddies.
                                I personally prefer the whole steamed fish at Maple Yip, which is closer and cheaper.
                                Charles introduced us to Maple Yip.

                                1. re: erly

                                  Chef Yau of Maple Yip is very well known amongst the 'Chinese foodie circle' for his mastery in preparing different styles of steamed fish. His timing is immaculate!

                      2. oh man. sounds good. will add this to my list.

                        1. Finally got around to posting a pic about the BBQ pork. Great stuff, Charles Yu. Definitely a head and shoulder above the rest of the ones I have tried in the city. Nothing else really can compare. I tried a couple of other dishes (this was about 1 month ago, so the selection may have changed since), but I forgot to bring the list of dishes you skylineR33 and royaljelly suggested. So as a result, I was disappointed with the other dishes I tried. The BBQ pork though - amazing. Not too fatty, just like you guys said. Now this kind of fat I like - not the non-incorporated fat.

                          Here are the photos:
                          BBQ Pork: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                          Jyew Yeem Bak Fan Yu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                          King Mushroom and Snow Pea Leaves: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                          Chicken with fungus: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                          The Bak Fan Yu was not bad. The batter was crisp, light, and not too thick. Well spiced. A touch oily, but not bad. I think it was about $12. The snowpea leaves were way too salty/oily for my tastes. The sauce was so incredibly thick and drowned the delicate flavour of the snow pea leaves. You can see from the photo I am sure. Then the chicken with fungus. Maybe it's just that I am not a fan of Chinese wine doused on my dishes, but this dish was extremely sour from the wine flavour. The chicken was non-existent and was mostly bone. The yellow fungus was also sour, and contributed to the wine flavour in the dish. I personally would recommend against this dish. But it's a personal preference thing.

                          Overall, I'd go back to try some of the recommended dishes and definitely back for the BBQ Pork again. And maybe some of the other BBQ dishes as well. Has anyone tried the preserved duck egg with veggie dish that almost everyone was ordering the last time I went?

                          Cheers and Happy Eating!

                          1. I picked up some bbq pork for takeout the other day and it was delicious! Even with a lean cut, it was juicy and moist. I enjoyed the sauce that was served with it too... it was nice and sticky and sweet. Really good!

                            Good Rec, Charles Yu! Thanks! :)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: 4.184kj

                              You're most welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!
                              You should also try their 'Dine-in' only ' b-b-q king' version. Half lean, half fatty and cook to order. Even better than the take out version!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                Hi, just an update on it, try their 'Braised rice with sharks fin', actually it is more like the chiu chow style rice soaked in soup (泡飯) cooked in a clay pot. There are 2 whole pieces of shark fin and the soupbase is clear and quite delicious.

                            2. Finally made to John's BBQ. Man, the "wok hay" was crazy! I could smell it before I tasted it.
                              The BBQ Pork was great. We had the Chinese broccoli with sliced beef, black bean chicken and fried green beans with fish and XO sauce. All excellent. I don't usually like the tiny little fish (they look like little white tadpoles with little black eyes) but when they fried them into crunchy little bits, not bad at all.

                              Next stop, Tamchikee. Thanks for the great recommendations, Charles, Skyline and the rest of the Chinese food experts.

                              1. I found this post via a net search.

                                This place brings back so many great memories.

                                Is John's BBQ still around?

                                So this is the restaurant that my family calls Dsui Heung Yuen

                                敘香園海鮮燒臘酒家
                                328 Hwy 7 E
                                Unit 10-11
                                Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3P7

                                in Wong Gum shopping center.

                                I cannot remember what year this restaurant opened but I last visited Richmond Hill during the massive blackout that disrupted a good part of the east coast in Aug 2003, and we had takeout from this restaurant. They set aside some extra food for my grandmother, as she and my uncle's family are regulars, sometimes they gave out free soup of the day...bless their heart .

                                Before those visits, everytime we visited Toronto, we would always come here averaging twice a week. My grandmother used to live right across the street and it was a no brainer coming here for their deli roasties and of course kickass Cantonese food, lots of great stir fry.

                                The cha siu is of course unbeatable, and roast duck is great. Easily blows away anything I've had in Northern California.

                                BUT

                                their absolute best dish is their empress chicken / gwai fei gai 貴妃雞.

                                This is a dish I will remember forever. It is also very labor intensive to make and the flavors are truly amazing from the herbs and marination. Nobody else in North America can make an empress chicken the way they do and even the best efforts by others don't taste close. The last time I had a prep this good was a place called Cho Kei in Wanchai Hong Kong in the mid 1980s, and that restaurant is no longer around. It is that good.

                                Glad to see CHers taking notice to this place. I really miss it heaps.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: K K

                                  Yes, they are still around and has undergone renovation since the last time you visited. Next time, for the chicken, ask for the 'free range Lung Kong' version. Meat better texture and tastier!
                                  Fellow chowhounder skylineR33 often frequent at the place. He loved having pre-arranged 'banquet style' dinner planned by himself and the owner. Some pretty nice dishes!

                                2. Just posting to add the address link.

                                  -----
                                  John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant
                                  328 Hwy 7, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 1A1, CA

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: prima

                                    well, looking for a place to try, decided on john's to check out their char siu, among other things. started off with some hot and sour soup, good but i recently had the hot and sour at king lobster on spadina and i preferred their version. ordered the steamed fish (tilapia) with soy/green onion, and the others thought it was excellent, i don't like tilapia but i tried a piece and it was pretty good. steamed minced pork with preserved veg was also good, a bit of a different flavour than most other places, the minced pork was a little too fine ground for my preference though, probably not hand chopped. fried noodles with seafood, good, too much sauce though. fried beans with minced pork was good. deep fried tofu with meat sauce, good too, if not a bit bland. my kid had a bowl of wonton/noodle soup, six huge pork/shrimp wontons, they had forgotten the noodles so they took it back and tossed in some noodles, wontons were good, soup stock a bit bland too.
                                    oh yeah, ordered some char siu of course, waiter asked how i wanted it, half/half, said ok. the char siu was very good, a bit sweeter than many places but i don't mind that, tender and juicy. i had some char siu at kom jug yuen last week and i'd say they were both good. you know, both places make a ton of the stuff so i think a lot has to do with the chunk that you happen to end up with as to your opinion that day. enuff!

                                    1. re: doubledown

                                      You have to order the special charsiu if you want the stuff people are raving about. Its prepared to order in the back, not the regular stuff hanging in the window.