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Joyce Jiaozi - Northern Chinese Specialties (Vancouver)

A nice little find. Joyce Jiaozi restaurant is run by a very nice family from the very Northernmost Chinese province of Heilongjiang. Heilongjaing shares borders with Russia and Korea (they actually have some Korean-styled dishes on the menu).

The menu is extensive (perhaps 130 items) and is full of Northern Chinese specialties. They list 18 types of dumplings ("jiaozi") and a number of unusual items - including a full menu section dedicated to Chinese Shredded Pancake (a noodle-like shredded flatbread).

I had the Seaweed appetizer, Fried Pork Dumplings, Chive Pockets, and the Shredded Pancake with Lamb. Very nice.

The preparations are rustic and freshly hand-made. Best of all - you don't have to go to Richmond or Burnaby to get good regional Chinese! Joyce Jiaozi is located very close to Joyce Skytrain Station at Joyce and Crowley).

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  1. I'll say it again. Your reviews are great and the food looks delicious as per usual. If you ever need an extra body (to order more samples) to eat some food and I'm in Vancouver, I'd be down at the drop of a hat. Your knowledge of various regions and the cuisine differences is just wonderful.

    2 Replies
    1. re: raidar

      Thanks raidar!

      I always need an extra body when I eat. Restaurant owners are often perplexed when I order enough for four when I am dining alone.

      I'm very lucky as a Chinese food aficionado to be living here in Vancouver. I love uncovering these little family run joints and am more than happy to spread the word.

      Edit: more photos here http://picasaweb.google.com/gustibus....

      1. re: fmed

        "Restaurant owners are often perplexed when I order enough for four when I am dining alone."

        Damn, I think I just looked in the mirror. Deja vu, all over again! (With all due respect to the great Yogi). Maybe we need a hound worthy patent excuse.... well, you see I'm caring for my homebound parents and grandparents, and the kids next door hardly ever get a decent meal, so......

    2. Those dumplings are something I've never seen before. It looks great! Nice photos!

      1 Reply
      1. re: sleepycat

        You should start a fan club, fmed -- oh wait, you already have :-).

        I am all over the chive pockets, and the shredded 'cakes sound intriguing. On the list...

      2. Ooooh. Chive pockets!. Fmed, what was the filling made of? Chives and egg? Glass noodles? Tofu? All of the above?

        1 Reply
        1. re: im_hungry

          Mainly chives and egg. It is more rustic than usual.

        2. Thanks for the great review, fmed. (Sorry for the "late" reply; just now catching up on the Vancouver scene!)

          I'll be sure to recommend this to a friend who lives right in the area.

          ...And by the way, if you need a third body (along with raidar) "for ordering purposes", I'm in too if I'm in town. :)

          3 Replies
          1. re: homebaker

            Time for a Vancouver chowdown! I believe grayelf is in.

              1. re: fmed

                Nothing like delicious food to bring us together!!

            1. This place looks mighty tasty. Another great find fmed. As there is mention of a chowdown, I am so in for that.

              4 Replies
              1. re: peter.v

                Totally in. I've still never met another Chowhound in person (at least, no one has admitted to being one!) although that is going to change next week I hope as we have plans with an SF Bay Area Hound. I'd love to take part in a Chowdown at home though. How does one arrange such a thing??

                1. re: grayelf

                  Here's Chowhound's policy statement: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676...

                  I notice that some regional boards have Yahoo groups or similar to facilitate this kind of communication.

                  1. re: fmed

                    Thanks, fmed -- I don't think I'd ever seen that before. I'm kind of a Luddite so I don't know what a Yahoo group is but I could "donate" my hotmail address, or set up a new one, if people are interested...

              2. Thanks for the rec! I tried this other chinese restaurant 1 block north on Joyce -- they had hand-pulled noodles and stinky tofu. It was very blah. And the stinky tofu wasn't stinky enough. So I hope this restaurant can save the neighborhood, so to speak. :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: flowbee

                  Hey flowbee. Nice to see you posting here.

                2. I had a quick lunch with a friend today...I had the Chive Pockets and the Pancake Noodles again, the Lamb with Cumin (very good - very tender Lamb, nice and spicy); and Pork with Garlic stems.

                  The Lamb with Cumin was a very good strong counterpoint to the rest of the relatively milder flavoured dishes.

                  Once again it was a winner.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fmed

                    Photos didn't attach...second attempt...

                  2. It's been a while since I have been here, but I'm glad it is finally getting some press:

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fmed

                      They also got some press a few months back in a "ethnic eats" story in the Vancouver Sun as well. Actually, that same article listed a couple of other restos in the area: http://www.vancouversun.com/story_pri...

                      Collingwood represent!

                    2. I finally checked it out today. Really good.

                      Maybe I overheard wrong, but it seems the place is up for sale, and the couple that runs it is retiring.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: DylanLK

                        uh-oh, I hope that's not the case. Still so many things to try. That section of Joyce has become a Food Fortress of Delicitude.

                        1. re: el_lobo_solo

                          Food Fortress of Delictitude...I love it.

                          PS...I was just re-reading this entire thread...this is the thread where we first formed the Chowdown group (over at the old Google Group site).

                          We are now here: http://vanchow.ning.com/ in case anyone wants to join us in any of these chowdowns, lunchdowns, mini-downs, Asian foodcourt excursions, or just random sampling at random places.

                        2. re: DylanLK

                          I sure hope this isn't the case. I think they have a unique menu. The food is fresh, well-prepared and rustic...like eating at someone's home.

                          1. re: DylanLK

                            The news is true. When I asked the older gent about it this afternoon, there was a bit of hesitation and smile, then he confirmed the news. He was surprised I knew because I don't know Chinese (but Dylan does!), and the only notice of the sale has been through an ad in a Chinese publication. I told him the place and his family will be missed. To think I only "re-discovered" this place because of CH.

                            1. re: el_lobo_solo

                              Ack. Are they retiring then? Perhaps moving?

                              1. re: fmed

                                I asked (pleaded) if they're moving, but they're retiring. Also asked how long they'll be open until. It will depend on the sale.

                                1. re: el_lobo_solo

                                  I wish them luck. I think I'll drop by there one more time before they close shop to bid adieu.

                                  1. re: fmed


                                    That's the ad right there. It doesn't mention the place by name, but the details match up.

                          2. I "discovered" JJ a few years ago. While I like some of their dishes (esp. noodles), I found the jiaozi (dumplings) hit and miss. They tend to be small, and the skin lacked that slight chewy snap that I like from rustic Shandong jiaozi. And the fillings were small and lumpy. I would credit them for offering a large variety, like lamb jiaozi. Maybe I need to go back for a re-sample !

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: LotusRapper

                              The jiaozi there aren't the big ones we typically see around here for sure. I like them small this way. (They are from north of Shandong - Changsun in Jilin province....so it could be a regional style).

                              1. re: fmed

                                Yeah, I think the answer is that they're supposed to be like that. Maybe not the lumpy internals, but the skin's are supposed to be a bit thicker and tougher. I only tried the pork filled steamed jiaozi, which I thought were really good: porky, with a good mouthful of juice per dumplings, a bowl of vinegar and raw garlic to dip them.

                                I went for a plate of boiled jiaozi at 香园 Xiāng Yuán in the President Plaza food court, which I've been digging since I discovered it with fmed. The jiaozi skins are about as thin and snappy as you can get. But I think I prefer Joyce's.

                                1. re: DylanLK

                                  Just cooked up some of the jiaozi from Xiang Yuan for the kids (I'm glad I know what this place called now!). They loved them. One bag was gone in about 3 minutes. I barely got a taste.

                                  1. re: fmed

                                    I've eaten at 香园 Xiāng Yuán (by accodent) after reading Ben's review of the shao bing at Yung Ho Soy Drink vendor (President Plaza). The jiaozi (pork & chives ?) was quite decent actually. But the shao bing was very disappointing to me at least.

                                    So fmed, does Xiāng Yuán sell them frozen ?

                                    On related note, a place I buy frozen jiaozi from is on Fraser just south of King Edward, called Gah Lok (Family Happiness) Dim Sum. Right beside Grand View Szechuan Restaurant. GL's open 'til at least 10pm ALL days of the week as they mainly supply to restaurants, hence they run a night shift. All manners of popular frozen dim sum is here. At least 15 kinds of jiaozi, potstickers and wontons including vegetarian. The northern style is hefty with a chewy dough, flavorful filling that's not lumpy but moist and "fluffy" if I can describe it like that. A bag of 25 or 30 averages $5-6 depending on type, or $10-12 for a bag of 50 or so.

                                    1. re: LotusRapper

                                      They do sell them frozen. I didn't see the xiaobing at Xiang Yuan. (Or did you mean the xiaobing at Yung Ho?)

                                      I have purchased frozen dumplings at Gah Lok...very inexpensive. Frozen dumplings are a lifesaver when I am too lazy to cook. The meat filling at Joyce Jiaozi is handchopped Martin Yan double cleaver style and the filling at Gah Lok is ground through a commercial grinder. That's the difference there, I think. Hand chopped will have "tooth" and ground will feel "fluffy".

                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                        Ha ha ha...I thought I was the only one who went there. Everytime I'm back in Vancouver, I load up the cooler here to tote back to Bermuda. Their jiaozi & soup dumplings are pretty good for frozen stuff although I'm been passing on some of their other things now. Their XLB, unless you eat them within 30 seconds of coming out of the steamer are not "soupy" and I find the skin too thick. And their BBQ pork buns I find are too sweet and too much bun, not enough filling. Don't get the har gow, the skin is really doughy. Blech. Otherwise, I get their frozen rices as well. The lotus leaf wrapped ones (ho yeep fan) and their "zung", I love the fatty pork and salted egg.
                                        And since I always buy a truckload, I'm cheeky and ask them for a 10% discount. They used to do it when you spent over $30 (I think) ages ago but last couple years, I always have to ask them but they usually give it to me. I just remind them that I've been coming for years! Lol.

                              2. - i have been to this great little restaurant a couple of times over the years. the menu has always intrigued me- but, honestly- until now i had no idea which region / province in china the food itself ' represented '. unfortunately- i took the tame route when ordering.

                                1. I went to JJ yesterday for an impromptu "lunner" (very late lunch/early dinner). New owners have been there for about a month. Menu looks the same as before, by and large. Was gonna get the RJM (rou jia mo / 肉夹馍; pinyin: ròu jīa mó, meaning "meat burger or meat sandwich). But I wanted variety and didn't want to fill up on one item so I opted for the green onion pancake ($2) and dan dan noodles ($4.5). Food came fairly fast (I was the only patron). The GOP was just the way I like it, a crispy, flaky pan-fried "crepe" style, not doughy, thick nor greasy. Could have had more scallions and saltier IMO.

                                  The dan dan noodles were an entirely different story. Menu lists it as "Meat Sauce on Noodle (soup/dry). I asked for dry and a bit less hot. They came as requested but lacked sesame paste and meat. A layer of fried but burnt chili flakes topped the bowl which I had to pick off since I did ask for less hot. Mixed with the noodles were simply hot chili oil, some soy and julienned cucumbers. Overall disappointing but I did'nt say anything as they are still new.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: LotusRapper

                                    That's the type of dan dan mian I prefer actually - no sesame paste or peanut butter for that matter...just dressed with a slightly tart (from tianjin preserved mustard green), slightly sweet, oily (mostly chili oil with chili dregs, often with the addition of some sesame oil), soya, and dried chili dressing...then topped with ground Sichuan peppercorn, sometimes some sort of greens (onion, or some other local green vege), sometimes (but not always) some fried till crispy ground meat (pork or beef), and sometimes crunchy fried peanut or soybeans. I should pop by to try it out to corroborate your findings.

                                    This version isn't that common here in Vancouver....though you can find it at "authentic" Sichuan restos such as Golden Spring, S&W, Hotluck, CXG, Szechwan (on Saba), etc.

                                    The ones with sesame paste and/or peanut is often regarded as interpretations of dan dan mian from Taiwan, HK, and other places outside Sichuan province (including Japan...probably via Taiwan).

                                    To be fair, the sesame paste and/or peanutty versions are so prevalent that they probably deserve to be added to the dan dan mian canon. It's just a preference...though I do like the ones with sesame and/or peanut too...as long it isn't too sweet or they use peanut butter (which just ruins it).

                                    1. re: LotusRapper

                                      I was there for a "lunner" yesterday as well LotusRapper. And I've been getting my weekly fix of the green onion pancake, which are nice as you say.

                                      Been trying their dumplings too. Still has the thicker skin and delicious fillings. The only thing I miss from the previous owners is the garlic and vinegar dipping sauce. The newbies use garlic, soy (?), and sesame oil.

                                      1. re: el_lobo_solo

                                        You might like their "shredded pancake" noodle dishes which you can get in soup or as a stir fry (my preference).

                                        Can you still ask for vinegar? Are they southern?

                                        1. re: fmed

                                          Ha El_lobo_solo, I was there around 4:10-4:40. Was "grandma" still sitting in the back corner wrapping the dumplings when you were there ?

                                          Wondered about their dumplings, the previous ones were good but tended to have that single lumpy filling which is not my preference. Sounds like the new version may be different.

                                          Fmed: yeah the shredded pancake dishes I noticed, in fact I took a copy of their take-out and they are listed right at the top of the front cover. So are they actually shreds of pancakes, or is that a poor translation of "nian gao" (akin to sliced Korean tteok / Filipino tikoy) ?

                                          1. re: LotusRapper

                                            Pancakes, more breadlike things (IIRC like shredded pita bread), not rice cakes or tikoy.

                                            1. re: LotusRapper

                                              Great reco fmed, always been curious about that dish. And I notice by the pix you always seem to sit at my fave seat, the corner window seat. I like the street view. Which is a perfect lead-in for LotusRapper: I was still there at the corner table as "grandma" was making the dumplings. Was that you who sat at the table beside mine? I think we were the only two in there for a while?

                                              1. re: el_lobo_solo

                                                I was "solo" at the time, at the corner window table. Was your seat warm when you sat down ? :-D

                                                So no, the other dude wasn't me.

                                        2. re: LotusRapper

                                          Went there today for the first time not knowing that the restaurant had already changed hands. The waitress was very friendly and helpful. When asked how long the restaurant had been open she said one month, but that it was her Uncle who had previously owned it. The menu has not changed so I'm assuming that the recipes were passed on to the niece. We went there for a snack so ordered only chive pockets and boiled dumplings stuffed with shrimp, pork, egg and chives. Both were very yummy and we will make a point to go again.

                                          1. re: doughhead

                                            Thanks for posting another confirmatory report, doughhead, and welcome to the boards!

                                        3. I love this place. I went there last week and the food made me happy.
                                          The owners are super friendly and the service is relatively quick. They have a special offer at the moment, if you hold an Eastern Allure Fashion Night ticket you can get 15% off so not only was our meal fantastically tasty it was really cheap too!!!