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Hangin' out at the Mall - a Chowdown at the Asian Food Court in Crystal Mall (Burnaby)

fmed Feb 27, 2010 08:33 PM

Crystal Mall's Food Court isn't your typical Food Court. You will not find a New York Fries, Orange Julius, or a Starbucks here. Instead, this Food Court offers a tantalizing survey of regional Chinese cuisine all under one roof. Cuisines of Guizhou, Dong-bei, Taiwan, Sichuan, Shanghai, Guangdong, Hong Kong are all represented.

This past Friday, I met up with three Chowhound diehards to introduce them to my favorite stalls here. There was a lot of ground to cover, so we (mostly by chance) did quick "Northern" (as in North of Shanghai) tour of Chinese food. We each all dispersed and ordered somewhat randomly at the following stalls: Wang's (Shanghai), Beijing Restaurant (Dong-bei treats), Northern Meixi (Heilongjiang).

Wang's specializes in Shanghai cuisine. Wang's, to the unfamiliar, is one of THE places to get Xiao Long Bao in the Vancouver region. So of course, we ordered one order to share and one order of their Beef Roll.

Beijing Restaurant is a relative new comer here - taking over the stall that used to occupy a Xi'an cuisine stall (which incidentally used to serve a good sliced "pancake noodle" dishes from the Shaanxi region). Beijing Restaurant specializes in Beijing streetfood - typified by food from Dong-bei (the provinces of Northeast China - Heilongjiang, Jilin, Shandong and Liaoning ). We ordered two types of Chinese "hamburgers" - both were very good and authentic...and their (quite large) version of the Beef Roll.

Northern Meixi serves food also from Northeast China - but with a particular specialty in pulled noodles from Heilongjiang (where the proprietors are from.) I ordered a plate of their handpulled noodles with "meat sauce" - a sweet, spicy, full of umami sauce topped with slivers of cucumber. I also ordered some Shandong-style buns and Pumpkin Pancakes to round out the survey.

We didn't end up ordering from another of my favourite stalls - Huaxi Noodle Specialists - because we already had waaay too much food. This particular stall excels in noodle soups from Guizhou - a province that borders Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi and Sichuan provinces. The cuisine of Guizhou is typified by hot and sour flavours in a sort of amalgam of flavour profiles found in surrounding provinces. (Called "Qian" - it is also one of the Eight Traditions of Chinese Cuisine). They also serve up some very decent renditions of some Sichuan classics such as Twice-Cooked Pork. (I think we will leave this stall for extra credits.)

All in all a very filling meal. And the food, I might add, is excellent (if somewhat rustic), and cheap - and considering that it is all prepared at the back of tiny food court stalls, it really is nothing short of phenomenal. (The food court also offers Sushi, Malaysian, Hotpot, HK BBQ, Teppanyaki, Bubble Tea, Beard Papa, Japanese Waffles...if regional Chinese isn't your thing)

Pics http://picasaweb.google.ca/gustibus.m...

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  1. c
    ck1234 RE: fmed Feb 27, 2010 08:43 PM

    Those look like professional photos! Nice! While I have never been to Crystal Mall, my son frequents it quite often. I asked him what I should have if I go there, and he said, "Milk honey tea". I don't know why, but I found that very disappointing! :-) Wish I could have joined you all!

    3 Replies
    1. re: ck1234
      fmed RE: ck1234 Feb 27, 2010 09:10 PM

      Thanks ck! You really must check it out. (Lunch only, BTW.)

      1. re: fmed
        ck1234 RE: fmed Feb 27, 2010 09:27 PM

        I know that much. My son's friend has been taking him there as long as I can remember. For them, mostly because it's cheap and good, me thinks. I just asked him why he only can only recommend tea to me and he said because his friend always orders for him and knows what's good, he can't say more than it has rice in it! He said the tea is iced though and he loves it! I will ask his friend what he likes next time he phones here...I'm not such a fan of of Northern Chinese, at least I think I'm not!

        1. re: ck1234
          fmed RE: ck1234 Feb 27, 2010 09:32 PM

          I think you might like certain Shanghai dishes and some of the Dongbei dishes. Neither region has the hot, "strangeness" of Hunan or Sichuan food.

          Also - you might be liking Chinese regional food without even realizing it (eg the popular Kung Pao Chicken comes from Gungbao Chicken from Guizhou).

    2. el_lobo_solo RE: fmed Feb 28, 2010 08:58 AM

      My Crystal Mall pattern is usually XLB at Wangs, sometimes Teppanyaki, followed by dessert at Beard Papa (usually no lines compared to Richmond and Metrotown) or a papaya-coconut smoothie. The report and the photos will make me explore, so thanks. Love all the smiling people.

      1. fmed RE: fmed Mar 11, 2010 07:50 AM

        adding link
        (Closest Skytrain station: Metrotown)

        Crystal Mall
        4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

        3 Replies
        1. re: fmed
          grayelf RE: fmed Mar 11, 2010 08:58 AM

          I've noticed that when people say they are adding links lately, they sometimes show up and then disappear (that just happened with fmed's post above -- I opened it once and no link, then moments later, link. Just me?

          1. re: grayelf
            el_lobo_solo RE: grayelf Mar 11, 2010 09:09 AM

            same thing's happening to me

            1. re: grayelf
              rosetown RE: grayelf Mar 11, 2010 12:07 PM

              It happens often - it sometimes takes several hours before the links show up.

          2. fmed RE: fmed Mar 11, 2010 06:37 PM

            An addendum...

            I was in that area today so I thought I'd pop in and have Guizhuo Style Beef Noodle soup at the Huaxi Noodle stall. (#8 or #9...they were out of tendon so I ordered a #8)

            I usually order it "very hot" and I make sure to add some of the fresh minced garlic/oil condiment from the tray of condiments next to the cash register.

            They use nice yellow wheat noodles that are cooked to order (it takes 15 minutes to prepare). The soup was nice and hot with a hint of star anise (think salty, hot and slightly tart Pho or Taiwanese BN broth - with an earthy-fruitiness from the chilies and a big raw garlic kick from the mince-garlic condiment ). The chunks of fatty and gelatinous beef were meltingly tender).

            If you like spicy soups...give this one a shot.

            ( Guizhuo cuisine Wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guizhou_... )

            1. s
              sasha1 RE: fmed Jun 26, 2014 10:45 AM

              Reviving this thread to see what are your Crystal Mall favorites in 2014. My kids love the food court, we are going today for lunch, but we are stuck in a rut.

              We always seem to get the soup dumplings, a plate of bbq pork over rice, and some type of noodle stir fry. And bubble tea. And Beard Papa. Would love to branch out. Limitations are not too spicy and no innards... Thank you!

              4 Replies
              1. re: sasha1
                LotusRapper RE: sasha1 Jun 26, 2014 11:09 PM

                You moved here ?

                Here's a new-ish Shanghai resto called Jin Jiang about a mile east of Metrotown mall:


                Pretty good, but gets busy and a bit hectic. The room is a bit odd, being like an "L" shape. Food is consistently good but my sodium/MSG meters go a bit crazy with their foods.

                She also reviewed several other Crystal Mall eateries recently.

                1. re: LotusRapper
                  sasha1 RE: LotusRapper Jun 27, 2014 07:51 AM

                  No, still in B'ham. We came up for Cirque. I saw your post too late Lotus, so we ended up still with the soup dumplings, bbq pork from 2 stalls away, and boba. Those were the repeats. Tried a beef roll and scallion pancake from the xlb place that used to be Wangs (?) but had a different name on the stall. Maybe it always did and I didn't realize. Beef roll was tasty but small and not very beefy. Scallion pancake had practically none in it, and was way greasy and only 3 discernible layers - the 2 outside overgreased ones and the middle. I've had much better. We also tried the hand pulled noodles with meat sauce from northern meixi, as recommended above. They were tasty but also super super overgreased. The noodles were coated with oil, and when the food was gone, the plate still had a good 2 tbsp of oil on it. A little less oily and the dish would've been solid. It reminded me most of my mom's beef stew growing up - little bits of meat, potato and gravy - poured over the noodles. Anyhow now that the weather's better, we'll be up more often. Border was brutal yesterday - both directions.

                  1. re: sasha1
                    LotusRapper RE: sasha1 Jun 28, 2014 08:46 AM

                    If you're in town this weekend, can try Dinesty (look up on Urbanspoon) either on Robson or the two in Richmond. Won't disappoint, but expect line waits in the Richmond locations.

                    1. re: LotusRapper
                      sasha1 RE: LotusRapper Jun 28, 2014 11:05 PM

                      Will put it on the list for next time - thank you :)

              2. b
                betterthanbourdain RE: fmed Jun 30, 2014 08:31 AM

                Oh dear..! Didn't see the bump! Was wondering if I was having déjà vu...
                Sadly wang's is no more.
                Crystal mall is still a destination. Not just the food court but also the small resto's within it.

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