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Harbin Chinese Food in Calgary?

  • fmed Mar 15, 2010 10:21 PM
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Hello Prairie hounds!

I was at a dinner with a person who is quite knowledgeable in Chinese cuisines and he mentioned that Calgary (somewhere in the South?) has a restaurant that specializes in food from Harbin (Heilongjiang province way up North) that is apparently quite good and authentic. He couldn't remember the name - though he says that the name is "quite generic". Does this ring a bell?

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  1. I'm pretty sure i've eaten at the restaurant you speak of, but it was years ago and I can't for the life of me remember the name. I may even have been with there with your dinner guest (was his name joe?)

    Anyways, I was pretty sure it was this one:
    http://sunislandeatery.com/
    but looking at their online menu leads me to believe they've either since changed hands or changed their menu, or I'm completely misremembering this...

    16 Replies
    1. re: marcopolo

      My dining companion just emailed me....he was mistaken about thinking it was in Calgary. He was actually talking about Edmonton: Haerbin House near Sherwood Park..

      He did mention that Calgary has a Northern Chinese place called Dongbei Jiachang Cai (Northern Homestyle Food) which I don't believe he has been to.

      1. re: fmed

        well, i guess i'm of no help at all then, lol.

        1. re: marcopolo

          BTW marcopolo...I did dine with a Joe at this event.

          1. re: fmed

            Marcopolo, fmed: yes, Sun Island. It was a Harbin place when we went X number of years ago. It's stuck in the outskirts of Calgary, so no small wonder that it didn't survive in that incarnation. The Ginger Beef Overlord continues to reign supreme.

            Joe.

            1. re: clutterer

              Hey Joe! Thanks for the clarification.

              1. re: clutterer

                sweet. i'm not crazy after all.

          2. re: fmed

            I googled Harbin House and found a place in the west end of Edmonton (Mayfield Road), but I've never actually noticed any restaurant with that name.

            I am quite curious, though, as to the reason why your friend enjoys the food from Harbin/Heilongjiang. Not to get into a debate about whether the cuisine is tasty, and not meaning to insult anyone from that part of China, I spent a summer in Harbin back in the mid-80's and (as mentioned in a previous post on another thread) found the food very limited in variety, due to the climate and lack of food transportation system. The only foods I really enjoyed were the jioudza dumplings and Russian garlic sausage. But perhaps the cuisine has evolved quite a bit since then, and if so, I'd be interested in trying it out again.

            1. re: Libertycafe

              I can only speak for myself: I'm a big fan of rustic cuisines so I personally like the rustic nature of much of the food from way north. The breads, the little snacks, the jiaozi, the noodles, the interesting Russian (and Korean) influences. I love it - but I recognize that this cuisine will not appeal to everyone. Whenever I see a new Dongbei hole-in-the-wall open here in Vancouver, I just have to eat there.

              1. re: fmed

                Well, fmed, that is an excellent reason. And to be fair, I never ate noodles from the street vendors; although I certainly enjoyed watching them make and stretch dough into noodles, it was always too late in the evening for me to eat when the noodle vendors would come out.

                I hope someday to find a Mongolian restaurant in this part of the world, although that would really be dependent upon immigration. We travelled for a weekend into Inner Mongolia from Harbin, and the food was absolutely delicious (and meaty, since that area has lots of sheep and cattle) - so different from the food in Heilongjiang even though the 2 areas share a border. Suffice it to say, I had one of the most memorable meals ever during that weekend. And it was in a yurt!

                1. re: Libertycafe

                  Real Mongolian food is nearly impossible to find outside that region. There are a number of places in Beijing that serve the real deal. Here in Vancouver, the closest cuisine you will find to real Mongolian is Xinjiang....and even then, the selection is limited.

                  1. re: fmed

                    I tried to google Xinjiang - is it the one in Richmond?

                    1. re: Libertycafe

                      The Richmond Summer (Night) Market usually has about 4-5 stalls specializing in Xinjiang BBQ. The Richmond Public Market foodcourt has a Xinjiang stall (see pic) and a Xi'an stall.

                      Also -- a couple of stalls at the Crystal Mall Asian Foodcourt in Burnaby and a number of Northern full-service restaurants serve some of the dishes. One place in particular is called Peaceful Restaurant whose owners are from Xi'an. They serve a number of dishes from there (Xi'an has a large population of Muslim Chinese - lots of lamb dishes, etc).

                      (Is this OT on the Prairie Board? In case it is, you can re-post this discussion over to the BC board).

                       
                2. re: fmed

                  If anyone is interested and watches Anthony Bourdain's: No Reservation, he just visited the Dongbei region of China. A thread was started here:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/694927

                  I think I remember as a kid gorwing up in Edmonton, that Harbin was our Sister City...am I right?

                  1. re: djdragan

                    Harbin is indeed one of Edmonton's sister cities according to:
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonton...
                    http://www.avenueedmonton.com/article...

                3. re: Libertycafe

                  added to database:

                  -----
                  Harbin House
                  10401 Mayfield Rd NW, Edmonton, AB T6R, CA

                  1. re: Libertycafe

                    I've been to Haerbin and a few other places up in Dongbei... -- people from the rest of China have an imagined Dongbei, where everyone lives on potatoes and pickled cabbage seven months out of the year, huddled up on a heated clay bed. It's not a completely accurate picture, but food doesn't have the brightness and freshness that it does down south. And, more importantly, there's no cuisine culture like in the rest of China. It's matter-of-fact eating. To me, the food is almost northern European or something, meat and potatoes and bread and yogurt. Nowadays, there's no limit to food you can get there. Way different from the mid-'80s. I mean, you can get Hainan bananas in the middle of winter in Haerbin.

                    I also lived with a couple from Haerbin, for about six months...-- their homecooking was pretty grim, compared to the South Chinese people that lived with us, even the Beijing people that lived with us remaked on their diet of boiled meat, boiled meat, boiled meat, cabbage, boiled meat, jiaozi, jiaozi, boiled meat x 50.

                    And I've eaten at that Haerbin place in Edmonton (although I swear it had a different name)...-- it was decent. I had jiaozi. I swear some Calgary food blogger wrote about it, but I can't find it anywhere.