Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > B.C. (inc. Vancouver) >
May 4, 2010 02:37 PM

Rou Jia Mo (肉夹馍) - who has best ?

As a foodie with Cantonese/Taiwanese backgrounds, I'm pretty new to RJM.

In case you're not familiar with RJM:

My nearest Asian food court is Crystal Mall, close to my office. Today I tried the RJM at Beijing Restaurant, a relatively new vendor at the top of the escalators. I opted for the lamb version ($4.50) for two. The filling was too flaky (I was expecting slabs or at least slices/skewers of spiced lamb), dry and almost devoid of any taste. The bun or "mo" was substantial and thick, like focaccia bread, also somewhat dry and bland. I was disappointed to say the least.

Of course in the heat of the moment I forget which vendor (as fmed and DylanK would swear by) had the better RJM. Not until after my meal did I walk around and saw that it was probably Want Want Hot & Spicy House that had the good stuff. Anyone else at Crystal ?

And other than Richmond Public Market food court, who else makes good RJM ?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well I really like (love) the jiangrou kaobing (which definitely qualifies as a roujiamo) at Tianjian Flavours ("O'Tray") at the food court at President Court. I also really like the cumin lamb roujiamo at Want Want in Crystal Mall. Those are my top two.

    At RPM, Xi'an stall has good roujiamo.

    Yes - the Beijing Restaurant roujiamo leaves a lot to be desired as he seems to be skimpy with the meat. It is also underspiced. They were good the first few times I had them...they had nicely flavoured meat (still a bit bland) and had a decent amount of cilantro. The last couple of times I had them (once with Dylan in tow) - they used iceberg lettuce.

    There was a lot of discussion in the "Art of Roujaimo" thread that Dylan started a couple of months back.

    16 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      Thanks !! I want Want Want ;-)

      Maybe we can convince you-know-who at the end of the 8GTCC series to simply do a RPM chowdown with all the Chowtimers ..... not all GTCC have to come from restaurants per se :-)

      1. re: LotusRapper

        That's funny -- fmed and I were talking about doing one "dinner" at a food court but more or less discounted it as unwieldy.

        Those "burgers" at O'Tray are really worth the drive.

        1. re: LotusRapper

          This is Want Want's - Chunks of tender lamb sprinkled with copious amounts of salt, dried chili powder, cumin. The bun is also sprinkled the same magic dust then then grilled. An Islamic Chinese take on roujiamo. Very good. Also in my top three.

          1. re: fmed

            Had lunch there today. Two RJMs for $ Six and a half. WOW. The chunks of tender lamb were amazing. Bun is hot, light, fluffy. Can't add more to say than what FMED's already said. Enjoyed it finger licking good. Can't believe I've walked by them all these years.

            1. re: LotusRapper

              Yep. I think it's one of the best handheld snacks in the entire city.

              Take forever to make and they're always hot. I wish I lived in Burnaby.

              1. re: DylanLK

                Hmmm, I guess they do. I stood there like an idiot for almost 20 mins, expecting they'd be ready in 5. Guess good things take time to make.

                1. re: LotusRapper

                  The goodness of Want Want's version allowed me to drift into a happier place this afternoon rather than endure the singing competition in the food court. Next time I'll get two buns.

        2. re: fmed

          OMG I just read through Dylan's thread, and this (fmed's) is NOT what I got from Beijing today :-((

          In mine you can barely see the filling (see pic #2 & #3 in following post)

          1. re: LotusRapper

            #2 & #3 - Beijing Restaurant (Xtal Mall foodcourt) lamb rou jia mo

            1. re: LotusRapper

              I had the same experience. I wanted to like it, 'cause I like the guy that runs the place, but he had the nerve to smile in my face and put iceberg lettuce in my roujiamo. Shocking. I've blacklisted that place.

              Xi'an Cuisine has my favorite roujiamo and I've eaten a couple hundred of them. They're very simple: stewed pork and chewy white bread. I also contend that these are the most authentic, according to the unwritten rules of Xi'an street food.

              I'll put Lumingchun (Yaohan) at second.

                  1. re: fmed

                    Is Lumingchun the vendor at the far right end of Yaohan food court when you first walk in ? I had a couple of garlic chives box (韭菜盒子) there. Wasn't stellar but not bad (prolly best when fresh out of the oven in the morning and not after a few hrs under the heat lamps)

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      That's the place. Agree that most of the offerings are mediocre -mainly due to heat lamp service. The roujiamo is usually freshly made, however (the times I have had it anyway.) The rest of the food is OK...some items are better than others.

                      1. re: fmed

                        Holy cow fmed, do you have pics for every restaurant in town ?!? LOL

                  2. re: DylanLK

                    ". . .meet it is I set it down
                    That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain—
                    At least I am sure it may be so at Crystal Mall."

                    Crystal Mall
                    4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

            2. I forgot about Joyce Jiaozi (soon to be closed - maybe already so). A very good, minimal, very authentic roujiamo - ranks within my top three, I think. This one is lamb - nicely flavoured filling - a generous amount...and a nice, hot, freshly made (a la minute) bun.:

              1 Reply
              1. re: fmed

                Really .... they're closing ? I "discovered" (for myself at least) this place back in what must have been 2004/5-ish. The original owners may have been different than the current ones. They had a wide variety of jiaozi, baozi, mien etc. I recall a really mean and authentic Red Oil Wontons (红油抄手). Don't recall the RJM and never did order it. I should drive by there tomorrow on way to work ...... if still there I may drop by for lunch for old times sake before they're gone forever.

                Thanks for the tip, fmed.

              2. OK...on my list are three that are tied for top spot:

                -The jiangrou kaobing at Tianjin Flavours (O'Tray) at President Plaza foodcourt
                -The grilled cumin-lamb roujiamo at Want Want at Crystal Mall foocourt
                -The cumin-lamb roujiamo at Joyce Jiaozi near Joyce Station

                They are all very different - all variations of a theme: meat in a round bun.

                At Tianjin Flavours, the jiangrou kaobing's long braised falling apart tender pork - dark and slightly sweet with five-spice, Tianjin bean paste, and undertones of black vinegar - is utterly delicious and savoury. The soft bun is flakey and very similar to a scone - almost layered, almost pastry like. Expertly made food.

                The cumin-lamb roujiamo at Want Want gets most of its delicousness from being freshly grilled and smokey. Fatty, tender lamb - perfect balance of salt, cumin, and chili. Like I mentioned before, they sprinkle this mixture on the buns prior to reheating it on the grill. I do suspect that they are using plain English muffins - which is remarkably similar to the authentic stuff.

                The lamb roujiamo at Joyce Jiaozi. The tender lamb is thinly sliced and dry fried in a wok with garlic, cumin, dried chili, onion, and fresh chilies. Wok hei provides a nice smokey, toastiness. The bun is definitely freshly made the one time I had it. Still steaming and yeasty. Very simple, very minimal. I too may make a pilgrimage for one last burger before they close forever. I hope it isn't too late.

                9 Replies
                1. re: fmed

                  I will try the Joyce Jiaozi one this week.

                  I wish that place was in Richmond. The atmosphere, the vibe, whatever, is what I want in a restaurant, with food that I dig, too. There are similar places down in Richmond, but the food is usually what stops me from making them my local.

                  Same with that dongbei restaurant on Edmonds. Move that down here, too. The lady that runs it actually lives in Richmond but couldn't find a good location at a good prices, she opened a restaurant on Edmonds, which, to me, might as well be in Chilliwack.

                  Joyce Jiaozi Restaurant
                  5171 Joyce St, Vancouver, BC V5R4G8, CA

                  1. re: DylanLK

                    C'mon Dylan, Richmond can't have ALL the good eats. The rest of us will starve ;-)

                    BTW: I will definitely go by JJ tomorrow to see if they are in fact open or closed. If open, I will lunch there tomorrow (barring some stupid unforeseen stuff at work). If for whatever reason I don't make it for lunch tomorrow (but that they're open), maybe Friday lunch. Maybe we can do a mini-chowdown with Ben & Karl.

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      I'm up for Friday, if it plays out that way.

                      1. re: DylanLK

                        Drove by Joyce Jiaozi this morning (8:30). Storefront looks same as usual so as far as I can tell they are still open.

                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          They are still open, but new ownership, new paint-job, new cook. Never got a chance to say g'bye and thanks to the older couple and the dog out back : ( I did get a take-out order of the pork roujiamo to compare. Glad to say it tastes the same and with more pork. They said they'll be keeping the same menu for now, but will add more dishes when things have settled down with the move. Another thing that hasn't changed: someone making dumplings at the table by the kitchen.

                          1. re: el_lobo_solo

                            Are the new owners Northern Chinese els?

                            1. re: fmed

                              I guess I asked indirectly: "Are you going to keep the menu with northern food?", and the smiling proprietress said, "Yes, with more dishes." I hope to go back to see how the dumplings compare to before, especially the XLB because these were only ok before.

                              1. re: el_lobo_solo

                                Props on the citizen journalism.

                                I'm going to check it out for sure on Friday, so fingers crossed on it being open.

                                1. re: DylanLK

                                  Thanks for the inside lead, el lobo solo !

                                  Dylan, they were closed today:


                                  Now my Friday is iffy to go there. But hearing that they already are under new ownership I'm relaxed and don't feel rushed. BTW, their menu on the door today said for two RJM it's $7.50. I quickly glanced at the rest of the menu and it seems the same as the old one.

                                  I ended up noshing on a beef empanada and a huge slice of tre leches cake at Panaderia up the street. As my first time there, it won't be my last :-D

                2. A new-to-me place. Open just three months is R&H Chinese, a stall in the Lansdowne Mall foodocurt. Really good roujiamo. The meat in particular was nicely caramelized after a long braise. The bun was freshly made to order.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: fmed

                    Cutting and pasting madly, thanks for the tip. Doing a Richmond food court tour in March and this will deffo be on the list if I have anything to say about it :-).

                    1. re: grayelf

                      Before or after your PDX food tour ? ;-)

                    2. re: fmed

                      Yes, the roujiamo there is quite good. The bun is a bit crispy, the meat well flavoured and tender, and everything freshly made to order.

                      The xiao long bao isn't bad either - although a bit clumpy at the top.

                      1. re: fmed

                        That RJM looks fantastic !! Esp. how the sesame bun is toasted so golden brown.

                        Cheers for traditional Chinese food breaking into the typical western shopping mall food court culture !

                        Love the juxtaposition of the A&W cup & burger in the background :-)

                        1. re: fmed

                          Have to give the nod to the R&H RJMs from our taste test on Saturday. We tried them almost back-to-back with my previous top contender, the jiangrou kaobing at O'tray, and the new kids beat them out. Bun is flaky and layered, almost biscuity, meat filling is savoury with added bonus of cilantro and they are well priced. Only drawback is that they come two to an order, if you go as a solo diner and plan to eat elsewhere. Sure hope they can get enough business to compete in a food court where they are so different from the other purveyors.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Just tried them last weekend at both O'Tray's and R&H and they're both just heavenly.

                            Incidentally, we also tried the signature shank/tripe/tendon noodles at Chef Hung's at Aberdeen Centre and found it very odd and unpleasant tasting - almost as if they had used some out-of-a-jar sauce for the soup base (kind of like how some bad pho places would "cheat" and use the jar of soup mix). This was disappointing as the quality of their ingredients was top-notch. Whereas similar noodles at O'Tray's were done very well and did not have a hint of the "artificial-ness" of the spicy soup base.

                        2. Looks like there's some RJM proliferation (by Chinese proprietors) in non-Chinese venues:


                          Adding to Grayelf's noting of Sunny Spot Cafe on Main also having RJM's.