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Nine Dishes

d
DylanLK May 7, 2010 04:53 AM

Really good, really simple Sichuan dishes served by a one-man-show from Beijing, who knows his way around a dining room, can tell the hell out of a dirty joke and quote poetry.

Most of the Sichuan dishes, despite being made by a Beijing hooligan that claims to have learned to cook last month and not a fancy Sichuanese chef, are possibly better than most Sichuan restaurants in town can pull off. There are also some way up north comfort foods, like doufunaor, on the bizarrely formatted multi-booklet menu, too.

I admit the combination of north and south kinda suggests one of those crappy JADE RIVER GARDEN DRAGON PALACE: Beijing and Szechwan Cuisine. But, nah, it's more like a chilled out neighborhood place in Beijing. Complete with a soundtrack of Beijinghua rap and socialist anthems.

This is the place I was waiting for. It's really simple food served in an informal setting, with a steady flow of cheap beer. I wish it was in Richmond.

Another Chowhounder and I spent about six hours here last night. And I hope he'll drop some pictures.

It's at 960 Kingsway.

  1. chowtimes May 7, 2010 06:57 AM

    It will not do proper justice if everyone just read the report above without reading the entire account on his blog. You just gotta read this:

    http://jiaoqu.blogspot.com/2010/05/to...

    1. fmed May 7, 2010 07:09 AM

      Awesome. I wish I could have joined you guys. Is this place open for lunch.
      (The Chowdown at Judas Goat was a resounding success - more to follow.)

      4 Replies
      1. re: fmed
        d
        DylanLK May 13, 2010 03:29 AM

        Since nobody answered it on this thread...

        Nine Dishes is open for lunch and there is a lunch special. But he opens for lunch at 2 pm.

        I tell you, if I ran a restaurant, it'd be something like this.

        1. re: DylanLK
          _
          _js_ May 13, 2010 09:11 AM

          Now *that's* a reasonable lunch hour. Who can have lunch at 11am?

          1. re: _js_
            LotusRapper May 13, 2010 09:31 AM

            People who wake up before 8am ? ;-)

            1. re: LotusRapper
              _
              _js_ May 13, 2010 02:01 PM

              I'll contemplate an 11am lunch if that's my "first" lunch. I gotta have another lunch at 2. :)

      2. c
        clutterer May 7, 2010 09:14 AM

        I kept wondering about that place every time we drive past it to go to Green Lemongrass. I was praying and hoping that the name reflected the menu options, partly because I'm totally into silly schticks. But man, six hours is COMMITMENT. Respect!

        2 Replies
        1. re: clutterer
          b
          betterthanbourdain May 7, 2010 10:44 AM

          he has FOUR menus. each with 9 dishes. one for noodles, one for skewers, one for main courses, one for appetizerz. no crypto-chinese menu. all items included menu.
          the two 'steamboats' - one being szechuan water boiled fish are $15.99 are the most expensive item on the menu.
          skewer are .99cent and the beer dylan mention is $2 each..

          definitely worth checking out...

          fmed glad to hear the JG chowdown was a success!! was Lee there to great y'all?

          1. re: betterthanbourdain
            fmed May 7, 2010 05:10 PM

            Lee was there. I still haven't written anything - perhaps tonight. Crazy busy day today.
            I'll post the pics on Picasa but the writeup may have to wait!

        2. b
          betterthanbourdain May 7, 2010 10:38 AM

          thanks ben for the link... wow dylan, too k you less than 30+ minutes to write that up? that is brilliant. ur gonna be a star ....!
          will post pic later today. it was epic and fun....

          1. LotusRapper May 7, 2010 04:17 PM

            I've been eyeing this place for the past week and a bit since I first noticed their awning. I drive on Kingsway every day.

            Then the Missus & I found ourselves impromptuly (sp?) at Judas Goat last night. So who do I see walking by JG ? Fmed, LOL ! As it turns out they were having a chowdown there. He mentions you and "J" were at 9 Dishes at that very moment. I think it's time for the western world to bring out the tele-transporter ....... sigh, so many restaurants so little time.

            1. b
              betterthanbourdain May 7, 2010 05:32 PM

              LotusRapper, LOL... small world...what the chances of u running into fmed at JG.

              Fmed, I like JG gave it a favorable report. Look forward to ur pics and report.. :-)

              anyways took too many pics of 9 dish to attach, here is the picasa link,
              http://picasaweb.google.com/103480885...

              damage was $80 for all that and 12 beers. rice is free here, but neither one of us ate any. good value :-D

              10 Replies
              1. re: betterthanbourdain
                peter.v May 7, 2010 05:42 PM

                Good lord. How much are the beers? I'm going to have to make a trip to 9 Dishes soon since it's right down the road from my place!

                1. re: peter.v
                  fmed May 7, 2010 05:45 PM

                  peter.v - I'm in for a mini-down...

                  1. re: fmed
                    peter.v May 7, 2010 05:50 PM

                    Brilliant! Will move off site for more discussions then. I'm reading Fuchsia Dunlop's memoir right now so this sort of spot that sounds like a featured restaurant in a chapter out of her book is incredibly exciting.

                    1. re: peter.v
                      fmed May 7, 2010 05:58 PM

                      See you on Vanchow...

                    2. re: fmed
                      grayelf May 7, 2010 11:49 PM

                      Ditto!

                  2. re: betterthanbourdain
                    fmed May 7, 2010 05:42 PM

                    drooling....

                    1. re: betterthanbourdain
                      _
                      _js_ May 7, 2010 07:04 PM

                      Ooh, great pictures and delicious-looking food. Love the menu. And the restaurant seems brightly lit too. Reading Dylan's post made me think of a den-of-iniquity-ish type of place (prolly because of the dirty jokes, the beer, and somehow I keep thinking smoke, although it's non-smoking), but the pictures seem to indicate otherwise. :)

                      1. re: _js_
                        d
                        DylanLK May 8, 2010 04:20 AM

                        I was there until about... oh, 3 a.m. tonight (please excuse any typos in the following), and, yeah, it does turn into a bit of a den-of-iniquity-ish type of place. But it's super welcoming and chilled out. (It does get smokey, after about 1 a.m., but that is after official closing hours, when everybody is cool with it).

                        Beer is a 1.99, which doesn't hurt.

                        Food prices are equally inexpensive. If you compare them to, like, prices at a Sichuan restaurant in Richmond, this place will come out on top. Skewers are a buck. And even the big dishes, nothing is over twenty bucks.

                        My opinion is: if you are in the mood to go out and eat Chinese food in an informal setting, this is the place. Personally, I appreciate the smokey, drunken vibe after closing time, but there's a lot to recommend it during normal, brightly lit hours. The food is top notch, to me.

                        One thing I really dig is the energy of the place. You know, there aren't many places that serve northern Chinese food and have a real atmosphere. You know, there are wonton houses or noodle joints that get rowdy and stay open all night and have a real energy to them. This is one of the few places with good northern food, good prices, cheap beer, friendly people....

                      2. re: betterthanbourdain
                        LotusRapper May 8, 2010 12:18 AM

                        Oh mama, that just looks too much !! Lookee here:

                        http://lh5.ggpht.com/_c7scYaRtqDs/S-Soxp5CLlI/AAAAAAAAEuU/UJIY4zVdsTA/june%2010%20097.JPG

                        And those sausages:

                        http://lh4.ggpht.com/_c7scYaRtqDs/S-S...

                        ...... reminds me of Andouilles.

                        What ? .... an AYCE special ?

                        1. re: LotusRapper
                          grayelf May 8, 2010 09:37 AM

                          fmed has scheduled an impromptu mini-Chow down for tonight 6-8 pm here... sign up here: http://vanchow.ning.com/

                      3. fmed May 9, 2010 09:26 AM

                        Dylan is in deep. This is the third night in a row where he has spent more than 5 hours at Nine Dishes. I'm starting to suspect that he likes this place.

                        Eight Chowhound regulars spent some time here tonight to sample the food, the YanJing beer and the ambiance. In attendance was me, grayelf, Dylan, betterthanbourdain (who came later), peter.v, farman, gersham and SO. We had a chance to meet and chat with Chef If - cook, poet, teller of complex dirty jokes, and sage. ("There are only two important things in life: food and sex.")

                        The place was relatively quiet when the chowdown started at 6pm, but by 8pm, the place was nearly full. The sound system was playing some movie music (with the theme from Exodus, The Ride of the Valkyries, and other such classics), Beijing rap, Bob Marley...eclectic.)

                        Onto the food:

                        I would characterize the oddly designed menu as an aggregation of Beijing Street Food, Beijing Beer Parlour Food, and a good smattering of Beijing-inflected Sichuan dishes. With Yanjing beers sold at cost ($2/bottle), this place is really a sort of a "tapas" joint. The unrefined food was rough and ready - to match the Beijing beer parlour ambiance.

                        The Sichuan here is generally good with a couple of dishes that fell flat. Some of the dishes lacked heat and ma la, some provided plenty of both. The Sichuan food here is still better and leans more authentic, IMO, than the typical Canto-Sichuan or Taiwan-Sichuan food that we often see here in town. The chef does listen to feedback, so the dishes that came out later in the evening had more heat and ma la than in the earlier stages.

                        We ordered perhaps half their menu - starting with some authentic tasting cumin-dusted skewers - lamb, chicken, pork "sausage" (really intestines) and moved on to some of the Sichuan dishes. The standouts where the Fish in Vinegar, the Waterboiled Fish, the Skewers, the truly amazing house-made Sichuan sausages, The Lotus Root deepfried "Burger", and a rustic version of Fire-exploded Kidneys (not cross hatched to the usual "flowers").

                        We ordered round after round of Yanjing beer and took over the next table for our empties and used skewers and dishes. Some of us ordered Chinese cola. We ordered more skewers as the evening wore on. More skewers, then more beer, more Chinese cola. Dylan, betterthanbourdain, peter.v, grayelf stayed on after I left at around 11pm (what time did you all stay till?)...almost 5 hours for me. An epic fun evening of food, beer and conversations about food.

                        I highly recommend this place - though not necessarily for the food (which is generally good). I think of it as a typical pub with 99c wings...except the wings are Beijing-style street skewers and the beer is Chinese....and it has street vibe to spare.

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

                         
                         
                         
                         
                        12 Replies
                        1. re: fmed
                          el_lobo_solo May 9, 2010 10:02 AM

                          missed out. I liked the progression of the photos from the link: spartan at first then beer caps, plates, skewers on both tables at the end.

                          1. re: fmed
                            b
                            betterthanbourdain May 9, 2010 10:15 AM

                            stayed till 130-ish... i think... Ur rite Dylan would prob move in if If would invite him. (How often you see two if If in a sentence?)
                            If(owner's name) was a very gracious host. Agree on your report. Great value. It was sweeten chinese herbal tea not cola though. a couple of items at 15.99. the rest in the 3.99, 9.99 category. most items are great with the $2 beer. which is a really easy drinking beer. taste like mineral water.
                            Considering that he had no previous restaurant or kitchen experience. He does a really good job. I also noticed that he listens to feed back. And is trying to improve all the time.

                            1. re: betterthanbourdain
                              fmed May 9, 2010 10:21 AM

                              Wong Lo Kat, I believe it is called.

                              1. re: betterthanbourdain
                                grayelf May 9, 2010 10:33 AM

                                Umm, I got home at 2... I've spent less time at work that I did at this Chowdown :-). I'm keen to take my parents there as it seems like a good way to introduce them to "real" Sichuan flavours and spicing, as well as tasty offal. Love that no bridges need to be crossed to get here too. Since I am a fiend for all things deep fried, I have to give an extra shout out to the cleanliness of the fat being used to fry and the quality of the batter on the several df dishes we tried. The lotus "burger" was outstanding but all were well executed and tasty. The last skewer with pork and pickled chile (looks like green beans) was my favourite skewer. And the fish in vinegar has the most unique flavour profile for me, though I loved the water boiled fish too (but I'm discovering it's hard to serve me this dish without me eating far more than my fair share) Also of note with this dish here was its mysterious ability to continue emitting fish for literally hours. It is the most expensive at $15.99 but I think it had about a kilo of fish in it :-).

                                The only dish I wouldn't order again was the second (non-noodle) chicken one which was a bit bland (and had, argh, green peppers as filler). Even the pork intestines although not my thing were nicely prepared as I'm sure peter.v would attest :-).

                                1. re: grayelf
                                  _
                                  _js_ May 9, 2010 10:42 AM

                                  I would love to try the fish in vinegar (is that the one with the milky broth?) and the various offal dishes. Unfortunately, I'm the only one among us here who eats offal with any kind of gusto. Too much gusto, most of the time.

                                  1. re: _js_
                                    b
                                    betterthanbourdain May 9, 2010 11:08 AM

                                    Gusto! that is a good thing. any cook can prepare filet mignons. but making offals taste good, requires skill and training.

                                    yes fish is in a milky broth. with cloud ears fungus and spicy peppercorns. he adds a squirt of sriracha on top for extra kick. and the offal dishes are nicely prepared here. Homely cooking yu find in northern china. me and dylan really likes the tripe slices.

                                    i dont recommend are the prawn skewers. the are too small and not tasty. looks nothing like the picture on the menu. instead you get two smaller prawns.

                                    1. re: _js_
                                      LotusRapper May 9, 2010 12:11 PM

                                      The world would be awful without offal !

                                      I only curb my intake of offal cuz my parents (and my wife in health care sector) nag me about their high cholesterol and all the "toxins" contained wherewithin.

                                2. re: fmed
                                  d
                                  DylanLK May 9, 2010 05:05 PM

                                  "I highly recommend this place - though not necessarily for the food (which is generally good). I think of it as a typical pub with 99c wings...except the wings are Beijing-style street skewers and the beer is Chinese....and it has street vibe to spare."

                                  That sums up my feelings about it. It's a neighborhood pub-type of place, which just happens to be run by a guy from Beijing, who happens to be cooking Sichuan food.

                                  I was really worried about recommending this place, despite how much Keev and I liked it that night. You know, it's a bit rough around the edges. Food is coming out of the kitchen in odd orders. I've seen blogs where Alvin Garden was referred to as a "dive" and others where people complained about a lack of organization or cash-only. I was worried people'd come and not dig the vibe, not get what was so appealing about the place. But I think most people who've checked it out did enjoy it and saw it for what it was.

                                  1. re: DylanLK
                                    fmed May 9, 2010 05:57 PM

                                    Agh. Don't get me going about the reviews on dinehere. There are a number of good trustworthy people there, but they don't call it "whinehere" for nothing. That's why I prefer CH - most of the readers can see past this crap.

                                    I can see this type of place on Alexandra Rd actually. Negative Space has a similar nighttime vibe - albeit more HK/Taiwan slick.

                                  2. re: fmed
                                    d
                                    DylanLK May 9, 2010 05:21 PM

                                    A good, informal, fun vibe is missing from too many good restaurants. Imagine if you had a chef like at Chuan Xiang Ge, but turned down the lights a bit, got rid of the white tablecloths, and let the beer flow. Lots of restaurants I like are trapped in a not-quite-formal-not-quite-fun zone.

                                    I mean, a place like Chuan Xiang Ge has better food that 9 Dishes but no atmosphere. It's like eating Sichuan food in a dental office waiting room. You might as well be flipping through six month old Newsweeks. Could they knock a couple bucks off the food? Stop pushing lobsters and stuff that nobody wants? Sell beer for cheap? I think they could fill a few more seats.

                                    -----
                                    Chuan Xiang Ge
                                    8211 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC V6X 1A7, CA

                                    1. re: DylanLK
                                      fmed May 9, 2010 05:53 PM

                                      I see a career for you as restaurant consultant.

                                      1. re: DylanLK
                                        f
                                        farman May 9, 2010 06:13 PM

                                        I feel the same way, and feel that it particular afflicts Asian ethnic restaurants. Most of them lack an atmosphere that is conducive to sticking around beyond your meal. It seems like the few that actually have a decent environment (ie, no ugly bright lights), usually lack in the good food department.

                                        For me, it's not even about the cheap drinks or cheap food. I'd be willing to pay a premium (in some cases) to have a place that friends don't dismiss out of hand because of the ugly lights or lack of ambiance.

                                    2. b
                                      betterthanbourdain May 9, 2010 10:57 AM

                                      yes it is called wong lo kat in canto.
                                      the kindneys were good and i am not a kidney fan. looking at the pic CXG is just as if not better perhaps.
                                      i was surprised with the battered items, as grayelf will attest. like the deep fried veggie 'ball' were really delicious esp for $3.99.
                                      i had the last piece of 'chilli' water boiled fish at around 1 am.
                                      the ribs were tasty. but riddled in fat which may turn some off. peter and I were gonna take the lard home and spread it on toast.. :-P
                                      the only thing i didnt like was the grilled tripe skewer(prob more blanced than grilled). it was ok. but almost everyhting else i'd consider ordering again.

                                      20 Replies
                                      1. re: betterthanbourdain
                                        LotusRapper May 12, 2010 11:23 PM

                                        To those most familiar with 9 Dishes so far:

                                        - do you think they are suitable (ambiance, food) for a "family" dinner ? I'm thinking maybe 5:30pm-ish before the crowds, 4 adults (2 are seniors) and a young child.

                                        1. re: LotusRapper
                                          fmed May 12, 2010 11:44 PM

                                          I think it should be fine at 5:30. It's only really sketchy when Keev and Dylan are there.

                                          1. re: LotusRapper
                                            d
                                            DylanLK May 13, 2010 12:43 AM

                                            I was actually there last night....

                                            I think it's totally cool for family.

                                            1. re: DylanLK
                                              _
                                              _js_ May 13, 2010 03:18 AM

                                              Dylan, is it cash only?

                                              1. re: _js_
                                                d
                                                DylanLK May 13, 2010 03:27 AM

                                                Well, he has a debit machine but it seems to be not up and running. So, it's possibly cash only.

                                            2. re: LotusRapper
                                              d
                                              DylanLK May 17, 2010 04:13 AM

                                              So... it was okay, right?

                                              1. re: DylanLK
                                                LotusRapper May 17, 2010 07:56 AM

                                                Actually it turned out ok. We liked everything but the skewered meats with the (too much) dusting of cumin and chillis, plus the meat morsels were generally small and dry, didn't appeal much. But the stewed spareribs were a big hit. Would go back, but order differently.

                                                1. re: LotusRapper
                                                  b
                                                  betterthanbourdain May 18, 2010 01:14 PM

                                                  just curious, what was the total bill?
                                                  was there last night again. and of course Dylan was there. :-P
                                                  i think his office is next door or something. :-P

                                                  1. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                    d
                                                    DylanLK May 18, 2010 04:33 PM

                                                    I'm glad it's on Kingsway and I'm in Richmond, or I'd be there too often.

                                                    I think I've convinced him to hire a waitress, too, for the weekends. But we'll see.

                                                    1. re: DylanLK
                                                      LotusRapper May 18, 2010 07:24 PM

                                                      Dylan said: "I'm glad it's on Kingsway and I'm in Richmond, or I'd be there too often."

                                                      LOL, and that would be ...... 8 days a week ?

                                                      1. re: DylanLK
                                                        fmed May 18, 2010 09:08 PM

                                                        OK...you and betterthanbourdain are in need of an intervention.

                                                        1. re: fmed
                                                          LotusRapper May 18, 2010 10:19 PM

                                                          Via a "9 Step" program, LOL !!!

                                                      2. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                        LotusRapper May 18, 2010 07:16 PM

                                                        About $45 with taxes. IIRC we had:

                                                        - intestines salad
                                                        - dozen or so assorted skewers of chicken, pig intestine and lamb. The pig intestine skewers were ordered erroneously, as the menu said "pork sausages" and my wife thought they were actually sausages. Lost in translation .....
                                                        - dan dan noodles
                                                        - stewed pork ribs *
                                                        - fried veggie fritters
                                                        - no beers

                                                        1. re: LotusRapper
                                                          fmed May 18, 2010 08:37 PM

                                                          "- no beers"

                                                          Ahh...that's the difference right there.

                                                          1. re: fmed
                                                            LotusRapper May 18, 2010 10:19 PM

                                                            Hey, being a responsible(-looking) parent ........

                                                          2. re: LotusRapper
                                                            grayelf May 19, 2010 08:04 AM

                                                            I did the same thing with the "pork sausages" -- glad you posted about that so no one else does. It's okay to order intestines on purpose if you enjoy them but no fun to get them if you're not expecting them :-).

                                                            How were the dan dan noodles? I thought the pork ribs were just okay.

                                                            1. re: grayelf
                                                              LotusRapper May 19, 2010 08:22 AM

                                                              Dan Dan noodles were ok, I felt it wasn't peanut-y enough and a wee bit too soupy. I've had better, but I've also had worse.

                                                              Our pork ribs were well stewed and deep in flavor. My mom thought it was better than her own [gasp] ..... I stayed quiet ;-)

                                                              1. re: LotusRapper
                                                                grayelf May 19, 2010 08:53 AM

                                                                I kinda like the peanutty version of dan dan, but since I've been going to so many Sichuan places lately I'm discovering that it is not necessarily the most "authentic" version :-).

                                                                I didn't hate the ribs, just thought they were a bit bland. Also very fatty -- we were there a long time and some serious congealing took place in the empty bowl! When I make similar ribs, I always cool them and skim before serving but hey I'm not cooking for the masses.

                                                                The lotus "burgers" were so good here -- give them a try next time. And BTW I don't drink beer so I'm looking at the food here not as bar snacks FWIW.

                                                                1. re: grayelf
                                                                  LotusRapper May 19, 2010 10:37 AM

                                                                  I really wanted to order the lotus burgers ....

                                                                  "Serious congealing" ..... doh I think that's something that is happening in my waistline.

                                                                  Maybe Dylan & Betterthanbourdain can advise IF to change the wording on the menu from pork sausages to pig intestines (unless it was intentional). My dad and I were the only two who ate it, my mom and wife were grossed out by it.

                                                                  DLK & BTB: do you guys know if "IF" (LOL) has plans to rotate his menu somewhat in the next while ?

                                                                  1. re: LotusRapper
                                                                    d
                                                                    DylanLK Jun 6, 2010 02:49 AM

                                                                    Menu has been slightly rotated.

                                                                    New beef dish (香辣牛肉, I think), and crayfish now on the menu. Along with a few other minor changes.

                                                2. b
                                                  betterthanbourdain May 20, 2010 04:57 PM

                                                  I am thinking of getting some fresh seafood(i.e. spot prawns++) and heading down here next week. Anyone care to join? BTW, he doesn't charge to cook the seafood people bring in? Crazy IF!
                                                  Last time there, customers brought in Dungeness Crab, Crayfish and Halibut. And he cooked them and served them Szechuan Ma' Lat style.
                                                  Probably next Thursday night...

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                    _
                                                    _js_ May 20, 2010 07:15 PM

                                                    He needs to charge something, a token fee, corkage or whatever, to cover his costs. I'm afraid the way he's going he might be out of business soon. Unless, of course, he's one of these people who are really independently wealthy and doing this restaurant gig for fun.

                                                    1. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                      LotusRapper May 20, 2010 08:30 PM

                                                      Hmm. Is that legal from a business permits/health code point of view ?

                                                      It's not like bringing in a bottle of your own wine to open.

                                                      1. re: LotusRapper
                                                        d
                                                        DylanLK May 20, 2010 09:18 PM

                                                        I've seen it done at other places. Sorta thought it was pretty normal for Chinese restaurants, whether or not it's strictly legal.

                                                        The giant pot of crayfish that they were eating at Nine Dishes.... Man, that looked good. Where can you even get crayfish in Vancouver?

                                                        1. re: DylanLK
                                                          el_lobo_solo May 20, 2010 10:19 PM

                                                          If you're asking about grocery stores, I got a pound of "Louisiana crayfish" for $6.99 / lb at T&T, along with the equally priced spotted prawns over the weekend.

                                                      2. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                        fmed May 20, 2010 09:23 PM

                                                        Depending on when it is - I could be persuaded to join you. (We should probably take this offline to Vanchow to not raise the ire of the moderators).

                                                        1. re: fmed
                                                          f
                                                          farman May 20, 2010 11:38 PM

                                                          Ditto.

                                                          Had a guest in from out of town and we headed down tonight. Some skewers, the sausage, vinegar fish, cold noodles, deep fried lotus root. All new for my guest from down in Atlanta and we both enjoyed it all (well, except the squid skewer which was just so so).

                                                      3. tangentdesign May 23, 2010 10:38 AM

                                                        Dined at the Nine Dishes last night. Since they have four menus of nine dishes (with great pix) it might be more accurate to call them 9x4 dishes. For what's been described as a "hole in the wall", the interior was far more modern and well thought out than i had anticipated, although you can't tell what you're in for from the outside. I like the informality of the whole thing - you're given a pencil and a pad of paper and write down what you want from the menus. Had plenty of skewers, the delicious spare ribs, lotus cakes, and rice cakes filled with a sweet bean paste for "dessert". Washed it all down with their cheap beer. Saw a large plate of fish swimming with chillies go by as i was paying and made a promise to myself to return and explore some of the larger dishes, which are "perfect for three" according to the owner, so couples planning on dining here should bring their single friends. A culinary oasis in a grim, colourless section of Kingsway.

                                                         
                                                         
                                                         
                                                         
                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: tangentdesign
                                                          f
                                                          forman Jun 2, 2010 10:47 AM

                                                          How much are the beers?

                                                          1. re: forman
                                                            LotusRapper Jun 2, 2010 11:37 AM

                                                            $2 each

                                                            1. re: LotusRapper
                                                              grayelf Sep 3, 2010 10:45 PM

                                                              I'm in a bumping mood tonight so I thought I'd chime in about our lunch experience at 9 Dishes. Actually I guess it was lupper since If doesn't open till (at least) 2 pm. I've gone by much later and he still isn't open. On Father's Day, we went at about 2:30, and he was just setting up the then new outdoor tables.

                                                              Yeah, we took my dad to 9 Dishes for Father's Day. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to introduce Dad to If's establishment. Mum just isn't interested in offal, and I think the charm of 9 Dishes might be a bit lost on her. So me, the SO and the pater toddled over. We had only four dishes, because one of them was the water boiled fish which as mentioned above serves approximately 1000 diners :-). Our other choices were the lotus "burgers" because I can't help myself, the Sichuan sausage because it is so ridiculously tasty and of course the kidneys for that hit of offal.

                                                              Dad was well chuffed with our choices and tucked right in to everything, though I think he went particularly crazy on the kidneys and the sausage. In fact, he and the SO had both OD'd by the end of the meal and had paralyzed their tongues with the peppercorns in the sausage.

                                                              Everything was just as good in the daylight as it is in the dark of night (but I already knew that as I had done another lupper previously with a few 'Hounds). In all I think I ate at 9 Dishes five times in the space of a few weeks and loved it each time. I'm not sure exactly why I haven't returned, though it may be that you really need three or more people to order the right amount of food.

                                                              Have any CHs been recently? I'd love to hear how If is faring these days... now that fall is approaching it may be time for another Chowdown here...

                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                              1. re: grayelf
                                                                b
                                                                betterthanbourdain Sep 6, 2010 08:32 PM

                                                                have been back a few times since father's day.

                                                                it got really busy for a little while and now it is doing ok i believe.

                                                                they changed a few things on the menu. took a few items out and replaced with something else.

                                                                the music selection is not as eclectic.

                                                                will have to try to sit down and remember the changes. but everthing is very similar to what has been described.

                                                                1. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                                  LotusRapper Sep 6, 2010 10:46 PM

                                                                  Good updates, BTB. How's service during busy times ?

                                                                  1. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                                    d
                                                                    DylanLK Sep 7, 2010 08:08 PM

                                                                    Music was better, I thought! You just have to tell him to stop playing, like, the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings. He was bringing the Beijing dialect protest songs out when I was there the last couple times.

                                                                    Other than that, yeah, food is about the same. Things come out of the kitchen faster than ever. Business has slowed down from the days of nightly lineups. Still fun. Still a cool place.

                                                          2. sgtoca Sep 23, 2010 10:36 PM

                                                            It was one of the most unique dining experiences I've ever had in Vancouver. I loved it. From the casual attitude from IF to the heat level of some of the dishes and the tastiest boiled fish and salivating chicken in Vancouver!! Its like eating at someone's home where you get your own rice, your own tea cups, very casual cuz its all about the food, company, friends, chat. Utter enjoyment!!! OMG, and the very authentic Chinese music added to the whole experience. I cannot wait to return and this time, more meat on skewers please peeps!

                                                             
                                                            1. oiboy Dec 4, 2010 04:11 AM

                                                              Thank you Thank You Thank You!!! I have found a new place to live in. If if lets me. It reminds me of my old haunts in Xiantan where we would just hand out drink copious amounts of Pijou and eat well. Was it me but I thought I remembered seeing long xia (crawfish) on the menu? Has anyone ordered them?

                                                              Gan Bei!

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: oiboy
                                                                fmed Dec 4, 2010 07:25 AM

                                                                I did see crawfish on the menu. I haven't ordered it though. I think there was a chowdown there this summer where someone ordered it.

                                                                1. re: fmed
                                                                  grayelf Dec 4, 2010 03:59 PM

                                                                  We really need another Chowdown/meetup at 9 Dishes. I miss the lotus burgers and the Sichuan sausage big time.

                                                                  1. re: grayelf
                                                                    fmed Dec 4, 2010 05:57 PM

                                                                    Me too! My calendar is pretty full up in December - I hope to sneak in a meal or two with the 'hounds.

                                                                    1. re: fmed
                                                                      f
                                                                      farman Dec 4, 2010 06:05 PM

                                                                      I'm definitely up for that...

                                                                      1. re: farman
                                                                        b
                                                                        betterthanbourdain Dec 16, 2010 02:54 AM

                                                                        thanks for organizing the chowdown! yes seems like crayfish was replaced by 'bullfrog'. i felt the kitchen execution timing was the best i have seen. the only time food was behind was when i forgot to mention that we used the back of one order sheet. so he didnt make the items till i got up to pay when i left early.
                                                                        good to see everyone. esp dylan. who apparently just got back home...
                                                                        sigh some things never change..... love it!

                                                                        was really impress that he got his daugter to help in the restaurant. hopefully fufill the role of runner and some bussing of tables. i do notice many tables dont order various rounds of food. Rather a couple of items and hence dont need the clearing like when some of us go and order several round of food.
                                                                        what did the rest of you think?

                                                                        1. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                                          fmed Dec 16, 2010 07:27 AM

                                                                          It was much smoother running that at previous visits. Chef If was still unflappable as usual. We still had to DIY some dish clearing and rice, etc. But that just adds to the vibe of the place. I like how the toonie Yanjing still comes to you as a six pack. Busy for a Wednesday night as it peaked with about 100% capacity at around 8pm. Business must be good.

                                                                          Love that he turned on the Beijing rap at Dylan's request.

                                                                          1. re: fmed
                                                                            grayelf Dec 16, 2010 08:12 AM

                                                                            Totally solid -- I didn't taste a dish I didn't enjoy. The lotus "burgers" still rock and I think he does my favourite water boiled fish so far. It's so consistent.

                                                                            The newish square noodles were really tasty, and I Ioved the texture of the cold noodles with chicken -- noodles have been the one thing in the past that haven't impressed me at 9D. I even liked the bullfrog :-).

                                                                            I can't believe I hadn't been since June. What is my damage? Thanks farman for making this happen.

                                                                          2. re: betterthanbourdain
                                                                            peter.v Dec 16, 2010 02:10 PM

                                                                            Yes, another great night of good food and cheap beers. I wasn't a fan of the frog dish as the appearance of dill pickles anywhere kind of freaks me out. I liked that cold tofu dish, the square noodles, lotus burgers and that awesome sichuan sausage.

                                                                            I got home at 2 AM last night. Just sayin. Got some basic mandarin lessons from Dylan.

                                                                        2. re: fmed
                                                                          f
                                                                          farman Dec 16, 2010 10:13 AM

                                                                          Yeah it seemed like we had an ideal size group. If it had been much bigger we would have had to split to another table.

                                                                          I agree with btb's assertion about the timing being the best that I've seen it now that I know what happened with that big delay when they didn't know to flip to the back order sheet -- they need bigger order sheets!

                                                                          I'd rather have the shui zhu yu than the bullfrog -- it's not that the bullfrog was bad, it just wasn't as good. I did really enjoy the cilantro/peanut mix with the chicken, and while I didn't eat much of it, that tofu salad thingy was pretty tasty as well. And as usual, the sichuan sausage and lotus root were both really good. I loved the cold noodle texture but wish it had the other cold noodle sauce with ma la that I've had at other places.

                                                                          I'd pass on the lettuce with peanut sauce (who needs veggies!?), and that seafood soup with glass noodles, wasn't bad, but I'd rather have the beef noodle soup personally.

                                                                          1. re: farman
                                                                            b
                                                                            bdachow Dec 16, 2010 12:50 PM

                                                                            Thanks so much for organizing this. I've been wanting to go but it's eluded me as can never quite convince my friends/family to go. Nice to have food friends to help out on this.

                                                                            I'd agree the lettuce was meh, and the bullfrog was ok, much preferred the water boiled fish as well. The tofu and square glass noodles were definitely my favourites of the dishes. Skewers well, that's a whole different class, I love food on a stick. Even the eggplant, which I had braced myself to be only ok, I really enjoyed. Definitely got the timing right on that one.

                                                                            Very fun evening, thanks for organizing again and it was really great to meet everyone! Am looking forward to the next event I can make!!!!

                                                                  2. n
                                                                    no3putt888 Dec 11, 2011 08:41 AM

                                                                    This is very authentic mainland cuisine. I had a couple of 4 day visits to Vancouver over the past year and took half of my dinners there. Tried a couple of other "Szechuan" restaurants along Broadway but they were not serving any genuine mainland food and didn't even have huajiao in the kitchen. This was a bit disappointing as one of the owners was from Shanghai and could speak Shanghainese.

                                                                    Nine Dishes makes a perfect shui zhu yu 水煮鱼 and it was boneless! To much for 1 person so I took a doggy bag (da bao). The dan dan mian 担担面 was great. I sampled some of their non-Sichuan dishes such as the lamb skewers with cumin and they were also excellent.

                                                                    If only Nine Dishes would add la zi ji 辣子鸡, gong bao ji ding 宫爆鸡丁, and ma po dou fu 麻婆豆腐, I would feel like I was back in China!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: no3putt888
                                                                      LotusRapper Dec 11, 2011 09:03 AM

                                                                      I'd add Twice Cooked Pork 回鍋肉 to your wishlist :-)

                                                                      (I've not been to 9 Dishes since the summer they opened)

                                                                      1. re: no3putt888
                                                                        fmed Dec 11, 2011 12:50 PM

                                                                        I've talked to If (Yves), the owner about the laziji oversight. I think they will do a good job if they served it. The shiu zhu yo is my fave in town. Lots of fish.

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