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Halifax: Chinese Food

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Newbies to Halifax, we are looking for a good source of Chinese food...by which I mean the old-fashioned kind (I realize this is not very `foodie`, but its what I like.) Sweet and sour, honey garlic ribs, egg foo yung, good egg rolls...you get the picture.

My husband is more adventuresome and is looking for Szechuan food.

We did try China Town (in a little gulley off the Bedford Highway) but that was really not very good and, frankly, a bit grubby.

We realize we may not be able to get both styles of food well done at the same place. We are prepared to take-out if that is necessary, but an eat-in place that satisfied both needs would be ideal.

Driving distance is no object!

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  1. Your husband should check out the Hungry Chili on Blowers Street in Halifax for great Szechuan -- but he should do it soon, as they are apparently closing at the end of the month and don't have a new location planned at this point.

    For places that might do something you would both enjoy - perhaps Fan's in Dartmouth, or King Wah or Cheelin in Halifax. It's been awhile since I've been to any of these three but they are all places that I've heard people with a range of tastes speak highly about in the past.

    3 Replies
    1. re: parleek

      I second the Cheelin recommendation. I've heard that they happen to be the restaurant that can claim to be the biggest user of farmers' market goods in the city, which is a little bonus on top of the fact that the food is pretty darn good. And definitely(!) try to hit the Hungry Chili before it closes.

      Jean's Chinese in Halifax is a good junk foody Chinese place. They have huge portions and good prices. New Asia and Silver Dragon also have their fans, but I can't say I've eaten at either. (And I think people maybe only think New Asia is good because North China, which was there beforehand, was great. I could be wrong, though.) And there's also Robie Foods, which has a sort of cult following. It's a greasy spoon Chinese joint that has great prices. I haven't been in a while, but have a little soft spot in my heart for it.

      I've heard a lot of people rave about HK Wong's in Dartmouth, too, but I was kind of underwhelmed when I went. Could have been an off night, though.

      1. re: MB.

        Never experienced Cheelin's food, but have heard before from others that it is good.

        Silver Dragon is the same kind of ambience as Robie foods (situated a couple bloks from each other on Robie St., between Young St. and North St.). Reasonable prices and acceptible fare, but if you found China Town grubby, I wouldn't recommend you eat in.

        I usually enjoy the food from Great Wall, on Bedford Row. King's Palace on Quinpool is OK - I mostly like to go there for the over-the-top ceiling tiles and weird low-rise international-style building.

        1. re: eastcoastal

          Great Wall (Dresden Row) and Fan's (Dartmouth) are two of my favourites as well.

          For Szechuan, head further down the Bedford Highway to the Szechuan Restaurant (980 Bedford Highway). The decor is non-existant but the food is fantastic.

    2. Ahh, China Town, with the lights glittering off the harbour...

      It's really too bad that Halifax's good old tiki palace has gone downhill so. I remember practically growing up in the place. (Periodically of course!) The owner was ALWAYS there. A personal dedication that is a far cry from the corporate dives of today, with their "managers" who change like your socks.

      A bastion of pu-pu platters and bo-bo balls... Egg rolls and chow mein.

      For a young Nova Scotia kid in the eighties, it was like going to another planet, all bamboo and umbrellas in the drinks and such. I loved it.

      It really was great at one time, in all its inauthentic glory!

      Singapore Sling please!

      8 Replies
      1. re: seemac70

        It is true!!! I worked at Chinatown while going to high school. It had just undergone a huge renovation and was the last word in PuPu platter chic. And, yes, it had a Tiki lounge!!! (Complete with bamboo framed dance floor!)
        It is definitely a part of my childhood that I will never forget! (Homemade eggrolls too! there was 1 lady that made them, that's all she did!!!)

        1. re: troutpoint

          The egg rolls were the best!

          Still my favourite ever. Probably, they are still good, even with the decline.

          1. re: seemac70

            If you think they were the best go back to the sixties to The Polynesian Village (who remembers that one!) on Spring Garden Road near the present Il Mercato up on the second floor over a popular 80's dance club in the basement (name forgotten). Now that was a Tiki room with bamboo chairs hanging from the ceiling and a pond, food was decent but the egg rolls were spectacular. They were the size of a rolled up Sunday NY Times. Everything inside was fresh and crisp.

            1. re: chilibeanpaste

              What was the name of the chinese place on SGR just past the old thackery's ? (I can't remember which direction either...just that it was on the same side of the street as the library...) It was long and narrow and had booths down the middle... and we are talking the 80's....Just had a MAJOR flashback!

              1. re: troutpoint

                Do you mean the Gag and Spew aka the Garden View?

          2. re: troutpoint

            i read on the main chow board that tiki is BACK! bring on the bamboo, baby!!!

        2. Just checking in to say thanks: dinner last night at Cheelin was a success....not quite the return-to-yesteryear dining experience I long for but very good food! We had the dumplings to start and an eggroll (which was MOST interesting, more like a samosa, filled with spicey meat) and the chili chicken which was excellent.

          1. I second the recommendations for Jean's for the "junky" stuff and Fan's for the more authentic. There is also a great place called "Hong's Kitchen" in Lower Sackville that has pretty good "authentic" stuff; my Chinese brother-in-law eats there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: CanadaGirl

              Original poster checking back in after visit to Jean's (on Spring Garden at Robie).

              Went at lunch on a weekday and it reminded me of Italy, 'eateries with attitude'.

              Place was packed with all sorts of folks: a table of healthy young lads doing construction locally, scholarly elder couple making notes for a book, office workders cautiously avoiding getting 'red sauce' on what used to be known as power suits, leggy students galore debating Foucault and Picnicface...and the massive portions of authentically junky and delicious chicken balls, ginger beef (actually really GOOD GB)...all well cooked by Chinese(?)-Canadian(?) staff in back with one of those truly great character waitresses serving the front-of-house. She was like someone who had been cast for the part of bossy, lovable, caring, efficient homey waitress.

              Even if the grub wasn't good, I'd be back for the theatre of this steamy gem.

            2. "Driving distance is no object!"
              if that really is the case, or if you're ever heading to CB or PEI via Pictou County, you should definitely try Ming's. Been around for ever, and not due to a lack of competition. Still run by the same friendly guy, who's a bit of stickler for quality - ol' school.
              It's right up your alley: "Sweet and sour, honey garlic ribs, egg foo yung, good egg rolls...you get the picture."
              Tip 1: Order from the menu, it's so much better than the buffet... which is also good. Meh, just go!
              Tip 2: Is Szechuan also known as Sichuan? If so, you're husband won't be impressed. I like the Szechuan dishes at Ming's, but they don't fit into the category of what I know to be Sichuan. Does that make sense?

              1 Reply
              1. re: growinggourmet

                We are planning a trip to the Island in the spring and I will put this on the 'things to do on the way" list...thanks!

              2. Just checking back in as we did try a suggestion made here and I am delighted (well, one small quibble). The winner was May's. It is an old-school place, lively and full of families, in a mall right near Beford itself.

                We had honey-garlic ribs, and sweet and sour chicken and all the other old-fashioned hits. And it was great...

                Except: what is with Nova Scotia egg rolls? I am accustomed to the egg-roll with bean sprouts. Bur both a Cheelin and at May's what was served as the standard egg-roll was more like a meat-bean patty. Now, to be fair, the Special May egg roll did have what seems to me to be the more traditional celery-bean sprout plum sauce thing, even with some shards of shrimp added.

                Is the difference a regional thing?

                3 Replies
                1. re: LJS

                  I think the egg rolls are a regional thing. As someone who grew up here, I love them, and must admit that May Garden has my favourite "mushy-meat" eggroll. But, I do see how they may be universlly loved.

                  1. re: CanadaGirl

                    For sure.

                    The "egg roll" is the essence of "Americanized" Chinese food. I've had them all over the place and they are always different. The story of Chinese cafes in Canada is a really fascinating one and is as Canadian as the CPR and, on a more unfortunate note, the head tax; It's all tied together, good and bad, and is an amazing Canadian tale. East meets West. Mostly, we all came from away, after all.

                    Check out:
                    "Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada"

                    My home town of Kentville is an old railroad town and had the requisite Chinese place with the red walls and the lanterns and all that. Happily, in my time, it wasn't "Who Has Seen the Wind," as the family were valued members of the community, and not ostracized... At least by the seventies. I reckon if you went back a few years it could have easily been different. To this day, the sons and daughters still run places in the area. Mostly, in my experience, these places had the best food in town!

                    I mused about China Town in an earlier post and I have to say again, that I loved going there! Such great memories of the food and atmosphere. My parents really admired the owner and how he really looked after his business and welcomed us back every time we went.

                    Hey, even Stuart McLean has immortalized such places in the mosaic that is Kenny Wong's Scottish Meat Pies.
                    (They're all out of Meat Pies.)

                  2. re: LJS

                    Yeah Halifax egg rolls have the meat paste in 'em ... it was even new to me when I moved to Halifax from another part of NS. But I learned to love them. Now I'm in Calgary and I REALLY can't find anything that qualifies as a proper eggroll to me.

                    I strongly recommend the eggrolls at Robie Foods. They are probably more what you want.

                  3. BTW has anyone tried the new place where the Cellar used to be?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: baldest1

                      Yes, we went shortly after it opened. It wasn't a happy experience; the food was forgettable and disappointing in turns, the service was slow despite an empty dining room. And now I hear it's filthy.

                      I hope something Cellar-ish takes its place; I loved it there.

                    2. Seems The Szechuan Restaurant in Bedford and Hungry Chili (sadly) in Halifax have both closed their doors. The latter may re-open if she finds a suitable spot. Luckily a new Sichuan eatery has opened at the site of the former China Classic on Quinpool Road. It's called Ji Xiang (spelling can vary). The cook is from Chengdu and knows how to pull off Sichuan dishes - unlike, I may add, the other restaurants about town. Portions are generous. Apparently the old Halifax institution, King Wah, also on Quinpool and not Sichuan, has a new owner and recent reports indicate the food has taken a severe nosedive. It has not been a good year for authentic Chinese food-lovers in Hfx. JiXiang's opening is the best news of late.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: chilibeanpaste

                        Szechuan in Bedford is still open -- my husband got takeout from there last night. They were closed temporarily over the summer, so perhaps that is why you thought they were no longer open. However, they are closed on Mondays.

                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                          Cheelin is still the best IMO, although Szechuan in Bedford is also good. Szechuan is better for noodles; the mains (esp the Kung Pao chicken and orange beef) at Cheelin are awesome). Both have great eggrolls and homemade plum sauce...and dumplings.

                          1. re: traccan555

                            There has been alot of talk about Cheelin lately. I haven't been back since a very disappointing meal and service 15 years ago. They were at the seaport market and the fare they offered looked like Canadian Chinese from the 70's. I decided to try their bao-tze from the steamers - they were huge. They were disappointing - no more than a teaspoon of tasteless pork in the centre. Pretty they were but I'll pass on Cheelin.

                            And what is with the death of the eggroll in Halifax?

                            1. re: chilibeanpaste


                              I think the Eggroll died in Calgary.