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Chinese Sticky Rice Wrap (zongzi) - where do you buy yours ?

LotusRapper Sep 19, 2010 06:18 PM

Hi all,

For those who like these at home:


I don't eat too much, like maybe once or twice a month. My preference are ones with pork meat, peanuts (more the better) and salted duck egg yolk.

I typically buy mine from Gah Lok Dimsum on Fraser/26th, Pine House Bakery (various locations) and New Town Bakery (Pender, Cambie stores). Just curious if others have favorite purveyors of them. Thanks.

  1. grayelf Sep 19, 2010 06:32 PM

    As you know, LR, I too buy mine at Gah Lok based on recs from you and bdachow :-). And now I know what we're having for dinner tonight, so thanks for that.

    I notice that the one in the link has red string on it. I'm still fascinated by the string ID thing.

    16 Replies
    1. re: grayelf
      LotusRapper Sep 19, 2010 06:53 PM

      I *just* had two for dinner ......... which prompted my curiosity and post ;-)

      Like Gah Lok's wraps' size .... not so big (and rice not so tightly packed) that two is just right for me (with lots of tea in tow).

      1. re: grayelf
        bdachow Sep 21, 2010 09:36 AM

        Ha ha ha...too funny grayelf. Yes, I always get mine from there, I like the size as I can finish one by myself and be stuffed. Love the fatty pork meat and salted duck egg yolk in mine with a good proportion of yellow mung beans and not too much rice. Not a big fan of the sweet ones, they taste too soapy for me.

        I was a little worried as I still have a couple in my freezer and if the power had gone out for too long from Hurricane Igor (thankfully it wasn't too horrible), I would've been really annoyed that I had to throw out my stash. But lucky enough, power was back within 24 hours. Close call!

        1. re: bdachow
          LotusRapper Sep 21, 2010 09:58 AM

          Um, Hurricane Igor ?? Where exactly are you ?

          1. re: LotusRapper
            bdachow Sep 21, 2010 10:05 AM

            Bermuda :)

            Sorry have never gotten a chance to meet you at one of the chow events when I'm in town.

            1. re: bdachow
              LotusRapper Sep 21, 2010 12:59 PM

              No worries, I haven't actually made it to a chowdown event so far (having only joined Chowhound and Van Chowdown mid-summer).

              Pleasure will be mine the next time we do meet in person.

        2. re: grayelf
          ipsedixit Sep 21, 2010 10:11 AM

          "I notice that the one in the link has red string on it. I'm still fascinated by the string ID thing."

          When we used to make these at home, my mom would always remind me that red string was sweet (usu. red beans), no color or white yarn was meat (salty, usu. fatty pork), thick yellow was vegetarian.

          One time I mixed it up and we ended up giving a big batch of pork zongzi to friends who were Buddhist monks and besides giving my mom a major conniption she made me wear these color-coordinated necklaces with placards reading "RED = Beans" and "WHITE = meat" and "YELLOW = Vegetables".

          I had to wear this jewelry to school for a week. Not a good thing for a kid in grade school, but sufficie to say, I never (stress, never) made that mistake again.

          1. re: ipsedixit
            LotusRapper Sep 21, 2010 12:57 PM

            OMG that's a hilarious (to me) story, thanks for sharing. Hope that didn't cause any lifelong trauma for you every time you go buy zongzi [wink]

            1. re: LotusRapper
              ipsedixit Sep 21, 2010 03:06 PM

              Looking back on it now, I can definitely laugh at myself. Even my mom finds it somewhat amusing now (but certainly not then).

              I definitely get a serious chuckle everytime I think of that Buddhist monk biting into a zongzi and getting a mouthful of (gasp!) fatty pork ...

              1. re: ipsedixit
                LotusRapper Sep 21, 2010 03:34 PM

                Guess you didn't have the chance to tell the monks that they've come a long ways in making soy gluten look and taste just like pork fat .....

                1. re: LotusRapper
                  grayelf Sep 21, 2010 10:13 PM

                  Nice to see you around these parts, ipse! And thanks for the intel on the strings. I am still fascinated but less baffled :-).

                  1. re: grayelf
                    ipsedixit Sep 22, 2010 09:36 AM

                    Because they all look the same from the outside, once they are wrapped, cooked and then either refrigerated or frozen, it's simply impossible to discern what's inside.

                    Sometimes, not often, we would wrap them in different shapes, but for some reason my mom had this anal fascination with making them in the tetrahedral shape (even though we are Northern Chinese) and eschewed the tubular incarnation of these things, which are the more common shape you find in the north. Go figure.

                    I think to this day, my mom thinks she failed in her maternal duties, as she still considers my hand-pulled noodle skills to be laughably deficient, my dumplings to be a sight fit for only the blind, my boazi embarassingly unfluffly, and don't even get her started on how amatuerish my method of making Northern "da bing" is ... Sigh. :-)

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      LotusRapper Sep 22, 2010 01:14 PM

                      Wow I seem to be side-tracked in making book recommendations on this thread ! Here's a recent read of mine (kindly referred to and loaned to me by another regular Chowhounder here):


                      Which I thought of while reading your account of mother-daughter relations. But perhaps one day you may wish to impress fellow CH-ers here with a live demonstration of your culinary skills ;-)

                      1. re: LotusRapper
                        ipsedixit Sep 22, 2010 01:26 PM

                        You mean "mother-son" relations ....

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          LotusRapper Sep 22, 2010 02:05 PM

                          Ooops. "Bu hao yi si !"

                          1. re: LotusRapper
                            ipsedixit Sep 22, 2010 02:27 PM

                            Not as embarrassed as I would be if I ever had to face those Buddhist monks ...

                        2. re: LotusRapper
                          waver Sep 23, 2010 02:04 PM

                          Love the book recs. This one sounds great.

          2. À
            À la carte Sep 19, 2010 07:00 PM

            When I get lazy and don't feel like steaming the ones from Gah Lok that are sitting in my freezer, I just pick up a couple from T&T on my way home from work :-)

            2 Replies
            1. re: À la carte
              LotusRapper Sep 19, 2010 07:09 PM

              Come to think of it, it didn't occur to me T&T sells them. I don't think all T&Ts have them, right (or don't recall seeing them at every store). Are they good and how much are they ?

              1. re: LotusRapper
                À la carte Sep 19, 2010 07:23 PM

                I go to the one in Chinatown. They taste pretty good to me, but I'm not sure I would know the difference between a good and a great one. There's not a large selection (mostly chicken), but that could just be a factor of when I tend to go, which is around 6 p.m. They're usually closing down their deli section by then so they sell what they left have for 2 for $1.99. Don't recall the regular price.

            2. r
              rinkatink888 Sep 21, 2010 10:26 PM

              I don't ever remember buying these wraps. You can't beat homemade. My mom, when she was alive, will make 100's of these at a time and nothing beats a freshly made sticky rice wrap, with the traditional duck egg, peanuts, pork and/or pork belly and ham and sometimes fresh chestnuts. She makes the other ones too, with limewater (calcium hydroxide) but I never like the taste of them. Now I get them from my aunties, and my significant's mother and it seems my freezer is always stocked with a few dozen at all times. I can't eat them fast enough.

              11 Replies
              1. re: rinkatink888
                LotusRapper Sep 21, 2010 10:51 PM

                We never made them at home, I suppose with both working parents it was not all that feasible, considering at the time (in the '70s/'80s) they could buy a zongzi for << $1 each. But I can only imagine homemade ones are intimately part of fond household memories, sort of like homemade dumplings (jiaozi) which we did make occasionally.

                Maybe you have a niche retail opportunity there [wink]

                1. re: LotusRapper
                  rinkatink888 Sep 21, 2010 11:32 PM

                  We grew up in a small town, pop 7000, in Wyoming and both of my parents work long hours, seven days a week. Since we were the only Chinese family in that town, the homemade sticky rice wraps and other tradition cantonense food my mom prepared was the only chinese food I had contact with until I was 12 and my first adventure to a large city was a three-month trip to Hong Kong at that age. You can only imagine what it was like to see the city in a child's eye and see and taste fresh ingredients like shrimp, clams, fresh noodles, etc.

                  1. re: rinkatink888
                    LotusRapper Sep 22, 2010 08:14 AM

                    Interesting story and background.

                    I know this is not directly related to this thread, but your post somehow invoked the thought of this book (which I have) that I feel is interesting read:


                    1. re: LotusRapper
                      rinkatink888 Sep 22, 2010 10:14 AM

                      Thank you for the link. From the summary reading of the author, my early life reads like his book. I'm looking forward to finding and reading this book.

                      1. re: rinkatink888
                        LotusRapper Sep 22, 2010 01:10 PM

                        You can buy it here, along with his other books:


                        1. re: LotusRapper
                          grayelf Aug 9, 2011 09:30 AM

                          So I was driving up Fraser just after 8 this am, post-SO-dropoff-at-the-airport-greasy-spoon-breaky at Dockers Family, and I spotted a brand new pho place, Cilantro, at 26th and Fraser. In stopping to take a closer look, I noticed the OPEN sign was lit next door at Gah Lok. Happiness indeed!

                          I sauntered over and the very affable older guy who was loading up a truck outside with goodies for delivery asked if I wanted to buy something. Yes please! The bamboo leaf wrapped, string coded sticky rice was still cooking (he told me they take four hours, and that these are the ones with the peanuts) but there was a fair selection of the lily leaf wrapped ones. They had "minis" as well so those left with me too. A fair-sized tub of frozen hot and sour soup (only $2.50) rounded things out for a total of just over $17 for four large, 5 minis and the soup. Will have to go by again for the stringed beasties but quite a haul for so early in the morning.

                          Dockers Family Restaurant
                          6094 Fraser St, Vancouver, BC V5W2Z7, CA

                          1. re: grayelf
                            LotusRapper Aug 9, 2011 09:15 PM

                            That place I noticed opened sometime in 2010 ? but I never wandered in when going to Gah Lok. Front window said something about Vietnamese-Chinese cuisine or something ? but the menu posted looked pretty Vietnamese to me. So if they sell sticky rice wraps (small 'uns, eh, would that make 'em "zongzi sliders", haha !) then I'd definitely have to check them out.

                            Thanks GE !

                            1. re: LotusRapper
                              grayelf Aug 9, 2011 11:24 PM

                              Just to clarify, the Viet on the corner is new (was Viet before but with different name). Gah Lok is the place that has the mini sticky rice wraps.

                              1. re: grayelf
                                bdachow Aug 10, 2011 09:15 AM

                                Are you talking about mini sticky rice with the chicken in it, like a mini version from dim sum? I love those, they're the perfect size for a home breakfast accompanied with some congee and jiao zi. Oh drool...my freezer is bereft of any frozen goodies and my next trip out isn't until Xmas probably. Waaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

                                1. re: bdachow
                                  bdachow Sep 27, 2011 10:28 AM

                                  Lol, so was just in Calgary/Kelowna for a short sprint through Western Canada. If you're ever in a bind, the Asian SuperMarket in Kelowna on the 97 (near north end of town), carries some of the Gah Lock products, sadly no jiao zi (I picked up some frozen mini bbq pork buns, mini chicken sticky rice and something else. Go figure...

                                  As for frozen dumplings go, I was in Calgary and picked up zongzhi at T&T, haven't tried it yet but am keeping fingers that A la Carte's assessment is good. But I just tried the Golden Happiness brand of frozen jiao zi and big thumbs down, the wrapper is too thick and chewy and the filling is puny relative to the size of it. Reminds me of the Tyson chicken nuggets which I call air balls as that's all that's inside them...air. Oh, maybe a shred of chicken.

                                  1. re: bdachow
                                    LotusRapper Sep 27, 2011 04:14 PM

                                    Reminds me of some really bad sweet & sour pork I've had over the years in really bad HITW (hole-in-the-wall) places, where there might be a tiny tiny cube of (mystery meat) surrounded by a huge ball of dough, fried to kingdom come and drenched in glow-in-dark orange syrup ....... tada, S&S pork ! :-O

              2. c
                clutterer Aug 10, 2011 10:01 AM

                Not sure if you can buy them frozen to take home or not, but as of late I've been enjoying the one offered during the day at Lucky Tao in Richmond. Instead of peanuts, they use chestnuts, an ample amount of salted egg yolks, etc.

                Lucky Tao Restaurant
                8077 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X1C3, CA

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