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Dec 31, 2010 05:06 PM

Are there any real continental/northern Chinese cuisine places in Van?

Whenever I'm going somewhere to anything that advertises itself as northern or continental I'm only seeing Bejing cuisine or very generic dishes.

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  1. You may have to travel a bit for the real deal.

    Joyce Jioazi (on Joyce St near the skytrain station) serves dongbei (northeastern) food. Rustic/homestyle. There has been a change in ownership since I last went so YMMV.

    There is another dongbei place in Burnaby called Countryside Chinese Cuisine. DylanLK wrote about it here You will have to dig through their menu to find the dongbei specialties.

    In Richmond there is a Shandong place on Saba Rd called Northern Cuisine. Probably the most upscale amongst the ones I listed.

    Are you only considering "northern"? When you say "continental", does Sichuan cuisine (which is "western") count? How about Xian? (Peaceful restaurant has a handful of Xian specialties).

    5 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      Yeah, I'm probably looking for something like real Shanxi/Henan/Hubei/Yellow river valley dishes. Like really thick soups, noodle varieties and classical drinks or possibly beer. Freshwater fish would also be very appreciated.

      1. re: baybal

        I don't know of any places that serve a full menu from those regions here. Peaceful Restaurant has one or two dishes - but nothing extensive. They have a Shanxi noodle soup, a Henan soup, a Lanzhou beef soup, and cold buckwheat noodle which I believe is from the Chongzhou region - near Chongqing. As with most dishes at Peaceful - they are good, but I wouldn't classify them as "authentic." They specialize in approachable "Mandarin" cuisine.

        1. re: baybal

          I feel you but. First, gotta look at who is coming to Canada, from China. Lots of people moving from southern coastal cities and northern megalopolises, but very few moving from, say, Zhengzhou or Lanzhou or Bengbu (not to say none, of course, and it's not going to be that way forever but for the moment...). Second, gotta look at what cuisines loom large in the minds of Chinese dinners. Sure, far western Chinese food is an approachable, wellknown curiosity... but nobody is going be opening, say, a 洛阳水席 restaurant in Vancouver (or Beijing or Shanghai). Anhui, northern Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong all have some dope food but does anyone outside of Anhui know or care what Anhui food is like? Third, a lot of this food is, I think, doesn't really make much sense outside of its home environment, made with local products (but I think that about every cuisine, I guess).

          Let's flesh out those three points. Don't these cuisines really have zero visibility outside of their home regions? I'd like to imagine Shanghainese food bloggers scouring migrant worker territories for hardcore straight outta Hefei cuisine, but they're probably too busy eating pho and taking pictures of sandwiches, like everyone else. (But to prove myself wrong, let's turn to a Dianping review of an Anhui restaurant called 安徽土菜馆: -- spoiler alert: they think everything is "not bad" or "okay"). Even if they have visibility, whatever that means, they don't have any respect. Anhui is as backwards as North Korea. (Compare the number of North Korean restaurants in Shanghai to the number of Henan or Anhui restaurants-- Henan and Anhui are China's class war punchlines, sources of thieves, migrant workers, and embarrassing news stories that remind us of the 旧社会! North Korea is at least a bit exotic. And then look at the number of Korean restaurants in Shanghai-- South Korea, aspirational neighbor, and that spicy red sauce they put on everything is okay, too, right?


          Wait a minute before you see a branch of 安徽土菜馆 open in Vancouver. The Follow Me Foodies of Shanghai aren't writing about pickled cabbage and chicken gizzards at Anhui migrant worker hangouts, yet, so the Follow Me Foodies of Vancouver aren't going to write about them either. Nobody from Anhui is coming to Vancouver with bags of cash to open an upscale 炒粉丝 joint. So, what is there? fmed pointed out the only places worth pointing out, I guess. If you don't want way-up-north food (Countryside Chinese Cuisine, for example), and you don't want way-out-west food (Xi'an Xiaochi--the stall and the school of cuisine-- is pretty far from what you want, I think, according to your own description, and beyond that, there's only further west, places like Beijiang, which is a cruel joke [but shows us what Chinese diners think of food that originates from that area that lies west of, say, Nanjing (they think it's weird! and requiring vigorous Sinification!)]), you could try Northern Cuisine, which has a few Shandong dishes on the menu but--another of many "but"s in this reply-- the dishes are mostly sorta generic banquet-style dishes and.... Hey, what about that place in Crystal Mall? The Shandong place? Okay, I'm out of places.

          The third point was about local stuff, right? Take Sichuan cuisine, which is as much about styles of cooking as it is about key, special ingredients. You can take a dude from Chongqing and give him a kitchen and a supermarket to shop in, but nothing's going to be quite right unless he has a some Pixian paste and Pengzhou peppers. (The result of the first experiment could be really interesting but that's not quite what we want, I guess). You need a supply line, I guess. (That is, if what you want your Anhui restaurant to closely resemble Anhui restaurants in Anhui). -- When my girl goes back to her hometown in northern Jiangsu, she always comes back with her suitcase full of stuff that you can't get outside of THAT ONE CITY, stuff that barely makes it out of that one neighborhood in that one city. Ah, it's too local, too closed, too impossible to ever work outside of its home place, I worry. (Thick soups, eh? I love the family of peppery black soups that start being made as you go west, through Subei and Henan and....)

          So, the answer to your original question is: no. But, um, to comfort everyone, though, lots of this food is being cooked here, you know? Just not in restaurants. Home cooked-- even better!--by pretty little Zhengzhou girls in the carved up multifamily homes of Richmond, or by homesick kids from Hefei in SFU dorms....

          1. re: DylanLK

            Awesome and well framed reply as usual DylanLK.

        2. well said Dylan.! Femd to add to Dongbei, is the one on Victoria/40th Zhang iirc.

          but most of this regional food you only find at home cooking here. the popular ones have already been integrated into local cuisine. many popular dishes in the big cities have origins from the migrant workers that leave their home province. Peking Duck for instance was thought to be first created by a chef from Shandong.

          let's be honest the vast majority of folks who eat chinese food wouldnt know what food is like in Dongbei, Anhui, Jiangsu unless they've visited this places. And the people who immigrate here wouldnt be able to support a restaurant serving this food. if they serve authentic food chances are the majority of local diners would not frequent it often enough to keep it in business. esp with so many prevalent dining choices.