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Jul 12, 2011 07:56 AM

Spicy Court for Dim Sum

It always pays to compare notes with new friends who are wired into the ever changing Vancouver-area Chinese restaurant scene. A recent example is the excellent recommendation of David Hawksworth's catering manager, Sue-Yen Lee, who while helping us with a private event, mentioned that her family members are regulars at the Spicy Court on Cambie and 41st Avenue. I'd passed the restaurant many times, but I had never been there or seen mention of it on this or other boards. However, our recent visit (and one by my daughter and her husband) suggests that Spicy Court may be doing some of the best traditional Cantonese dim sum in Vancouver (no carts).

We had terrific dumplings in spicy sauce, two delicate steamed dumplings (har gow and another shrimp-based choice), a good as it gets sticky rice wrap and several other items that met our test for the basics of dim sum. My daughter tells me that they had terrific steamed barbecued pork buns and an excellent spicy noodle soup, among other choices.

So for those who may have missed this seeming gem, as we did, a small detour is definitely warranted.

Spicy Court Chinese Restaurant
5638 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z3A5, CA

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  1. I love Spicy Court! I find it old school good, and we go often and have been for years. They make the best XO sauce of any dim sum place I've been to, to date.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ck1234

      I've been put off Spicy Court due to reports of indifferent to poor service. Would love to be wrong about this -- or is there a difference between dim sum and dinner service?

      1. re: À la carte

        I've never been for dinner. We usually do group dim sum lunches here. We've never had any problems with indifference or service. YMMV.

        1. re: ck1234

          On our one visit, the service was a little slow but otherwise very attentive.

          1. re: Peter Rodgers

            Thanks Peter and ck1234, sounds like Spicy Court will be the venue of our next dim sum.

        2. re: À la carte

          Four of us just had lunch there again yesterday. Glad we made a reservation as it was packed, though the host didn't understand the English name we made the reservation under. :-) We had to flag them for service a few times, but they were busy and attended to us immediately once we got their attention. I really don't find it any different than any other BUSY dim sum restaurant for service.

          They didn't remember that we drink Tiet Kwun Yum tea this time and brought us jasmine. They quickly rectified it though...we all mentioned we must not be coming enough anymore to be remembered. :-)

      2. Finally made it here for dim sum yesterday. The restaurant was about 2/3 full at 12:30 on a Friday so busy but not crowded. Service was fine - food came quickly, hot water was topped up regularly and they didn't seem to mind supplying multiple pairs of chopsticks for my 3 year old son who is learning to use them and dropped several on the floor in his attempts :)

        There were only 3 of us so we couldn't sample as many of the items as I would have liked and we stuck to our faves this time:

        * eggplant stuffed with shrimp - were excellent, nicely flavoured without being too salty and lots of shrimp filling
        * steamed shrimp and vegetable dumplings - 3 very large (maybe slightly too large?) halfmoon shaped dumplings. Lots of shrimp but I'm not sure what the "vegetable" component was - seemed very mushy and unidentifiable. Okay but nothing special
        * steamed sticky rice wraps - very good, lots of Chinese sausage, pork, etc in the filling
        * shao mai - I didn't actually sample these myself as they're not my favourite but they looked good and everyone else seemed to enjoy them - again, the dumplings seem to be a bit on the large size
        * deep fried filled dumplings - unfortunately, these arrived only slightly above room temperature and came very quickly so I have a feeling they had been sitting under heat lamps for awhile. Other than that though they were tasty, lots of shrimp and pork in the filling and the texture of the dough was surprisingly crisp for having sat around awhlie.
        * shrimp spring rolls - again, lots of shrimp in the filling (not much else actually), tasty and not too greasy. My son loved them

        The above dishes (+1 an extra order of the eggplant which I think was the best of the ones we ordered) came to $34 (without tip). We had hot water only so $1 person + for tea if you order it.

        I will definately return but probably wouldn't recommend going out of my way to come here. It is

        7 Replies
        1. re: islandgirl

          Quick update ....

          Tried to go here for dim sum yesterday and it is no longer! The place closed effective Oct 30 according to the sign on the door.

          1. re: islandgirl

            Bummer! I live pretty close to Spicy Court and ate there quite often. Any other good Chinese joints nearby that someone can recommend?

            1. re: waylman

              I recommend Golden Ocean at 2046 W.41st, in Kerrisdale. It's upstairs. Can expect line-ups on weekends. Room is looking dated these days, but food is solid, service no complaints. Still has push carts too !


              Alternatively if you head east from Cambie, I would recommend Golden Harvest (no relation to Golden Ocean ....... wink) on Main @ 32 Ave. It's more cramped in there, and I don't recall the food in detail. I think they recently did a major renovation.

              Lastly, if you head SW towards Marpole, there's the venerable Red Star on Granville @ 66 Ave. Very good quality food, but loud ambiance and busy, with higher prices to boot.

              1. re: waylman

                We ended up going to Fortune Garden across the street (in Oakridge Mall itself) as we were starving and it was 1pm by that point. I have to say, I was very impressed. This was some of the most consistently good dim sum I've had. All of the dishes were ordered were delicious and the fillings were very high-quality, particularly the shrimp dumplings.
                One item that was very unique to me were the "juicy meat dumplings". I was expecting something like a XLB but instead they looked like shao mai. However, the filling had some crunch from waterchestnuts and a little bit of orange zest which was absolutely delicious.
                The restaurant was packed at 1:15 on a Wednesday afternoon and my dad was the only non-asian in the place if that says anything. My only complaint was that they didn't have any eggplant dishes on the dim sum menu.

                1. re: islandgirl

                  Thanks for reporting on a place that doesn't get mentioned much, and glad your impromptu meal was a good one!

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Just wanted to let everyone know that Spicy Court is no more. The place is empty - no signs on the windows, nothing. A tenant next door was bought out of his lease, so whatever is going in will be pretty large.

                    1. re: Quattrociocchi

                      Someone who knows the family told me that they are looking for a place to reopen, but no details currently are available.

                      Spicy Court Chinese Restaurant
                      5638 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z3A5, CA

          2. The CIBC Bank is moving in there.