Vancouver Dim Sum Recs for Beginners?
Headed up from Seattle next weekend. DH has never done Dim Sum, and I have only been a handful of times with large group of co-workers in the ID. The place we went (I want to say House of Hong, but not positive) was push-cart, but my co-workers knew what to choose and how to request items off the menu.
I understand that Vancouver DS is much more authentic, both the food and the experience, so can anyone recommend a place for a couple of newbies to try? We will have a car and so can go to Richmond, but would prefer to stay downtown.
We love good food, but I think what's more important for us getting our feet wet is that the experience is navigable for us. Pushcarts might be easier than menus, and servers that are patient and perhaps speak a little English would be ideal. (That's not a criticism against non-English-speakers, by the way, just an acknowledgement of our own limitations!)
Here are two threads that should be of assistance, though I must stress the importance of calling to ensure carts are still happening:
If you are downtown I think the Imperial is the only option for carts now and it is expensive. Next closest that I can recommend is Golden Ocean (mentioned on both threads). Then in Richmond I'd go for South Ocean. Of the three, I think the latter is most representative of the cart dim sum experience of old that is rapidly dying out. These three places all take reservations, a must for me most of the time as I hate waiting.
Look for the "captains" to help you out if you need anything like water, more tea, forks, extra chili sauce (get the red blended one that often comes with mustard, not the chili flakes in oil, for a more Vancouver feel!). They are usually wearing black vests and look more authoritative, never pushing the carts. The cart ladies are lovely but often speak limited English -- just ask to see what is in the basket or bowl as they go by and they will oblige, then nod if you want one. Another tip is to ask for anything largish to be cut in half as most of them are armed with scissors for that purpose.
If you do choose a place that does ordering by menu, you will find that they vary a lot in terms of what is written on the order sheet. And unlike my experiences dim summing in the Bay Area, the picture menus are far less popular and are limited here.
I find it tricky to go for dimsum with only two people as so many dishes come in multiples of three or four, which is another reason a cart place would be preferable. You can just stop nabbing plates when you are full!
Best of luck and I hope your SO likes it!
If you end up choosing to stay downtown for dim sum I wouldn't be overly concerned about language. I've never run into difficulties with a la carte menus and staff generally are fluent in English and willing to assist.
What about Kirin Downtown or Victoria Seafood Restaurant? I know these aren't push cart, but they are downtown and pretty dim-sum-newbie friendly.
Greyelf covered the dim sum info, but if you are looking for something different I always enjoy just strolling around Chinatown and grabbing stuff from the street vendors or the front of the house parts of the restaurants. You can get a good variety from a bunch of places and it's kind of like dim sum walkabout. :)