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Jun 27, 2012 11:31 AM

Good hk style cafes in the city

I'm looking for some good hk style cafes that serve the classics, baked rice, hainan chicken, French toast, milk tea. Preferably somewhere in the city and not far out in the suburbs. Just for lunch. Thanks

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  1. This is the only local food blogger (that I'm aware of) who specifically tags HK-style restos and cafes in his reviews:

    But not all restos in that search results list are HK "cafes" per se.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LotusRapper

      Here is a site with 20 HK cafe listings.

      I personally like some of the food at Copa Cafe near 25th and Cambie, particularly their baked pork chops.

    2. Mui Garden is solid though not exceptional.

      1 Reply
      1. re: fmed

        A blast from the past: Maxim's in Chinatown (upstairs). Really old-school HK Cafe.

      2. My two current favourites within Vancouver city limits are Dragon Lord Cafe (6181 Fraser) and BT Cafe (920 Kingsway).

        At Dragon Lord, the baked pork chop is plated differently than it frequently is at other HK cafes. It is baked in a very deep round ceramic with handles. This shape actually works really well to keep every bit of the dish hot until the very end. The flatter dishes that are common in other places tend to cool down by the time I reach the end. This was hot to the last bite. Nice. The pork chop itself is also a slightly different style. Instead of the thicker version which is quite common this is a pounded version more reminiscent of a good schnitzel. A good schnitzel covered with tomato sauce and served on fried rice, of course. I enjoyed the schnitzel like chop. The rice itself also had a nice consistency with a slight char from the wok. Overall a very successful version. Service is very friendly too.

        At BT Cafe the seafood baked rice has the rice was nicely stir-fried before being placed into the casserole for the baking, so the rice itself had a nice wok flavour along with slightly charred (to the delicious point) scrambled eggs, which frequently isn't found when places quickly slap together this dish. Nice touch. The seafood itself is plentiful with a nice variety of scallops, squid, whitefish and jumbo shrimp which all taste very fresh. None of the seafood was overcooked, which is a tough feat with things like squid and scallops when you bake the dish at such a high temperature.

        The only downfalls to the baked dishes at both places, are ones that are common to baked rice everyplace I have had it - the use of non-fresh veggies like frozen corn and peas.

        14 Replies
        1. re: YVRChow

          Thanks for the pics, I'll try them out. Went to ICafe and got the baked portuguese veal with rice. Was disappointed that the sauce was a little bland and needed more seasoning and/or spice.

          1. re: YVRChow

            I've had the baked seafood rice at both Dragon Lord and at BT. IMHO Dragon's is better. So is their curry beef brisket.

            1. re: LotusRapper

              I haven't tried the seafood baked rice at Dragon Lord yet. But based upon the pork chop baked rice I would definitely lean towards Dragon Lord overall as my preferred baked rice location too.

              1. re: YVRChow

                Maybe I didn't pay close attention before, but recently I started noticing most if not all of the HK cafes such as iCafe, BT, Gloucester, Dragon Lord, Gold Stone, Maxim's etc. where we've ordered baked seafood rice (my son's favorite) don't put cheese on top of their bechamel sauce. Minor detail, maybe it's to suit the majority of Chinese clientele who don't like cheese ?

                1. re: LotusRapper

                  Well, considering that Baked rice with *insert meat and sauce* is already a fusion dish that is catered to Chinese (at least HK) tastes, it's a little unusual to suggest it needs further change to suit said preferences. However, in my experience when the baked item has cheese on it, it's usually stated explicitly on the menu (at least in Toronto)

                  1. re: Blueicus

                    Each cafe has its own specialties.

                    Mui garden is good for its curry beef brisket and Sichuan green beans.

                    The baked pork chop rice at cattle cafe is the Best I've had. I also like their fried xo radish cake.

                    Silver tower has good curry chicken rice and their choose 2 item w rice is the best around.

                    I don't like the vibe at Copa cafe nor Gloucester.

                    I used to get the beef brisket curry at Honolulu all the time but haven't been there in ages.

                    1. re: quddous

                      Honolulu Cafe on Main has recently closed. No new gig has set up there (the place look like a somewhat hasty "cease & decease").

                      Dragon Lord on Fraser has very recently closed, to be replaced by a new gig called Moon Cafe. I've no idea if these are new owners, a new name/branding, or both.

                      1. re: LotusRapper

                        I noticed Dragon Lord was closing (much to my dismay) a few days before it closed on a visit. I asked and they said new owner, but that much will stay the same. I hope that is true and that the chefs/cooks are staying!

                        I hope it is true. But only time will tell, eh?

                        1. re: YVRChow

                          Thankfully the new spot Moon Cafe has opened up quickly - a little over a week after Dragon Lord closed. It has all new staff out front, what I am guessing are new owners, a new menu, and a new awning.

                          Many of the elderly Chinese people coming in got really confused with the new menu and were asking all sorts of questions of the staff. There were a few seniors that were grumpy about the change for sure as their favourite items were not exactly appearing on the menu the same way or had different combinations available that confused them, etc. The trend around town of the fish soup with add your own noodles, toppings, etc. which they now have here as well also confused some of the seniors.

                          I spotted the section with the baked rice dishes and was happy to see the addition of baked ox tongue on rice to the lunchtime specials priced at a reasonable $7.95 including your choice of drink. They used to only have that at dinner time with a much larger portion, so I happily ordered it.

                          They started off bringing me the cold milk tea which was nice and strong and not overly sweetened - just like the one from Dragon Lord. It was even served in the exact same glass type that Dragon Lord used. They also got rid of the "cold upcharge" that had snuck in lately at Dragon Lord when you wanted the included drink served cold. Great start.

                          The main dish arrived plated in the Dragon Lord "small" lunch size - which is still quite large even for a guy with a big appetite like me. The rice still had the familiar wok hei and scrambled eggs mixed in. The ox tongue was just as tender and spiced similarly to how it used to be. Disaster averted - seems like there may be the same cooks - or at least the same recipes!

                          I'm hoping that things continue to keep this same high quality as they transition to the new owners and new branding. Only time will tell, but for now the quick change has been successful (except for some of those seniors that were disoriented). I hope they keep it up, and wish them good luck with this new venture!

                          1. re: YVRChow

                            Nice post. Tongue has got to be one of my favourite cuts of meat. CH needs a like button.

                            1. re: flowbee

                              LOL - they just added that recommend button at the bottom of each post, no? :)

                                1. re: YVRChow

                                  And where the heck is the "Like" button ?!?!? ;-)

                                  Good review, YVRChow ! Is the space just as narrow and cramped as before ?

                                  1. re: LotusRapper

                                    Dragon Lord had already redone the space a while before they closed and rearranged tables, etc. to give it a bit less of a crowded feel. Moon Cafe seems to have stuck with that same new layout so far.....

            2. With the numerous options for Chinese food all around the Metro Vancouver area, including areas like Richmond with all of the recent immigration, I have to confess that I frequently overlook the old Chinatown area of Vancouver when thinking of places to eat.

              Goldstone (139 Keefer Street) is a classic old-school HK Cafe, and I'm disappointed that I hadn't stopped in before.

              Granted it feels like going through a bit of a time warp - everything from the faded menus under the glass top of the table to the waitstaff uniforms. But somehow the time warp matches really well with the classic comfort food on offer.

              I ordered my classic HK Cafe order of baked pork chop on rice ($8.25), and took the option to add borscht ($2) and a cold milk tea ($1 add-on for the ice - hot is included). Yes, they do the classic HK Cafe thing of charging for ice on the included coffee or tea. I'll never fully understand that other than "classic tradition."

              The cold milk tea was first to arrive, and it was a nice strong classic flavour. It wasn't sweet at all (the way I like it), but they had sugar available if you want it. Good start!

              Next came the borscht. This was overflowing the veggies and had the classic HK style flavours - slightly sweet and very tomatoey. It came with a complimentary roll that was SOOOO fresh. A bonus of them operating a bakery on-site, and based upon the freshness of the roll I made a mental note to come back for Chinese baked goods in the future.

              Then the main course arrived - the pork chop rice. It was huge. Particularly considering it was lunch time and it was the lunch special. The rice was slightly stir-fried with bits of scrambled eggs. I like it normally with a bit more wok hei, but it was good. The pork chops were surprisingly tender. Lots of times in this dish the chops are tough or chewy and sometimes even overcooked. Not here. Nicely cooked, and tender. The sauce was a very classic simple tomato sauce. Overall a very simple but well executed version of this classic comfort dish.

              Overall sometimes the classics are just the comforting treat you need! I'll be back!

              3 Replies
              1. re: YVRChow

                So great that you posted on Goldstone. I eye it once a week as I am driving my niece home and think "I should go there" (only ever got some coconut buns years ago).

                1. re: grayelf

                  It is old school, but sometimes old school hits the spot! Take your niece! :)

                  1. re: YVRChow

                    Good call -- she's a veteran of the 49thP on Main (I go for the outstanding cold brew, she the doughnuts) so perhaps it's time we branched out to a new style of baked goods. Any reccos on sweet buns or doughnutty things at Goldstone/Chinese bakeries?