Dynasty for dim sum: a new favourite in Vancouver
We gathered a group of ten Chowhounds including an SF Bay Area-based visiting Hound to try out Dynasty at Willow and Broadway. I've been hearing good things for a while and they were mostly borne out.
First the logistics: this building has one of the worst parkades around. Some of the spaces are so narrow as to be laughable. Keep looking for the wider ones, and be sure to give your stall number to the staff to get two hours free parking. Also the restaurant is on what is called the ground floor which ludicrously is not indicated in the elevator. This may sound like pickiness but it is not on the street level which is what I would call the ground floor.
Anyhoo, on to the room and food. There are lovely big windows and once upon a time probably a view. The tables are nicely spaced and even when completely slammed the noise level is not grating. We held conversations quite easily by simply pitching our voices a little louder, yelling not required.
Service was pretty good with a modicum of language-related misunderstandings. Note that there is a $1 per patron tea charge but that they did not charge us extra for the pu-erh tea that we ordered in addition (not sure if this was an oversight or a nice touch).
I took photos of the menu so I'll include the exact names of the dishes from that which helps in ordering. Do be aware that like Jade in Richmond they rotate dishes out so some things we had might not be available by the time you go. One example of this was the shrimp with century egg and ginger which had been mentioned online as good but alas is no more. We also tried to order ginger milk pudding which one diner recalled having here but it was gone too.
We doubled up on everything so that all diners could try a taste which worked well on everything except the buddha's feast, the gingko nut dish, the lo mai gai (rice wrap) and the steamed sticky rice roll with cashew nut which we could have just ordered one each of. I also wasn't a huge fan of the latter which was the batter from a cha siu bao wrapped around sticky rice, no evidence of cashews -- too starchy for me but others seemed to like it.
Our total was $200 so $23 each with tip. Dishes averaged $5 each with the veg specialties being a bit higher. I'd say this place is about 20 per cent more than the cheap and cheerful dim sum spots, but the ingredients are uniformly high quality so it likely balances out. Execution was uniformly good with the exception of some of the dumplings which were oversteamed and thus too sticky. Deep fried items were light and not overly oily. Stir fries were spot on with wok hei in evidence. Personal nitpicks: the bean curd piece I had was so cold I couldn't taste the components, and the shiu mai I had was gristly. Pretty small potatoes.
There were some standout dishes (and no fails which is awesome). The sago dessert was excellent. I could eat a whole one to myself. The bbq pork triangle got raves all round (though I did find it personally quite sweet) with the flaky pastry and hint of lemon zest. The buddha's feast and the gingko dish showcase the Cantonese light hand with seasoning and balance (and can I say how delightful it is to find a full page of veggie options that are truly vegetarian on a dim sum menu?).
I hope they have the Chiu Chow fried rice still next time I go as I'd like to try that.
Here's a list of what we ordered with prices (sorry, seem to have missed snapping the egg tarts in the melee; they were my second favourites so far after Good Choice's version, not too sweet and superb flaky pastry, served warm):
The first three are from the veg menu (these dishes are quite large):
sauteed buddha's feast $7.99
sauteed gingko nuts with veggie and fungus $6.69
bean curd sheets wrapped with mushroom $6.99
baked lemon bbq pork pie $4.68
shrimp and garlic spring rolls $4.68
steamed shrimp dumpling (ie. har gau) $4.88
steamed pork dumpling (ie. shiu mai ) $4.88
pan fried white radish cake with Chinese sausage $4.88
sticky rice in lotus leaf (ie. lo mai gai, which I think we ordered in Chinese as I don't see it on the menu) $4.88
pan fried eggplant stuffed with fish paste in black bean sauce $4.88
deep fried taro with bbq duck meat $4.68
baked egg tarts $4.68
steamed crab with pork dumplings $4.98
baked sago pudding with black sesame $4.48
steamed sticky rice roll with cashew nut $4.88
steamed watercress dumpling with shrimp $4.88
I hope our other diners will chime in with their thoughts and to correct any errors I might have made!
We always get their sliced beef brisket, if that's any help.
There are also a number of off-menu items that you can special request (eg. the "two faced" noodle, a Chiu Chow dish wherein egg noodles are crisped on two sides, while still chewy in the centre, paired with vinegar and sugar for dipping): wish I could elaborate further on that, but I am typically at the mercy of the more language proficient for those.
So, finally home from Vancouver, where I gained five pounds. When I complained to hubby about the weight gain, noting that I had done lots of walking, he had very little sympathy: "yes, you were walking all right: to restaurants!" Sad, but true at least in part (I did get to watch grayelf navigate the lot at Dynasty..)
Anyway, big thanks to Grayelf and ALL the Vancouver hounds for great eating and for making me feel so welcome in your city.
Re the dim sum at Dynasty: as noted, no misses, at least for me. I did like the rice rolls, but then starch is a good thing in my book. The closest to a miss was the steamed crab with pork dumplings: lovely filling but the dumpling skin was oversteamed. My favorites were the radish cake (best version of this dish I've ever had I think), buddha's Feast and the sago pudding, which was the epitome of what a comforting dessert should be. Come to think of it, the lemon pork pies were also very good, and the taro was perfectly fried (though I couldn't really taste duck in the stuffing).
Overall. better dim sum than I can recall having back in SF in quite a while, have to admit. Of course, where I live now in the great Central Valley dim sum is practically non-existent, so I will admit that this meal really satisfied a deep craving.....
More on some of my other food adventures in Vancouver coming. I love your town and can't wait to return!
Great to hear that you were the lucky CA hound, Susan. We had to, once again, cut our travel plans short and leave out Vancouver, only got as far north as Sequim and Port Angeles. We need to get our BC hound family to come down here to the central valley and visit Chef Liu's new Hunan venue, I think they would be very pleased. We even have some passable dim sum here in Fresno at Imperial Garden, sadly not close to what you all enjoyed.