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Jun 27, 2013 06:52 AM

Most unusual dim sum in Vancouver

I will be in Vancouver for a weekend in August. I'm from the east coast and while we have great dim sum here in DC, I would love to try to find a great place to go on a Sunday in while I'm in Vancouver. My only requirements, it be served off of carts, there be a good variety of unusual items (I'm partial to duck feet but find dim sum the time to be adventurous) and there be well made steamed dumplings of all kinds (for my wife).

I'd appreciate any recommendations. I will be staying in the West End, but will have a car and probably a local guide (cousin)

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    1. For starters, I am rather puzzled by the comment that DC has "great dim sum," as having spent thirty years in DC, I never found anything that measures up to Vancouver, San Francisco, even L.A. But having had a second home in Vancouver for a decade, I will assure you that you will not be disappointed. But, please consider trying the places that serve from a menu rather than a cart, as the results are invariably worlds better (the vast majority of Cantonese restaurants in Vancouver have abandoned their carts).

      If you can manage with a menu (and most are vast), consider the options found in the numerous posts here. Lately, my favorites have been the Good Choice and Sun Sui Wah (Vancouver Main Street branch) but the options are many.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Peter Rodgers

        (I've not been yet) Sea Harbour in Richmond is supposedly very good.

        1. re: Peter Rodgers

          I agree that Vancouver and SF and even LA probably have better dim sum, but if you remember DC, the best dim sum was in the suburbs, not DC proper. We have some excellent dim sum, but I'm assuming that Vancouver with a much larger Chinese community will have better. I ask for carts because I don't know what everything on the menu is and I like pointing to something and saying "I'll try that." As to what I consider unusual, duck blood, jellyfish, sea cucumber, etc are the more unusual here. We get xiao long bao easily however and duck feet are considered very normal.

          1. re: dinwiddie

            You've got restaurant picks a-plenty, so the only thing I'd add is there's a difference between unusual vis a vis ingredients and unusual vis a vis not just the regular siu mais and hai gaos.

            1. re: clutterer

              There's also Pink Pearl just east of Chinatown, on Hastings St. Used to be an institution of sorts, then a fire just before the 2010 Olympics took them out of action for quite awhile. They're back, and with push carts. Fairly large space but loud. I have no idea how "unusual" their offerings are (90% clientele are non-Chinese). May or may not be worth a shot.


            2. re: dinwiddie

              Since carts aren't that common, you could consider somewhere where they have images of the food on the menu, if that's your only reason for wanting carts. Places like Sea Harbour Seafood do this, and they're considered one of the better dim sum restaurants:


              For Shanghainese dim sum, there's the ever-popular Dinesty. They have photos on their menu as well. There's no website, but here's a blog post:


              Richmond, the suburb city where the majority of Vancouver's Chinese community lives (and thus, where many dim sum restaurants exist), hired a food blogger to live and eat every day for a year. They compiled a "best dim sum" list after eating in Richmond for a year. Might give you some more ideas (and you can read the blog post for photos):


              Finally, the Chinese Restaurant Awards have a "best dim sum" category, worth scouring, if not to give you more ideas and the various types of dim sum available:

              Critics Choice:

              Diners Choice:

              1. re: Florentine

                Thanks, Florentine, for posting the direct link to Lindsay's best-of lists. I found them once by accident and then never could again. Some really good reccs in there.

          2. Hi dinwiddie -- you are a Hound after my own cart-loving heart. I will caution you that if you are looking for unusual dishes, the places on "my" map are not where you're going to find them, if by unusual you mean cutting edge. You WILL get lots of steamed dumplings of varying quality at any of the cart places listed.

            One thing I've noticed in my limited dimsumming in other cities is that unusual in another city might be everyday in Vancouver, or vice versa, so that is another thing to keep in mind. As an example, it seems many Cantonese dim sum places in SF serve xiao long bao, which at home is found fairly exclusively in Shanghainese places. Also, there is a hot sauce that looks sorta like tomato paste and typically comes with yellow mustard as a condiment for your dim sum enjoyment that is available everywhere here. I just get funny looks if I ask for it when doing the yum cha thing in other locales.

            I happen to enjoy the "stock" dim sum dishes in these parts but without knowing what is usual for you in DC...

            1 Reply
            1. re: grayelf

              I wonder what kinds of dim sum are available in pork barrels ? [groan .....]

            2. I'm partial to Kirin (City Square). They have some more interesting options on top of the standard fare. No carts, but menu is in English, and staff speak English pretty well. It's a bit pricier than some dim sum options though.

              1. The most unusual (and not necessarily good) dim sum dish I've ever had was a spring roll containing prawn and banana at Grand Dynasty in Burnaby ( Ugh.