Winning signature dishes show depth of delicious Chinese food in Lower Mainland – Vancouver Sun

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Mia Stainsby, Vancouver Sun


Some consider Vancouver the “it” city for the world’s best Chinese restaurants, given our fantastic ingredients. And yet, we are so oblivious. That’s where the annual The Chinese Restaurant Awards comes in. It shows off one of our best assets — an embarrassment of Chinese restaurant riches.

So here it is: the 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards for Signature Dishes, announced on March 3.

The CRA judges bust a gut on weekends and evenings; they eat, have verbal wrangles, and decide on what’s best. (The judging is objective, and no freebies are accepted.) When Rae Kung, project manager for the CRA, books tables she uses a fake name. This year, it was “Mary”.

The Critics’ Choice Awards for signature dishes feature different dishes every year, she says. That’s a lot of different dishes to suss out and try. The first year out, enthusiastic critics came up with 25 dishes. This year, there are 10.

Along with the signature dishes, the annual CRA includes an Diners’ Choice Awards (34,000 people voted this year) and this year, a new category, the Social Media Choice Awards, where social media personalities chose “the best iconic and trending dishes.”

Restaurants are thrilled with the exposure and new faces in their restaurants.

“I get goosebumps when I hear from them,” says Kung. “Last year, a restaurant won for the best tea-smoked duck award. They have three locations and they sold out of the dish at all of them for the whole week. More diners are discovering restaurants and new dishes.”

Here are the winners of the 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards, with some of the judges’ comments.

Salt And Pepper Crusted Dungeness Crab

Landmark Hotpot House

4023 Cambie Street, Vancouver | 604-872-2868

The underrated kitchen at Landmark treats and prepares their famously high quality seafood with respect and finesse. The light crust provides just the right amount of finger licking spiciness to highlight the clean brininess of this local treat.

Sablefish With Shredded Pork, Luffa, Pickled Vegetables In Congee Soup

Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

777 West Broadway, Vancouver | 604-876-8388

Dynasty is probably the best restaurant at truly celebrating local ingredients through a Chinese lens while incorporating West Coast influences of lightness. Luxuriantly rich whole sablefish is prepared using a traditional Teochew method of gentle simmering with preserved vegetables and finely shredded pork.

Steamed Egg With Clams

Shroom Restaurant

6555 Fraser Street, Vancouver | 604-568-7797

Chinese diners embrace texture like no other dining culture does. Here, a wobbly satiny egg custard melts on the tongue — like a perfectly set savoury panna cotta.

Chef Tony’s Special Charcoal Grilled Duck

Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant

4600 No. 3 Road, Richmond | 604-279-0083

By using a mallard duck rather than the usual Pekin duck the resulting roast duck has a slightly chewier texture that delivers sweeter gamier flavours. A smoky succulent wildness that is reminiscent of an old fashioned roasted goose.

Chicken With Sticky Rice In Claypot

Golden Eats Seafood Restaurant

2141 Kingsway, Vancouver | 604-336-3389

A labour-intensive old fashioned banquet dish that one rarely sees anymore — a whole chicken is deboned and stuffed with sticky rice and the skin flash fried to a golden crispness. As with all Chinese dishes the secret here is all about balance: crispy skin, while maintaining succulence in the flesh.

Lamb Hotpot

The Jade Seafood Restaurant

8511 Alexandra Road, Richmond | 604-249-0082

Cooking as refined and subtle as this is found in only the finest of kitchens. Succulent tender lamb shoulder is combined with aromatics like scallions and ginger.

Lamb In Soup

Old Xian’s Food

8580 Alexandra Road, Richmond | 604-370-3888

Savoury broth with a real depth of flavour is achieved without shortcuts like MSG. Generous quantities of cloud ear fungus and sliced lamb bob in rich broth, perfect for dipping buns into.

Braised Winter Melon With Vegetable And Mushroom

Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

777 West Broadway, Vancouver | 604-876-8388

Faux bear paw made of succulent braised carved winter melon lays atop expertly sautéed greens. Innovative while being outstandingly delicious.

Tofu Skin Wrapped Mushrooms With Vegetables

Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant

8191 Westminster Highway, Richmond | 604-276-9229

Proof that while innovation is great, sometimes things become a classic because they are perfect. Slippery and crunchy, savoury and sweet all at the same time.


Yue Delicacy Restaurant

8077 Alexandra Road, Richmond | 604-233-1219

Egg tarts are given renewed interest by the pleasant cleverness of the pleasing funk of durian, added with a light touch.