Chinese and Taiwanese cuisines are famed for its notably cooking styles. Lovers of both cuisines often go far and wide to find the right bowl of noodles, the perfect king crab or the most delicate dim sum morsels. The chef’s attention to choosing and applying the ingredients and his/her cooking technique defines a signature dish that showcases their passion, creativity and expertise. The Critics’ Choice Awards celebrate this excellence.
Proudly presented by Canola Eat Well
For the past twelve years, Vancouver has witnessed a tremendous growth in the local Chinese and Taiwanese culinary scene and has recognized outstanding dishes produced by talented chefs and their skilled staffs, under the watchful eyes and discerning tastes of those behind the annual Chinese Restaurant Awards. This year’s Critics’ Choice Awards judging panel is again made up of four prominent local food critics, who are experts in the field of Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine and familiar with the history and mission of Chinese Restaurant Awards. The entire judging panel has tastings individually and together as a group, sharing information and recommending potential tasting destinations to each other for choosing the must-taste signature dishes for the year. The 2021 award winning signature dishes recommended by the judges will be announced around September. Stay tuned.
Winners of 2021 and 2020 will be invited to the Chinese Restaurant Awards ceremony at the Vancouver Club. Date to be announced. #CanolaOilSignatureDishes
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The cofounder and founding Chair of the Chinese Restaurant Awards, Stephen is a recognized authority on Chinese cuisine. A respected chef and former restaurateur, Stephen produces Granville Island Market‘s popular Chefs in the Market series. Stephen is also the author of 100 Best Asian Noodle Recipes.
Present Chair of the Judging Panel
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Lee Man is a local food writer with a particular passion for Chinese and Asian cuisine. Lee is a regular contributor to Vancouver Magazine and is a judge for their annual restaurant awards, Lee’s work has also been featured in Wine Access, Northwest Best Places, Time Out and Eat Magazine. BLOG | Instagram
Other members of the Judging Panel 2021
Brendon lives and eats in Richmond. He wrote about food for more than five years at the Richmond Review, then moved online to the popular Vancouver website Urbandiner.ca where he posts under the ‘nom de net’ Keith Talent. Brendon’s a frequent contributor to Vancouver Magazine, and a judge for the annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Instagram
William Ho Wood Kuen
Originally from Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, William is acclaimed TV and radio program host and celebrity. He is currently the program host for Fairchild TV and Radio AM1470. Being passionate about food and travel, he also started his Facebook fan page to recommend gourmet and travel experience around the world to his fans. Facebook
Critics’ Choice Signature Dish Awards 2020
12 award-winning dishes | *first time winners of the Critics’ Choice Awards component
(In alphabetic order of restaurant name)
Steamed Scallop & Pea Tip Dumpling
Dynasty Seafood Restaurant
108-777 W Broadway, Vancouver
Sweet & Sour Pork Tenderloin
Ground Floor, 8511 Alexandra Rd, Richmond
Vitasoy Flavoured Cream Puff
Little Fox Bakehouse*
8181 Cambie Rd # 1180, Richmond
Kung Po Lobster/prawn, Sweetcorn & Water Chestnut Cake
1161 W Georgia St, Vancouver
Chef’s Alaska King Crab Signature Menu
New Fishport Seafood Bistro*
620 SE Marine Dr, Vancouver
Chiu Chow Style Oyster Pan Cake
New Mandarin Seafood Restaurant*
4650 Gladstone St, Vancouver
Traditional Steamed Dumpling Sampler
204-1610 Robson St, Vancouver
Individual Steamed Black Cod In Bamboo Leaf
Prince Seafood Restaurant*
2881 Grandview Hwy, Vancouver
Exquisite Silver Soup Base
The Dolar Shop*
5300 Number 3 Rd, Richmond
Torafuku Beef Noodle Soup
958 Main St, Vancouver
Xin Jiang Braised Chicken And Potato Platter With Biang Biang Noodles
Xi’an Noodle Restaurant*
4351 Number 3 Rd, Richmond
Shanghai Moon Cakes
Z&W Shanghainese Kitchen*
2126 W Broadway, Vancouver
Two Honorable Mentions
(In alphabetic order of restaurant name)
Pineapple B.B.Q. Pork Bun
Blossom Dim Sum & Grill*
Salted Duck Egg Yolk Croissant
I love the concept of a Critics’ Choice Signature Dish, which is very different from the other Western-dining awards I judge. In some ways, it is easier to judge a single dish rather than an entire restaurant. And the format rewards innovation because we select new dishes each year. On the other hand, it is more difficult to choose because there are literally thousands of dishes to choose from. The winning dishes range from elaborate and modern to traditional and comforting. What they all share is technical excellence, pristine ingredients and a “wow” factor that is harder to define. Essentially, we’re searching for the dishes that keep us digging in with our chopsticks and fighting for the last bites, despite the fact that we’re already so full. The winners are the dishes that stand up and shout “Eat Me!” and then linger in the memory long after the meal has finished.
What are the things I look for in an award winning dish? This may sound simplistic, but above all – it has to taste good! But how a dish achieves this is vitally important, especially with Chinese cooking where subtlety and craftsmanship are highly valued. Is there depth and character? Is the cooking bringing out the best in seasonal ingredients? Is there focus and freshness in the final dish? Generally, the peak of a Chinese dish is fleeting, the aliveness of wok hei to be savored while it lasts. Chinese cuisine is an ancient big bowl, and it can take on many influences without losing its sense of itself. The goals of freshness, restraint, and purity of flavors are always present. The enjoyment of good food and community is something that Chinese culture has contemplated deeply for hundreds of years. It is deeply ingrained in our daily lives. Chinese food is a wondrous exploration that never ends.
The Critics Choice Awards are the most satisfying of any award format I’ve been fortunate enough to sit as a judge for. The freedom of searching out iconic renditions of supreme technique, ingredients and craftsmanship is gratifying. And then when you find a version of a well-known dish that is markedly better than similar dishes at other restaurants it’s revelatory. It often time illustrates the adage that best version of something isn’t the version using the most expensive ingredients or time-consuming techniques, but rather the example where the cook took care and attention. There is a palpable sense of care and love in the best dishes, a common thread that runs between a humble bowl of noodles and an elaborate seafood preparation, you can tell that the cooked cared. That sense of care, love and attention is what identifies a winning dish.