130 E Pender St, Vancouver BC V6A 1T3
I always love the Chinatown in every city that I travel to, mostly because the food and culture is so vibrant in these neighbourhoods. I try to keep the same fresh eyes and appreciation when visiting my own city’s Chinatown – and it just so happens to be one of my favourite places to eat. Aside from the at-times sketchy DTES, Chinatown offers so many old classic Asian grocers, markets, and restaurants, while new and trendy boutique eateries crop up between them.
Chinatown BBQ is definitely a great balance of the two worlds: traditional fare paying homage to the area’s historically rich past while catering to a younger, newer crowd. The restaurant has a typical BBQ display of hanging meats, with tiled floors and booth seating that are reminiscent of a 60’s diner. On one wall, old black and white photos hang along side a classic Coca Cola metal sign. I liked the vibe right away.
We were seated promptly on a rainy Saturday afternoon for a late lunch and looked through the menu encased under the glass of the table (how clever, especially for COVID times). The server poured some hot lychee black tea which was delicious and gave us some time to decide.
We didn’t need much of it though considering I went for my usual pork tandem, BBQ and roasted. My partner picked the same. We needed some greens in our life so added a side of gai lan. I’m used to the typical oyster sauce but she recommended we try it with the garlic oil, and I’m so glad we did.
We requested our BBQ plates with lean meat and when they arrived, the BBQ pork pieces were perfectly red, sweet, still juicy and definitely less fatty than usual. I really appreciated this option and will keep ordering it this way. The roasted pork was sliced thinly and very uniformly, the skin held its crisp and the flavor was savoury but not overly salty – I was a fan. There was heaping rice bed with more of the soy underneath. This BBQ joint is a close second to HK BBQ Master, which is my favourite of all time so that says A LOT.
The gai lan was cooked well but not overly soft – it still held a bit of a crunch. There was a pool of soy underneath while the top was garnished with garlic bits. I really loved this dish and thought it was the perfect accompaniment to my meat and rice.
We finished with our plates and our server cleared them right away. She had checked on us during our meal, while the manager could be heard speaking to other patrons and greeting curious guests coming in to see the hanging display. The manager also came and asked us how everything was, which we were happy to report was great. The server processed our payment promptly and we left feeling extremely satisfied, I didn’t break the bank either. This joint has easily become my favourite BBQ place in Vancouver (Richmond and overall still belongs to HK).
I love supporting local businesses like this and hope they continue to stay open to serve an awesome neighbourhood with their quality food.
- BBQ Pork + Roasted Pork $13.50
- Gai Lan with Garlic Oil $7.50
Beats: Chinatown – Migos