1108 West Pender Street, Vancouver, B.C. Canada
One of the things that may immediately surprise you when you look up good Chinese restaurants in Vancouver is that ratings for the entire cuisine type is astonishingly low. For a city with such a large Asian population and an abundance of options, authenticity is highly valued and discerningly judged. Having eaten my fair share of Asian fusion dishes, I walked into Heritage Asian Eatery expecting the usual watered down version of my favourite dishes – the wooden tables and drop style lamps certainly echo a photogenic hipster vibe. Yet first impressions aside, I was surprised by the familiar flavours that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Ingredients like wood ear mushroom, marinated eggs, chives and five spice are common appearances on the menu. With a little sprinkle of creative play, Heritage Asian Eatery stays deliciously true to its roots.
PORK BELLY RICE BOWL | pork belly, yuzu slaw, watercress, crispy onions, kimchi daikon, slow cooked marinated egg | Packed and stacked with an abundant variety of toppings, this is not a shy bowl. If you’re craving a home style meal that’s loaded with all the familiar favourites this is the one to go for. Pork belly is roasted to a super tender texture and the egg is just perfectly done. While this was not my bowl (and therefore I didn’t eat any of this), I can appreciate that they went proper Asian with the pickles.
DUCK BAO | duck leg in Peking sauce, pickled cucumber, crispy taro | I like duck. Granted I hardly ever eat it since I have no clue how to cook it at home but if duck is on the menu, it almost always gets first consideration. While the construction of the open bun style is quite modern, I can assure you the duck inside is some of the best I’ve had in years without stepping into a fancy high end Chinese restaurant. The blend of spices is done right (if you’ve had it, you’ll know it) and the meat juicy with each bite. The pickles helps to cut the grease and the deep fried taro adds an interesting extra crunch though I thought it did compete slightly with the main flavours. The only disappointment here is the slightly soggy bun which I assume is due the way it was stored after cooking but altogether, I’d be happy to have this again.
GOLDEN MANTOU | deep fried flour buns with matcha condensed milk | If your comfort zone with Asian buns are of the steamed T&T variety, this will be mind boggling. A favourite of southern China, especially Hong Kong and GuangZhou, these small fluffy buns are steamed then deep fried until golden. Traditionally, it’s eaten with simple condensed milk but the twist here is matcha – I like that I still get the texture and overall flavour of the original but with a hint of green. Done very well but the dish as a whole has never been a favourite of mine.
WOULD REVISIT | Absolutely
THINGS TO TRY NEXT | Five spice chicken wings, crispy dumplings, dan dan noodle