Chinese restaurants, for some reason, are very comforting to visit.
On the first rainy Saturday (September 4) in recent memory, I was in the mood for some comfort food so I dropped by Flamingo House, one of Vancouver's longest-running Chinese eateries.
Now at 1652 Southeast Marine Drive, earlier incarnations had existed on Cambie and Fraser streets in its 47-year history. In fact, it was one of the first Chinese restaurants that opened in Vancouver outside of Chinatown.
To my surprise, the traditional bright red décor had undergone a facelift, replaced by chic modern teal, complemented with vintage photos of Hong Kong.
The new look was actually unveiled last November after the restaurant closed for a while due to the pandemic.
The cooking remains as memorable as ever.
For starters, my dining companion order Sui Mai ($6.50). As Chinese-food lovers know, they're a classic dim sum dumpling with a slightly sweet filling of minced pork and shrimp. Three of them came in a round bamboo box and they tasted like anything you would get in Hong Kong.
For the mains, we decided on Filet of Sole ($22) and Young Chow Fried Rice ($19).
The pile of sole was lightly breaded, immersed in a thin sweet and sour sauce with onions and peppers. I hadn't eaten fish for a while, so it was really a treat to enjoy a decent, family-size serving.
A close friend has raved in the past about eating Young Chow (sometimes written as Yangzhou or Yeung Chow) Fried Rice in Hong Kong, so I decided to order it this time rather than going with the usual steamed rice. It turned out to be smash hit because it was light—not heavy or greasy like the fried rice commonly found in food courts.
In addition to barbecued pork, peas, and egg, it was also full of shrimp. Take note, seafood lovers. All of this went down well with the house Jasmine tea.
Many of Metro Vancouver's Chinese restaurants did not survive the pandemic, which has been a significant blow to the culture of this region.
Thankfully, Flamingo House soldiers on, evolving with the times without losing its traditional charm.