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Zen on the 2nd floor of a Richmond BC mall (reservations required).
March 11, 2008 7:27 PM   Subscribe

According to the recently published book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, the best Chinese restaurant outside China is Zen Fine Chinese Cuisine, tucked away on the second floor of a mall along a section of Richmond, BC (a Vancouver suburb) that's known by the Chinese community as Eat Street.

Will this affect business? Hopefully for the better, since the restaurant is approaching bankruptcy as it halves the prices of the tasting menus to bring in more customers.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles blog covers a lot of news and reviews regarding other Chinese restaurants, like the return of one in Baghdad and the Turkish substitute for fortune cookies.
posted by myopicman (22 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
i'd rather eat a fried gelato than a fortune cookie...in bed!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:35 PM on March 11, 2008


A short interview with the owner of Zen Fine Chinese Cuisine just played on As it Happens (CBC).
posted by ~ at 7:57 PM on March 11, 2008


Yaohan on No. 3 Road in Richmond has the most amazing food court: great Korean food, Hong Kong-style noodles, Taiwanese takeout, Malaysian Curry, and everything else.


Food culture in Vancouver is pretty amazing, too. One block along lower Robson street has a fantastic Korean bbq restaurant (can't remember its name - it's next to Fogg and Sudds), Hon Noodle House, and genuine Sapporo-style ramen. Just up the street, at Robson and Thurlow (I think) there is a great Japanese izakaya.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:05 PM on March 11, 2008


"The $36 tasting menu costs me $30 to make. That’s not including my wage. Customers only know how to bargain with you,” he says. “They’ll say, ‘Okay, we have 10 people. Make it $30 each.’ I really hate that.”

Holy crap those people are dicks. Is it normal to haggle over prepared food? Either way, it is surely dangerous.
posted by krippledkonscious at 8:08 PM on March 11, 2008


Robson and Denman have some amazing eateries, and cheap. On Denman Street, at the end of Robson, there's one block of restaurants that goes (l-r) Italian, Korean, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, African, and Japanese, all next to each other.
posted by carter at 8:48 PM on March 11, 2008


"World's best Chinese restaurant outside China"? That's a massive claim. How could anyone seriously say that? There'd be a few places in Malaysia or Singapore that would have something to say about that I'm sure.
posted by awfurby at 8:49 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Lest we forget that the "fortune cookie" is likely a modern American invention, not one from China.

Jennifer 8. Lee [author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles mentioned in the FPP]'s NYT's article suggests that the confection's origin might be Japan: Solving a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside a Cookie.
posted by ericb at 8:59 PM on March 11, 2008


Previous Mefi thread: The history of the humble fortune cookie is in dispute.
posted by ericb at 9:02 PM on March 11, 2008


Vancouver has lots of really great restaurants. One block of Robson street a few blocks west of Burrard has 3 Indian restaurants and they're all excellent. Across from it there's an amazing Chinese restaurant (Hon's I think) that serves huge portions at ridiculously cheap prices. There are also a few new Asian restaurants including a really good Singaporean restaurant on Robson a few blocks East of Granville.
posted by mike3k at 9:05 PM on March 11, 2008


"World's best Chinese restaurant outside China"? That's a massive claim. How could anyone seriously say that?

Yeah, I've got to agree. I've never eaten in a restaurant in China, so I don't know shit, but still, that's a pretty big and impossible-to-substantiate claim.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:18 PM on March 11, 2008


Minor correction: The author claims it is "The Greatest" Chinese restaurant outside of China, not "The Best." See here, 3rd paragraph.

Which changes nothing except how confusing and astounding that claim continues to be.

Also, why does she have to add a "." to her middle name, "8"?
posted by krippledkonscious at 9:43 PM on March 11, 2008


There are a lot of plenty lousy Chinese restaurants in China. But there's also a little shack on the side of Emei Mountain that makes the best Sichuan food ever, and only gave me a little bit of dysentery!
posted by 1adam12 at 11:46 PM on March 11, 2008


Jennifer 8. Lee.

She has a digit in her name.

That's fucking crazy man. What a wild 'n' crazy gal.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 AM on March 12, 2008


The food may be amazing, but a "tasting menu" in a Chinese restaurant speaks of a kind of innovativeness that just isn't going to succeed in Richmond. Downtown, sure, but Richmond is the bastion of people who'd just as soon get by not speaking a jot of English if they could; when they go for Chinese food, they're going to want traditional (i.e. family style, not per person).
posted by juv3nal at 1:06 AM on March 12, 2008


Being both a Richmond resident and relatively plugged into the Chinese restaurant culture, I greeted the news of Zen being the greatest restaurant outside China with the same response as everyone else in town; WTF? On further consideration it might not even be the best restaurant on that street, never mind the world. Kirin, a few blocks away may be the greatest, or maybe Sea Harbour, but Zen?

And juv3nal are you certain you know what you're talking about when you say Richmond is the bastion of people who'd just as soon get by not speaking a jot of English if they could; when they go for Chinese food, they're going to want traditional That shit is just ignorant.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:07 AM on March 12, 2008



And juv3nal are you certain you know what you're talking about when you say Richmond is the bastion of people who'd just as soon get by not speaking a jot of English if they could; when they go for Chinese food, they're going to want traditional That shit is just ignorant.


Yes I do. Some of those people are my relatives. Some of them literally do not speak English.
posted by juv3nal at 11:29 AM on March 12, 2008


Oh please, everyone except the extraordinarily old speak english, and want to speak english. Anyone under 70 speaks english. Anyone under 70 is also sophisticated enough to get the concept of western style presentation.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:48 AM on March 12, 2008


I'm not saying they don't get the concept of western style presentation. I'm saying they don't prefer it. And while you're right that those under 70 generally do speak English, you're sorely mistaken if you think they want to speak English. I've been to dinners with these relatives with non-Chinese speaking people present as guests and they will conduct conversation for the whole meal in Chinese aside from a perfunctory "hello" or "nice to meet you."
posted by juv3nal at 12:08 PM on March 12, 2008


I admit it's possible my relatives are just exceptionally rude and that colors my experience, but I think even if it's not the prevailing attitude, it's indicative of a tendency of some people in Richmond to an extent that isn't as true of elsewhere.
posted by juv3nal at 12:15 PM on March 12, 2008


I'm so hungry.
posted by Shakeer at 2:05 PM on March 12, 2008


What is it with great Chinese restaurants on the second floors of seedy malls? The best place I've ever been was in Seattle: 7 Star Pepper Szechwan Restaurant. The best Chinese place in Boston, I think, is Sichuan Gourmet--both of them upstairs in crappy stripmalls.
posted by herzigma at 5:33 PM on March 12, 2008


Incidentally, for those of you in NYC, Jennifer 8 Lee is reading tonight at the Asian American Writers' Workshop in Koreatown. Here are the details.
posted by johnasdf at 7:36 AM on March 13, 2008


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