Restaurant: Terracotta Restaurant
Cuisine: Chinese/Tapas (Modern)
Last visited: June 2, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Gastown)
Address: 52 Alexander Street
Price Range: $10 or less/item (about $20-30/person)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: see review 2
Service: n/a (reason below)
- Contemporary Chinese food
- In house dim sum chef
- Traditional Chinese tapas
- Modern presentation
- Moderately priced
- Good for drinks/snacks
- Best with groups of 4
- Attracts younger demographic ages 20-35
- Decor from China, lounge like atmosphere
- Owners of Pure Image Entertainment
- Available for private parties
- Tues-Sun. 5pm-Midnight
- Terracotta Modern Chinese – Review 2
Located in Gastown, in downtown Vancouver, Terracotta serves traditional Chinese dishes in tapas form with modern presentation. It is a restaurant, but for me it was more of a lounge/bar. I came around 6pm on a weeknight and I still felt the nightclub-ish atmosphere. It has a Yaletown/Izakaya inspired look and it feels like it’s been influenced by Tao night club in Las Vegas.
It was another foodie+fashion date! I came with Vancouver fashion blogger Nicole (Le Mode Du Jour) and she knew one of the staff members (who wasn’t working that day, but still had a manager host us) so for that reason I can’t comment on the service on a typical night. However I did get a guided tour of the restaurant and some interesting facts about the restaurant. (As always, I’ll still be honest.)
This is part of the downstairs area of the restaurant. You can rent the entire downstairs out for private parties or just this table which seats a very large group. It’s definitely made for drinks and partying rather than eating. It’s a very Vegas “buy a table” thing.
Our drinks and desserts were compliments on the restaurant, but we did pay for the food. Overall I think the food is good for a place that seems more of a lounge/bar than a restaurant. It’s nothing I haven’t really tried before, but I do appreciate the fact that they hired an in house dim sum chef.
Being Asian I’ve had all of the dishes in traditional forms from many various restaurants or even home cooked – so I have a grasp of what’s going on and lots to compare to. If you’re a bit of a Chinese food “virgin” then you’ll think the food is delicious; but if you’re “experienced” with your Chinese food then you know you could probably find it elsewhere for half the price…and maybe even better. The food here wasn’t bad though, it was better than expected and everything is made in house from scratch.
The things we ordered were house favourites and highly recommended items – so does that mean it’s as good as it gets…? Hmmm
We actually went to Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie afterward so I could do a direct comparison with the food and ambiance. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie VS Terracotta Modern Chinese Restaurant – unplanned, but made for an interesting and very filling night.
On the table:
I didn’t try this, but this is what it is. Chivas is a sponsor for Terracotta. Also available as a single cocktail for $9.
- Pronounced “chin” – Grey Goose, Fresh Dragon Fruit, Cranberry with Lime $9
- If you like cranberry and vodka then you’ll like this drink. It’s exactly that, but with a splash of soda and a squeeze of lime.
- It’s one of their signature drinks, but for me it sounded better.
- It was very tart and the dragon fruit did nothing except for add texture.
- You’re just sipping up bits of the flavorless fruit through the straw. It all sits at the bottom and it’s pretty to look at, but don’t expect it to really add flavour.
- $7.50 (Ask them to use Grey Goose L’Orange instead of regular Grey Goose Vodka)
- I loved this drink, and I don’t even really drink! This made me want to though! So dangerous!
- It’s that aloe vera juice that comes in the bottle from Asian supermarkets mixed with Vodka – a simple idea that I’ve never seen before. Genius!
- There’s little aloe vera jellies in the bottom and it’s very mildly sweet. It has a gentle honey/floral like flavour.
- The star fruit was just the decor, not in the drink – if you know that you won’t be disappointed.
- Garlic and Green Chili Marinated Crispy Chicken Wings $8
- This is one of their house favourites and most popular dishes.
- The seasoning is what’s called “chiu yeem” in Chinese which is chilies + salt.
- Very crispy and salty skin and nice and juicy chicken.
- Yes they are very good, but is the recipe authentic? No, not really. Instead of the chilies they used green onions and green peppers.
- It was much more salty than spicy. Borderline too salty with the rock salt.
- I loved the bits of fried garlic though.
- Three Braised Beef Short Rib and Green Onion Sliders served in Golden Mantou Buns $9
- This was my favourite dish – which is funny because it was the only one that was really non-traditional Chinese. I had nothing to compare to, and for that it was great!
- The best part: the bun! It was better than the meat. It was the best slider bun I’ve had. It was very crispy outside and very soft, squishy and slightly sweet inside. It’s the perfect thickness. The bun is not made in house, but made especially for Terracotta.
- “Mantou” bread is either steamed or deep fried bread they serve with condensed milk at Shanghai restaurants. This one was either bought deep fried and baked to serve, or they deep fry it before cutting it in half. It’s not oily or greasy at all.
- The meat quite tender, but some parts were a bit chewy and dry. Basically the flavour was gone before you finished chewing the meat. Only the parts where you got a little fat were really tender.
- It’s served with a side of Hoisin sauce for dipping. It’s like an Asian burger + Peking duck wrap in one.
- Prawn stuffed Bean Curd Rolls (Made in house) $6.50 (They now have improved recipe since this visit)
- This was a deal at $6.50. It’s a big portion and I think it’s worth it, however it’s recently increased to $7.
- This is one of their 3 dim sum items.
- It’s a contemporary version of a traditional Chinese dish, but they did a good job with it.
- It’s served with a side of Worcestershire sauce so it’s almost like a spring roll.
- The dried bean curd skin was fried until very crispy and it was nice and crunchy from the stuffing. The shrimp itself was not that crunchy (not like shrimp dumplings aka “har gow” are crunchy), but the veggies were.
- It’s stuffed with generous amounts of shrimp, cilantro, onion, celery, carrot, cabbage, and water chestnuts. I could have used more water chestnuts though.
- It is nice and juicy and there’s a lot of shrimp and not just fillers.
- My only complaint is that they were very oily and greasy.
- There’s also not much flavour going on except for shrimp, celery and cilantro. The sauce helped, but it could use some shiitake mushrooms or even sesame oil or something to add a notch of flavour to the filling itself.
Other items I tried on my 2nd visit:
Beef Pancake Roll – Braised Beef Short Rib Rolled in House made Green Onion Pancake (Made in house) $8
Terracotta Spring Rolls – Stuffed with Tuna, Mango, and Red Peppers (Made in house) $7
Szechuan Green Beans - Wok Tossed Green Beans, Mild Heat and Complex Flavour $8
Vegetarian “Shark Fin” – Enoki Mushrooms made using classic Shark’s Fin technique $8
Sweet and Sour Pork - Marinated Boneless Pork, made crispy and presented with Lychee and Bell Peppers in Sweet and Sour Sauce $9
**Imperial Pepper Prawns – Fresh Prawns seasoned with garlic and peppers $8
Prawn King Tofu – Egg Tofu topped with Prawn (Made in house) $7
**Red Chili Tofu – Egg Tofu served in Red Chili Sauce $7
Qin’s (Chins) Chicken Knees – Crunchy, Chewy, Marinated Chicken Knees, Salt and Pepper $8
**Pork Pot Stickers – House Made Pork Pot Stickers $7
Barbeque Duck Wraps – Three barbeque duck, hoisin, green onion, and cucumber wraps $8
Black Bean Sablefish – Tender and flaky Sable Fish with Black bean Sauce $10
Xian Fried Rice – Wok Fried Rice with Savory Prawn and Cucumber $10
The dessert didn’t sound as creative, and I think they can do a much better job. It seems like a rather rushed addition. I really wanted to try the Tapioca Happy Ending dessert which is baked tapioca pudding with green tea ice cream…but they said it wasn’t prepared yet and that it took 20 minutes so instead we had the other 2 offered.
- Made in house and served with fresh mango. However the mango wasn’t in season so it wasn’t very good.
- This mango pudding itself was quite good. It was soft and almost creamy in texture with little chunks of mango throughout. It’s not too sweet either.
- I wish they served it with a drizzle of coconut milk or evaporated milk.
- It seems a little like a last minute dessert, not contemporary enough for what they aim for I think.
- It was served with some fresh mango, but again it wasn’t in season.
- This was not a “panna cotta” but coconut jello, with not much coconut flavour.
- It was not as soft as the mango pudding or even jello. It’s the texture of gelatin.
- When you hear panna cotta aka “cooked cream” it’s supposed to be almost custard like and this one was far from.
- Baked Tapioca with a thin Pastry crust, served with Green Tea ice cream (Please allow 15 minutes to arrive) $6
I thought this was cute. Instead of mints or fortune cookies they give you these! Every Asian kid knows what they are – they’re called “Haw Flakes” and its basically little dime slices of dried fruit candy. Like crispy dried fruit roll up.