Red Star Seafood (Vancouver, BC)

Restaurant: Red Star Seafood
Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum/Fine Dining
Last visited: March 12, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Marpole)
Address: 8298 Granville St
Price Range: Dim sum: $10-20, Dinner $20-30+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!

Food: 5
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • 2 locations: Richmond and Vancouver
  • Fine dining Chinese
  • Traditional Chinese cuisine
  • Popular for seafood
  • Famous for Peking duck
  • Popular to Chinese locals
  • Very busy for dim sum
  • Award winning
  • Dim sum/lunch/dinner
  • Chinese and English menu
  • Daily specials
  • Available for private parties/banquets

**Recommendations: Pan fried eggplant stuffed with fish cake, pan-fried flat noodle with chicken in black bean sauce, Peking Duck, Fried Wild Rice with Sea Conpoy, Crab & Chicken, Egg Tarts

It was another outing with Sherman and if it wasn’t for his awesome photos he happily shares with me, and partnership in Vancouver’s 1st Foodie Feast we’re organizing, than I would have ditched him by now. J/K! 😉 Anyways, Red Star Seafood is actually one of our selected restaurants for the charity event and we’re happy to have them representing the Chinese food for the evening.

Red Star Seafood Restaurant is a popular and well known fine dining Chinese restaurant with two locations in Metro Vancouver. It’s popular to locals and tourists and has even won awards. I have dined at Red Star Seafood in the past for dim sum, dinner and banquets, but it has been a while since I last visited the Vancouver location. I stated in my Red Star Seafood post for Richmond (see here) that the Vancouver location is known to have better execution of food; however they are currently undergoing renovations for the Richmond location, so all that could change. For now, that location is closed, so I can only wait and hope for the best. I’m quite excited to report back as well!

The purpose of this visit was unique because Sherman and I were selecting the menu we wanted them to feature at our event. Being that it is Chinese food, which requires very specific and traditional cooking techniques, we were quite limited to what could be served at the given venue. Therefore anything wok related, smoked or deep fried had to be eliminated, which unfortunately happens to be the cooking methods used for their specialties. However we were still given the opportunity to try their signature dishes. We were very limited, but you’ll see soon enough what we narrowed it down to for the nature and demographic of Vancouver’s 1st Foodie Feast.

I must say that I was quite impressed with the food we were served, but given the circumstances that might be a give away. On the other hand I’ve done media dinners before, so why should this be any different? Honesty is the best policy, so just to state all my biases I do have a previous post for Red Star Seafood here, and here is the post for when I attended The 3rd Annual HSBC Chinese Restaurant Awards also hosted at Red Star Seafood in Richmond. I’ll admit that Red Star isn’t my favourite Chinese restaurant, and I don’t even really have a favourite, but I do like them and do dine there on my own time. They do excel at certain dishes and the food is overall solid on the scale of fine dining Chinese cuisine in Metro Vancouver, BC.

On the table:

Complimentary XO Chili Sauce

  • They actually pride themselves on this sauce and they sell it in bottles to go as well.
  • I actually loved this here! It’s better than Kirin’s which is heavier on garlic rather than dried seafood, which isn’t the desired ratio, although still good – see here.
  • I liked this XO chili sauce just as much, or almost as much, as the one from Top Gun J & C – see here.
  • It was salty and aromatic with a flavourful spiciness and loaded with dried shrimps and dried scallops, which is the expensive part that gives it tons of savoury and nutty flavour.
  • I can eat this plain, but it’s great with prawn dumplings or steamed pork shui mai dumplings.

**Steamed Pork Shui Mai Dumplings – 5/6

  • $4.25
  • These were fantastic and I honestly feel like they were different from the ones I tried at their Richmond location. I could taste some 5 spice powder sprinkled on top of the shui mai the last time I had them – see here.
  • They were about 75% prawn and I barely had any pork, which is quite amazing. Usually it’s the other way around to save costs.
  • I could have used more Shiitake mushrooms though because there were only 2 slivers and I couldn’t taste their sweet impact.
  • They were juicy and well flavoured with a nice crunch from fresh prawn, but the skins were a bit dry and sticky.

Deep Fried Prawn Meatballs – 4/6

  • $5.25
  • I’ve had these before at lots of dim sum restaurants and they’re becoming more and more popular although they’re not considered authentic Chinese dim sum.
  • It appeals to a Western market, but I still enjoy them even though the concept is simple and it is basically two ingredients.
  • It’s a fresh prawn meatball rolled in slivered almonds and deep fried until golden brown.
  • It’s very crunchy and nutty and the prawn was juicy and moist and gave it the savoury flavour. The textures were great and there was a good balance of both ingredients.
  • The dipping sauce for it is a sweet and sour sauce which works very well giving the savoury nutty bite a contrasting tang and added sweetness.
  • It’s almost like a new aged spring roll and the almonds was so much better than a spring roll wrapper and made it extra crunchy.
  • I found these a bit pricey, but they were larger than the ones from say Jade Seafood – see here, although both were probably equally as good from what I remember.

**Deep Fried Sea Bass with Spicy Salt – 4.5/6

  • $28.98
  • I really wish this came in a smaller portion because it’s definitely something to be ordered in a group, although I could probably clean that plate up myself.
  • The sea bass is fresh and they de-bone and fillet it in house. I was actually surprised that they would chose to deep fry the sea bass since it’s so fresh, but after trying it, I stopped wondering. It was great!
  • I’ve had this dish before, but the care and preparation for this dish was something to acknowledge.
  • They constantly change the oil to ensure freshness and flavour for this dish.
  • It is very carefully deep fried in a precise and timely manner until it reaches the desired colour and texture.
  • It’s Chinese style fish and chips, but very lightly battered to the point of almost non-existent. It’s quite crispy, but not as crispy as English style fish and chips and the meat was incredibly tender, juicy and flaky.
  • They sprinkle a little spicy salt on them that seems like it was made with Nanami Togarashi. It’s the Japanese seasoning (spicy chili powder) served with Japanese Udon bowls.
  • It was more savoury and actually not that spicy at all, but it did carry a mild heat with a slight savoury dried seaweed like flavour in the background.
  • I really enjoyed this dish and it was well executed, but I liked it when there’s crispy deep fried garlic chips, shallots and green chilies on top too.
  • I question if there was MSG on these, I hope not, but I didn’t ask either.

**Dungeness Crab with Wild Rice Sea Conpoy & Chicken – 6/6

  • $36.80
  • I’m in love with this dish! It’s fabulous! We were introduced to each other at the launch of the 3rd Annual HSBC Chinese Restaurant Awards. I fell in love at first bite.
  • It’s also their award winning dish that won GOLD for Critic’s Choice Most Innovative Signature Dish – see other results for HSBC Chinese Restaurant Awards here.
  • It’s crispy, nutty ,savoury, aromatic and a great combination of seafood and chicken with excellent textures.
  • It’s much healthier than regular fried rice since it’s made with all wild rice.
  • Since it was wok fried wild rice it added an extra crunchy texture, chewy yet firm bite, mild smokiness and slight nuttiness.
  • There was also some scrambled eggs and the sea conpoy was deep fried so it was extra nutty and crispy and it added a great texture to the flaky and moist Dungeness crab meat.
  • It was chewy, crunchy, crispy and just wonderful in flavour, with perhaps a touch of soy in the back ground and maybe sesame oil.
  • It was moist, yet still dry from the cooking and preparation method and it’s my favourite style of fried rice to date!
  • This dish must be pre-ordered, and although expensive, it does have costly ingredients and it is a must try in my books!

**Peking Duck with Crepes (2 courses) – 5/6

  • $38.80 (2 part dish)
  • Something is up with the duck here! This version is known to rival, or even be better than ones in China. It’s famous here.
  • The Cantonese version of Peking Duck will usually have the skin detached, but the authentic Beijing way (where Peking Duck originated) will have the skin attached.
  • In Beijing it is said that a skilled chef can get as many as 200 slices of Peking Duck from one duck and each piece should have a balanced ratio of meat and fat.
  • See my post for Peking Duck in Beijing for more details.
  • The way they served it here was neither Cantonese or Beijing style, but regardless it was excellent and “authenticity” could be overlooked.
  • The duck here is so carefully selected and it’s perhaps the most expensive Peking Duck in the city.
  • The ducks are apparently bigger here, but that wasn’t the noticeable difference.
  • What makes this duck extra special is that I could tell that it’s definitely hand selected. The portion of skin, fat and meat is bang on!
  • A lot of Chinese locals in Vancouver actually don’t prefer fatty duck anymore, so finding Peking Duck with the right balance of skin, fat and meat is key. It’s pretty perfect here!
  • The Peking Duck is roasted in house and it has a very crispy skin, thin layer of melt in your mouth buttery fat, rather moist meat, and a savoury flavour that is undeniable.
  • The meat could have been a bit more moist actually, but it was pretty near perfect and not greasy for what it was.
  • Traditionally (for the Cantonese culture) there is a special machine used to pump air between the duck skin and the fat to separate it, but it’s hard to find that technique used anywhere in Metro Vancouver (actually Kirin might do it – see here). It’s a very old, classic and costly method that is rarely used in general, but it is authentic to have the skin only – again in Cantonese culture.

  • The reason I dinged it from a 6/6 is because I wasn’t a fan of the crepes. The crepes were made in house, but they were too thick and doughy.
  • I like them paper thin like the ones at Kirin – see here.

Peking Duck Lettuce Wraps – 4.5/6

  • $38.80 (2 part dish)
  • This is the second part of the Peking Duck dish. They use the duck meat to make lettuce wraps.
  • I actually enjoyed the Peking Duck filling better at Kirin because it was saucier, more flavourful, and the ingredients weren’t as minced.
  • The one here wasn’t dry, but I lost some of the texture from the duck and the crunch of the chestnuts. I also found it a bit under seasoned although still very good.
  • It’s personal preference, but I just prefer it less minced so I can taste more of each ingredient, especially the duck meat.
  • A really coarsely chopped one is the one from Empire Chinese Cuisine, but it had so much chestnut and very little duck, which was also a bit dry – see here.
  • I could have used some celery and carrots in this stuffing to give it more aromatics and flavour.
  • The chestnuts are pretty classic to use in Peking Duck lettuce wraps at fine dining Chinese restaurants. They add a refreshing crunch to contrast the sweet savoury duck meat.

Deep Fried Mini Yam Balls – n/a

  • $4.50
  • I can’t “rate” these because I had them when they were cold and they’re meant to be eaten hot and fresh.
  • It’s a light and fluffy ball of dough made from yams and they’re soaked in a little syrup and topped with toasted sesame seeds.
  • They’re crispy on the outside, chewy and stretchy on the inside, moist, lightly sweetened and slightly nutty from the toasted sesame.
  • They have a honey like flavour and they’re nowhere close to being as sweet as they may sound, and Asian desserts are just never that sweet anyways.
  • I usually don’t like Asian desserts, but even cold, these ones were bearable and pretty good!… I wish they were stuffed with ice cream though lol.

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