Restaurant: Lin Chinese Cuisine & Tea House
Cuisine: Chinese/Shanghainese/Dim Dum
Last visited: May 25, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Fairview)
Address: 1537 W Broadway
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 3.5-4 (based on what I tried)
- Cantonese & Shanghainese cuisine
- Award winning
- Attracts locals and tourists
- Somewhat catered to Western tastes
- Famous for “Shanghai Juicy Pork Dumplings”
- Handmade noodles
- Local favourite
- Cheap eats/budget friendly
- Chinese & English menu
- Minimal service
- Lunch specials
- Bubble tea available
- Take out 10% off
- Free delivery
- Open daily 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm
- Closed Tuesdays
**Recommendations: If you want great and specifically Shanghainese cuisine, then head to Richmond for it, but if good will do, then Lin’s will do. I’d say order Shanghai Juicy Pork Dumplings (xiao long bao) and Beijing Style Chicken Fenpi from what I tried. Their other specialties that I haven’t tried yet include Tofu Noodles in Soup, Tea Smoke Duck, and Braised Meatball Hot Pot.
It’s taken me forever to finally try Lin Chinese Cuisine. I always hear so much about the restaurant and how they have “the best juicy pork dumplings (aka xiao long bao or XLB)” in all of Vancouver, BC. Of course one would have to try every single XLB in the city to know which one is truly the “best” though. Anyways, the XLB was definitely on my must try list, but I had to see why else locals and tourists seem to flock to it.
I actually didn’t have that high expectations coming in, even though I knew that it was an award winning restaurant with award winning dishes. I had spoken with some friends familiar with Shanghainese cuisine and they had mentioned to me that they found it a bit overrated. So I was prepared with what to expect. I didn’t make a huge dent in the menu, but from what I tried, I could not agree with them more.
It was lunch time and the place was packed. I was actually surprised to see so many Chinese locals eating there because honestly I found almost all the dishes I ordered catered to Western tastes. It’s not comparable to my Din Tai Fung experience, but it was reminiscent of it.
In cases like these, I’m not hesitant to use the word “authentic” and say there is truly more authentic Shanghainese than this in Metro Vancouver. The menu showcases a lot of Cantonese dishes too and there’s more authentic for that as well.
The food I ordered was a decent representation of Shanghainese cuisine. Yes, it was good and very affordable, but I could also get the same thing and better in Shanghainese restaurants in Richmond (15 minutes away from Lin’s). I could maybe even find it in Vancouver, but I haven’t tried that many other Shanghainese restaurants in Vancouver, and this one is supposed to be “it”.
Therefore I have to say that Lin’s is probably good for the neighbourhood, where there’s not much competition for Shanghainese, but there is easily better 15 minutes outside of the city… in which case I’d make the drive.
On the table:
- I don’t know if it’s the brand, quality or actual flavour of the tea leaves they’re using, but it tastes like dirt.
- I don’t know how else to put it, and I don’t want to be rude, but that was the flavour. Maybe it just needed a couple rinses before steeping, but I didn’t enjoy it.
- I don’t normally comment on tea, but it was noticeably different tasting here.
- $4.99 (6 pieces)
- This is their claim to fame and their famous Chinese Restaurant Award winning dish.
- They might have made them popular and if they were first to introduce it to the city, then yes it would have been amazing and “the best”.
- The price is good and the dumplings are very good, but again there is better.
- The skins were handmade with one of the thinnest skins I’ve seen which is great.
- The pork soup or juice was hot and the flavour was good, but it wasn’t particularly anything to rave about, however the amount of soup in it was because there was a lot.
- In case you didn’t know already, but the soup comes from the fat from the pork as well as a pork stock that’s made into a gelatin and incorporated into the meat stuffing (thanks Sherman for the gelatin part, makes me feel less guilty for eating the tray).
- The steaming process releases those tasty juices.
- The meatball was tender and there was a hint of ginger and white pepper in the seasoning.
- The broth wasn’t as rich and creamy as a lot of the “tres excellent” ones in Richmond though.
- The meatball wasn’t even as tender as some of my personal favourites that just melt in your mouth.
- The places I’d recommend for even better juicy pork dumplings are from Shanghai House, Suhang Restaurant, Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen, Shanghai River, and even Beijing Cuisine has a more flavourful broth.
- This is one of my favourite dishes and it’s award winning here, but I think it’s better at other places.
- It’s an appetizer, but the portion is huge and it’s quite substantial and filling.
- It’s rich, creamy, indulgent, and usually a bit oily, but I really like it.
- This one just had an overwhelming amount of sauce though.
- It had a decent amount of chicken, but it was a little on the dry side.
- There should be sesame seeds on top too.
- You mix it all together before enjoying it and it’s served room temperature.
- The “glass noodles” were smooth and slippery and jelly like with springy chewy texture, but they were too chewy.
- It’s a soft noodle, but they’re still supposed to break apart when you chew them and they just didn’t here, which was odd.
- It’s swimming in a pool of garlicky peanut sauce that usually has a combination of sesame sauce. Again, it was a bit too much sauce.
- This one tasted just like melted peanut butter with garlic and soy sauce though, and it had a distinct salty sweet flavour in the aftertaste more so than in the initial taste. This is likely from some MSG.
- It’s creamy, savoury, nutty and smooth and mildly spicy from some chili flakes.
- I like the one from Beijing Cuisine better – see Tossed Mung Clear Noodles in Sauce, Sesame Paste & Shredded Meat.
- Available daily 11am-3pm. Meals include Hot & Sour Soup or Chicken Corn Soup, and steamed rice $7.99
- Honey prawns is another popular favourite and Lin’s signature dish, and they were good, but they didn’t seem that special to me and overrated.
- It’s a good deal for a sit down restaurant in the area, but just seeing the lunch special options it just screams out “Westernized Chinese food” outside of a food court context.
- It was almost like a warm crunchy Chinese style Ebi Mayo prawn salad served with rice. It’s better as an appetizer.
- One of their signatures, but they do taste like honey prawns I could get from other Chinese restaurants.
- They do give you a lot of prawns, but it is a very Western tasting dish.
- How do I say this? Well on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives Guy Fieri showcased an “authentic” Chinese restaurant in Alaska making a very similar dish and it was the house favourite.
- There’s basically a dish called honey prawns with walnuts and that’s what this was, but without the walnuts.
- The prawns are medium sized and they’re deep fried and apparently have no batter. They definitely taste like they have a batter though.
- I think maybe chef does some double deep frying with a coat of cornstarch and honey in some specific process. It doesn’t taste as complicated as it probably is to make.
- It has a crunchy like batter and then a firm and tender crunchy prawn, but it seemed so Westernized that I was caught off guard and was expecting something else.
- The prawns are coated in a simple creamy mayo and honey sauce so it’s sweet and savoury, but more on the sweet side given “honey” in the name.
- It also has a tang from some lemon juice they probably mix in the mayo.
- Deep frying anything and topping it with honey and mayo is usually a good sign of a Westernized dish… but with those ingredients, it is usually pretty good, and it was.
- I wouldn’t care to order them again as I prefer other versions of this at Chinese restaurants (some with sesame seeds and some with walnuts), but this was a fair deal and the honey prawns do make for a good shared appetizer.
- Yeah this was major “gwai lo” or “white” version of hot and sour soup.
- It was very simple with very limited ingredients which were basically egg white, couple Chinese black wood ear mushrooms, couple shreds of carrots and couple bamboo shoots and some firm tofu. It was mediocre at most.
- The stock was a bit gluey, and it was more tangy than hot, but not nearly as tangy or hot as the authentic versions. The flavour was pretty flat, but it wasn’t bland.