Wing Kee

Restaurant: Wing Kee
Cuisine: Chinese/Seafood
Last visited: May 27, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 8260 Granville Ave
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3 (if you consider value too)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 1.5
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Family owned and operated
  • Same owners as Tsui Hung Village
  • Popular for fresh seafood
  • Market price seafood
  • In house seafood tanks
  • Known to Chinese locals in area
  • Pre-ordering required for popular dishes
  • Chinese menus
  • English menus (not for everything)
  • Free delivery $20+ within 5km
  • 10% off on pick up $20+
  • Dine in/Take out
  • Open late
  • Accepts Visa/MC
  • Mon-Sun 4:30pm-4am

**Recommendations: Fresh Tiger Prawns, Fresh Steamed Scallops with Vermicelli & Garlic, Steamed Lobster with Sticky Rice, Roasted Squab, Steamed Almond Milk Dessert

This is pretty much a dive. It looks like a hole in the wall and I never even noticed it before. I probably wouldn’t have known about it until dinner plans were arranged here. From the outside it looks like a cheap eatery, and it kind of is. Although I love discovering hole in the walls, I didn’t do any previous research on this one so I was a bit hesitant.

I took a peek inside and it was actually quite busy (photo was taken after dinner rush). It’s a very casual eatery known to Chinese locals in the neighbourhood. Okay now here’s where it starts to get very questionable and it might sway your decision for whether or not you decide to try it out.

I didn’t know before hand, but when I tweeted I was having dinner here, I had a handful of people tweet me “Check health inspection reports! It’s dirty! Rats!”… and unfortunately I only saw those tweets after dinner. *Shudder*. I can’t say I was too surprised considering the ambiance, however my dishes were clean and the food was actually very good especially considering the prices. Therefore, to be fair I can only “judge” the restaurant based on my personal experience. On the bright side, apparently since those reports, the restaurant has changed ownership.

Just to top it off, here’s another fact that may make it less appealing. The owners are actually the same owners as Tsui Hang Village in downtown, Vancouver. Yes, that’s the other divey late night munchies Chinese restaurant (on Granville Street). I didn’t know this until after dinner as well and I was very surprised. The food was different and better! Wing Kee is more traditional Cantonese Chinese food although they still offer the typical Americanized Chinese dishes as well.

I know this restaurant has a lot of things going against it, but the food was very good and I can’t deny that. The owners are very friendly, the seafood is fresh, the prices are cheap, the portions are generous, and it’s open until 4am. It’s more than I can say for places like Floata, which also has a poor rep for cleanliness as well as other things – see my post here.

Wing Kee actually reminded me of the local restaurants serving fresh seafood from the markets in Asia. They’re usually ghetto like this and in Vancouver the restaurants that do offer live seafood are normally quite expensive. We were doing an almost full seafood menu and this is one of my favourite styles of enjoying seafood. The value is great here, although the execution does get better than this.

This restaurant is hard to “maneuver” if you don’t know Chinese though because a lot of the specials and “good stuff” is in Chinese. I was lucky to have people take control of the ordering so I didn’t need to worry. Anyways I hope my post will help… and that is if you can overlook those cons I listed above and give it a chance.

On the table:

Pig Stomach, Lemon & Pickled Vegetable - 1.5/6

  • $8.95 (s)
  • This was on their specials menu that is only written in Chinese.
  • This is a very traditional Chiu Chow soup. It was my first time having it and I’m biased because I almost hate pig’s intestine.
  • I’m not a fan of pig’s stomach or pig’s intestine due to the smell, texture and flavour, but this one didn’t have that strong gamey smell.
  • The broth was actually very good and it didn’t have that gamey pork flavour in it.
  • There was so much fresh lemon slices and lemon juice that it just removes that pungent aroma.
  • The preserved Chinese cabbage is also used to take away that gamey flavour. They’re very tangy, slightly spicy, but the spiciness goes away quickly.
  • The broth is lemony, tangy and slightly spicy as well, but the kick is only in the initial notes.
  • It’s a very healthy tasting clear and light broth that just takes away any grease or heaviness.

**Fresh Prawns – 5/6

  • Market price $9.99/lbs (Photo shows 2lbs for $19.99)
  • These are not BC Spot Prawns, but Tiger Prawns some other type of prawn I don’t know the name of. I doubt they’re not sustainable, but we pick and chose our battles and what we eat.
  • You have to pre-order them because they sell out very quickly.
  • They were perfectly steamed and crunchy and served with a spicy soy and chili dipping sauce.
  • This is one of my favourite ways to enjoy prawns. Simple and delicious!

**Roasted Squab – 5/6

  • Regular $19.99 (If you order $30+ you get 1 order free and if you order $60+ you get 2 orders free. This is 2 orders.)
  • This is another item on their specials menu that is only written in Chinese. I would like to think you would get the offer if you didn’t know about it though…
  • A squab is a pigeon. Not those dirty pigeons that eat garbage, but a nestling pigeon.
  • It’s a very lean meat and it tastes like sweet lean duck meat and it’s naturally a bit drier like free range chicken.
  • Although it is a game meat, it’s not gamey tasting like lamb or anything. It’s the closest to duck or quail I think.
  • The skin was very crispy and there’s no fat, yet the meat is still moist and somewhat juicy.
  • It’s marinated in a sweetened soy sauce before it’s roasted and it’s perfectly seasoned and not oily.
  • I love roasted squab and this one was pretty much just as good as the excellent one from Sun Sui Wah (see here).

**Fresh Steamed Scallops with Vermicelli and Garlic6/6

  • Market price $5.50 per scallop
  • This is one of my favourite dishes of all time. It’s a 6/6 on a whole, but here it’s a 4/6.
  • There are places that can make it better than this, but this was still very good.
  • I love this dish! A bit pricey, but I could have eaten the whole plate… yeah I actually didn’t eat the whole plate!

  • It was topped with steamed vermicelli noodles and lots of sweet minced garlic, some shallots, and green onions.
  • It’s very aromatic with tons of flavour and each shell contains sweet garlic juices and natural scallop juice.
  • It’s a clean broth that just flavours the noodles and scallop.
  • The noodles were a little bit clumpy though.
  • The garlic is really sweet and has no garlicky spice. It’s simply delicious.
  • It’s just a very natural, clean and full flavoured seafood dish and the presentation is effortless.

The scallop was a jumbo scallop and it was slightly overcooked, but still reasonably tender and delicious. The savoury sweet garlicky juices just absorb right into the meat.

Fresh Oysters in Black Bean Sauce - 3/6

  • Market price $2.50 per oyster
  • I’m not particularly a fan of cooked oysters, and especially the jumbo sized ones, however I’m starting to enjoy them a bit more.
  • These ones were the jumbo ones (size of  a large hand) and they’re priced quite well.
  • The black bean sauce was home made and it had some minced sweet garlic, and even some unexpected orange peel in it.
  • The oyster was perfectly steamed, very juicy and tender and it absorbed the sauce very well.
  • The natural oyster juices and sweet garlic just sweat into the sauce.
  • All the flavours stood out and nothing was overpowering, but I’m just not keen on the orange peel flavour and prefer pure black bean sauce.

**Steamed Lobster Sticky Rice – 4/6

  • $19.80
  • This is another item on their specials menu that is only written in Chinese.
  • It’s one of their specialties and I’ve never had anything like it.
  • It’s steamed sticky rice and lobster wrapped in a giant lotus leaf. This was enough to feed 6 people.
  • The lobster used is quite small and there’s very little meat and the meat is a bit dry and rubbery. For the price, it doesn’t bother me that much.
  • The lobster is covered with sweet minced garlic and the steaming process locks in all the flavours and releases the natural juices to moisten the rice.

  • The sticky rice is very chewy, moist, and flavourful but not saucy. It has a firm chew and each grain is al dente. It’s very filling though.
  • The lobster shell, lobster meat and juice give a light seafood flavour to the rice.
  • The rice is fragrant, aromatic, garlicky and sweet and there’s also caramelized shallots and some frozen corn in it.
  • It’s quite delicious and I think I enjoyed the rice more than the lobster.

Chicken with Shallots, Chinese Sausage, Mushrooms & Vegetables  - 2/6

  • $14.80
  • This is another item on their specials menu that is only written in Chinese.
  • I loved the ingredients, but the execution was not good and the dish ended up not working.
  • The chicken was a free range chicken and although it looks well sauced, the chicken wasn’t marinated well or very flavourful.
  • The vegetables were celery, snow peas, and Chinese black fungus mushrooms that are flimsy and jelly like. These mushrooms were a bit overcooked and lost their crunchy texture.
  • The large pieces of shallots and big pieces of sliced ginger also weren’t fried in the oil long enough. They were almost raw, crunchy and spicy and the flavour wasn’t infused in the oil, which is the point.
  • The dish was a bit oily and the chicken pieces were cut too small and had bones and skin.
  • The Chinese method almost always includes the bones and skin, but this was cut oddly and since it was chicken thigh it just didn’t work. The bones were very small too and even they knew they messed up a bit.
  • The sweetness of the Chinese sausage should have played a strong roll in flavouring the sauce too, but they weren’t fried long enough either so the aromatics of it was lost. The concept is the same idea as frying bacon to make a dish more flavourful.

Steamed Tofu and Baby Bok Choy3/6

  • $8.95
  • This is an item we ordered upon request. We needed a tofu dish for our token pescatarian. We ordered steamed tofu and we got this.
  • It’s a very simple dish and I really like tofu so I liked this, although it’s something you can easily make at home.
  • It was soft, silky smooth tofu in a sweetened light soy sauce. The sauce wasn’t too salty and it was almost like a light broth.
  • The baby bok choy was tender and there’s nothing special about this dish, but it is what it is.

Fresh Steamed Sole (Fish of the day) - 3/6

  • Market price $12.99
  • This is another item on their specials menu that is only written in Chinese. It’s just the “fish of the day”.
  • It’s the classic preparation for steamed Chinese style fresh fish.
  • It’s not the greatest version I’ve had of it, but for the price, it’s fine.
  • The fish was fresh, but not very meaty, but the meat was tender, flaky and moist.
  • It was steamed well, and the sauce was just a sweetened soy sauce made for steamed fish.
  • It’s topped with lots of cilantro, some slivered green onions and ginger.
  • Every Asian kid grows up saving this sauce and pouring it over steamed rice.

Sauteed Chinese Broccoli (Kai Lan)4/6

  • $10
  • This is another one we ordered upon request for our pescatarian.
  • For what it was, it was done really well. A bit overpriced, but there was a lot.
  • The vegetable was fresh and young so it wasn’t chewy and it was very tender and perfectly cooked.
  • It wasn’t oily and had a subtle hint of soy sauce and maybe some salt for seasoning.

Complimentary Dessert of the Day – n/a

  • :( I’m not a fan of red bean.
  • Apparently they sometimes offer the sweet taro and yam with tapioca and coconut milk as the complimentary dessert. It’s not as often since it’s more labour intensive to make, but I hear it’s good.
  • The hot red bean soup lovers said this one was good.
  • They said it wasn’t too sweet, hearty and made with a variety of beans with nice texture.

**Steamed Almond Milk Dessert4/6

  • $3
  • For someone that doesn’t like Asian desserts, I actually really enjoy this dessert.
  • It is a bit acquired and catered to Asian tastes though.
  • It’s a hot dessert and it’s made fresh in house. It’s labour intensive too.
  • This is one of their signatures so I would pre order it because they do run out. We got their last order.
  • It tastes like a powdered almond bubble tea, but it’s not made with powder, but with real almonds.
  • They boil down Chinese almonds and strain them so it has a pure natural almond flavour.
  • It’s not as sweet or as nutty as Western almond desserts, but it’s more fragrant, aromatic and lightly sweetened.

  • It’s a very light, silky smooth and milky dessert.
  • It has a creamy smooth texture, but it’s not creamy and rich, but creamy and light with a boiled down thick almond like texture and aroma.
  • The chunks are actually poached unseasoned egg whites and they add to the silkiness of the dessert and have a neutral flavour.
  • I really like this dessert and it’s comforting and cozy. It’s a pretty big bowl so it’s easily shared too.
  • Sometimes it’s made with tofu or infused with ginger, but they didn’t do that in this case.

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14 Comments

  • wyn says:

    Wow. Maybe I don’t read enough food blogs in their entirety until this post, and I certainty haven’t been to a seafood meal like this, but dive or not, this dinner looks really good! I had never heard of the scallop, rice, or soup dish before. The soup doesn’t seem appetizing but the others are! I wish I knew the Chinese names for things you had ordered so I might recognize them on some other specials menu!

  • Elaine says:

    Oh no =( I actually really like this place…

  • Marvin says:

    Hey Mijune, are you sure those are tiger prawns? They don’t look anything like tiger prawns and exactly like spot prawns. Is there some kind of conspiracy going on where the restaurants and markets are selling us tiger prawns that are supposed to be spot prawns?! Either way, they’re tasty whatever they are.

  • they look like spot prawns to me too :-)

  • Mijune says:

    @wyn – I’m SOO happy I’m able to introduce you to new things! If you can, just pull up this blog post or print the photos off and show them. They’ll know what you mean. If you explain it to them they’ll get it. OR you can take a photo of my blog and then show them on your phone or camera!! :) I really want you to try these scallops! Thank you for reading my blog post entirely… I’m honoured!!!

    @Elaine – lol I was thinking of you Elaine! I was sad too :(

    @Marvin !A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen – you guys are right… they’re not Tiger Prawns, but I really don’t think they’re Spot Prawns… it’s another kind of prawn but I don’t know the name. The cheapest you can get Spot Prawns are $9.99/lbs even if you’re “industry”… so there’s no way they can sell these at cost. I don’t know the name of this prawn though… ideas?

  • Sandi says:

    Side-stripe prawns – you’ll see them being sold when Spot Prawn season ends. They’re good, but not as sweet as Spot Prawns.

  • Bow says:

    Nice menu choices, always liked steamed black bean oysters, cos they’re inexpensive…one can’t compare cooked oysters to raw ones, different textures…it’s like comparing sockeye sashimi to cooked sockeye ;but,I do compare a meaty cooked oyster at $1. vs an ice cold tasteless raw one for $2.50. There’s no value in paying for a dozen raw oysters and you get so little. Prefer freshly steamed scallops with the same green onion/ginger/soy dipping sauce used for steamed prawns.Great steamed fish is hard to make, too bad you didn’t eat a great one. There was some great Yin and Yang on the menu choices. However, you gotta start avoiding these dodgy places with health issues.

  • Mijune says:

    @Sandi – There we go! thank you Sandi! Definitely not as sweet, but still tasty :)

    @Bow – That’s true I guess I can’t compare them.. but for my personal preference I like raw oysters better just because I don’t like the flavour of a cooked one. I wouldn’t compare them, but based on preference. See i would rather pay $12 for 6 raw oysters than $6 for 6 raw ones just due to flavour.

    lol I didn’t know there were health issues and it’s hard to stay on top of my research when I’m dining out as much as I do. But thank you for caring bow :)

  • akwok says:

    I remember when this used to be a really high end and popular restaurant before it became Wing Kee — I used to go there all the time as a kid. It was probably one of the best formal Cantonese restaurants in Richmond back then. Don’t recall its English name though.

    I went back recently (Wing Kee) and the years really haven’t been kind to it. It desperately needs a renovation… that, and the owner’s kids were running around the restaurant screaming and causing all sorts of havoc in front of paying customers. Food was mediocre at best.

  • Jane says:

    lol.. so is it that u can’t eat red bean or u just prefer not to eat?

  • Mijune says:

    @akwok – Fair enough, but considering the prices I think the value is certainly there and I don’t expect anything “gourmet” from a place like this. Also everything I ordered is kind of “hard to go wrong” items so I found for what I had it was better than mediocre. I agree it does really need a renovation though!

    @Jane – LOL! I can eat it, but I just don’t enjoy it lol. It’s a bit acquired and I really haven’t acquired those taste buds yet… maybe in 20 years :)

  • Linda says:

    booo lost my comments again! lol it’s ok though i think i remember what i wrote lol

    chinese restaurants definitely know their way around seafood – i don’t order seafood too much at western restaurants but at chinese establishments they really seem to find a way to make the star of the dish stand out :)

    wow, the oysters and the scallops look great – i’ve never seen scallops prepared this way and the price for them isn’t too bad! the oysters look delish!

    mmm lobster – i always preferred lobster over crab and a part of the reason is because there’s so much less work involved trying to get to the meat! plus i think the flavour of the meat is much sweeter! this dish looks like it would be good with e mein as well :)

    i love prawns just steamed as well! i totally missed out on spot prawn season because i’ve been so busy with work! but these ones look great as well! i love sucking the heads!

    haha you and your red beans!

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – aww i hate when that happens! thanks for writing it again!!

    I agree.. Chinese seafood FTW!

    You’ver NEVER had scallops this way?!?! Oh boy you’re missing out my dear!! Please try!!

    I ate 10 pieces of lobster tonight because the meat was easy to take out!!

    lol yup! me and my beans!! :(

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