By Tana Kosiyabong
I’m happy to tell you that I have found my new favorite restaurant during this week Cheap Appetite mission. It’s been a while since I was very excited about an eatery. And this time it is pretty much right under my nose. Gain Wah was one of the first Vancouver restaurants I had dined in when I moved here five years ago. However, since I discovered Kent’s Kitchen (a cheap Chinese take-out joint located next door), Gain Wah had gradually been overlooked.
I recall that LotusRapper, one of my long-time reader, had once suggested me to check out this old Chinese restaurant. But Kent’s Kitchen was like a cheapo magnet.Whenever I was on Keefer street, I was irresistably drawn to its great value.
Four days ago I went to Kent’s again for another cheap Chinese fix, but it had already closed for the day. So I decided to walked in to Gain Wah for the first time in four years. The restaurant still looks pretty much the same as it was. The Pink pleather dining booth and minty green table cloth are hard to forget.
Underneath the glass table top, there were menu items printed on yellow, green and pink sheets of paper. Most of them are under $7.25, HST included (or around $6.50 before HST). And Many are under $5 (Yup, the 12% HST included too). My eyes were wide open as if I were Charlie in Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
It was tough to choose only one dish from several interesting menu items. But eventually I went for the No. 9 (on the All-Day Special pink sheet) Braised Cod and Tofu Hot Pot ($7.25 HST included). The dish comes with a small bowl of house soup which was served soon after ordered.
The soup was simple yet delicious. The pork bone broth was seasoned just right, neither too bland nor salty. The daikon radish and carrots were very tender and fully saturated with the tasty broth. I gave it a notch better than New Town Bakery’s complimentary soup.
Shortly after, the braised cod and tofu hot pot was served with a small bowl of steamed rice. I was so impressed by the amount of food I got for the money. The fish and tofu were deep-fried before braised in the hot pot. But the dish wasn’t overly greasy. Although the chunks of fish weren’t the freshest, they were still quite delicious. The sauce was lightly salted and delicate. It was nothing like the salty North American Chinese dishes. The bottom of the hot pot was lined with napa cabbages which absorbed the scrumptious sauce in it. The aroma of onions, green onions, ginger and a few shitake mushroom slices masked the fish smell quite well, but not overpowered the whole dish. The steamed rice was perfectly cooked. All in all, it was a great Cheap Appetite.
After the meal I was so glad to reconnect with Gain Wah again after all these years. In fact, I love it so much I went back there again three days in a row (it would have been four days if I didn’t have to stay home to write this post tonight). The other two dishes were also delicious. But one of them was so impressive it deserved a write up of its own. Therefore, please stay tune for the Part Two of Gain Wah next week. I promise you won’t be disappointed. In the mean time, you can check it out and let me know how you like this old Chinese establishment.
Note: Gain Wah also has a menu book, but I chose to go with the one underneath the glass table top.
Gain Wah Braised Cod and Tofu Hot Pot with Rice and House Soup: ©©©©1/4
Gain Wah is located at 218 Keefer Street, Vancouver BC. (T) 604.684.1740
Store Hours: 10 am to midnight. Monday to Sunday.
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