By Tana Kosiyabong
I came across Kam Wai Dim Sum, a new restaurant in Vancouver Chinatown, while I was exploring the area a few weeks ago. The restaurant is located on Pender Street between Main and Gore street, the block I rarely walk on. Thanks to my inquiring mind, I have a new restaurant to check out. So I took a quick look at the menu on a store window and the prices were very wallet-friendly. However, dim sum is meant to be shared with others. So I made a mental note to come back later for a review.
A few days later Natee, a friend of mine, called around lunch time. So I told him to meet at Kam Wai. “Dim Sum for two? Is it expensive?, he asked. Natee is about as cheap as I am. Perhaps that’s why we get along well. “I’ll try to keep it under 10 bucks each. We’ll get just a few dim sum and a filler dish,” I replied.
Natee was fashionably late as usual. He showed up just under fifteen minutes late which is his personal best record to date. Kam Wai was plainly decorated. But perhaps that’s why they can keep the price low. All the tables were lined with thin plastic sheets which will be conveniently thrown away after each meal. Practical but not very green.
Kam Wai serves dim sum all day. The dishes were priced from $2.50 up. The restaurant only makes dim sum to order; They do not push the carts filled with yummy stuffs around. The check list of selections is categorized by prices which make it easy for us to manage our budget. After a lengthy finger counting session to ensure we didn’t overspend, we decided to order the followings: Steamed Crystal Prawn Dumplings ($3), Green Onion Pancakes ($3), Steamed Spareribs with Pumpkin ($2.75), Baked Egg Custard Tarts (2.75), a pot of tea (50 cents) and a filler dish, Beef and Vegetable Ho Fun (Flat Rice Noodles–$6.50). This last dish was actually on the menu as Beef and Vegetable Chow Mein, but I asked to substitute with the flat rice noodles instead. Somehow, they let me have my way with no extra charge.
The Ha Gow came first. The skin was thin and transparent. I could see through the shrimp inside. These are the signs of a good Ha Gow. The shrimp filling was perfectly cooked. It was a nice start.
The green onion pancakes were next. These tasty little cuties were cut into quarters. They were crispy on the outside and softer on the inside. The onion flavor was rather mild. I could have eaten up the whole plate by myself.
Then came the steamed spareribs with pumpkin. It was my first time tasting this dish with steamed pumpkin. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first; however, I was pleasantly surprised with the lovely flavors in my mouth. The spareribs were tasty and tender. I could smell a refreshing hint of orange peels in each bite. The ribs also had a mild kick of chili peppers. And the soft, sweet pieces of pumpkin were hidden treasures under the pile of delicious spareribs.
My squinty eyes were wide-opened when the beef and vegetable ho fun arrived. It was, perhaps, big enough portion for both of us to share as a meal. Better yet, it’s only $6.50. And best of all, it was scrumptious. The beef was so soft and tender. The broccoli was slightly undercooked the way it should be. The Ho Fun noodles imparted the alluring Wok Hei. The sauce was skillfully flavored. It wasn’t too salty or too bland. The Shitake mushrooms had soaked up the delicious gravy throughly. It is definitely a cheap appetite.
The baked egg tarts were also nice. It wasn’t too sweet which I really like. The tart shell was fluffy. But I was already full with the previous dishes. So I only had a piece. To be honest, I don’t remember much about them.
Overall Kam Wai Dim Sum is good and cheap. For both of us we spent $18.50 ($9.25 each). Although we went there mainly for the dim sum, their filler dish impressed me most. Since then I went back there again by myself to try the beef and vegetable chow mein. However, I prefer the ho fun one more.
Kam Wai also offers the Taiwanese beef noodle soup on the menu too. It will be next on my list to try.
Kam Wai Ha Gow: ©©©1/2
Kam Wai Green Onion Pancakes: ©©©3/4
Kam Wai Steamed Spareribs with Pumpkin: ©©©3/4
Kam Wai Beef and Vegetable Ho Fun: ©©©©1/4
Kam Wai Baked Egg Tarts: ©©©1/4
NOTE: Kam Wai Dim Sum has now transformed into a self-served, take-out Dim Sum joint. They also sell frozen Dim Sum but no longer offer the noodle dish and green onion pancake shown above. For more details please click here.
Remaining Budget: $228
Budget Spent: -$9.25 (($3+3+2.75+2.75+0.5+6.5)/2)
Budget Available: $218.75
Kam Wai Dim Sum is located at 249 East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (T) 604.568.6692
©2010 Tana Kosiyabong and CheapAppetite.com™. All rights reserved.