Delicious Country is a small eatery located in the City Plaza building in Chinatown. I’d passed by it many times on my way to Kim Chi House and Han’s Restaurant but I never got around to trying it. I finally got the opportunity last month when a coworker had organized a group lunch there. Delicious Country’s menu is quite diverse as they serve up a variety of Chinese cuisines including Cantonese, Pekingese, Shanghainese, and even classic Szechuan/Sichuan fare as opposed to Han’s Restaurant, which serves up mainly Taiwanese-Szechuan fare.
We started off with an order of the Fish with Chili Pepper Soup ($19.95). This dish is better known as Water-Boiled Fish or Shuizhuyu (水煮魚). The English translation varies from restaurant to restaurant so it’s sometimes hard to decipher on the menu if they don’t have pictures. I was really curious how this dish compared to the version that I tried at Szechuan Restaurant. I found this version to be quite spicy but not very complex in flavour. The fish was perfectly poached and tender. But personally, I prefer the version from Szechuan Restaurant. I should mention though, for the uninitiated, you’re not supposed to drink the soup. I never thought to mention it before until a coworker on this visit stated that we shouldn’t order this dish because it was such a “waste” since during their last visit to Delicious Country everyone just ate the fish and no one drank the remaining “soup”. The “soup” or rather, poaching liquid is VERY spicy since it contains mostly chilis and Szechuan peppercorns. It’s definitely not meant for drinking.
Next up was the House Made Spicy Chicken ($11.98). This dish is often known as La Zi Ji (辣子鸡), Thousand Chili Chicken, Chongqing Chicken, or sometimes even Chicken with Chilies. I’d been craving this dish ever since I had well-executed version of it at the now defunct Beijing Garden in Vancouver last November. This dish tasted ok except that the chicken pieces were mostly bone and didn’t have a lot of meat on them. Personally, I preferred the version from Szechuan Restaurant and it’s an added bonus that they offer a boneless version of this dish. If I ever see a boneless option available for this dish, I would always order the boneless version so that I don’t have to deal with the bone fragments in the chicken.
The third dish we tried was the Sautéed Vermicelli with Spicy Minced Pork ($9.98). This classic Szechuan dish is sometimes known as “Ants Climbing Up A Tree”, which is the literal translation from the Chinese name. The minced meat clinging on to the bean thread noodles supposedly evoke an image of ants climbing up twigs. This dish was well-executed as the noodles were al dente. However, I didn’t find the flavours to be very complex.
Our fourth dish was the Sliced Pork in Chili Sauce ($9.98). This dish was served cold and is sort of like an appetizer. It consisted of thinly sliced pork belly and was topped with a flavourful spicy garlic chili sauce.
Lastly, we had the Braised Eggplant with Meat ($12.98). This eggplant dish is better known as Fish-Fragrant Eggplant or 鱼香茄子 in Chinese and is a classic Szechuan dish. Despite its common name in both English and Chinese, it actually doesn’t contain any fish. Delicious Country offers both a meat (containing ground pork) and a vegetarian (meatless) version. We chose the version with meat. Of the five dishes we ordered, this was my favourite. The eggplant was perfectly cooked and had a toothsome bite. The dish was flavourful although not as complex as the version from Szechuan Restaurant. If I were to go back to Delicious Country, this would be the dish I would order. However, if I were craving this dish, Szechuan Restaurant would be my go to place.
Service wise, it was ok in person as we could point on the menu to what we wanted and our server spoke some English. However, on the phone, it was a different story when one of my coworkers initially called and tried to make a reservation. The person who answered the phone told him they didn’t speak English so we weren’t able to make a reservation. Finally, we tracked down another coworker who could speak Mandarin to call and make the reservation for us. This place is pretty popular during the lunch hour so it would be hard for a large group to go without making reservations. I’m glad we had reservations on this visit as the restaurant was packed. As to be expected, it took a little long for each dish to arrive since the restaurant was so busy but overall, we managed to finish our lunch in a reasonable amount of time.
Delicious Country Restaurant
303 Centre St S