I feel the need to post about my dinner at Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant during my trip to Vancouver back in March as we had tried a few dishes that were different from our usual repertoire at Kalvin’s. On this visit, I managed to get my foodie friends, Grayelf and A la carte, along with A la carte’s SO to join my friend C and myself for dinner at Kalvin’s.
We started off with an order of Cold Bamboo Shoot with Mayonnaise ($7.50). I’ll be first to admit that this would not be a dish that would normally appeal to me on the menu. However, both Grayelf and I read several blog posts about it and we were intrigued as a few bloggers had really enjoyed this dish. Personally, as I’m not a mayo fan, I really didn’t get this dish. I did enjoy the coolness and crunchiness of the fresh bamboo shoots but to me, there was way too much mayo for my liking. This is one of those dishes that one either loves or hates. Unfortunately, for me, I fall into the latter category and I would probably not order it again. I’m glad I got to try it out so my curiosity has been satisfied.
Our first dish was the Fondue with Fish in Spicy Sauce ($12.99). This dish is better known as Water-Boiled Fish or Shuizhuyu (水煮魚). I had sort of anticipated that this version would be somewhat similar to the one I used to get from Han’s Restaurant in Calgary as Han’s was Taiwanese-Szechuan just like Kalvin’s. I had already expected that this version from Kalvin’s would be stylistically different from the versions that I’ve had at Nine Dishes and the now defunct Beijing Garden as those version were more authentic Szechuan style. I found this version at Kalvin’s to have fewer sichuan peppercorns. Overall, we all found this dish to be flavourful and tasty. However, for myself, I still thought that the version I had at Han’s Restaurant during its glory days was more complex in flavour. It’s too bad I’ll never be able to get that version again as Han’s has changed ownership and the original owners had retired.
Up next was the Eggplant with Minced Pork in Garlic & Chili Sauce ($9.50). This dish is often 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. This was the first time we had tried this dish at Kalvin’s. Both my dining companions and I thought the dish was well-executed and tasty. For me, the eggplant was a little softer than I would have preferred but at least it wasn’t mushy. We all agreed that this would be a dish we would order again on a future visit to Kalvin’s.
Our third dish was the Shredded Fish with Yellow Chives ($12.00). This was my favourite dish on my second visit to Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant and on this visit, it was a big hit amongst my dining companions. The shredded fish was so tender and soft. It was nicely contrasted with the crunchy yellow chives. This was the first dish to disappear as we all loved it so much. It had really mild, crisp flavours and was a good palate contrast to the rest of the other dishes that we had ordered.
For our fourth dish, we tried the Preserved Pork with Garlic Spout ($10.50). Again, this was a new dish to us since none of my dining companions had tried it before. However, I’ve had something similar at the now defunct Beijing Garden but the meat was prepared differently. At Beijing Garden, the garlic stems were fried with shredded pork and the dish was very savoury. Here at Kalvin’s they used slices of preserved pork. The sweetness of preserved pork slices in this dish actually caught us by surprise. I had expected the preserved pork (aka lap yuk, 臘肉) to be quite salty as it is basically salt-cured and smoked pork belly or essentially, Chinese bacon. But in this case, the slices of preserved pork were coated with a sweet glaze which reminded me of the honey glaze on Chinese BBQ Pork (Cha Siu). Personally, I would have preferred the preserved pork without the sweet glaze as the preserved pork itself is quite smoky and flavourful. I loved the garlic sprouts as they were crisp and crunchy.
Last, but not least, we had a small order of the Chicken with Three Spice ($10.50 for small; $20.00 for large). This dish is sometimes known as “Three Cup Chicken” because of the ratio of ingredients used in the sauce. This was one of my favourite dishes from my previous two visits to Kalvin’s (Visit#1 and Visit #2). The chicken was again moist, succulent, and flavourful. However, on this visit, though I can’t quite put my finger on it, I didn’t think it had the same wow factor flavour-wise as the one that I had on my very first visit.
Overall, as usual, this was another solid meal at Kalvin’s. All the dishes were reasonably priced and well-executed though we certainly enjoyed some more than others. I really enjoy Kalvin’s because they serve Taiwanese-style Szechuan cuisine, which is actually not that easy to find. There are tons of Taiwanese places that serve bubble tea or beef noodle soup in Vancouver and also quite a few restaurants serving up authentic Szechuan (Sichuan) fare. But to find Taiwanese-influenced Szechuan cuisine, it’s actually a bit of a challenge. I’m not aware of any other restaurant in the Vancouver area serving this style of food.
Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant
5225 Victoria Dr