While visiting Vancouver last month, I decided to go back to Excelsior Restaurant for some casual Cantonese fare. I’d tried Excelsior for the first time two years ago for an Alaskan King Crab feast with a bunch of my friends and was really impressed with the food. The decor at Excelsior is nothing elaborate but the restaurant is clean. Excelsior is more like a hybrid between a HK style cafe and a casual Cantonese restaurant. They do serve dishes that are typical of HK style cafes yet they also serve more sophisticated Cantonese dishes and are actually well-known for their Alaskan King Crab preparations.
We started off with some complimentary Daily Soup which was a home-style, slow-cooked comfort soup or what the Cantonese would call “Old Fire Soup. In this case, the soup was a pork broth containing carrots. The soup tasted ok and wasn’t overly salty.
The menus at Excelsior are actually a bit confusing. The regular menu consists of HK Style Cafe dishes as well as some classic Cantonese dishes. There is then a separate menu called ‘Chef’s Recommendations’ which lists some of their signature dishes. In addition, there is yet another menu called ‘Special Stylish Dishes‘ which lists another set of signature dishes.
Our first dish was the Dried Bean Curd with Beef Brisket Hot Pot ($13.98), which was part of the regular menu. This dish was well executed. The beef and dried bean curd were still sizzling when the hot pot arrived at the table. The flavours were very savoury and the beef brisket was tender and flavourful. This was one of the better executed hot pots that I’ve had in a while.
Next up were the Spicy Hong Kong Style Chicken Wings ($13.98). This dish is actually not part of the regular menu. It is listed on the ‘Chef’s Recommendations’ menu. I really wanted to order this dish because of the preparation. Though the preparation style was kind of lost in translation, these wings were actually prepared “Typhoon Shelter” style (or sometimes known as Aberdeen style), which is a preparation style that originated from Hong Kong and is usually a popular way for preparing crab. The “Typhoon Shelter” style or Aberdeen style is basically the term used to describe a chef’s secret chili concoction made from a blend of spices such as garlic, scallion, red chili and black bean. The reason I had ordered these wings is because I had tasted the Alaskan King Crab knuckles prepared in this “Typhoon Shelter” style on my previous visit to Excelsior. Those crab knuckles were simply amazing and really memorable. At that same meal, I’d also tasted the Spicy Hong Kong Style Chicken Wings or “Typhoon Shelter” wings and they were equally as tasty as well. Unfortunately, on this visit the wings didn’t taste as good as I remembered them to taste. While the coating was crispy, we thought the chicken itself wasn’t as fresh tasting as it could be. The meat was a little dry and chewy. As for the flavour, I didn’t find the crispy coating to be as flavourful as the one that I had on my previous visit. There wasn’t as much of the spices and peppers on this version. I was a little disappointed considering this is supposedly one of their signature preparations.
Our third dish was the Sliced Beef Steak in Black Pepper Sauce ($11.98). This is Cantonese version of pepper steak. There were mixed reviews amongst my dining companions about this dish. Some actually enjoyed it. It’s more of a personal preference, but I personally didn’t find the sauce to be very peppery at all. I thought the steak was just ok. It was tender but the flavours were not really outstanding. But it wasn’t bad either.
Next up was the Green Beans with Preserved Olives & Minced Pork ($13.98). This dish was from the ‘Special Stylish Dishes‘ menu. This turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening. We had tried this dish previously at Good Choice Restaurant when I was visiting Vancouver late last year. I thought the version from Good Choice was tasty but this version at Excelsior was even better! I could actually taste the “wok hei” in this dish, which is the essence and flavour imparted by a very hot wok during stir-frying. Compared to the version from Good Choice, I liked that the preserved olives were more pronounced in this version to give it a nice “umami” flavour. To me, this dish definitely a winner and I would go back to Excelsior just to have this dish again.
Last but not least, was the Prawns with Vegetables on Fried Noodle ($13.95), which was from the regular menu. This turned out to be my foodie friend, Grayelf’s favourite dish of the evening. Indeed, this dish was executed well. I loved that the noodles were really crispy. The vegetables and prawns were nicely stir fried and the sauce was of the perfect consistency. Though this dish is more of a staple in most Cantonese restaurants and is not that new and exciting, it’s surprisingly hard to find a place that executes it well. So we were pleasantly surprised that Excelsior’s version was spot on.
Overall, most of the dishes were good to very good. For the me, the standout dish was the Green Beans with Preserved Olives & Minced Pork. It’s nice to see that Excelsior Restaurant continues to deliver quality food at reasonable prices in a casual environment. I would definitely go back again if I were looking for a Cantonese restaurant in Richmond that is good value and at the same time, the food is well-executed.
#6, 6340 No 3 Rd