When I was visiting Vancouver back in September, some friends of mine were really excited to introduce me to the new reincarnation of one of their long-time favourite restaurants. Double Double had been on a long hiatus of about six years since their original location on Kingsway, between Victoria and Nanaimo, had burned down. Earlier this summer, Double Double had reopened at Empire Center in Richmond.
Since word has spread about their re-opening, their loyal customers from before have been coming in droves to check out their new location. When my friends organized a dinner there, we were lucky they accepted reservations as there would have been almost no way we would have managed to get a table for 10 people.
We started off with an order of the Salted Chinese Donut ($2.25). This donut was light and very crispy but the oil used to fry it could have been a bit fresher. I wouldn’t say it’s the most memorable Chinese donut I’ve ever had but it was certainly executed well.
We also tried an order of the Sweet Chinese Donut ($2.25). It was just ok. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of it as I found the texture to be a bit doughy and hard.
Next up was the Pan Fried Cuttle Fish Cake ($7.95). I enjoyed this dish thoroughly though I wish the outside crust would be more crispy. The cuttlefish cake was flavourful and had a nice spring to it.
My friends told me one of the items Double Double has been best known for is their Crispy Deep Fried Prawn Wonton ($7.50). Indeed, these wontons were tasty. They were plump with shrimp filling and crispy on the outside. I liked that they didn’t taste greasy at all.
We also tried another version of deep fried wontons, the Fried Wontons with Sweet and Sour Sauce ($8.50), which is often known in Cantonese as Kam Lo Wonton. I don’t actually think this dish is on Double Double’s menu but my friends managed to order it as it is a classic Hong Kong style dish. I enjoyed the accompanying sweet and sour sauce which contained meatballs, lychee, pineapple, and various vegetables such as red and green bell pepper chunks and water chestnuts though it wasn’t a traditional interpretation of the dish. Traditionally, the sauce includes onion, tomatoes, shrimp, squid, and pork liver though there are very few places that include these items any more. However, I thought the wonton component was a little lacking in substance since this version at Double Double actually only consists of deep-fried wonton wrappers without the slightest bit of filling at all. I’ve had this dish on various occasions in the past and the wontons always contained filling, even if it was just a tiny bit.
For a rice dish, we decided to try the Fook Chow Seafood Fried Rice ($13.95). This dish was well executed. I really enjoyed the contrasting textures and flavours.
My friends also ordered the Beef Fried Rice Noodle with Egg ($9.95). This isn’t a dish I order often so I can’t really compare. The dish was tasty though the presentation with the yellowish sauce wasn’t all that visually appealing.
Next up was the HK Style Crispy Minced Beef Congee ($13.50 for a big bowl; $4.99 for a small bowl). A large bowl was enough to feed our table of 9 since we had ordered all the other dishes. We each had a small bowl of the congee to try.This turned out to be one of my favourite items of the evening. The texture of this congee was quite interesting as it was almost gruel-like but it was very creamy and thick. It was unlike most of the other congee that I’ve had before. The minced beef was mixed with deep fried rice vermicelli which gave it the crispy texture.
Our first vegetable dish was the Stir Fried On Choy with Bean Curd Sauce ($7.95).
This dish was well executed and the vegetables were tender and flavourful.
We also tried the Green Beans with Spicy Minced Meat ($7.50). The green beans were fried perfectly and had just the right amount of crispness. The spicy minced meat was well-seasoned and flavourful. Though it wasn’t necessarily the most memorable fried green bean dish that I’ve ever had, it was certainly well-executed and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.
Lastly, we had a large order of the Golden Crispy Big Prawns with Salted Egg Yolk ($11.90 for medium; $16.90 for large). My biggest issue was that this dish took forever to arrive. In fact, we waited probably over an hour for it. We kept on telling our server and even the manager to go and check on the order on multiple occasions and they kept on telling us that the order was going to arrive soon. It was freshly prepared and still very hot when it arrived at our table. The prawns tasted fine but weren’t spectacular. I certainly didn’t think it was worth the hour-long wait for the dish to arrive.
In all honesty, the service we received on our first visit left a lot to be desired. The majority of the dishes came really quickly with the exception of the Golden Crispy Big Prawns with Salted Egg Yolk, which took over an hour to arrive. And we also had trouble flagging our server down for tea refills. We just chalked it up to them still trying to sort things out and get into the groove since the restaurant was still pretty new at that point and had only been open for a few weeks. If this was any other restaurant, I probably would not have had any desire to return. But I really enjoyed the HK Style Crispy Minced Beef Congee and I was also curious about some of the snack items such as the Wok-Fried Radish Cake with XO Sauce that we weren’t able to try on our first visit because they had sold out. I actually ended up going back to Double Double two more times during my stay in Vancouver. But the subsequent visits, I made sure to go at off peaks hours so I didn’t have to deal with line-ups or a packed restaurant. And the service at off-peak times was actually decent and not as chaotic.
On my second it visit, I went with my friend C. She wasn’t feeling well and wanted just a small bowl of Plain Congee ($2.25). I purposely went with a big bowl of the HK Style Crispy Minced Beef Congee ($13.50 for a big bowl; $4.99 for a small bowl) as I wanted to doggie bag the remainder for a snack later that evening. The HK Style Crispy Minced Beef Congee was as tasty as the version that I had on my first visit to Double Double the previous week. This time the congee was even garnished with fried peanuts and diced scallion.
The item I had been really looking forward to try was the Wok-Fried Radish Cake with XO Sauce ($5.50) since it was sold out on our first visit. Even though the name of the dish is similar, this preparation at Double Double is quite different from the Stir Fried Radish Cake in Spicy XO Sauce that I had at Good Choice Restaurant previously. Personally, though this version was tasty, I preferred the version from Good Choice more since they cube the radish cake, which leaves for more surface area to be fried and become crispy.
Also, we tried the Salt & Pepper Silverfish ($7.50). This version from Double Double was flavourful and super crunchy. It was the perfect topping for our congee. I did find that it was a tad on the greasy side.
Overall, I thought Double Double is really good value for the price as the portions were pretty generous. Most of the dishes we tried were well executed and tasty. I think the standouts were definitely the deep fried items such as the Crispy Prawn Wontons. My only recommendation is to go at off peak hours to avoid the line-ups and the chaotic service. Double Double is definitely a place I will keep on returning to if I’m look for casual comfort food at a reasonable price.
#128, 4600 No. 3 Road