We spent the first half of the day checking out a couple Vancouver neighbourhoods, Granville Island and Chinatown. Breakfast was a smoked meat-filled bagel from Siegel’s Bagels at the Granville Island market. The market was full of offerings from local providers including amazing produce from the area’s farmers. It was exotic to our eyes and utterly beautiful.
After breakfast, we continued on outside the market and checked out a cute dog and cat place that specializes in home made, baked on the premises dog goodies. Yes, everybody is getting spoiled!.
Chinatown is next in our tooling about. Friday finds the streets full and bustling with shoppers. We soak up the streets as we move towards the Chinese Cultural Center where the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens are housed in an old, tile topped, walled courtyard. The gardens are lush and mossy. Silent and peaceful. Magnolias, bamboo, Japanese maples shade pathways and over hang a pond afloat with lilypads in flower. Koi cruise coloufully under the surface. Chinese structures artfully frame views. As we continue on, we are asked to pay a small fee to center a more manicured garden, hung with classic red lanterns, paved with intricate stone tiles and home to several bonsai treasures. The Gardens are truly memorable.
Peaceful is an unassuming, Northern Chinese hallway of a joint on Broadway. Not technically Chinatown, but Guy Fieri has enticed us away with his ravings over the beef roll here. We find street parking and forget to drop a twoonie in the meter, for which we will pay handsomely later. The restaurant is jam packed at 1 pm this Friday. We are lucky to be seated right away. Hot complimentary red and green blended tea lands immediately on the table. The place oozes 1970 Chinese restaurant ambiance, that is to say, none whatsoever. Clearly, they focus on really good food, not decor. The menu has 49 items on it including soup, noodle dishes and a variety of steamed and pan fried goodies. We would like to try a few things and as we gaze around at other tables, we note that portion sizes are quite generous. We settle on three things to share: Peaceful House Noodles, Beef Rolls and Steamed Pan-Fried Pork Bao Buns. Peaceful has no diet soda so we ask for ice water, which arrives quickly sans ice.
Our noodles arrive first. Delicious handmade noodles bathed in a sweet soy chili sauce, just hot enough for a slow burn and complimentary enough not to drown out the delicate seafood and pork in the dish. The noodles are the star of this dish and are quite unmanageable without cutting up or doing a rendition of Lady and the Tramp if sharing.
Pacing of the dishes at Peaceful is very well done. About a minute after finishing our noodles, the beef rolls are presented. Flaky, pan-fried scallion pancakes are spread with a hoisin and sweet bean paste and then covered with house made roast beef shank which has been braised with star anise, hunan chili, bay leaf, cinnamon, fennel, cardamom, green onion, rock sugar, salt, pepper, dark and light soy and cooking wine, and then rolled jelly roll style. They are everything Guy said they would be – crispy, sweet and delectable. They were like beefy, savoury cinnamon rolls — layers of anise-laden beef and sweet hoisin and crispy, scallion-laced pancake. Shortly another couple was seated beside us and asked us a few questions about our meal. Turns out they were also from Ottawa and had come specifically for the beef rolls.
Our final dish arrived. The bao was fine but not spectacular. Heavy on the dough with minced pork inside, served with a soy dip. Minced pork tends to be a little pasty and I’m not fond of the texture. The pan-fried bottom was a tad tough. They were perfectly okay, but not nearly as wonderful as our other two dishes.
With full belly and happy mouth we head back to the hotel to relax before an evening of comedy. And to pay a parking ticket.