Westview Oriental Restaurant

The North Shore has always been a wasteland when looking for good Asian restaurants. Growing up and living in North Vancouver, the Spicy Steve family has always ventured across the great divide into Vancouver when in search of good Asian eats. The North Shore was the sole domain of "Canadian Chinese" restaurants until the more recent addition of several Indian, Thai and Vietnamese establishments. But despite this upgrading, there was still no decent place for either Hong Kong style cuisine or my beloved dim sum. That was until I discovered the Westview Oriental Restaurant in the Westview Shopping Plaza; one exit west of Lonsdale off the Trans Canada and a stones throw from where I grew up off Delbrook Avenue. Ironic eh!

I approached this restaurant with trepidation at the behest of my new side kick, Juicy Judy. Apparently Judy and her parents, the esteemed Wongs of the British Properties, had discovered this restaurant under previous management as one of the local spots to dine, albeit a very mediocre choice when compared to the copious selection of fine Chinese restaurants across the bridge in Vancouver. This all changed recently with the entry of new owners, Queenie and Steven Ngan. Armed with previous experience in running restaurants aimed at the Chinese market, they brought in a highly trained staff of Hong Kong chefs to offer not only Hong Kong Style Cantonese cuisine but also Szechuan and the North Shore's only dim sum which is freshly made daily on the premises.

Yes, a major transformation took place; however, old habits die hard and the bulk of diners are still ordering the staple Canadian Chinese regulars on the menu and this local crowd also fuels a roaring take-out business. But slowly and surely the Hong Kong Style and Szechuan cuisine is taking a foothold as Queenie and Steven educate and introduce their patrons to the new flavours one table at a time. Daily dim sum, in particular, is growing in popularity while a loyal Korean crowd is frequenting the restaurant for one of the signature dishes, "The House Special Spicy Crab". The best is yet to come as a newer clientele starts to venture off the beaten path and explore and savour new culinary sensations in suburban North Vancouver.

Dim Sum Delights

The dim sum at Westview Oriental is really quite good and I have eaten it more than several times now. It is certainly the best on the North Shore and now alleviates the issue for my family of always having to travel over the bridge for my regular dose of dim sum. The age old regulars such as Har Gow (Prawn Dumplings) and Siew Mai (Pork Dumplings) are both done well here as are the spinach and scallop dumplings and just about everything else. At Dim Sum I do prefer steamed dishes as it is healthier; however, I can never resist the salty deep fried squid. The chefs at Westview Oriental have been consistent all three times in preparing absolutely excellent deep fried squid. It was the right colour, not too oily and not over cooked like so many other places. Even my wife, Tasty Trish, was won over by this dish which we devour along with copious amounts of chili sauce and white pepper.

Juicy Judy and I recently dined with a fellow food industry colleague from Singapore; a place they know good food. Our colleague was suitably impressed with his dim sum and raved in particular about the crispiness of the deep fried tofu. You can't go far wrong if you want a decent dim sum which is freshly made in a day when many serve frozen pre-made dim sum. Dim sum dishes are priced at $2.75, $3.25 and $3.75. And don't forget the egg tarts with flaky pastry and Queenie's own mango pudding. I have to fight my kids over them. They are both excellent ways to end off a great dim sum outing.

There are Two Paths to Dinner

The first option at Westview Oriental Restaurant is a dinner of Canadian Chinese classics such as Beef with Broccoli, Chop Suey and Sweet & Sour Pork. However, I'm here to tell you about the "other menu items" which include Spicy Kung Pao Chicken, a Szechuan favourite along with the Ginger Beef and Szechuan Prawns. There are Hong Kong classics like Sea Bass steamed with Ginger & Green Onion, Hot Pots, Chow Fun noodles and lots of great vegetable choices. There is also Peking Duck and Shanghai noodles; all done very well.

The highlight however, is the House Special Spicy Crab. This dish is right up there on Spicy Steve's top favourites. I have eaten spicy crab dishes many different ways and the one served here is a winner. It has zing and plenty of flavour without blowing your socks off; a perfect blend of spice and heat. The lobster I had was also a real winner. It was prepared in a classic subtle Cantonese style that enhanced the delicate flavour of the lobster meat.

If you go with a group of ten or more you can order a pre-set Hong Kong style Chinese banquet menu for any occasion. You have to ask for this menu and don't get it confused with the "Family Dinners" on the main menu which are all old Canadian Chinese Classics. They're fine for comfort food but time to move on folks, culinary speaking that is, and explore new food frontiers. All groups of 10 or more dining a la carte or with the banquet menu receive some extra special presentation in the plating of their dishes which adds a nice touch to any dinner or special occasion. The Westview Oriental is a definite must try for all North Shore residents who love Chinese food. If you're not from the North Shore and you are coming back from the ferry, it's a great stop off point for dinner on the way home.

Make sure you tell them Spicy Steve sent you and that will hopefully keep the chefs on their toes and you will experience the same kind of enjoyable meals I have. Let me know if you don't. And don't be afraid to ask questions or make special requests. I always do and it usually ends in a much more fulfilling dining experience. So promise me you'll drop the Chop Suey and Egg Foo Young, pick up those chop sticks, and try some dim sum and Hong Kong or spicy Szechuan style Chinese food for a change. Whichever way you decide, the Westview Oriental is sure to satisfy your suburban needs and add a new twist to a good night out at the local Chinese.