While it is certainly arguable that the Taiwanese food in Vancouver isn’t as good as the Taiwanese food in Taipei, there are many great eateries in and around Vancouver that come pretty darn close. One such establishment is Ali Shan Restaurant, located inside Crystal Mall in the Metrotown area of Burnaby. Presumably named after the natural area in Taiwan that is perhaps best known for its tea, this casual eatery is Taiwanese through and through.
Susanne and I decided to give this place a shot, having heard good things. We ended up having to wait over half an hour for a table in this relatively small restaurant, but it was a Saturday night.
Deep Fried Chicken Nuggets ($4.20)
We started with this appetizer (which is also available as part of a $7.50 set menu entree). They use the same kind of breading and seasoning as the Hot Star XL Fried Chicken at Shilin Night Market in Taipei, but in more of a nugget form.
The meat was tender, but some of the pieces were a little too large. As such, some people might say that the chicken is lacking in crunch. They also didn’t “toss” the chicken in the spices, simply sprinkling on the seasoning instead. I had no complaints about that, though I would have preferred more crispiness from the outside.
Omelette Rice and Deep Fried Pork Chop with Curry Sauce ($8.20)
Unlike the Japanese style curry at Aoyama Cafe in Aberdeen Centre, this one is served with omelette rice (or “omurice,” if you prefer). I thought it was a nice touch that they flavored the rice rather than serving plain white rice inside the omelette. The mushrooms on the outside were cold, unfortunately, but the tonkatsu was crisp. I just wish there was more sauce to go around.
Spicy Beef Noodle in Soup ($6.90)
There’s not much that is quite as satisfying as a good bowl of piping hot noodles. You can choose between wide noodle (shown here) and thin noodle, the latter of which really isn’t all that thin; it’s what you would normally expect from a Taiwanese beef noodle soup, meaning that it’s just a touch thicker than ramen or about the same as lai fun. While there was plenty of beef, the broth wasn’t spicy enough to be called spicy.
All in all, Ali Shan Restaurant in Burnaby is a solid choice if you want your share of some Taiwanese fare. They also offer hot pot, Korean bibimbap, and more, all at very reasonable prices. The meals are served with your choice of soup or sweet tea too. I’m not sure that it’s worth a 30+ minute wait, but it beats having dinner at a bubble tea place.