If you go looking for a good sunset, you’ll rarely find it. If you go looking for an HK-style café on River Road around 4:30pm, however, you could be treated to this!
Yesterday I was on my way to eat at Seaview Café, which is not far from the UBC boathouse, and just north of The Oval. I didn’t have my bike (too much black ice lately for my liking), so I was walking on the trail that runs for kilometres along the river. Turns out, I’d gone in search of food at just the right time.
The sky was bright, the mountains were clear, and the water was calm as the sun began to set. I stood and watched it for a good long while, feeling grateful to live near water, and glad I’d brought a toque and mittens. The sky looked rosy and warm, but it was cold out.
I eventually pulled myself away and set about finding Seaview, which is located in an unlikely place – the second storey of a river-facing building in an industrial area.
I climbed the stairs and reached the door, only to discover they’re closed for Christmas break. Gaaaaaaaaaah. Fortunately, I’d gotten to enjoy that outrageously pink sunset, so the trip didn’t seem an entire waste.
Since there are no other restaurants in the area, I began an aimless walk north, eventually finding myself at the intersection of Cambie and No. 3 Road. I decided I’d give the Hong Kong restaurant in Aberdeen Centre a try; it’s called ABC Café, and is located just down from Chef Hung, Northern Delicacy, and Guu.
As usual, there were multiple menus to look through, many of which offered various grill, pasta, or soup combos that allow you to pick your meat, sauce, rice/noodle/broth base, and drink.
As I snapped a photo of the menu, a server saw me and came over to tell me sternly “no photos,” which in 211 days hasn’t happened to me once! I felt like a naughty student being reprimanded at school (fyi, I was the type of child who hated getting in trouble, and avoided it at all costs). I tucked my camera away and guiltily took a few photos with my phone, terrified with each tap of the screen I’d get in trouble again and be asked to leave. My goody two shoe sensibilities were completely rattled!
Anyway, once I’d collected myself, I had a proper look at the menu. Since there was an entire section dedicated to marinated ‘Chao Zhou Style’ dishes, I figured I should try one.
I came across a website offering a good description of this regional cuisine:
Chaozhou’s cuisine, which bears similarities to Fujian’s delicate and tender flavours, little use of oil and emphasis on poaching, steaming and braising dishes. Uses of broths and soups are also popular in Teochew cooking, such as the special stock called “Superior broth”, a rich umami-laden broth made from Jinhua ham and chicken; as the popular local saying goes, “One broth [can be made into] ten forms” (－湯十變).
Based on the dish I tried (the marinated half duck, Chao Zhou Style for $11.95) this description was bang-on. The duck skin and meat were dark brown from their marinade – a sweet, savoury, and complex soy-based sauce – and while the dish was rich and incredibly flavourful, it wasn’t at all greasy.
The second dish I tried was the pan-fried black cod with eggplant in hot pot ($11.95). After I ordered it, my server returned to tell me it would actually be halibut, not black cod, and I said that was okay. It arrived sizzling hot, and I requested a side of rice to go with it.
Just like the pan-fried halibut we ordered at Empire Seafood Restaurant, this fish didn’t seem pan-fried at all. Rather, it seemed breaded and deep-fried, with the greasiness and flavour of this style of preparation affecting the whole dish. The eggplant was nice and tender, but it was oily, and I couldn’t really taste the fish, just its batter. I wasn’t a fan of this hot pot.
So, my recommendation is this: if you’re in Aberdeen Centre and wishing to try something new (that is, if you’re not familiar with Chinese cuisine), I’d suggest going to ABC and ordering a dish from their Chao Zhou Style menu. I can’t really vouch for anything else, but the duck is definitely worth a try.
Also worth a try? Capturing one of these cotton candy-spun skies. According to the interwebs, sunset is a-go today at 4:27pm. Bundle up, and good luck!
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available