Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

Growing up, Chinese pastries and baked goods were a staple in my household. I have had my fair share of BBQ Pork Buns, Pineapple Buns, Egg Tarts and Cocktail Buns for breakfast and the random snack. There have been many debates over who produces the best baked Chinese goods in metro Vancouver, but up until recently, there was almost a consensus for the best Pineapple Bun – Lido in Richmond. Served warm from the oven with a slice of cold butter stuffed in the middle, the pineapple buns at Lido are drool-worthy. However, AAA Restaurant on Alexandra Road (8053 Alexandra Road) has been offering up worthy competition with their pineapple buns straight from the oven. We decided to drop by to see if this was really the case.

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

Let’s get right to the main event – the Pineapple Bun with a slice of cold butter. Immediately, it was clear that the topping was the best thing about the bun. It was crispy, light and appealingly sweet and buttery. Relying on memory, I would say this was more substantial than Lido. However, the bun itself was more yeasty and chewy. The bun was served semi-warm, so that might’ve had something to do with it. I wonder if a fresh-out-of-oven bun would’ve been more soft and fluffy.

For an upcharge, the bun was part of the breakfast Combo A which included Sausage and Eggs (actually a hot dog wiener – as per usual for a HK-style cafe). I found the eggs to be fluffy in some parts with rubbery edges. The wiener was a wiener, but the design at one end was interesting – it looked like a banana from Mario Kart.

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

The second part of the combo was an enormous bowl of Ham & Macaroni in Soup. The soup was fairly mild, but the generous amount of ham added enough salt content to flavour the whole bowl. The only negative part of the bowl was the macaroni, as it was certainly past al dente. On the other hand, it wasn’t mushy either. Continuing on the soupy theme, we got a Hong-Kong Style Congee as well. Consisting of the classic ingredients of pig stomach, pig skin and squid, this was a hearty concoction. The broth itself was fairly thick but not overly smooth nor broken down. It was more home-style in terms of texture and taste. Mind you, there was enough seasoning for impact, unlike a home-made version.

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

On the side, we chose the Daikon Radish Cake (Lo Bak Goh) which was nicely fried up with a caramelized sear on the outside. Texturally, it was on the denser and powdery side, yet that wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. Beyond the crispy and aromatic exterior, the daikon cake needed more seasoning and/or Chinese cured sausage. Mind you, with some hot sauce, none of this would matter. Lastly, we had the Wonton Lo Mein that featured chewy noodles that were on point. The small wontons were also quite good, being a combination of a whole small shrimp (that had a nice sweet snap) and moist pork.

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

Now, we couldn’t just have the Pineapple Bun at AAA without comparing it to the gold standard, Lido Restaurant. That I did where I scarfed down a Bo Loh Yau (Cantonese for Pineapple Bun with butter), even though I had plenty of food coming.

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

Just by appearance alone, the topping on the bun at Lido was smaller and slightly thinner, yet equally sweet and crispy. Texturally, it was tad softer, but that could’ve been that it was warmer than the one from AAA. In general, they are both good and very similar. As to which one I prefer, I’m going to disappoint you by saying that both are excellent and I would not have a problem with either. Not a definitive answer, but it was really that close.

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

We couldn’t leave by just eating one Bo Lo Yau, so we got 2 HK-style cafe classics: the Baked Spaghetti Bolognese and Baked Pork Chop Rice – favourites of fellow writer Michael Kwan. Although the spaghetti was overcooked and bordering on too soft, the meat sauce on top made up for it. It was filled with tender nuggets of beef bathed in a flavourful and thick sauce. The flavours were balanced with the sweetness being restrained. As for the pork chop rice, the rice itself was also on the softer side. Again, the tomato sauce came to the rescue being the right viscosity and having a noticeable, yet not overwhelming tang. It was sweet enough, without being too much so. The piece of pork chop was cut into pretty big, tender pieces and cooked just right.

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

Looking at the menu, we decided to try their Pork Spareribs Clay Pot Rice, which required a 30 minute wait to prepare. Since they cooked it the traditional way right in the clay pot, the rice crust was nutty and not burnt. However, the rest of the rice could’ve been even drier. On top, the pieces of spare ribs were meaty and tender. They were well-seasoned and helped flavour the rice with a garlicky and soy saltiness.

Photo credit: Sherman Chan, Sherman’s Food Adventures

Lastly, we got the 3-Item Meal consisting of Japanese-Style Sirloin, Japanese-Style Ox-Tail and Chicken Steak atop spaghetti and served with soup. I guess the teriyaki-type sauce made this Japanese? Whatever the case, the sirloin was super tender and nicely glazed. The same could be said about the juicy chicken steak with rendered and crispy skin. The ox-tail was sliced a bit too thin for our liking though. So there you have it, visits to both AAA and Lido.

You really can’t go wrong with either and more specifically, the Pineapple Buns. There is a reason why they are similar though: The pastry chef at AAA used to work at Lido and the original recipe is being used at AAA!

Have you had a chance to try both? Let us know which you pineapple bun you prefer!