Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House - World-class Chinese food at good prices

I’ve always had a soft spot for Chinese food; it’s tasty to the point of being addictive, satisfying without being too filling, and varied enough that everyone can find something they like. I imagine that more than a few people share this opinion and will be looking for some nice, reasonably priced Chinese to sample during their Olympic visit, possibly even for some good delivery. Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House is a well kept secret that more than meets any expectations you and your stomach may have!

About the restaurant: Lin’s (as it’s known for short) is situated near Broadway and Granville, a major transit hub for the majority of Vancouver; as such, it’s very easy to get to, and several buses stop right outside. The décor is… well, it’s nothing to write home about, really, just simple and rose-colored walls. The plates are really pretty though!

The service is very friendly, with plenty of smiles and an almost maternal fussing, but it does have its problems. One is that they often forget things like drinks. I usually order water only to see it appear fifteen minutes later, with a sheepish, “Sorry, I forgot about your water.” We even had a forgotten dish once or twice. To be fair, they usually do remember and are very apologetic, but be prepared to offer a few gentle reminders. The other thing I’ve noticed is that a few of the waiters and waitresses do not speak English very well, and have a rather thick accent that can be difficult to understand. I’ve never found it to be a problem when eating in at the restaurant, but have experienced difficulty over the phone when ordering delivery. In the end, though, a bit of patience and careful listening is all that’s needed.

The food: Lin’s has all the things you would expect to see in a Chinese restaurant, such as sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken, chow mein, and ginger beef; what sets it apart is the sauces and texture. Deep-fried items like the sweet and sour pork is very crispy, and both the meat and vegetables are tender. The sauces linger on the tongue and offer a subtle sweetness that perfectly balances the dish. Steamed items like dim sum are also very popular. Besides the regular items,  there are also some meals that seem less mainstream but more authentic; for example, there are plenty of stews and hot pots that seem like they could come from the family table. I particularly like the spicy tofu hot pot and the Happy Family Hot Pot, a warm and subtle broth containing seasoned meatballs, wonton, tender cabbage and bacon. The first time we ordered it, the waitress looked surprised and said, “Are you sure? It’s a very Chinese dish.” We persevered and found it absolutely delicious; we think you will too!

Also worth a mention is another major offering of Lin’s: bubble tea. For those who aren’t aware, bubble tea is a sweet, milky drink in a variety of flavors that comes with or without “pearl”… small tapioca balls that usually sink to the bottom, ready to be sucked up via straw. The tapioca balls are tasteless, but the texture is an acquired taste with as many detractors as fans; if you’re unsure, try the tea without pearl.

My favourites:  Hot and sour soup, sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken, green onion pancakes, Happy Family Hot Pot.

Cost: Obviously, the cost varies wildly based on what you order, but the average price for most non-rice or noodle dishes seems to work out at about $13. If you order take-out or delivery, you can get combination dinners; dinner for 2 is $27 while dinner for 3 is $39, and it goes up from there.

Take-out?: Yes. Not only that, but you receive 10% off take out orders if you phone ahead!

Delivery?:  Yes! Not only that, but the delivery is free with any order over $20. However, as of writing, Lin’s cannot confirm delivery during the Olympics due to road closures in Vancouver. I will update as I find more information, but in the meantime, be sure to call ahead and confirm.

Licensed?:  No.

Location(s):  Lin’s is on Broadway between Fir and Granville. Link to Google Maps.

Website and menus: Here (menu is for takeout and thus not complete; the sitdown menu has more dishes available).

Summary: I’m not the only one singing the praises of Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House; it’s even getting some national and international attention, as is the general high quality of Chinese food in Vancouver. During the Olympics, make the time to try some. You won’t be disappointed!

Lin Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon


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