By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
Many Chinese Seattleites visit British Columbia, Canada in search of great Chinese food, even though it’s a three-hour drive. Gone are the days when I would drive enthusiastically for hours just for one meal. In the past five years, I have been there only twice to see friends.
Of course, a wonderful meal is often a side benefit. Why waste the opportunity?
Out of the blue, I was in Canada on July 2. And the search for good Chinese food during our five-hour stay in B.C. was actually eventful because I had not been there in a while.
I received a surprising email — the first email from a friend from high school this year. She and I share a terrible reputation — being the shortest email writers. But this time, it was a fairly long email, giving me information about how she had reconnected with other classmates. The other surprise was that she had just arrived in Surrey, B.C.
Before I knew it, my husband and I drove to Canada to see her at White Rock Beach, close to the border. Her family wanted to surf and paddle board there.
“Let’s meet outside Moby Dick Restaurant at the Beach,” I emailed back. We didn’t know anything about the restaurant. It just popped up when my husband googled the beach.
The traffic was smooth on I-5 when we left before 11 a.m. The only bad part was at the border — a 35-minute wait.
The weather was pleasant and sunny. The azure sky with picturesque white clouds seemed to be painted with an artist’s brush, splashing some white paint randomly, resulting in shapes of a phoenix and dragon. I regretted that I didn’t take a picture. But then, my camera would not have done justice to the actual beauty of the scene. This was not the first time I had seen wonders of the B.C. sky. I am sorry to admit that B.C. skies are often more charming than those in Washington state. It’s not fair.
White Rock Beach
Only 10 minutes from the border, White Rock Beach is a spectacular beach, especially at low tide. People can walk far out past the beach. Lots of people were enjoying picnics.
The lengthy beach trail from one end to the other was nicely built with bricks. I wouldn’t mind vacationing there, watching the ocean tides come and go during the day. Had my classmate’s family not suggested this place, I would not have discovered this piece of treasure at all.
After our walk, we wondered if we should eat at Moby Dick.
What we saw was a lot of deep-fried seafood from table to table. Hey, I didn’t come to B.C. to have fish and chips!
All the coastal restaurants served nothing but deep-fried stuff.
We checked out the three Chinese restaurants nearby. They were all disappointing — serving very spicy stuff. Both my friend and I balked at those dishes.
“Do you want to go to Richmond, B.C.?” my husband asked.
“How far is it from the beach?” I asked.
“19 miles,” he replied. “We drove over 130 miles from Seattle, so 19 miles is not that much.”
“You go where you want to eat,” she said.
It was 3 p.m. We hadn’t eaten lunch yet, only sharing half a hamburger on the way.
“Ok, let’s go to Richmond,” I said.
“Hey, there’s a Teochew restaurant (serving a famous regional Chinese cuisine) on a strip mall,” I said with excitement, arriving in Richmond. But the restaurant was closed.
You could imagine my disappointment when we saw the note on the door, “Closed 3–5 p.m.” I looked at the time; it was 3:30 p.m. We were really hungry and couldn’t wait any longer.
“Why don’t we go to Aberdeen Center? There are a lot of restaurants,” I suggested. What we found was that several nice Chinese restaurants were closed till 5 or 5:30 p.m. It really proved that I had not been to B.C. for a while.
A guy from Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant, inside Aberdeen Center, said, “You can go to the food court. They are open.”
Hey, I didn’t come to Richmond for fast food either!
“We don’t know (which restaurant opens),” said two staff members from Aberdeen’s information center, who stood there and did nothing to help us. They should learn from Nordstrom, which goes out of its way to help customers.
Luckily, the restaurant below the Fisherman’s Terrace caught my classmate’s eye. Why didn’t the information desk say something about Dinesty?
At 4 p.m., we dined at Dinesty, enjoying one of the best Shanghai Chinese dim sum I’ve had in a long time. Less than five minutes after we ordered, drunken chicken and jellyfish heads were served on our table. Seven minutes later, we tasted one of the best steamed pork soup dumplings, which were $5.95 for six. Quickly, the other dishes such as chicken soup, green onion cake, and pan-friend radish sliced cake came. With dessert, the whole bill came to $41+ CAD ($31). No Seattle restaurant can beat that price for such a good meal.
It’s hard to believe that we had leftovers to take home. It’s so good, I hated to waste it.
The customs officer asked us if we brought back any fruits and veggies. It’s neither a fruit nor vegetable but I forgot to declare the chicken. Generally, cooked poultry, if not from a country affected with various diseases such as Avian influenzea are admissible.
My mantra is, “Never leave B.C. without a fantastic Chinese meal.” Only this time, I got a refreshing walk on the beach with a friend, and an amazing Shanghai meal, instead of Cantonese food.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.