I spent some quality time with my grandparents last week while Sav is gone. Very typical Chinese, we went for Dim Sum cause most Chinese elderly not just enjoy it as food, but enjoy it as an activity. If you don’t know about the history about going to a “teahouse” and having Dim Sum… Do spend a little time googling about it! But to be brief, Dim Sum is an activity in the past. People go to “teahouse” to read their newspaper, gossip chit-chat, have food…And believe it or not, many people use to bring their pet bird in their cage to show off their bird’s ability to sing. It is a place for gathering. As it moves along time, it is pretty much seen as a family reunion place where they can hang out and enjoy food together. Dim Sum means “a little bit of heart.” Usually when I explain it to people what Dim Sum is, I say it is pretty much a little bit of every snack they have, I don’t see it as a meal. That is also why Dim Sum is only a morning or lunch thing.
I went to a lot of Dim Sum place with my grandparents, but this time they brought me to somewhere new. Continental Seafood Restaurant is located on Cambie Road in Richmond. Apparently, they recieved a lot of awards through out their years of business. The first thing I see are certificates all over the wall.
I was very excited when I got in cause I saw something that is very less found nowadays. The special thing about the restuarant is they still use those food carts that goes all around the room at a “teahouse.”
It is a significance for Dim Sum. They use to push these food carts around the room and yelling out the food names they have in their cart. Then you yell for an order so they would stop and serve your food. But due to expensive land and space in Asia, you don’t see these carts in “teahouses” very often anymore. Most “teahouse” use paper and pen and make you “tick” your orders. This could save their production cost and could solve the not enough space problem. Even you still see food carts, most restaurants only perform a half half style. Which means they provide you paper and pen to order and only have a few carts in the restaurant that don’t carry a lot of choices. Continental Seafood Restaurant however is a very big restaurant. I’m so glad the whole time in this “teahouse” was served by food carts only. It brings back a lot of memory.
There was only three of us, so we couldn’t order a lot of food. If Sav was here, we could had order up to 10-12 Dim Sum
Loi Mai Gai – Known as sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. Lotus leaf here acts like a kind of spice. It makes the sticky rice smells and taste much better after steaming them together. Inside the sticky rice, there is usually minced pork and Chinese black mushroom. It depends on the restaurant. Some put more expensive ingredients in it. Like dried shrimp and scallop.
Other than Dim Sum, the Continental is famous for their Siu Mei. Siu Mei is usually a take out food or a lunch box food that is BBQ based. Food like BBQ pork (cha siu), roasted pork with crispy skin (siu yuk), roasted goose or duck, etc. My grandfather claimed that they have the best BBQ pork within Vancouver, B.C.. So he ordered a take-out BBQ pork and a plate of roasted pork with crispy skin as a Dim Sum for me to try.
Haha.. Sorry it is kind of weird that there is only one BBQ pork on my plate. Cause my grandfather told me a trick. He said, ordering a take out is around $13-14 which would fill up the lenght of a take-out box. But if you order it as a restaurant, they would only give you 6-7 pieces, at most 10 which would cost $6-7. Of course, if you had to eat it hot and tasty you should still order it while you are having Dim Sum. Cause when it goes cold and you had to heat it up again, it won’t taste as good as it would been. I had to sneak into the take out box and tried my piece. lol.
The take-out place for Siu Mei lunch boxes or it self is another section that is right next to the Dim Sum restaurant.
The fun part of the restaurant is that after Dim Sum hours, they turn the place into a dancing platform while people enjoy their dinner there. People can move out to the dance floor and enjoy themselves while the live band plays and sing classic music. I did not experience that part of the Continental. But I can ensure you that they are not doing live jazz band or something. It should be a classic Chinese thing.
Finally, if you’re wondering this great place would cost you a lot? Well, I personally think it was okay, a little more towards the expensive side but I won’t claim it is overpriced and not worth the bill. We had 7 Dim Sum and they are around $4-5 each. The way Chinese restaurant bills is that they calculate the “tea price” which is $1 for each person. That is for the tea leaves from your tea. Traditionally this is how it is explained but I usually see that as a service fee.
Sorry for not mentioning this. A traditional way to count what you ate or took from the cart is that they divide them into S/M/L size, Special and Extra size Dim Sum. Small will cost less and extra/special will cost more. After you get a Dim Sum from the food cart, the lady/man will give you a stamp or cross out a box like the top left picture above.
About the service. I won’t say much. When you go in for Dim Sum, you don’t expect service. If you found serivce, that means your Dim Sum place is a commercialized tourist attraction point that sells overpriced food. All I can say, this is one Dim Sum place that makes me happy. I’ll definetly visit again when Sav comes back.
If you have any questions about this place, please don’t hesitate to ask me!
Details about Continental Seafood Restaurant: