Chang’An is a Chinese fine dining restaurant in Downtown Vancouver right under the Granville Bridge. The restaurant was opened by China Folks Restaurant Group and named Chang’An after an ancient capital in China, which we know today as Xi’an China. This is their first restaurant outside of China. Chang’An focuses on Shanxi cuisine, derived from the cooking styles of Shanxi Province in Northern China where you would find noodles, flatbread, and other dishes with heavy use of vinegar and hot spices.
- First authentic Chinese restaurant in Vancouver to join OpenTable
- 2015 winner of Chinese Restaurant Awards Diners’ Choice for ‘Best Fine Dining’
Once you walk inside, you will instantly notice the decor. This isn’t your normal everyday Chinese restaurant. They cater towards affluent newcomers from Mainland China. As the first high-end Chinese restaurant in Downtown Vancouver, more will open up in the future to cater to those people.
As a middle-class Chinese born Canadian, this is not a place I would usually think of dining at. When ChineseBites invited me to attend a 21 course feast here, how could I say no?
We all started with a drink to kick off the evening. I went with a white wine from Oyster Bay.
Guo Kui Pita 鍋盔 came as a complimentary appetizer instead of bread like in Western restaurants. The pita is on the dried side with a crisp exterior. You eat it with the spicy bean mixture in the bowl.
Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨 is their specialty item and you must order in advance. Only A-grade ducks are selected and processed for 72 hours. Then it is roasted in-house for over an hour.
Chang’an schedules the cooking process according to your time of reservation to ensure ideal tenderness of the meat and crispness of the skin.
The chef comes out to cut up the duck skin on top of the beautiful duck plates.
The first dish is the duck skin with sugar. The crispy skin and the sugar work surprisingly well together.
With the other duck meat, it comes with hand-made flour wrappers, which you will turn into delicious duck wraps.
They also come with hoisin sauce with cucumbers or strawberry sauce with pears. The strawberry sauce and pear was a weird combination for me, so I stuck with the hoisin and cucumbers.
Mmmmm all wrapped up and ready to go into my belly.
The meat is just so good! You can’t go wrong with this dish. At $88 for the duck, it was prepared very well and I like the effort of having it roasted in-house and ready when you arrive. It is definitely more expensive than other restaurants.
An assorted appetizer plate arrived with:
- Tossed Cilantro, Scallion & Red Peanut Salad 陕西大拌菜
- Marinated Mushroom 迷你小香菇
- Crispy Beef Tongue 脆皮牛舌
- Honey Grapefruit Spare Ribs 西柚蜜汁糖醋排
The marinated mushroom had a delicious savoury flavour. I could keep on eating these since I love mushrooms. Tossed Cilantro, Scallion & Red Peanut Salad was ok, it was nice to have the freshness of the cilantro. Honey Grapefruit Spare Ribs had a nice sweet sauce and the meat was tender. The crispy beef tongue was pretty bad since it was mushy and oily. I would have just preferred the slices of tongue without any breading.
Braised Sea Cucumber 長安蔥燒海參 is braised for 48 hours with 20 different herbs and spices. What’s great about sea cucumbers is that it takes on the flavours of the marinade to really intensify the flavour. Sea cucumbers on its own really tastes like plain jelly. The herbs and spices really elevate this dish. They don’t have a great presentation because of its look. The dish is definitely an asian delicacy and isn’t cheap.
Imperial Hot & Sour Soup 回坊酸辣湯 is presented in an ornate golden bowl served with a Chinese donut.
The first couple of sips were good, but as time went on, it turned out quite spicy due to the intense amount of white pepper. I couldn’t even finish it.
House Special Fried Chili Lobster 香辣龍蝦 has a beautiful presentation and I did like this dish. The lobster was very tender and I enjoyed the sauce they had with it. There was a lot of dried peppers in the dish, but it wasn’t very hot. What was interesting about this dish is that there were crinkle-cut fries on top. A bit odd since you don’t normally see fries in Chinese dishes.
Chang’an Gourd Chicken 長安一品葫蘆雞 is deep-fried to crispy perfection. They cut the chicken up for the entire table so its easier to serve.
Szechwan Peppercorn Sliced Beef 鮮椒木桶肥牛 also has enoki mushroom and tofu noodles in it. It’s hidden under the pile of beef. The flavours were nice but it would be good if it was spicier.
Sweet & Sour Lychee & Prawns 貴妃荔枝蝦球 had a super crisp and tough pastry sell that held most of the nuts, prawns and lychee. It was ok, but it didn’t wow me.
Qin Style Roast Lamb Leg 秦味烤羊腿 came on a 2-tier plate with the lamb on top and the flat bread on the bottom.
There were good flavours in the lamb and the crisp flat bread with sesame seeds went well together and you can pile lots of the lamb on top.
Three Sauce Noodle 三合一臊子扯麵 has minced beef, tomato, egg, celery, carrot, potato and tofu.
Biang Biang Noodles 油潑辣子麵 has Shaanxi special hot chili sauce with thick hand-made noodles. I liked this one more than the three sauce noodle.
Braised Whole Chili & Spring Onion Cod 蔥椒魚 was really good. One of the better dishes of the bunch. The cod was tender and the broth had a delicious taste with a kick of chili.
Pork Belly Mini Sliders 老陝臘汁肉夾饃 is presented on the plate with an old man figurine. The pork belly is stewed in slow heat in a sauce containing over 20 spices and ingredients added to it, such as clove, nutmeg, ginger and cooking wine. The bun isn’t as soft as it’s a bit crisp on the outside.
King Mushroom Casserole 石板菌菇 looks like a pile of mushrooms. Can’t go wrong with mushrooms.
5 Spice Duck Ribs 椒鹽鴨架 is the 2nd part of the roasted duck. Alternatively, you can order noodle in duck soup. I felt it was a bit dry and its deep-fried.
Yellow Bean Cake, Red Bean Cake 豌豆黃, 紅豆年糕 ended the night.
With all the dishes I tried at Chang’An, I still felt like it was pretty average. The only dishes that stood out for me out of the 21 dishes were the duck dishes and the Braised Whole Chili & Spring Onion Cod. Since its more high-end and expensive that other Chinese restaurants, the taste hasn’t elevated to match the price. Of course, this restaurant isn’t marketed to people like me as I enjoy more casual dining.
We did get the dishes to be on the mild side, but I wonder if there would be a significant change in taste if it was more spicy.
We Rate Chang’An:
1661 Granville St, Vancouver, BC