There is a restaurant along the sea wall, right below the Granville Bridge that might just be the most authentic Chinese restaurant in Vancouver. Chang ‘An Restaurant features Northern Chinese cuisine which is often perceived as large portioned of carbs. Although Chang ‘An Restaurant is considered fine dining by its price, the large portion food will have you walk away with a full stomach.
Strength: Good attention to detail, good service, good food, good view
Weakness: One of the most expensive Chinese restaurants
Located in the old Stone Grill building
This restaurant is located right on the seawall. It’s right below the Waterview, Vancouver Special Events and Wedding Venue. As you can see it is right below Granville bridge, and right across from the Granville Island.
The restaurant is above water
There is free parking right across from the building. That is something quite rare for downtown restaurants. The building is right above water so it feels like you’re surrounded by water when you are inside.
Chang ‘An has a modest entrance
The building looks grand, but Chang ‘An restaurant has a modest entrance facing the side. The small logo is the only indication of the restaurant.
Display kitchen right at the entrance
The first thing you see at the entrance is their awards. You can also see a small kitchen. Glass partition is used to display how the noodle dish was made. There is also a larger kitchen at the back of house area.
Contemporary and Oriental fusion in decor
The first thing I noticed when I entered Chang ‘An restaurant is how their interior space opens up as soon as I went past the display kitchen. Full height glazing framed the marina in its background. There are adjustable blinds all around to suit the different time of day. The next thing I noticed was the oriental decor. There is a black stand next to each table. These high stands feel like a separation between the table and aisles. They also made the table feel more private. Staffs use these stands as a transitional area. The lights look modern but have oriental concepts in them.
Staff are very attentive
We made a reservation for two. When we were brought to our table, there were only two chairs. I appreciate how they made my seat ready for me. I examined the space after sitting down. They made each table spacious. Each staff wore an electronic marquee name tags with their names rolling through. The staffs were very attentive. They came to pour us water constantly. When we ask for things to be packed up to go, they came to grab everything and packed them for us very clearly in a paper bag.
Napkins were folded interestingly
The attention to details was evident in many places. These interestingly folded napkins intrigued me. The tablewares are simple. The main plate was turquoise, the others were white. Some with interesting shapes like an oval-shaped plate with duck’s head on one side.
They use oriental lamps in place for Western candles. This is very fitting. Each customer gets a pre-packaged wet towel.
Complimentary Chinese Pita
Just like how you get fresh bread when you go to a Western restaurant. We have the Chinese version of free bread here. This type of Chinese thick pita is called “Guo Kui”, a common bread native to Shangxi, China. The sauce on the side is not really spicy, but it gives a good flavour to the bread.
Deep-Fried Egg tofu, Egg with Abalone Sauce
We ordered deep-fried egg tofu. It is served in a large bowl with a large lip on top of a narrow candle warmer. The presentation looks nice but it is not stable. The deep-fried egg tofu is quite sturdy. When I use to spoon to cut into it, sometimes the top portion would tilt.
Mushroom, Egg, and Abalone sauce in unison
The deep-fried egg tofu has a tough shell. Inside, is very yellowish tofu. They don’t crumble easily from the force of chopstick. I think the deep-fried exterior help holding them together. There are two types of mushroom in this dish. The mushrooms were carefully selected. None of the mushrooms have bloomed. As a result, the textures are fresh and crisp. The taste of eggs, mushrooms, and abalone sauce really complement each other.
Chang’An Roasted Duck with Table Service
I want to tell you a funny thing. There is a lot of restaurants in Vancouver with “Peking duck” on their menu. They can range from $30 to $100, but 90% of them are not authentic. You can tell by the quality of duck skin and the presentation. If no one is doing this table service for you, they are probably not authentic. This is part of the Peking duck experience. Our table service staff was very polite and skillfully sliced the Peking duck in front of us.
The proper first dish of Peking Duck
The first dish served in an authentic Peking duck is skin-only. This is the fattiest part of the skin. The best way to enjoy this part is to dip it with granular sugar. You can enjoy the crunchy texture of duck skin with sugar crystal. You can smell the smoky flavour from the burst of duck fat.
The exterior should be smooth and shiny
The quality of the Peking duck is evident on the skin. This skin’s thickness in the picture is about 3/4 of my chopstick. It looks dry but is actually packed with flavourful juice. The duck grease exploded in my mouth as soon as I bite into it.
Smooth and shiny exterior
The exterior looks shiny. This is the result of the layered sauce and malt sugar. This Peking duck is properly done. I know a lot of Cantonese restaurant would buy pre-made BBQ duck and re-heat them. This would get rid of duck juice in the skin completely. The result is wrinkled duck skin that are extremely tough to chew on.
Duck skin with sugar is the proper way to enjoy Peking duck
The interior of the duck skin is clean and without meat. The sugar crystal really adds to the crunch.
Chang’an Roasted Duck’s hand-made flour wrappers
Our roasted duck comes with two layers of steamers. Inside is the hand-made flour wrapper for the sliced duck with meat.
Wrappers have good structure and did not break
These four wrappers are slightly greased. They are very thin but did not stick to each other. The wrappers have a good structure and proper elasticity. None of my wrappers break on me.
Minimal carb in each wrapper
These flour wrappers are really skillfully made. The translucent wrapper made the carbs in each wrap minimal. Thus, it did not overpower the duck.
2nd and 3rd dish are duck meat with skin
These are the duck you put in the flour wrappers. As you can see, each piece has more meat than the skin. After a large dish of pure duck skin and duck fat, I’ve had a little too much duck grease in me.
Two types of wraps
The traditional way we are used to eating Peking duck is with thinly sliced green onion, cucumber, and sweet fermented flour sauce. Chang ‘An provided an alternative way. Eating it with pear and strawberry jam. I have never tried it before, but I really appreciate the pear and strawberry jam making the Peking duck feel less greasy.
Peking duck is best enjoyed with more than 4 people
I came to Chang ‘An with only 2 people. The roast duck itself is too large to finish. I’d say it is better for a party of more than four people if you want to enjoy other dishes.
Peking duck in wrapper has thinner skin
The part of duck served with meat on them has thinner skin. It is important to know which part of the duck is used for what purpose. This part focus on meat.
Last thing to remember about ordering Peking duck in Vancovuer
I want to briefly mention something to remember about having Peking duck. I thought the table service is just gimmick. It is actually economical. There is actually a Peking duck place nearby that could give you less duck. It cost $88 for a roasted duck, but the duck meat was less than half of what we got at Chang’An for $98.
Chang’an Roasted Duck Deep-fried duck frame for $15 extra
For $15 extra, you can have the duck frame deep-fried. It doesn’t have much meat left on them, but they have good seasoning. I was happy that Chang ‘An Restaurant did not toss these in flour before deep frying. The duck frame didn’t pick up too much grease.
Shanxi Special Sour Chili Noodles biang biang
If you are wondering what “biang biang” mean. I can tell you it’s an onomatopoeia representing the sound of making this noodle. They use one dough ball to hand-stretch into one continuous wide noodle. The biang biang noodle served at Chang ‘An Restaurant is very sturdy and very chewy like they are supposed to be. I think the flavour is a bit on the light side though.
Peppercorn Ice Cream
I have only had peppercorn flavoured ice cream twice. Once in ChongQing, China, the other time is at Chang’An Restaurant. I don’t have much experience, but I can compare the two. This one at Chang’An Restaurant is obviously has a much better presentation. It is served with sprinkles of various color and sizes.
The texture is a bit icy
It has rich creamy taste has a hint of fresh peppercorn. There is a slight numbing effect on my tongue. When I get to the center of my ice cream, the texture becomes firm and a little icy. Obviously, this one is more delicate from the one I had in ChongQing but it also reflects on the cost.
604 Food Critic Assessment
Chang An Restaurant is also called Taste of Chang ‘An. Since Chang ‘An used to be the capital of 13 dynasties, the food from there can represent China the most. They are also one of the most expensive Chinese food around Vancouver. Even though they are considered fine dining by cost. Their portion is quite large. You can make sure you’ll go home with a full stomach. Unfortunately, the cost is close to $90 per person. I understand this price point is not for everyone. If you have important guest to entertain, Chang ‘An Restaurant will not disappoint.
The food menu has an interesting horizontal layout flipping upwards. The paper are golden with sparkles.
How to get in touch
- Phone: (604) 681-1313
- Address: 1661 Granville St, Vancouver
- Hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm & 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
- Reservation: opentable.ca