Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant 松林居

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Kalvin’s Restaurant is one of the most authentic Taiwanese restaurants in the Lower Mainland that I know of. I have heard of this restaurant before but never had a chance to try it. After reading Carlos’ post, I thought I must try it before leaving Vancouver for my India trip. Ronald, the co-organizer of Food Bloggers Meetup, helped organize my going away dinner at this restaurant, so I got to try some good Taiwanese food with other foodies and bloggers before I leave. I was joined by Vincent from EatMarketing, James from HelloVancity, Jeffrey from Got Roo?, Dave from Gnarly Dave’s World, Lee Ann from Powderate, and other foodies.

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The menu was big, but we had some recommendations so it wasn’t too difficult to decide what to order. We put together people’s choices and ordered a variety of dishes. We had chicken, beef, pork, vegetables and a few “snack” dishes to share.

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#12, deep fried pork in red fermented sauce ($6)

This dish was my choice because it was one of my childhood favourites and I have not ordered it in Vancouver before. I was very pleased with the quality of this dish. The meat was moist, fresh, crispy and the taste was definitely authentic!  The meat by itself is $6, and it is only $0.50 extra if you want to order rice on the side to make it an individual meal.

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#139 diced chicken & peanut w/ chili pepper ($10.75)

I have a love and hate feeling about this dish because I like the chicken with peanuts, but this dish is always very spicy. At Kalvin’s Restaurant, they did indeed put a  lot of pepper in this dish.  I ate this dish with a lot of rice and water. This was not my choice and I personally would order #143 diced chicken w/ cashews, or #144 diced chicken in plum sauce.  Aside from being too spicy, I think this was a good dish.

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#198 five spice beef in Chinese Pan Cake ($5)

Normally I don’t order this because my Mom makes it at home, but I really liked this dish! It was actually tastier than how my Mom made it (sorry Mom). The pancake was fresh and really crispy, and the beef was moist and flavourful. Compared with other beef pancakes I’ve tried, the pancake was not as fresh and the meat was often dry or without sauce. At some places, you would have to add the sauce that is served on the side, but at Kalvin’s the sauce was already inside the roll. I had two pieces but I still felt like I wanted to eat more. It was a super deal to have all these rolls for $5!

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#176 Napa Cabbage braised w/ dried shrimp ($9.5)

This was my choice again because I was craving for the vermicelli noodles that are often served with this dish. When it was served, I was disappointed to find it without any vermicelli noodles. The taste was good, like how my mom would make it, but with its $9.50 price this was not of good value at all, with or without the vermicelli. Next time I will pick another vegetable dish, possibly #132 pork & ton choy in BBQ sauce or #178 string bean with minced pork.

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#60 shredded beef w/ bamboo shoot w/ chili pepper ($12.50)

This dish was good. After eating the spicy chicken with nuts, this appeared to be only a little spicy. I realized that all the meat dishes we had pairs really well with rice.

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#202 Shanghai Style Dumpling (XLB) ($7.5)

We ordered two baskets of Xiu Long Bao because one XLB per person was not enough! At some places I’ve tried before, the XLB tasted pretty much like a dumpling because of the lack of juice. The XLB at Kavlin’s was pretty good because it was juicy.

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#137 smoked duck ($17).

The smoked duck was ordered because of Vincent’s demand. I thought this dish was like the duck version of Char Siu (barbeque  pork) because of the addition of spice and cooking method. I thought this dish was okay because I don’t normally eat duck or smoked meat that much. I found this dish a bit hard to eat because the duck meat was a bit dry.

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Food Blogger's Feast

Kalvin’s Restaurant was pretty small so with 20 people, we had to split into two tables. The other table had recommendations from me (which were actually what my friend Carlos had) and they said they liked their dishes.

The other group of foodies ordered #138 chicken w/ three spice, #83 dry squid with shredded pork, #111 pork w/ bamboo shoot w/ chili pepper, #209 Taiwanese style cold noodles, #178 string bean with minced pork, and a few identical dishes that my table ordered: XLB and beef pancake.

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I exchanged some samples with the other table and I think the chicken w/ 3 spice and the string beans were pretty good.

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Finally I ordered the red bean pancake ($4) because I really liked the five spice beef in Chinese Pan Cake.  It was actually not as good as I thought because the pancake was not as crispy as the beef pancake, but it was flaky instead. However I liked that it was fresh, hot and it was not too sweet. After I ordered this dessert, I came to realize that I should have ordered the deep-fried buns instead!

When we split the bill, it was only $13.50 per person inclusive of taxes and tips! That is why I love eating Asian cuisine because I get to eat a variety of food at a very inexpensive price. 🙂 As I’ve had lots of really good Taiwanese food from Taiwan and my mom’s cooking, Kalvin’s Restaurant would be one of the top choices I would go to outside of those two places.

I definitely enjoyed this going away dinner. It was fantastic to share the good food with many foodies who appeared to enjoy Taiwanese cuisine as much as I do.  I would definitely recommend Kalvin’s Restaurant for its affordable and delicious Taiwanese food.

After dinner, we went to Mimibuloveme for desserts, which is for another blog post…:P

  • food was absolutely delicious!!
  • authentic Taiwanese food
  • great value esp if you dine with a group
  • food was served really fast!

  • some dishes are not so worth it (particularly the vegetables)
  • small space in the restaurant makes it a little difficult to reserve tables
  • the location is far

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Kalvin's Szechuen Restaurant 松林居 on Urbanspoon

Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant 松林居
5225 Victoria Dr, Vancouver

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

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