food

Chinese restaurants: Our Top 3 picks

The most authentic food is usually like what people eat at home

Tired of Canadian-Chinese fusion food? Want to know where to get dumplings or congee? We’ve got you covered.

I come from the north part of China, and I’ve been talking to a number of Chinese students about food in Halifax and the restaurants they think are the most authentic.

We came up with these three gems. They may not have a full list of various Chinese dishes, but are as authentic as you can get.

Qiu Brother’s Dumplings

Dumplings are a traditional meal for Chinese New Year.   Lu Xu

This restaurant is on Barrington Street. As the name suggests, it’s owned by two brothers from China.

“I’ve tried some places that have dumplings. I don’t think they have our Chinese characteristics,” said Tengfei Qiu, one of the brothers. He started the restaurant four months ago after graduating from Cape Breton University.

“I want to bring something traditional and authentic to Canadians here.”

All of the dumplings are handmade, just like how most Chinese families make their own dumplings.

Qiu comes from the north part of China where dumplings originated and still play a big role in family meals. Like with dumplings from the region, Qiu’s have a lot of filling inside. He said he took a lot of time to figure out his own secret recipe of the dough and filling, based on dumplings in China.

Customers like Gabriel Fontana, from London, Ont., are fans.

“I’ve tried dumplings in other places like seafood market. My mom makes pretty good dumplings, but these ones are by far the best,” Fontana said.

Jacky’s café

This small family business located on Spring Garden Road has been open for 21 years. The family is originally from Hong Kong.

“The food we serve is the food we have at home. Through time we have been able to perfect (it) in our own way,” said Eric Tang, who helps out his parents on the weekends.  

The family is originally from Hong Kong.   Lu Xu

The café-style restaurant specializes in congee, a traditional kind of Chinese porridge with a salty flavour. Congee is recommended when people are sick because it’s easy to digest — the equivalent of chicken soup in western countries.

The congee in Jacky’s café is made with a lot of fresh ingredients. It’s cooked on a household stove top in their small kitchen and it takes more than one hour to simmer a bowl.

“The key is timing,” Tang said. “As long as you get the right timing it will get to the (right) quality.”

Jacky’s has many loyal customers.

“I’ve been coming here since I was about 16,” said Michael Maccaull. “(Congee) it’s like a comfort food. It’s really easy to eat, it’s warm and tasty — a really good start to a really good day.”  

Hong Yun Chinese restaurant

This restaurant in Brenton Place is very well known within the Chinese community, especially with students. It doesn’t do a lot of advertising, and most people come to know the place through word of mouth.

“I was brought by my friends for the first time and have been coming to this place many times. I always hang out here for lunch,” Ziqi Xiao, a Chinese student at Dalhousie University, said in Chinese.

The chef and owner, Jacky Yu, has been working as a chef for almost 30 years.

“If there is any cooking philosophy of mine, it is to be ourselves, be truthful of who we are,” said Yu.

In addition to common dishes like spring rolls or sweet fried chicken, Hong Yun offers lesser known dishes including “slobbered chicken” and “the lotus pool by moonlight.” 

The name of the dish comes from the garnish.   Lu Xu

Customers appreciate Yu’s commitment to making authentic Chinese food.

“The moment it was put on the table I could tell from the garnish that it’s different from other Chinese restaurants in town and it tasted like home,” said Hairong Gao, from the north part of China.

The garnish is important in Chinese food. Chinese cooking philosophy includes four principles: colour, smell, taste and “the whole,” which means the overall food experience is also quite aesthetic.

Hong Yun doesn’t have an online menu. At the restaurant, there’s one menu for Canadian-Chinese food and another for Chinese food. So if you want to try authentic Chinese food, ask for the second menu.

For restaurant hours it’s best to check by phone instead of relying on a web search.

1 comment

  1. Jacky used to be in the area where Pete’s upstairs is now off Spring Gdn. Absolutely love the food and the staff

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