The Kingsway and Joyce area has been a hotbed for Chinese food, with a few notable Northern Chinese restaurants (including some blow-your-head-off spicy Hunan food at Luckynoodle). I don’t have a lot of experience with Northern Chinese food, but I’m growing to like it, even tolerating the oiliness of some of the dishes. We had a really good first experience at Joojak and would definitely come again, and perhaps explore other Xian restaurants to see how they compare. We’re kinda spoiled for regional Chinese food in Vancouver/Richmond/etc and I’ve taken it for granted.
Side note about this area: There’s a new Peaceful Restaurant going in across the street from Joojak, right beside Goldtrain. Also, the new location of Hida Takayama Ramen (the ghetto superstar of Robson Public Market) is where Vanya used to be beside Royal Bank. Plus, I like the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Wang’s beside London Drugs. It’s a very foodie-worthy area.
Joojak is on Kingsway, across the street from the London Drugs complex. It’s a small place with only about 20 seats.
The menu. The lady there who spoke English was very helpful in giving us an introduction to the restaurant and recommended some dishes.
The Xian Pork Burger came recommended. We also ordered a Beef Roll to see how it compares to other beef rolls we’ve had around town.
We also got #12 Hand-Pulled Noodle with Red Hot Chili Oil ($9.95) with pork. These are also known as biang biang noodles, and in case you’re wondering, the veggie version is #11.
#21 Dumplings in Spicy & Sour Soup ($8.99) were also recommended, so we got the ones with chives and pork. The “baicai with pork” is napa cabbage.
We also got #34 Steamed Chicken with Chili Sauce ($7.99), which is weirdly listed under “Vegetables”.
Last page has combos and drinks. The combos look like something that would be good for those dining solo. But I think coming in a group and sharing is the way to go.
Free hot tea, which the woman topped up regularly.
IMPORTANT: CASH ONLY! (Common to a lot of Asian restaurants.)
Tableside condiments: Black vinegar, chili oil, soy sauce (I think), the all-important toothpicks, and salt.
#12 Hand-Pulled Noodle with Red Hot Chili Oil and Pork ($9.95). I recently had a version of this at Nine Dishes that I found to be underseasoned but had noodles that were moderately chewy. This version at Joojak was seasoned much better, BUT the noodles hardly had any chew to them and were very soft and silky. (Some people might hate that.) As we ate, we actually thought it was a positive thing — a silky, slippery noodle coated in a salty, spicy sauce.
It was very subtle on the Sichuan peppercorn front. I wanted a lot more of that numbing sensation. But the flavour was still really enjoyable. I thought I would’ve hated the lack of chewiness but we all actually loved it. The spiciness level was a medium at most.
#21 Dumpings in Spicy & Sour Soup ($8.99), the chives & pork version. The dark green stuff near the side of the bowl is seaweed. Towards the end of the bowl I found tiny dried shrimp.
An excellent dish. The dumplings had a chewy skin, and the filling was well-seasoned and moist. The broth was as the menu described — spicy and sour. I ended up drinking all of it 🙂
#34 Steamed Chicken with Chili Sauce ($7.99). So good! We couldn’t figure out what was in that sauce…it was mild/medium spicy, a bit salty, but beyond that…it’s a delicious mystery. We put the sauce on the Xian Pork Burger below, and it really helped make it better.
Beneath the moist, silky boneless chicken were chunks of pickled turnips. The lady there said this dish is actually a Sichuan dish but they put their Xian touch on it. Highly recommended. Don’t let the copious oil scare you. It’s sort of the whole point because it brings fire and flavour.
#1 Xian Pork Burger ($4.50) cut in half for sharing. The housemade bun was crusty, almost like a biscuit. I found my quarter of the burger to be bland, almost flavourless compared to the rest of the dishes, but this tasted MUCH better with the sauce from the steamed chicken poured on it.
#4 Beef Roll ($6.50) with beef shank and lots of green onions:
Wicca doesn’t do onions, although she’s trying. The wrap on the beef roll is not a green onion pancake. It’s more plain, tasting a bit like the pancakes you get with Peking duck. I wasn’t too thrilled with this rendition. Could use more meat and sauce (as usual with a lot of beef wraps around town). But it was only a slight dud in an otherwise amazing meal.
Overall, the spiciness wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’d say it’s sub-medium spiciness with great flavours all-around.
Saying goodbye to that sauce.
Our bill for three people came to less than $40 for a very hearty lunch. Recommended.