Alvin Garden – Hunan Heat
To be honest, I’ve never heard of Hunan cuisine before. It might be that there’s a bigger proportion of Szechuan restaurants in Vancouver or that I’ve just never taken the time to look for Hunan restaurants. Hunan cuisine tends to be spicier than Szechuan by pure chili content and also tends to use more smoked and cured meats in their dishes. I’ve attempted to try Alvin Garden in the past but things didn’t work out. Apparently, even though their take out menu says they are open from 11:30am to 9pm, they close midday (I think I might have woken them up when I called at 4:30pm).
One of the problems with Alvin Garden is that the English transalation on their menu is not always descriptive. I suppose if I could read Chinese, it might be easier to tell what the dishes would be like. This dish is one of their specialty dishes… Pan Fried Spicy Chicken. They asked me how hot I wanted the dishes and I told them “medium”.
Take a look at all these chili peppers that I plucked out of the dish – this was “medium” hot? The reason why I needed to pluck the chili peppers out of the dish was that it was difficult to scoop out the chicken without getting a pile of chili peppers. The pan fried chicken was tiny pieces of cut up, bone-in chicken which made it a pain to eat. I don’t mind bone-in chicken, but these were puny slivers of chicken and had more bone than meat to them. As you can guess, this was a pretty spicy dish but not that great.
I did like the other two dish choices that I made. This is the stir fried garlic bolts with smoked pork. The garlic bolts were nice and crunchy and the dish wasn’t overly spicy. The smoked pork was sliced very thin which made it easier to eat and the smoked meat made the dish a bit saltier than I would have preferred.
A lot of people recommended the Lamb with Cumin but I’m not a big fan of cumin so I decided to get the Stir Fried Lamb with Onion. I really liked this dish… the lamb was thinly sliced and went great with the onions and spices.
One of the things that I noticed when I walked into the restaurant was that they take debit and credit cards… but only if your bill is over $50. My dishes came out to just under $50 – and although I had the cash on me… I was just a little annoyed that I missed out on getting points on my credit card. Service wasn’t that good and prices were a little expensive although I am glad that I finally got to try out the place.
Food: Hit and miss depending on the dish… the garlic bolts and lamb were good…. 4 / 5 but I would pass on the spicy chicken
Service: 2 / 5
4850 Imperial Street