Vancouver is home to the 'best Chinese food in the world.' Really?

Vancouver is home to the 'best Chinese food in the world.' Really?

Conde Nast claims Vancouver's Chinese food beats that in Hong Kong and China, but a few Vancouver Chinese restaurants disagree

Conde Nast Traveler has announced over the weekend that Vancouver is home to the best Chinese food in the world.

Now we're not the types to get all snobby and purist about the state of journalism today (it's dreadful. Not like it used to be). But this is one statement that’s sure to raise more than a few eyebrows in Chinese food capitals such as Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing. But wait until you hear what food writer Stephanie Yuen (incidentally based in Vancouver) and Conde Nast Traveler writer Mark Schatzker (a Torontonian) have to say:

“Today, almost one in five of Vancouver's two million residents is ethnically Chinese. Combine those demographics with the city's legendary seafood and you have the recipe for an outsize number of extremely good Cantonese, Shanghainese, and Szechuan restaurants. According to local Chinese food critic and writer Stephanie Yuen -- who was born in Hong Kong and has eaten extensively there, in mainland China, and in Taiwan -- Vancouver is home to the best Chinese food in the world. Period.”

Schatzker later told the Vancouver Sun that “In China, apart from a couple of exceptions, the food isn't much different from better restaurants in Toronto, New York. But the experience in Vancouver left me trembling." 

While the rest of us are left to debate what exactly it was that left Schatzker ‘trembling,' (the flu? Upset stomach? Perhaps he was worried about how he was going to turn his story into a headline?) at least one of his claims has legs -- Schatzker reckons Vancouver's Chinese food is so good because of the influx of Chinese chefs to Canada before Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997. Many left out of fear of communism and to take advantage of Canada’s lax immigration laws. The Wall Street Journal reported that over 44,000 Hong Kong immigrants moved to Canada in 1994 alone, of which 13% were classified as "entrepreneurs and their dependents." 

According to Yuen, the Asian diaspora to Canada, combined with British Columbia’s robust produce, gives way to Chinese food that’s even better than what is found in China. 

Despite the kudos, several of the restaurants featured in Conde Nast Traveler found the pronouncment hard to stomach.

"Vancouver these days serves very good Chinese food, I would agree, but not the best in the world," Allan Yung, manager of Vancouver restaurant Sun Sui Wah told The Province.

Ken Liang of Ken’s Chinese Restaurant said “Outside of Hong Kong and China, a lot of people say we're the best. But I dare not say we're better [than Hong Kong and China].”

Former CNNGo staff writer Tiffany Lam produced and scripted current affairs documentaries and was a reporter for a local English newspaper before making the brave, brave decision to write about things she’s actually interested in.

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