On Friday I went for lunch with several co-workers, and decided to go to a place nearby the office that we hadn’t been to for awhile – Azia – in the Scotiabank Theatre building in downtown Vancouver. I have been a few times now, for both lunches and dinners, and have found that the food is fairly good, but it does depend on what type of dishes you’re ordering. So today, I’ll run through a variety of what there is to offer so you can decide for yourself if you choose to go there to dine before a movie, or just check it out for a random meal.
At lunchtime, there is a lunch specials menu available which has quite a large selection of items that you can pick, all of which are served with a couple of sides (I believe it was spring rolls and / or perhaps a soup of some type). Unfortunately, I can’t find this anywhere in the lunch section of the current website, and I can’t quite recall the exact options since none of us ordered from this part of the menu (sorry, I may have lost a few brain cells after my company holiday party on Friday night).
I’m lucky to have a lot of co-workers and friends who also enjoy trying a variety of dishes (and are also super patient with my newfound picture taking before eating), so I managed to try quite a few different things. Our order included the Peking Duck Spring Rolls, the Singapore Laksa, and the Chicken Lettuce Wraps, none of which I’ve had before at this place.
Peking Duck Rolls – These spring rolls were served with hoi sin sauce on the side, and were a bit on the greasy side (a bit of a hazard of eating deep fried fare, but I’ve definitely had other spring rolls that didn’t seem to soak up quite so much oil in the cooking process). I’m also not a big fan of hoi sin sauce, since I find that it can be quite overpowering to the food you’re eating it with, and would’ve been happier with a lighter sweet chilli or plum-type sauce. As a result, I opted out of dipping this at all after the first bite, but still thought they were nothing special (my mother makes the meanest spring rolls you would probably ever taste, so I do feel kind of sorry for any others that I’ve tried).
Singapore Laksa – This spicy curry-based soup was filled with vermicelli noodles, cucumber (a bit soggy), a variety of seafood (some type of white fish and shrimp), tofu, and a hard-boiled egg (always tasty). Compared to others I have had, I found that the broth was not quite thick and rich enough (maybe some coconut milk would help it out?), and had a slightly different taste than I was used to – although I still can’t quite put my finger on why.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps – I found these to be my favourite dish of the day. Again, these were served with hoi sin sauce on the side to put into the wraps, but after trying it in one, I opted out for the rest. The chicken and veggie mixture already had enough flavour in it to skip the sauce (I’m not a huge fan of ‘over-saucing’ any food). Besides the fact that the chicken actually looked and tasted a bit like pork (which I still enjoy), the wraps were nice and light and fresh.
There were a variety of other dishes on our table, and the other one I tried was the Beef and Black Bean Sauce Chow Mein. What I enjoyed about this was there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of black bean sauce over the dish, so you got to enjoy a bit of a different texture as there was still some crunch to some of the chow mein noodles.
Others ordered the Wonton Soup (he gets it every time he goes, so there must be something to it), the Beef Fried Rice Noodles in X.O. Sauce (she ate the whole thing and said she enjoyed it), and the Singapore Noodles (no comment on that one). Although I didn’t try these three items, I thought I’d include the extra pics for your viewing pleasure anyway.
In the past, other dishes that I’ve tried and enjoyed were the Roti Canai, which is Malaysian bread that comes with a curry sauce to dip it in, and a variety of Japanese and sushi dishes (namely the Ebi Chili Mayo). I would have to say the Japanese food at Azia is what I’ve liked the most, although I’ve tried other better options in town (see my recent post about Juno).
All in all, this restaurant will provide a wide range of variety in terms of Asian food if you’re feeling indecisive or just want to try many things at once. The prices of the food seem a bit high overall for the quality that you’re getting, but it gives you a chance to try something a bit different if you’re in the area.
Azia Restaurant & Sushi Bar
990 Smithe Street