Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Hope you are having a delicious Chinese New Year weekend. If you’re looking to celebrate the new year by dining out, Peaceful Restaurant has a wide selection of traditional Chinese New Year foods including noodles, dumplings, fish and nian gao (glutinous rice cake). They symbolize happiness, longevity, an increase in wealth and prosperity. I recently attended a media event where we had the opportunity to taste many auspicious and culinary dishes created by owner and Master Chef Charlie Huang. Here’s a recap of the event and a look at what dishes you might want to order.
Disclosure: All food and drinks in this post were complimentary. Opinions are my own.
Owner-chef Charlie Huang
Peaceful Restaurant first opened its doors to much fanfare in 1997 and is the leading choice for authentic Northern Chinese cuisine in Vancouver now with 7 locations. Owner and Master Chef, Charlie Huang, derived culinary inspiration from his upbringing in Xi’an, an ancient Silk-Road city in North-Western China. The cuisine there reflects the fusion of various cultures over the course of several thousand years, which Charlie has sought to bring to Vancouver and share with others. His culinary training consists of intergenerational teachings from his father, who worked at Shanghai’s Peace Hotel and to which the restaurant name pays homage, and the various local culinary establishments Charlie has immersed himself, including non-ethnic cuisines and bakeries. The cumulation of his various experiences and the desire to spread the experience and diversity of Chinese cuisine – he calls ‘homecooked comfort food’ – has led to the creation of Peaceful Restaurant.
Peaceful Restaurant specializes in hand-pulled noodles and the event featured a demonstration. The process begins when a piece of dough is repeatedly stretched and folded onto itself in order to align the glutens and warm up the dough for stretching. This dough is then pulled to about an arm span’s length. The puller then makes a loop with the dough, joining the two ends into one clump of dough, and inserts his fingers into the loop to keep the strand from sticking to itself. Doing this, the pull has doubled the length of the dough while fractioning its thickness. This process is repeated several times until the desired thickness and quantity is achieved.
What We Tried
Our tasting menu consisted of the following:
- Sichuan Cucumbers 麻辣黃瓜
- Woodear Mushroom Salad 涼拌木耳
- Xi’an White Lamb Soup 羊肉泡饃
- Sichuan Broth Braised Fish 水煮魚片
- Xing-Jiang Cumin Lamb with Sesame Flatbread 孜然羊肉加燒餅
- Mu-Shu Stir-fried Noodles 木須肉炒面
- Chinese Rice Cakes 炒年糕
- Sichuan Thousand Chilli Chicken 四川辣子雞
- Sichuan String Beans 干煸四季豆
- Dan-Dan Noodles 擔擔面
- Sizzled Hot-Chilli Noodles 油潑辣子面
- Xi’an Cold Steamed Noodles 陝西凉皮
- Northern Pork Dumplings 北方水餃
- Xiao-Long Bao Steamed Buns 小籠包
- Peaceful Beef Rolls 牛肉卷餅
- Pan-Fried Vegetable Dumplings 素菜鍋貼
- Sweet Rice Ball 黑芝麻湯圓
Sichuan Cucumbers 麻辣黃瓜 & Woodear Mushroom Salad 涼拌木耳
To stimulate the appetite, we enjoyed fresh cucumbers tossed in a spicy Sichuan peppercorn dressing and garlic as well as a woodear mushroom salad in a light tangy dressing with cilantro and green onion.
Xi’an White Lamb Soup 羊肉泡饃
One of my all-time favourite dishes from Peaceful Restaurant is the Xi’an White Lamb Stew. It’s so warm, comforting and perfect to enjoy in the winter. This soup features lamb, diced flat-bread, napa cabbage, woodear mushroom and cilantro.
Sichuan Broth Braised Fish 水煮魚片
This is a popular, traditional Sichuan dish where the braised fish is served on a bed of greens surrounded by spicy mouth tingling broth. Fish dish is “nian nian you yu,” which means “may the year bring prosperity.” “Yu” sounds like ‘surplus’. Chinese people always like to have a surplus at the end of the year, because this signifies the prosperity will overflow.
Xing-Jiang Cumin Lamb with Sesame Flatbread 孜然羊肉加燒餅
Another one of my favourite dishes from Peaceful Restaurant. The spring lamb is prepared via dry stir-fry with green peppers, crushed cumin, and chili flakes.
Chinese Rice Cakes 炒年糕
Soft and chewy, stir-fried with pork and leafy greens or napa cabbage. R ice cake symbolizes 年年高 (niánnián gāo): ‘Getting higher year-after-year by year’. It can imply children’s height, rise in business success, better grades in study or promotions at work.
Xi’an Cold Steamed Noodles 陝西凉皮
Noodles symbolize a wish for longevity. Chinese people believe long noodles are symbolic of a long life, so try not to bite or break the noodles when eating. Slurping encouraged!
Sichuan String Beans 干煸四季豆
These stir-fried string beans with a bit of pork, garlic, crushed chilies and soy sauce packed a spicy kick and a nice crunchy texture.
Northern Pork Dumplings 北方水餃
These dumplings are boiled and filled with pork, chives, cabbage, and green onions.
Peaceful Beef Rolls 牛肉卷餅
The beef rolls at Peaceful restaurant are a must-try. Five-spiced beef rolls in a crispy green onion flat-bread and sweet hoisin sauce.
Xiao-Long Bao Steamed Buns 小籠包
Who doesn’t love a dumpling filled with minced pork, ginger and a rich, savoury soup?
Pan-Fried Vegetable Dumplings 素菜鍋貼
These dumplings are filled with vermicelli, bokchoy, tofu, mushroom and carrot. Chinese dumplings look like Chinese silver ingots. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the New Year.
Sweet Rice Ball 黑芝麻湯圓
The pronunciation and round shape of “tangyuan” (rice ball in Chinese) are associated with reunion and being together. The roundness of the rice balls signifies a complete circle of harmony and unity within the family.
There are so many dishes on the menu at Peaceful Restaurant that there is something for everyone. My favourite dishes from the tasting were Sichuan Broth Braised Fish 水煮魚片; Xing-Jiang Cumin Lamb with Sesame Flatbread 孜然羊肉加燒餅; Mu-Shu Stir-fried Noodles 木須肉炒面; Chinese Rice Cakes 炒年糕; Sichuan String Beans 干煸四季豆; Dan-Dan Noodles 擔擔面; Northern Pork Dumplings 北方水餃; Xiao-Long Bao Steamed Buns 小籠包; Peaceful Beef Rolls 牛肉卷餅; Pan-Fried Vegetable Dumplings 素菜鍋貼; and Sweet Rice Ball 黑芝麻湯圓.
For more information and the menu, visit www.peacefulrestaurant.ca