Dinesty on Robson
One of our favourite things about living in Vancouver is the sheer number of authentic Asian restaurants in and around the city so we were thrilled to hear Dinesty Chinese Restaurant based in Richmond was opening a branch on Robson Street in the West End. Dinesty’s Richmond branch is the top rated Chinese restaurant on Urban Spoon which is no small feat considering the fierce competition in a city dominated by this cuisine and a population that knows it well; we very much enjoyed our dim sum there. The downtown Vancouver location brings the same sleek, dark and somewhat corporate décor to Robson Street as well as the same quality ingredients and intense flavours found at their original outpost.
More often than not, we hit up a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant despite the décor but because the food is just so darned tasty; Dinesty alleviates aesthetic concerns having completely transformed the formerly dingy digs it has taken over to create a contemporary and welcoming space. The large, open room boasts a banquette lined with dark tables, as well as larger tables in the central space for bigger groups since this style of cuisine is so conducive to sharing. Curious diners will be able to peek into the kitchen which is visible from the dining area; watching the chefs pull noodles and shape dumplings is always entertaining. But the food is the main draw, of course. Dinesty’s thick menu offers a panoply of options each of which is helpfully illustrated, along with symbols indicating if the dish is spicy and what kind of meat the dish contains, as well as being described both in Chinese and English. Just the dumplings on offer takes up a whole page and includes old standards like Pork and Chicken then expands into more exotic fare like Crab Meat and Pork or Green Melon and Shrimp.
Everything we sampled we would happily have again. The bright and fresh small cucumber dish – probably best described as lightly pickled – is an excellent way to start. Chunks of cucumber are tossed with vinegar, sugar, and a few chunks of hot pepper giving them a savoury sweetness coupled with a light heat – the dish is wonderfully refreshing. The Chinese Green Onion Pancakes are a perennial favourite but especially well done at Dinesty – sometimes the batter overpowers the onion but here the balance is just right and the pancake was light and not too greasy. Deep frying is one of our favourite ways to enjoy fish so the lightly battered and fried white fish was highly enjoyable with the delicate meat staying incredibly moist within; the fish is sprinkled with peppers and fried garlic which lend a lot of flavour. The Shrimp and Pork Pot Stickers sprawled across the large plate, and were perfectly cooked so the wrapper was crisp and the insides tender. The Spicy Sesame Noodles topped with Peanut is something we try at most every Chinese establishment that offers it and the dish was rich and flavourful at Dinesty. Also known as Dan Dan or Tan Tan noodles, the nutty and gently spicy soup, topped with cucumbers to add texture and cut through some of the thickness of the noodles, is perfect for a rainy, cold day. The Noodle Soup with Beef is also a hearty dish with warm, dark beef broth, chewy noodles, and tender, melt-in-your-mouth braised beef.
Dinesty is an outstanding addition to an area of the city dominated by small Asian restaurants. As with so many other such eateries, the price point is incredibly reasonable for the quantity and quality of food received; two people can enjoy a tasty and satisfying shared meal for around $30. On our two visits, it has already been buzzy and busy, and we anticipate it becoming even more packed as the word gets out about the delicious and authentic dishes on offer.