The name of this casual Chinese restaurant doesn’t represent the cuisine, but this is a great story. This small place located south of Broadway on Main Street was a Canadian breakfast spot when purchased by Ping Zhang and his wife June Huang. More recently, they decided to switch to serving traditional Xi’an cuisine as their booth at the Richmond Night Market was very successful. They had a loyal following. For a taste of authentic Xi’an food you will be rewarded with a fantastic meal at Sunny Spot Cafe.
Xi’an is an ancient city located in central China. It is the capital of Shaanxi province and was the end point of the famous Silk Road. As well the Terra Cotta warriors are located very close to the walled city of Xi’an. One of the unique features of this province is they harvest grain. The majority of China is growing rice.
Xi’an cuisine is known for its excellent noodles made from a number of different grains. Ping was born and raised in Xi’an so you know you will be eating the real thing. Much of what they serve may be defined as street food from this old capital city. All dishes on the menu are Xi’an cuisine and very flavourful!
One of their most popular dishes is the Xi’an Hamburger. On the menu listed as Braised Pork Bun Homemade Flatbread. Wow! The bun is like a panini being round and crispy on the outside. Chili oil on the meat, fresh cilantro and deft preparation delivers a hamburger to rival anywhere in the world. We ordered the pulled pork, but you can order beef, egg or vegetable filling. You may have eaten this at the Richmond Night Market? if not, it’s a must try–great fresh flavours.
The handmade Pork Dumplings served with a dipping sauce were up next. Very tasty and memorable for the very reason that you could easily distinguish the filling. Many dumplings can have their filling packed too tightly or minced too finely. Each ingredient could be tasted and recognized leading to a juicy dumpling dipped in a sauce made sharper by the Chinese vinegar.
The Liang Pi Noodles are thin and served cold. These wheat noodles are very tasty with a nice chewy consistency. The vegetables complement the noodles perfectly with their differing textures. The spiced cucumbers and vinegar dressing were another hit and there was a subtle hint of spiciness. In Xi’an these cold noodles are served in the summer as they are refreshing.
Another popular dish is the Lamb Soup. Lots of tender chunks of lamb in a light broth. Vermicelli noodles, tofu, cilantro and chinese vegetables deliver a clean taste. Described as “comfort food” and worth eating at any time of the year.
The biggest hit was the Chili Biangbiang Noodles or handcrafted Shaanxi thick noodles. Incredible! This dish is highlighted by the unique flour noodle. Very different texture and these noodles are long, flat and wide. Beware on your first pull of a noodle as it keeps coming and coming. Another tip is to stir the bowl to mix all the ingredients and flavours before chowing down. The chili sauce really creates a memorable taste with the various vegetables; Chinese cabbage, green onions, yellow bean sprouts, cilantro and spinach. Everything together makes for a taste that keeps giving. If you like flavourful noodles, you’ll get addicted to these.
When you order the Biangbiang dish, the homemade noodles are first cut and then pulled to make them thin and provide the unique texture. The chef then takes the noodles and cooks them. Very interesting to watch and they encourage spectators.
Sunny Spot Cafe serves fresh, homemade and delicious Xi’an inspired food that is not spicy, although you can request a spicier hit. The menu is not large, but you have great choices from seven entrées, four dumplings/salads and three soups. It is very inexpensive with prices ranging from $4 to $8. The food arrives very quickly. You can find a picture of each of the dishes on the restaurant walls as a great reference if you are unsure what to order. They have outdoor tables and you can order take out. The inside is very basic and simple. You will love Xi’an cuisine and have money left over. They do not have a website nor Twitter address. You will find them on Facebook though.
Sunny Spot Cafe
2543 Main Street
Closed Monday & Tuesday
Wednesday: 12 pm to 9 pm
Thursday to Sunday: 11 am to 9 pm
Sunny Spot Cafe