Cheap Eats Metro Vancouver: Crystal Mall Food Court
Burnaby’s Metrotown shopping centre can be overwhelming all on its own — it’s the second biggest mall in western Canada, and exploring it from top to bottom is itself a day’s work.
But just steps away sits a mini-mall that can give Metrotown a run for its money: charming Crystal Mall on Kingsway.
Crystal Mall primarily serves Canada’s Chinese community and it features everything from barbers and banks to florists and bookstores. But its main attraction is and has always been, its food court.
Situated above a small grocery store, Crystal Mall’s impressive food court features over 20 stalls, serving everything from traditional Chinese noodle and rice dishes to delectable BBQ, spicy Malaysian soups, and plenty of bubble tea and sweets.
Entering the court can be an overwhelming experience: it’s almost always packed and during our visit, we circled like vultures for a seat for about 10 minutes before we could even order.
The paradox of choice is very real at Crystal Mall and your best bet is to follow your nose, as well as the large lineups attracted by the best stalls, to choose your order.
After much deliberation, we decided on the Sichuan-style eatery Chao Shou Wang and the popular Shanghai Dimsum House, the latter of which is known far and wide for its xiao long bao, better known to English speakers as soup dumplings.
Chao Shou Wang serves authentic Sichuan dishes, which means each meal is plenty spicy. In the interest of self-preservation, we chose the medium-spicy dan dan noodles, which had a pleasant kick without being overwhelming.
The noodles came with lots of beef, green onions, and peanuts, as well as tasty noodles and a broth flavoured with tingly Sichuan peppercorns. The meal was a steal at $10, tax included.
Shanghai Dimsum House’s famed soup dumplings were milder but just as flavourful, full of savoury broth and perfectly cooked pork. The meal, which came with vermicelli and tofu soup, cost $11.50 with tax, well under our $15 limit.
In the end, we were very happy with our meals, but Crystal Mall is a true choose-your-own-adventure and any possible combination is sure to satisfy.
We also recommend washing down your lunch with one of the juices or teas offered at shops like Tea Plus and Bubble Waffle Cafe.
Whether you’re motivated by cost, flavour, or both, Crystal Mall offers not one but several of the best meals in Greater Vancouver.
Just make sure to come hungry.
Address: 4500 Kingsway, Burnaby