It’s funny (and tragic) how it sometimes takes national bodies to draw attention to local institutions, but I found that this was the case with The Lingnan (10582 104 Street).
Food Network Canada chose the family behind The Lingnan to feature on their upcoming season of Family Restaurant, to begin airing January 2009. I saw the article in the Journal earlier this year, and noting the connection between the restaurant and Chicken for Lunch (Amy’s sons run the joint), convinced Mack to join me there for dinner on a random weekday.
I had no complaints over the aesthetics of The Lingnan. The upstanding sign atop the building, eye-catching even two streets away, draws one’s attention to an area where a Chinese restaurant is a little unexpected, situated across from a dated business facility and behind an emergency response team office. Once through the (slightly shady looking) door, we were greeted by a cool, lush interior that we could not have predicted from the outside. Everything from the mirrored walls to the paneled ceiling was beautiful, even if slightly over-the-top. The high ceiling and open dining room made the space seem larger than it actually was, and afforded diners (amounting to about ten tables by the end of the evening) a sense of privacy. Although the restaurant is very obviously geared towards Western sensibilities (much like Blue Willow), I didn’t mind it because of their earnest, well-intentioned approach.
The waiters, dressed in a “traditional” jacket (definitely over-the-top) were polite and surprisingly personable. After perusing the menu, Mack’s pick was his usual benchmark ginger beef ($12.50), while I was craving fried noodles. Though my original selection was a dish called “Crispy Noodles Chow Mein”, our adept waiter steered us toward the “Chinese Style Aristocratic Chow Mein” ($13.75, with shrimp). I guess I needed some instruction on reading the menu as it was exactly what I had in mind.
Drink menu in place of the more common Chinese zodiac (guess they’re really pushing the cocktails)
Mack’s Lingnan Pi Jiu with a hint of ginseng (brewed by local microbrewery, Alley Kat)
Before our dishes were brought to us, our waiter set up two metal plate warmers. Though a nice touch, we found them to be quite ineffective. At any rate, our food was out in no time.
Mack was quite happy with the ginger beef, noting that it was a “close second” behind Pagolac’s version. I found it pleasing enough – a decent beef-to-batter ratio and a tangy sauce that was slightly spicy. The chow mein was fine as well, with a reasonable quantity of shrimp included, and enough fried, crispy noodles to quash my craving. Mack didn’t like the soggy noodles in the centre of the dish, but I love the textural contrast and their sauce-laden goodness.
Chinese Style Aristocratic Chow Mein
The Lingnan, while offering nothing out of the ordinary in terms of solid Western Chinese dishes, does so in a clean environment and efficient manner.
Mack should pose like this in every picture
10582 104 Street
Monday-Thursday 5-11pm, Friday & Saturday 5pm-12am, Sundays & Holidays 4-8:30pm