Last weekend after bottling beer with a couple of friends, we stopped by for lunch at Lucky Gate, a Chinese restaurant on Austin Street in Coquitlam (a couple of doors down from Macdonalds).
To be honest, the restaurant blends in with all of the other businesses surrounding it. In fact, I’d grown up in Coquitlam without even knowing that this restaurant ever existed! But I found out about the place through Sherman's review here. After that, my husband and I checked it out for dinner, and it was a pretty good experience.
The restaurant is on the small side, with booths against one wall and tables on the other, and had that typical no-nonsense utilitarian feel. The décor, if there is one, was not memorable. This time we ordered a variety of lunch dishes. First there was the Chinese donut – I’m familiar with these, but seriously, when these long golden twins arrived on the plate, I think these were the biggest Chinese donuts I’ve ever seen. Each one was probably 3 inches in diameter. They were light and airy but oh lord, there was so much grease! Perhaps if these were more properly drained we would’ve felt better eating it. Our friend also ordered soy milk to dip the donuts in, and by all accounts, the soy milk was unsweetened and bland. However, the drops of oil that coated the top of the milk after dipping the donut were a little unappetizing, to say the least.
We also ordered deep fried buns to share. The ten cute little buns arrived glistening with oil and surrounding a shallow dish of condensed milk. We love this—the dough was soft, chewy and slightly sweet, and the deep-friedness of it give it a particularly delicious dimension. Dipping it in condensed milk was also very tasty.
The Xiao Long Bao (8 dumplings in total) came in huge steamer. They were pretty large, and sat on a (much) smaller slice of carrot. Because they were so large, they were a little difficult to maneuver, but they filling had lots of flavor and the soup inside was delicious. It was supposed to have come with vinegar, but this wasn’t brought to our table.
One of the wonderful things about this restaurant is that they make their noodles by hand, and there is a glass partition in the restaurant where you can observe the noodle chef. Most of us ordered a noodle soup dish. I had the pork and preserved vegetable. The noodles were great, toothsome with a really good amount of springiness; however, the broth and the meat were entirely tasteless (kind of a boiled water broth). The preserved vegetable was just salty, without any sourness at all. I had to add quite a bit of soy to make this edible.
Shane ordered the beef stew noodle. It was a big disappointment. Again the noodles themselves were good, but the broth, while quite a dark colour, was terrible. It sort of tasted like Bovril—very artificial tasting and salty. We were very disappointed with the noodle soup dishes. One would think that for a place that has handmade noodles, they could have boiled some bones to make a decent soup.
A word about the service: it was quite bad, even to my lax standards. Our server was this teenage girl who obviously did not want to be working. We had to repeat our order a few times because listening was a problem, and had to wait a long time to get the attention of anyone to request the bill. However, the first time we came here, the service was quite decent.
The place is pretty affordable, except their dishes are on the small side, if you compare portions to other Chinese restaurants. All in all, we would come back here, though I would never get their noodle soups ever again. Lucky Gate strikes me as one of those restaurants in which you need to know what to order. If you order the right things, you’re singing, but if you order the wrong things, it could be a very bad experience indeed.