I grew up with the culture of the Hong Kong style cafe in Vancouver during the 80s and 90s. I drank Horlicks and ate Chinese-style Western spaghetti or a baked pork chop on rice. When my mom told me that what appeared to be a new “cha chaan teng” was opening up on 22nd Avenue and Rupert Street, that’s what I expected to find. As it turns out, Lucky Plus isn’t really that at all.
Despite having a name that reminds me far more of a dollar store than a Chinese restaurant, Lucky Plus is more of the kind of place where you’d order a bowl of soup noodles or congee. They’ve also got rice, of course, and the regular dinner menu is more in line with the typical Cantonese style seafood restaurant. Unlike so many other new places popping up around town, Lucky Plus doesn’t get its inspiration from Taiwan.
The restaurant, which is located in a brand new building, understandably has a very fresh and new feeling about it… which is kind of strange for a congee and noodle place, to be honest. The furniture is all new. The walls aren’t stained. It’s open and not crowded. It’s actually kind of nice inside.
One of the first problems I encountered, however, had to do with the menu. Or should I say “menus.” In addition to the main multi-page menu (not pictured), we were also provided with several more loose sheets of paper with the chef specials and lunch specials. This is quite common in HK style cafes and I find it rather frustrating.
Another issue that I did not appreciate is that while the lunch specials, offering something like sliced beef and egg on rice for $9.99, come with a complimentary beverage, this was only indicated in Chinese in the bottom. The rest of the menu is bilingual, so why not that part too?
Beef Brisket with Thick Rice Noodles in Soup
For my lunch that afternoon, I ordered a bowl of thick rice noodles (lai fun) with beef brisket. The generous helping of brisket was tender and succulent, accompanied by a broth that was neither here nor there.
Sliced Beef Congee
The congee arrived piping hot. The velvety consistency was good with just enough granularity from the individual rice grains. The slices of beef were just a touch on the chewy side in this otherwise generic bowl of rice porridge.
Fish Balls with Flat Rice Noodles in Soup
There really was nothing particularly remarkable about this bowl of flat rice noodles (ho fun) either, aside from the lack of the “flat” fish cakes. The bowl only contained the regular white fish balls, along with a little green onion and a couple pieces of baby bok choy.
And that’s really the overall impression I got from Lucky Plus. It’s neither remarkably good nor remarkably bad, falling into the generic center. For my part, if I’m looking for the Hong Kong style cafe experience in the area, Golden Oscar across the street is a better choice, despite being rather mediocre itself. And if I am looking for noodles or congee, I’d rather head to Congee Noodle King on Kingsway or up to James on Hastings.
The total bill for the three of us, including a plate of crispy chicken knees (not pictured), came to about $35.