Saturday, 27 July 2013

Fan Tan Cafe - filling stomaches in the heart of Chinatown

The Fan Tan Café has been a fixture in Victoria’s Chinatown for decades (their website says 28 years and I’m apt to believe them). Tucked in the middle of Chinatown, they form half of the gateway to Fan Tan Alley.

Fan Tan Cafe right at entrance to Fan Tan Alley

A large fish tank greets you as you open the door, acting as a visual screen between the entrance and the rest of the restaurant. The tables are cosy, the chairs are comfy and the drinks are classic. Being there on a Thursday, Long Island Ice Teas were on sale – so we ordered up a couple and tasted the 80’s again.

Long Island Ice Tea and drink menu

The food menu is also classic – a thick duo-tang with protected pages. Fan Tan covers a wide range of Chinese food tastes. If you’re comfortable with ordering and want to get a few dishes ‘family style’ for the table to enjoy – the selection is quite good – the usual offerings of chow mein (including Singapore style), beef, pork, chicken, seafood, veggie and rice.  If you’re more at ease with a personal combo plate – they have those as well.

Are you a bit in the middle? Want to put together your own combo plate? There’s a sheet in the menu – with about 24 different items – where you create your own plate. One interesting non-Chinese item on the menu is steak-sauce (ie, the Japanese ginger-sesame crack-cocaine sauce that comes with rice). I thought it an odd addition when I saw it….then a plate was served near me and I got a whiff of the sauce and really wished I’d ordered it!

We opted for three dishes off the menu to pair up with our shrinking Long-Islands. Singapore chow mein with chinese sausage, green onion ginger beef and sweet and sour pork.

The chow mein was good - curried vermicelli noodles stir fried with bean sprouts, green onions and sliced fried egg. It comes with either chicken or shrimp, but we asked for chinese sausage, having seen it as a choice with another noodle dish.

Singapore style chow mein with chinese sausage

Next up was the ginger beef. Really enjoyed this dish - a great ginger & garlic flavour to it. The beef was pan fried with sliced peppers, green onions, bean sprouts and fresh ginger. I'd order this one again.

Ginger & Green Onion Fried Beef

And to round out our meal - the classic, sweet & sour lean pork - with carrots, pineapple and peppers. Enjoyed this dish too - it wasn't too thick on the batter around the pork, had good sweet/sour flavour and was a colour that's found in nature. Piping hot too.

Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple

I'd also like to mention the service here too - excellent and efficient! On the night we were there - a single server was running the whole room (we overheard her mention to another customer that someone called in sick). She handled everything and in a timely fashion. She kept the evening well paced for everyone - the patron, the kitchen and herself. Thumbs up - she's obviously excellent at her job.

The Fan Tan Cafe is a fun place to go for dinner. They serve up good Canadian-Chinese food with plenty of options for ordering to keep everyone happy. And daily drinks specials. Go on a Thursday for your Long Island fix.

Fan Tan Cafe
549 Fisgard Street (right at Fan Tan Alley entrance)
Open everyday at 11am, Sun-Thu until 9pm, Fri/Sat until 10pm

Fan Tan Cafe on Urbanspoon

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