I had the pleasure of having dinner at a life-long Vancouver institution, The Brave Bulls Steak House located at the corner of East Hastings and Clark Ave.
Growing up in the Strathcona neighbourhood for a solid 13 years and being fortunate enough, my parents would take us out on weekend excursions around town where we always ended up driving past this stark and murky looking 70s diner. Not to my surprise, that was exactly what it looked like inside however, what took me back was the reminisce backdrop of immigrant Chinese Canadians living in Vancouver.
Linda Lum and her husband came to Canada in the 50s or 60s (I cannot fully confirm) in search of a new and better life. Her husband worked at the Angus Steak House for almost 19 years prior to opening up The Brave Bulls Steak House, which still stands at the very same corner today. The couple who are now in their 70s at least and have dedicated their lives serving hungry blue-collar Vancouverites who work in the area. The restaurant is only run by the couple where Linda is the front runner of the restaurant, hosting, serving, and whenever possible, helping her husband who primarily cooks in the back.
The sign outside the restaurant advertises a prime rib dinner for $8.95 and honestly, it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. No way that could be possible, I thought, but seriously, they do have a prime rib dinner for…well, $9.95. The menu is limited in terms of the amount of items they have available however, you do get an option of having seafood, steaks and if you really wanted, Chinese food (but why would you?!) I opted for the rib steak while Ace decided to go with the New York steak. The portions are generous. For $15.95, you got yourself an 11 or 12oz rib eye steak and for $14.95, you got yourself a 10oz New York steak. In addition to the steak, it comes with your choice of their home made clam chowder or soup of the day, your choice of a salad, rice pilaf or baked potato, mushrooms and steamed veggies.
I wasn’t really expecting much but when the food arrived, wow, I was surprised. The size of the steak was quite generous and so were the sides. To make a long story short, the clam chowder was a bit moreso on the watery side, almost a soup but it was great. Oh, and I forgot to mention but it comes with garlic bread which was delicious. We both asked for our steak to be rare however, mine was moreso on the medium well/well done side of things whereas Ace’s was more of a medium rare/rare in the centre. Hey, no big deal. It wasn’t a deal breaker nor could you honestly get upset over it because for what you’re paying, you’re already getting a lot. Oh, and did I mention? The food was delicious. The grade of beef was pretty juicy and tender however they do not use any seasoning. They cook it so you could taste it for the grade and quality of beef it was. I prefered Ace’s New York over the rib eye as it is more of a sweeter, juicier cut of beef. The mushrooms were juicy, just right. Veggies were fresh and amazingly enough the rice (for whatever reason it may be) was freakin’ awesome! It was kind of like a fried rice, the same kind you’d get in a Chinese banquet dinner consisting of dried scallop fried rice, minus the dried scallops.
Bottom line – give this place a chance at least once. We showed up at around 7:15pm and the place was dead but just as we were finishing up, about 8 more people showed up and that’s when it got busy. To finish dinner off, Ace and I ordered apple pie a la mode. $1.85 for the apple pie and another $0.85 for ice cream. The apple pie was nice and warm, where most of it was layered with a lot of apples and not too much filling/crust. Our final bill with tax and tip came to a total of $41.00. Nowhere in this city could you get this kind of quantity and quality of steak, especially for two people.
Overall, I quite enjoyed my dinner at The Brave Bulls Steak House. If you are an original Vancouverite, I would highly recommend you to try this place out at least once. I was really hoping to stick around to talk to Linda and her husband a little more to learn about their history and their business however, business for them was more important. We could tell that they had several loyal customers who returned for dinner and basically knew what they wanted and for the most part, helped themselves to menus and seats. I have to give a lot of credit to Linda and her husband for toughing it out all these years dedicating their lives at this restaurant. I saw before my own eyes how hard these two worked for a better life and for a better future, whether it was for themselves, their children or grandchildren. They truly are an inspiration and an icon of what real, genuinely hard working Chinese people are truly like. I shall return for another steak dinner. That, or just the rice and mushrooms because yes, it was that fucking good.
Rib eye Steak
New York Steak
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