Venerable East Hastings Cantonese Noodle and Congee Joint. Cheap and fulfilling eats.
Some friends of mine love going to this place because it's cheap and quick and filling. They also warned me that it's dirty and the service is poor. That is part of the charm, apparently :)
The food, as advertised, was cheap, very quick, and adequate. When you want to get stuffed on greasy spoon Chinese food, this is a good place to go.
On the other hand, I would not recommend this place for anyone who doesn't have patience or has a quick temper.
One time, when the waitress poured my tea (into a crappy plastic cup), she poured way too fast and splashed some on my hand. She didn't even notice! Fortunately, the tea was just 'warm' and I wasn't burnt. Getting help from the waitstaff means pretty much fighting with them, and it certainly feels like you are more of a trouble to them than anything else.
In the end, it's a decent place to go with a group of friends when you just want it cheap and easy. I wouldn't go myself, or take my girlfriend there, but don't mind going with friends. Just don't expect service with a smile.
Went in for a quick bite with my friends on a saturday night after a movie. My friend all ordered noodles and congee and I had the clam in black bean sauce. The service was pretty bad, they brought out our food very slow. But the when the food did arrive I could not believe the portions and the flavour was pretty good. This is not a take your date out restaurant but definitely great for a economical meals. Work on the service GUYS!!!
Oh, for the good ol' days when the On Lok had tables filled with people having a great time and a line up out the door waiting for take out. This wasn't the case on my last visit, and it should've been a sign that things have changed for the worse.
The Food: Bland, tasteless and barely warm. Any dish we got, from soups, to meats, noodles, rice and vegetables, all my favourites were beyond disappointing.
The Service: It took way too long for some dishes to come out and took an extraordinarily long time to order a few drinks.
The Ambiance: I don't care about the look of a place because what I find more important is the food on the plate. However, I do mind when there's a putrid (not grease) smell that eminates throughout the restaurant that is quite offputting.
The Value: Non-existent. For what our party bought and paid for, we did not get anything close in return for value.
There are better restaurants out there that not only produce better food, you get better value for money. The food is what will bring people back in the door and while it was good once, it isn't now. Perhaps one day, the food will be good again. Until then, it's time to look elsewhere.
I grew up in Vancouver and this is one restaurant which neither crunched the bills nor left the kids hungry or dissatisfied. Our clan has been there so many times over the last 20 years that the waitresses know us by name and ask about how many kids are there and always respond in surprise when we tell them one more.
To me, this restaurant is more than a cheap place to get greasy Chinese cuisine, it's like a magical ship that takes you on a voyage where the crew is always the same and the galleys meals are as good as always. There are waiters who have been there for 20 years!
As most other reviews here have said, don't go in expecting the Cannery, Tojo's, or Bishop's, because you won't get it. This is a restaurant where the food is cheap and wholesome and filling. You can feed your whole tribe on Chinese here and it will cost you less than if you were to make it at home. Sure the washrooms are unsanitary and the floors aren't clean, but this is a classic Vancouver joint.
It's one of those places that has been around, seen a lot, and can still bring that classic, sleazy Vancouver magic to the table. There are few vegetarian or diet options other than water and tea, however the food is really good bang for your buck. Since I've been going there the prices haven't changed. The food is still the same and they still give me free soda even though my childhood days are behind me. A few of my favourites are:
Wonton Soup, Hot and Sour Soup, Chicken Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour Pork, Lemon Chicken, Egg Rolls
To conclude, if you want a place where the price is right, the people are nice, and the food is great for those who don't mind fattening up, go to On Lok, (we call it On Loks) Best Chinese anywhere.
On Lok have been a regular fixture in my life for 7 years now. Everythime I go I get the same thing; BBQ pork wonton noodle in soup. The food is superb and the the atmosphere has a great chinese greasy spoon feel. If you order multiple items most likely one will not come and the cashier gives you a look like she hates you. The waitressess are darlings and the cooks look like they have been working for 20 hours a day, 365 days a year.
You either love or hate it and I love it.
Food is ok, sometimes bland. Fountain pop that is charged by the glass taste pretty much like water.
2 of us ordered set meal for 4 people and I noticed our dishes got progressively smaller. I am eating some left overs and found a piece of wire that's about an inch long in my food. Yummy.
If you have ever been to On Lok the one consistent thing is the unbelievable sourness of the lady that works behind the cash register there. I really have never met any one as bitter or pissed off as this person, I would like to suggest to her to stop drinking the vinegar shooters during work. Going in on a rainy day is an excercise in walking on ice as the floors are so greasy it's almost comical . On another note the ladies serving are all quite nice, I've known them for years and they have always been friendly to me. The bottom line is On Lok is the place in my neighbourhood for solid gut fill, it's not the tastiest, cheapest or cleanest place but for quick, relatively cheap and easy it's "one" of the places in East Van to go to.
The restaurant waiter was really helpful in the ordering process. She recommended a couple of signature dishes the restaurant hand to start us off.
Some of their dishes try to combine chinese and western vegetarian foods together. I think they need to tweek some of their dishes. But overall, I thought the restaurant was alright.
I was introduced at five years old. I'm now thirty. I will be a regular to the On-Lok well into my sixties. Cousins, aunts, Uncles, siblings, parents, my wife and friends are all On-Lok devotees. You'll find one of my clan in the On-Lok almost everyday. Never have I has a person I've introduced to it been anything but amazed.
The tea cleanses the plalate perfectly for all those that complain about grease take a sip of tea between bites, that's what it's for. Honestly this is one of the least grease chinese food places I've ever been to. The servings are so big(not rice heavy either) I dare anybody to eat two dishes and say their not full with a straight face. If your waitress can't understand you POINT out your selections. I've never had this problem but come on people a little common sense!
Don't go to the On-Lok and expect Hon's type sweet'n sour pork, or Panda Express chow-mien! On-Lok uses sauce to highlight the dish not dominate it. (On-lok potsickers are exactly the same and $5 cheaper)
Try the curried chicken, the flavor is perfect and no cheaping out on the chicken serving, like other restaurants. It's not an east indian curry. It's a yellow chinese curry.
Try the shrimp fried rice most restaurants would call it prawn fried rice due the amount and size of the shrimp the On-Lok serves.
The House special is a medley of seafood, scallops the size of toonies, prawns (loaded with!), cuttle fish always cooked to a tender consistantcy not the rubbery overcook ones you'll find elsewhere, bok choy, and a light seafood sauce over top allowing the seafood to flavour the dish. So if you have no sense of taste it might not be your thing. Maybe gobs of soy sauce will help you.
MY PERSONAL FAVORITE IS JULIENNE OF PORK ON LO-MEIN WITH HOT SAUCE. MUST BE TRIED TO EXPLAIN. IT HAS A COMBO SWEET AND SPICY FLAVOUR THAT I'VE NEVER HAD ANYWHERE ELSE. THE LO-MIEN NOODLES THOROUGHLY SOAK UP THE SAUCE AND THE PORK PROVIDES THE RIGHT BASE TO SET OFF THE SWEET/SPICY FLAVOUR WITHOUT DOMINATING THE DISH IN IT'S OWN RIGHT.
Yesterday I ordered a large julienne of pork, shrimp fried rice, curried chicken, and a large wonton soup an my bill was $22.74 this fed my wife and I dinner and lunch the next day.
Go for great value, expertly prepared food, and a place to relax and spend time with friends and family. Don't go to the On-Lok for western/classic style.
I found my dining experience at On Lok interesting at best! There are bits of congealed food stuck to the floor, and there are staff mopping the floor right at your feet (last I checked this is supposed to be done during closed hours!). You feel like the staff are about to pull out knives and hurl them at you, and that every word they utter is one of vile contempt towards the non-asian customer. Any attempt to ask one of the staff what one of the items on the poorly translated menu is warrants a stream of chinese! (It's hard to believe they are not swear words considering the tone of voice) all though I have the utmost respect for Chinese dining, this place is a swing and a miss. I guess they don't model themselves after the nice dim-sum places downtown! I found the food here extremely plentiful and cheap, yet surprisingly greasy. The wonton soup is delicous, and the wontons themselves are quit succulent, and the fried rice might as well be free considering the great price. But, the poor ambience outweighs the benefit, and unless you enjoy being subjected mean staff most probably hurling insults at you from behind your back, stay away from this place.
I have totally given up on this place that was built up by the parents of the sons that now run it. In the last year , I was desparate for some late night wonton. The last 3 times I went their, I ordered the same dish. Wonton Noodles with BBQ Pork.
The noodles were good, the brocolli was okay. However, the BBQ pork was not fit for human consumption! On Lok has good BBQ Pork, but the stuff they use in the wonton soup must be the 3 day old stuff! It was dry and hard....almost like jerky!
I noticed they do clean the windows now, so it looks better on the outside but you won't see me in there anymore.
And, yes I heard the guy screaming in the back. I think he said,"Shut the damn door....the mice are getting in!". (I am joking)
I think On Lok is the best place i have tryed. ive tryed malls, every chinese food place that i see when i have money lol. but i find On Lok to be the best and most yummyest place ive had. never eattin in becouse i live so close but i know they treat me well when im there picking up the food. I use to oder lunch on a washroom break in school and go and pick it up at lunch and it would be hot and ready to go!!