A modern take(out) on the traditional

When you walk in, you won’t be overwhelmed by red walls and black décor splashed with gold, koi pond or traditional Chinese music, as is common in many Americanized Chinese cuisine restaurants. Rather, you’ll be welcomed with an active aroma that may be foreign to you. That’s because it likely is.

Similar to its décor, Spiice’s menu features cuisine that you simply won’t be able to find in American Chinese restaurants. That’s because Richard Lin, the owner that wears multiple hats, believes that authentic traditional Chinese food is the pride of Chinese culture, and he wants to share that with the students at Brock University.

Lin started working as a busboy at his uncle’s Chinese restaurant when he was fourteen years old, and as a waiter when he turned seventeen. At the age of twenty-one, while studying in Toronto, his parents took over a popular Chinese restaurant in Niagara Falls, Lotus Garden. On weekends, Lin would drive from Toronto to Niagara Falls to help his parents, managing and serving in the dining room. Shortly after, Lin moved back home to Niagara permanently to help his parents full-time.

Lin started as any other employee would, working his way up from the bottom. Working as a cook under his father’s supervision, Lin learned his way around the kitchen, handling tasks such as cleaning, food preparation and cooking. Soon enough, he found himself ordering supplies, managing the kitchen, and overlooking the whole restaurant operation. It’s because of this that, in 2012, Lin took over the restaurant from his parents permanently.

Richard Lin, owner of Spiice / Ryan Machulla

Richard Lin, owner of Spiice / Ryan Machulla

During his time as owner, Lin learned how to manage and finance a successful restaurant, but he came to an overwhelming realization. It was an American Chinese restaurant.

“[The] majority of the Chinese restaurants that I know in the Niagara region are all very similar and old fashion… its Americanized Chinese food. It’s not the same food we would eat in China…this is the reason we opened Spiice in 2015,” said Lin.

Lin understands that it’s the use of traditional ingredients and spices in their dishes that make them unique. The range of ingredients come from both the north and the south of China and is typically both difficult to find in Canada and underutilized in Americanized Chinese restaurants.

Spiice’s dishes are focused on three different categories: appetizers, noodle dishes, and rice dishes. Appetizers include authentic Chinese cuisine such as soya sauce egg, curry baby octopus and Szechuan pork lungs in chili sauce. Noodle dishes, most commonly taking the form of soup, include the popular spicy beef noodle soup, hot and sour soup and Chongqing noodle, all of which offer varying spices at different heat levels. Rice dishes feature pork and chicken cooked in different styles and with unique combinations of ingredients, spices and sauces, all of which lend to the dynamics of the menu.

“With the infusion of the North and South China’s spices and ingredients…once you eat here, you will come back for more,” said Lin.

Lin identifies that the business concept and structure of Spiice relies on providing a smooth and fast atmosphere that specifically matches the lives of students. With that, Lin has a helpful staff in the kitchen that prepare the meals fresh as well as an open-concept design so that patrons can see how the food is prepared.

To improve the experience for students, all cuisine is served in take-home ready bowls and plates so that students can easily transition from their meal time to their busy schedules as they please, and perhaps even more importantly to students, the bowls are microwave-safe, which makes for an easy-to-prepare dinner or late-night snack, although there are tables as well for those who want to dine-in.

Spiice is located in the Heritage Place Plaza across from Brock University, by East Academic. To view the full menu, visit spiice.ca

Ryan Machulla

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