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Families gathered for special occasions at the Tien Sun Inn on Hespeler Road

At one time Hespeler Road had several Chinese eateries to choose from but the Tien Sun Inn stood out from the rest, writes Wayne Conrad Serbu

At one time, Hespeler Road had several Chinese rateries to choose from.

Whether you like Cantonese, Mandarin, Schezwan, or Thai  these restaurants once lined the road.

The Tien Sun Inn, Mongolian Grill, China Sails, Foo Lam City, The Golden Basil, The Jade Garden all had a following of loyal diners.

China Sails had a great oriental buffet and the Jade served hot pots and barbecued duck.

But the Tien Sun Inn was by far the choice of many as one of the best places to dine.

It is long gone, but this famous Hespeler Road restaurant is not forgotten. 

Now the home of a Shopper's Drug Mart, the Tien Hoa Inn on Weber and Bridgeport in Waterloo was opened in 1962 by Bill Lee.

In the early 1970s brothers Jim and George Lee, and other men of Chinese heritage constructed the Tien Sun Inn, on Hespeler Road.

This location quickly became a local Hespeler Road favourite. 

The restaurant was well appointed and user friendly for big parties and served as a gathering place for many family groups special celebrations and events. In the '70s and '80s, the Tien Sun Inn sponsored local sports teams events and continuously gave back to the community that they loved being part of.

The goal of the restaurant, as the last owner George Lee put it, "was to serve the family, the backbone of our community."

What did you remember about the Tien Sun?

For me it was the Poo Poo Platter and the Mou Shu Barbecue Pork Crisp Lettuce Wrap. Say that three times fast!

That's how fast this can be assembled. The waiter would bring you your drinks and would set a nice plate of cold appetizers after you were seated.

Tien's egg rolls were a must have along with a hot bowl of corn and chicken congee soup to start. 

Here is a tasty recipe for you to try at home.


Tien Sun Barbecue Pork 

Pork can be the centre of any good recipe. After barbecuing a tenderloin, and after the pork has rested, place it on a cutting board and slice and pull apart the tasty meat.

I like to mince the char grilled tenderloin meat with a sharp knife, adding small chunks of peeled ginger at the same time along with garlic, bell pepper, some minced fennel bulb and green onion are added as you mince all the ingredients together.

Add little pieces of daikon radish, bok choy or bean spouts to the mixture for more flavour.

Season with fresh ground sea salt, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander seeds with a dash of Chinese Five Spice and a table spoon of hoisin sauce. 

On high heat, sauté all the ingredients in some peanut oil and hand stir till all the ingredients are picking up some char and lightly browning.

Add a splash of some miran vinegar, plum brandy or white wine to give it some moisture and acid flavourings.

Squeeze some fresh lemon and orange juices into the mixture as you finish cooking and grate some orange and lemon peel essence on top for extra flavour.

I like to pair it with crisp, chilled hearts of romaine lettuce for family style indulgence.

Chop up some green pea micro sprouts and crispy noodles if you have some. 

This is a great meal made simple and lots of fun for the whole family.

Hydroponic butter lettuce or Belgian endive would be nice for party appetizers. Get out the plates and some of your favourite hot, peanut or tamarind sauce and have a Mou Shu Wrap Party.  

 Tien Hoa Inn at Bridgeport Road and Weber Street in Waterloo in 1962/2004 was also one of area favourites. Have you ever eaten at the Tien Sun Inn?

Chef Wayne Conrad Serbu writes monthly for CambridgeToday. The former executive chef also shares recipes and memories from his more than five decades in the hospitality industry on his blog, the kitchenman.

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Wayne Conrad Serbu

About the Author: Wayne Conrad Serbu

Former executive chef Wayne Conrad Serbu shares some of his favourite recipes and memories from local restaurants in a monthly column
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