Chinese ‘Burger’ at the Beaver Sailor Diner in Halifax, Nova Scotia
I sampled the rather unique little dish you see pictured above at the Beaver Sailor Diner in Halifax. Unfortunately, the restaurant did not survive the outbreak if the Covid-19 pandemic, which was rather a it as it had a decent and very interesting menu. This particular item was titled ‘Chinese Beef Burger’, and was described as ‘Sliced Beef Shank and vegetable wedged in baked Nang with Sweet Bean Sauce’. The ‘Nang’ turned out to be Naan bread, which rather made this a fusion dish rather than a traditional Chinese specialty, but it proved to be excellent.
The Beaver Sailor Diner was a tiny little place and I am sorry I didn’t take the opportunity to ask about the origin of the name as the juxtaposition of ‘Beaver’ and ‘Sailor’ is curious to say the least. Here in Canada, the word ‘Beaver’ not only refers to a small, semi-aquatic mammal, but is also a rather rude slang term for something else which may also be ‘furry’. Halifax is a port city, and is Canada’s primary Naval base, so there are, indeed, plenty of sailors around the place. Still, I have been unable to see any connection between Sailors and any of the two possible ‘Beavers’.
Anyway, the Chinese name on the menu for this item was 酱牛肉烧饼. The first three characters mean ‘[Bean] Sauce Beef’, while the final two can be used to refer to a pancake, or a the baked, unleavened ‘Shaobing’ bun. Stuffing Shaobing with meat and other items is a pretty popular street food in many parts of China and this ‘Chinese Beef Burger’ largely represents this except for the novel substitution of the Naan bread that most westerners will be familiar with if they frequent Indian restaurants.
The meat, in this case, was Beef shank, and I am fairly confident, both from the taste, and appearance, and from the description of other items on the menu, that it was prepared using the Chinese red-cooking method, meaning it was stewed in a soy-sauce based medium. I enjoy making Chinese Red-Cooked Beef Shank, and I have to admit that the Beaver Sailor version was every bit as good as mine.
The use of the word ‘vegetables’ in the menu description was a bit misleading insofar as the only vegetarian ingredient on this burger was lettuce. I actually like lettuce on sandwiches usually, but I have to say that it just didn’t seem to go that well here and I removed it after the second bite. As for the Sweet Bean Sauce, this might well have been mayonnaise as that’s what it first tasted like to me, but on inspection was clearly not. I liked it well enough but I would probably use something a little more fiery in my own versions of this ‘burger’. That being said, the meat was tender and delicious and I really enjoyed this very much.