By Sheliza Mitha
“I love feeding people and seeing a happy, bustling restaurant.”
Indeed, on this cold February evening at the spectacular Riverway Restaurant, the place is hopping. I’ve been told the restaurant is booked solid – a testament to the popularity of his evolving and seasonal menus, both here and at the cozy Burnaby Mountain Restaurant in North Burnaby.
While the dinner menu reflects Chef Mok’s creative flair, it’s his unique three-course menu that often steals the spotlight for his guests. It’s easy to see why with its generous selection of appetizers and entrees (yes, count ’em… five!): New York steak, seafood linguine (with prawns, mussels, lobster and salmon), the vegetarian butternut squash ravioli, a twist on the regular with the oven-roasted Malaysian style half-chicken with toasted almonds, and vegetables and coconut rice with the ever-popular lobster burger.
And then there’s dessert.
But it’s all a labour of love for this award-winning chef, who was inspired at a very early age by his mother and grandmother.
This casual early apprenticeship became a solid foundation for Chef Mok, and inspired him to earn his culinary chops and find his own style in the kitchen – the result of years of schooling and experience at esteemed kitchens across Metro Vancouver, including the VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Shaughnessy Restaurant, the Westin Grand and Richmond’s Quilchena Golf & Country Club.
Finally, it was in 2011 that Chef Mok joined the culinary team at the City of Burnaby. Under his leadership as Executive Chef, both the Riverway and Burnaby Mountain restaurants have become among the city’s most popular and highly-regarded dining establishments, earning various accolades including “Favourite Hidden Gem” from A-List Magazine and Dine Out Vancouver Festival’s “Best Menu” award – among many others.
While the industry accolades are nice, he says this is not what drives him.
“Each day I am here, I try to connect with customers and other team members to find out if they’re happy with the food we prepare and serve,” Chef Mok explains. “Their answers are what keep me going, and this is what drives me – feeding people, making them happy and seeing them enjoy our food.”
Burnaby Mountain Restaurant
7600 Halifax Street
9001 Bill Fox Way