September 26

Review: The Wandering Moose Cafe | Dalian, China

Fact: Fall/Autumn is my absolute favorite season.

Autumn leaves in the sunlight.

When this season comes around, I imagine myself sitting in a warm and cozy cafe, enjoying a latte after having eaten a burger so good that it spoke to my soul.

I thought I would no longer have this experience after returning to Dalian to find not one, not two, but ALL THREE of my favorite Western burger joints no longer existed!

*insert overly dramatic breakdown here*

I was crushed and frantically began my hunt for a new restaurant to call, “my go-to burger joint.

After asking a few expats in a group chat, I received a list of recommended restaurants to try that had good burgers.

The Wandering Moose Cafe was on the list.

The front of the cafe

The Wandering Moose Cafe

Located in the Kaifaqu region of Dalian, the Wandering Moose Cafe is a family-owned business that serves Western food and authentic homemade Canadian desserts such as butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, and pumpkin pie to name a few.

Butter tarts, Nanaimo bars & drinks in a display case

When I entered the Wandering Moose Cafe, I was met with a bit of nostalgia. For just a moment, I forgot that I was in China!

The decor, style, and atmosphere gave me Western vibes as soon as I walked in.

The owner, Brian Clark, is one of the kindest and most knowledgeable coffee gurus I’ve ever met.

No, seriously. This guy knows his coffee so well that he even gives classes in the upper level of the cafe! 🤯

The Food

I ordered the burger combo (with added bacon and egg), poutine with cheese curd, Nanaimo bar, and a butter tart (shared with my colleague) for my meal of choice. For drinks, I ordered my beloved Barq’s root beer and a hazelnut-flavored latte.

Cafe menu 1
The Wandering Moose Cafe Menu 2
Cafe menu 3
Cafe menu 4

The appetizer

Prior to ordering an appetizer, I told Brian that I’m not a fan of poutine. I’d tried it once before in Hangzhou (my beloved city) and it was one of the worst things I’d ever eaten!

Brian assured me that his unique method of making poutine might be a better experience than my previous one so I gave it a try.

OH. MY. GOSH! 🤤

Brian's cheese curd poutine

Never, and I mean NEVER, did I expect the poutine to taste so rich! 😩

The strength of the cheese curds and gravy perfectly accented the hot, fresh homemade fries.

I couldn’t believe how satisfying the flavor of cheese curd was! From Brian’s explanation, I was a bit skeptical but, hey, gotta live a little, right? 😏 I’m so glad that I took his advice!

As my colleague and I waited for our main course, I enjoyed the nostalgia of sipping on a Barq’s Root Beer.

I enjoyed the nostalgia of sipping on a Barq's Root Beer at the Wandering Moose Cafe

Main course: Burger (57RMB)

I ordered the classic homemade burger, topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, ketchup, and dijon mustard.

These are the standard toppings that come with the burger but I saw at the bottom of the menu that I could add egg, bacon, ham, and/or chicken sausage to my sandwich.

Since I can be a burger snob (at times) 😌, I added egg (10RMB) and bacon (10RMB).

In case you’re wondering…YES, IT TASTED AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS, FRIEND!

This is my cheeseburger with all the standard toppings + egg + bacon

My colleague ordered the smoked meat sandwich. Brian cured this Montreal beef brisket for 4 days, then smoked it for 6 hours and served it up to my colleague with fresh mustard and sauerkraut with a side of golden homemade fries.

As we ate our meal, Brian invited us to sample his homemade Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic).

I love Jamaican ginger beer. Ever since I first had it years ago, it has replaced my love for ginger ale as it is more potent. The sample that Brian gave us had that potency. You could tell that it was made from real ginger, and not ginger powder.

Brian’s Homemade Canadian Nanaimo Bar with a Butter Tart

The Dessert

After demolishing my burger, it was time for dessert. wanted to order the pie and ice cream but they were out due to the holiday.

I’d never tried a Nanaimo bar before but since it was one of the main items recommended in the expat group chat, I ordered it along with a butter tart.

The Nanaimo bar was good, however, I am not a fan of coconut and I could taste something that resembled coconut flavor and flakes in the crust.

I ordered the butter tart because…well…I love butter. 😂

Verdict?

The half-pieced butter tart literally melted in my mouth. It was gone in 0.04 seconds! 😳

Okay, okay…maybe it took a bit longer than that but it was so soft, so buttery and so yummy that it was gone in a matter of moments.

The Atmosphere

The Wandering Moose Cafe was very clean and had a warm and cozy Canadian vibe. From the outside decor to the keepsakes mounted on the walls, to the perfectly positioned fireplace, to the tabled moose salt & pepper holder, the atmosphere felt a little like home.

The People

As mentioned earlier, the Wandering Moose Cafe is family-owned and operated. Brian and his daughter were the ones that took our orders and served us with smiles on their faces. They were friendly, attentive, responsive, and very welcoming.

The Leftovers

There were none. I ate everything. That’s how good the food is at the Wandering Moose Cafe!

The only leftover was this empty latte cup! 😂

Conclusion

Is the Wandering Moose Cafe “Burger-certifiable???”

Yes. Yes. YES!

The burger had the optimal serving of meat to bread ratio, was well-seasoned, and perfectly cooked for my liking, not to mention, the appetizer and the butter tarts!!! 😩

If you’re ever in the Kaifaqu area, or simply don’t mind taking a long ride out, you must visit Brian at the Wandering Moose Cafe for a real western burger experience. 😋

Also, I’d like to thank the owner, Brian Clark, and the Wandering Moose Cafe family for being friendly and courteous hosts. I look forward to returning to the restaurant and trying the pizza next time because I’ll be searching for the best Western Pizza Joint in the near future.

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