Reader. Writer. Romantic.

Posts tagged ‘Chinese’

Restaurant Review: Deer Garden Signatures

Location: 1213-8338 Capstan Way (Richmond)
Website: http://deergarden.ca/

On visits to Vancouver with our family, this restaurant has been a favourite among us. Besides being incredibly affordable, the meal is completely customizable. You start with choosing the soup base, there are about 11 different soup bases to choose from. Next you choose what kind of noodles you want out of a choice of ten (though one of them is not actually a noodle). Included in the meal is the choice of two add ins,additional add ins are $1.50 extra. Only two people in our party stuck with two options, the other three had four. Every dish comes with mushrooms, fresh bean curd, cilantro (menu says coriander, it’s not coriander), and siu choy. Lastly, the meal comes with a drink. Cold drinks are a dollar extra, but hot drinks aren’t. Pretty much every drink on their drink menu has a hot and cold option. The complete dishes ordered were as follows:

Peanut Sauce & Chili; Korean style sweet potato crystal noodles; pork liver, sliced beef, watercress, and century egg; cold almond milk

Thai Tom Yum Goong Soup; Udon; fish balls, bok choy; cold house  milk tea with pearls

Malaysian Laksa Soup; Egg noodles; deep fried fish cake, enoki mushrooms, beef brisket, and beef tendon; cold coffee and tea

Szechuan Spicy Soup; Vermicelli; beef brisket, century egg, bok choy, (one more that no one remembers); cold milk tea

Watercress & Almond Fish Soup; Egg noodles; deep fried fish cake, corn; some kind of lychee drink

The Peanut Sauce and Chili soup is never what I expect it to be. It’s really creamy in texture, but doesn’t have much of a peanutty taste. The main reason my sister loves this place so much, other than the customization, is that it is one of the last few places that still serve pork liver in noodle soups. She also happens to love century egg (also called thousand year duck egg), but I’m not so sure that it was any good in soup, she assures me that it was fine.

My friend struggled quite a bit with the udon noodles. It was adventurous her to try to eat udon with chopsticks. Even as an experienced user of chopsticks, undon noodles often pose a challenge with their annoyingly round shape and slippery texture. And as usual, she nibbled away at her dish and was full having barely made a dent.

I had the Malaysian Laksa. I know I’ve had it before somewhere and I’m probably the worst at describing such a thing, but it is so delicious. The soup is really creamy and has a lot of depth. I used to never know what to get from here, now I do. I’m still trying to find the perfect noodle, but a couple more times here should fix that.

I didn’t end up trying the other two, so I have no idea what they were like, but those who ordered them ate a lot of it, so I’m assuming they liked it (no complaints were heard).

The portion sizes are huge, the food customizable and delicious, what more could a person ask for? I guess they could work on their service, but when they’re trying to help a restaurant that is full with a line out the door, I guess running around like a chicken with its head cut off is a thing (a thing which I’m beginning to think is exclusive to Chinese restaurants). The thing that surprised me most was how busy the place was because it was way past the formal lunch hour (we went at about 3 o’clock). But in this case, the good outweighs the bad and I would give it a rating of 4/5.

Watercress & Almond Fish Soup

Watercress & Almond Fish Soup

Thai Tom Yum Goong

Thai Tom Yum Goong

Malaysian Laksa

Malaysian Laksa

Szechuan Spicy Soup

Szechuan Spicy Soup

Peanut & Chili Soup

Peanut & Chili Soup

我的心 (My Heart)

Prompt: Create something reflective of your cultural heritage
Warning: I am not fluent in Chinese, the grammar in these sentences may be completely off. BTW I did not write the English and then translate it, I did it the other way around, but I still suck >_<

我不可以對你說我的感覺 (I can’t tell you my feelings)
但是,沒有一天我不想你 (But there isn’t a day I don’t think about you)
我不可以做你的愛人 (I can never become your beloved)
因為你對我是個小孩子 (Because to you I am a child)
我也不可以離開你(And yet I can never leave you)
雖然你不明白我的心痛 (Although you can’t understand my heart ache)
我永遠愛你 (I will always love you)

Restaurant Review: Empress Palace Restaurant

Location: 3105-8650 112 Ave NW (Royal Oak Park)

It’s rare that I do a review on a Chinese restaurant and there is only one reason why: translation barriers. Well at least that is the biggest reason why I don’t do reviews for Chinese restaurants, but the other reason is that food doesn’t come out all at once and taking pictures would annoy my family who was trying to eat. Well I’ll give it a try and see how this goes

This was our second time coming to this restaurant. The first time I was not impressed, but I’m not the one with the car or money and my mom wanted Chinese food, so here we were. This time we ordered five dishes. The first was a Sichuan Beef dish. It was okay. A little salty and for a Sichuan dish, not spicy at all. Next is a staple with out family: chicken. Chicken is hard to mess up, so it was good. We had a crispy skinned chicken with soy sauce. It was nice and moist as chicken ought to be and the skin was perfect! Our primary choice of vegetables were pea shoots (dou mew) but they said that they were old, therefore dry and hard to eat so we went with tong choi (Latin name: Ipomoea aquatica, I have no idea what it’s called in English). I used to love tong choi until I had to clean the vegetables at home once…and I was ambushed by a bug. From then on these vegetables have been my sworn enemy. Well, okay, no. I like to exaggerate. These vegetable’s leaves are my favourite part even if they look a little like mush. The stalks are a bit hard, but edible and a great source of fiber. Wan yu (I think google is telling me this is called a Grass Carp) was our fourth dish. This is a river fish therefore has a bit of an earthy taste, but it’s not nearly as bad as some other types of fish (like the fish that live at the bottom of the river). The fish came with the usual ginger, onion and soy sauce, but this one had pork and some sort of pickled/salted Chinese vegetables on top as well. I felt that that was a weird combination, but everyone else appeared to have enjoyed it. The last dish was a seafood and tofu hot pot. There were lots of shiitake mushrooms and a fair assortment of seafood, which was nice. However, the ratio of sauce to seafood was a bit off (read: too much sauce). It was nice to put the sauce on the rice, but really, it’s just seasoning, water and corn starch…so…

This is one of the few restaurants I’ve been to that charges for rice. Normally that and soup are complementary. I mean it’s not a huge deal, but if you say you want three portions of rice…that’s really all they give you and there isn’t much to eat. Not only that, I was a bit disappointed by the service. They were very slow at resetting the table with chopsticks and another place setting, getting plates and bowls and whatever. Like the plates didn’t come until after we got our first dish which is like okay if you take that long to get out our food, you could have at least given us the plates in that time. The first time we went there was only one other table occupied. Today there were eight or so. Even so, the staff were standing around talking instead of tending to the client’s needs as they should have been. The waitress who helped us looked unkempt and when we asked her about an menu item she just laughed and said she wasn’t sure, repeating after my dad who asked so you’re not sure? The guy who first seated us came after the fifth plate came out and asked if it was okay as he was passing by, not even bothering to stop to listen. Maybe he heard, but usually it’s more polite to stop and ask rather than asking on the go.

There was a rather large party that came in and they sent back a drink. I kinda wonder what was wrong with it. Perhaps it was dirty or something. Anyways, same table a guy came up to me as I was heading off to get some dessert from the buffet table where the bathroom was. I was like what the hell, I don’t work here. Let me clarify. His words were: Were is your bathroom? I responded with their bathroom is over there. That annoyed me a little. Also, buffet was not open. Why wouldn’t you open it?! Maybe because you have no customers because your service and food aren’t that good?

I was not happy with this restaurant and I really don’t want to come back. It’s almost as bad as Urban Rice in Kensington (another place I refuse to return to). I would give this place a 2/5.

Restaurant Review: Central Grand

Location: 1623 Centre St N, Calgary, AB 

This is a restaurant I’ve been going to since I was a child. It was my go to place for dim sum and fancy family dinners with my extended family, usually for grandma’s birthday or something like that. It still keeps the traditional method of serving dim sum, that is, ladies will wheel a cart loaded up with food around offering their goods. I prefer this to the restaurants that give you a paper to tick off what you want because even if you can’t speak or read Chinese or don’t know the English translation of Chinese dim sum dishes you can always just point to what you want. Of course, the downside is that some of the cart ladies can be rather pushy, trying to get you to buy their more expensive dishes and then there is the noise. Because they are pushing their carts around, they need to call out what they have on them because lifting the lid would eventually make the food cold and would take way too long. But it’s not a turn off really as it has a traditional Chinese feel to it. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant where everyone was quiet, like when I go to a Greek or Italian restaurant. I think it has to in part do with the culture. China is considered to be a collectivist culture and the way dishes are presented reflect that. It is what Westerners call family style. It’s just how we eat. Besides, we’ve been taught that food is always better when we share. It’s similar to the idea that food is better when we are having it in good company. For me it’s both. Today we went for an early mother’s day brunch. Sometimes it feels like I’m yelling all the time and it gets my adrenaline pumping, but it’s really enjoyable. Maybe that’s where I developed the liking for arguments. Anyways, in the last few years the quality of the food has gone down slightly. Not significantly, there are still a few signature dishes that cannot be beaten.

So I’ll start with the staples of dim sum: har gow and siu mai, Har gow are shrimps that are wrapped in a semi chewy clear skin. The shrimps should be de-veined and slightly seasoned. There are many dim sum items that contain shrimp and there are many variations of the har gow. Other fillings that are often added are bean shoots, scallops, chives, and green onions. Of course once you add these other fillings in they are no longer called har gow, but have different names (ex. dow miu gow). Siu mai, the other staple, is made from pork. Often they have mushrooms mixed in as well, are topped with tobiko, and wrapped in a wonton wrapper. The pork used in the siu mai must be fresh (like super fresh, no keeping it in the fridge for a while, don’t freeze then thaw then use) otherwise it leaves a strange taste that I don’t know how to describe in English (it’s kinda like stale fridge taste?).

Other staples that our family have are: steamed daikon cake, chicken’s feet, spare ribs in black bean sauce, Chinese doughnut in rice crepe, shrimp wrapped in rice crepe, deep fried bean curd shrimp spring rolls and shrimp wrapped in eggplant. Sometimes we order a chow mein for my sister because otherwise we would spend over $100 for food. Today we didn’t do that.

It was all dim sum and we did have over $100 of food, but for six people. Those little dishes range from about $3-$5 depending on the size and cost of the ingredients. Like sushi, they add up. But unlike sushi, these dishes are mostly meat and fill you up really quickly. So if you’re a relatively small eater, a couple dishes and you’re done.

In reading the reviews posted on urbanspoon about this restaurant, I’d have to agree with some of them. My Chinese isn’t that good. Verbally, I can barely get by. My knowledge of food words is a little bit better because of the times I’ve gone out to eat at Chinese restaurants. When I go went with my non-Chinese friend, the staff were very accommodating and attempted to speak English although some were having more difficulty than others. So, I returned the favour and tried to speak Chinese. Though I wasn’t very good at it, I was able to communicate what I wanted to them. When I went with my sister, they didn’t extend the same courtesy. They automatically assumed that we could speak Chinese and were a little less patient with us, though they were still pretty nice about it. I could mostly understand what was being said but had trouble forming a coherent sentence and oftentimes, I would get the tone wrong.

My only complaint is that like many Chinese restaurants, this one uses MSG. It is really annoying how thirsty I get afterwards.

Despite some of its failings, I still think that this is a very good restaurant. I would rate it 3.5/5

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Eggplant with Shrimp and Bean curd roll

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Chicken Feet, Har Gow, Siu Mai

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Fried Bean Curd Shrimp Spring Rolls

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Shrimp Rice Crepe, Fried Chinese Doughnut wrapped in Rice Crepe,  and 2 variations of Har Gow

 

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