Saturday, October 31, 2009

So.cial at Le Magasin - Review for Oyster Bar

Restaurant: So.cial at Le Magasin - Review for Oyster Bar
Cuisine: Oysters/Seafood
Last visited: October 18, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC (Gastown)
332 Water Street, Gastown - In the 1911 Le Magasin building
Price Range: $20-30

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Oyster Bar: 2.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:
  • Daily Oyster happy hour 4-8pm (website says 4-8pm, but menu said 3-8pm)
  • Local oysters $1.25 (during happy hour)
  • Premium oysters $2.50 (during happy hour)
  • Freshly shucked
  • Served with Sherry vinaigrette
**Recommendation: Kusshi, Chef's Creek

To see my review on dinner at So.cial at Le Magasin

It's not because the oyster bar at So.cial at Le Magasin was outstanding that I'm creating a separate post. It was actually quite average or even slightly below. It's because I want to go into detail about the oysters we ordered and it was too much to include under one post. We also ordered about 60 oysters between 2 people so I am now quite familiar with my oysters.

Personally, I like the oyster bar at Joe Fortes, but you do pay more for it. I think they do a great job because the oyster shucker is a professional. Whereas at So.cial the shucker was the server so every so often I would get a sandy oyster becuase it wasn't shucked properly or with the right technique.

They're also inconsistent in the presentation - it was either served on ice, salt, or wood chips - which was the worst! Why wood chips?!?! I literally got a taste of nature at times when I got a sandy oyster with some wood chips stuck to the bottom of the shell...yuck!

A mix of Fanny Bay's, Chef's Creek & Kuushi oysters...served on wood chips...ew wood chips!

An excellent oyster bar should always come with all the fixings: lemons, cocktail sauce, Tobasco and always some housemade So.cial it's served with their housemade vinaigrette but everything else is upon request.

Somewhat on the bright side the oysters are fresh and they get batches in every couple days, but not daily...

The Oyster Bar
  • A mix of Chef's Creek and Kusshi oysters.
  • Fanny Bay's 3/6 - Local
    • Medium sized, firm, plump, smooth, cucumber finish
    • These are the standard oysters you see everywhere.
  • Chef's Creek 4.5/6 - Local
    • Medium sized, firm flesh
    • These were very plump and very creamy.
    • Very rich and hearty in texture and flavour.
  • Malpeque 2.5/6 - Premium
    • Salty and almost crisp because it was salty.
    • Has a bite to the end, sharper flavour.
    • Chef's Creek on the top row.
    • Kusshi on the bottom row.
  • Kusshi 6/6 - Premium
    • These are my favourites!
    • There small, but good things come in little packages...sometimes
    • Small size, ultra-clean flavour, buttery texture, fruity finish
    • Buttery texture but not creamy, not as rich as Chef's Creek for sure.
    • Refreshing and smooth... I love these!
To see my review on dinner at So.cial at Le Magasin

So.Cial at Le Magasin on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 30, 2009

Harvey's Coupon - FREE Burger

  • Expires November 5, 2009

So.cial at Le Magasin

Bison Steak

Restaurant: So.cial at Le Magasin
Cuisine: Canadian/First Nations (Coastal Peoples)/Regional/Contemporary
Last visited: October 18, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC (Gastown/Downtown)
332 Water Street, Gastown - In the 1911 Le Magasin building
Price Range: $20-30

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4 (Food is actually 3.5, but the extra .5 goes to creativity & effort)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:
  • Authentically Canadian/Regional menu
  • Features authentic First Nations/Coastal People's cuisine
  • Almost everything is homemade/from scratch
  • Menu not for everyone - can be too creative to the point of not good
  • Most reduced reduction I've ever tried
  • Homemade breads
  • Seasonal menu - changes often
  • Local/Organic where possible
  • Oyster bar available
  • Full wine bar
  • Casual fine dining
  • Offer 3-4 course prix fixe menu
  • Mon-Fri - Lunch
  • Sat-Sun - Brunch
  • Everyday dinner at 5pm
  • Daily happy hour 3-8pm (Oysters on special)
  • Also apart of So.cial Le Magasin Butcher Shop and Deli (located on other side of building)
**Recommendation: Bison Steak, Organic Chicken, Canadian Cheese Plate, Bannock

This is almost the only restaurant in Vancouver serving all Canadian/First Nations cuisine. The chef is First Nations himself and has only been there for about 4 months. The menu is really interesting and you definitely get a feel for that regional cuisine and super Canadian theme. Sure there are gourmet twists here and there that makes it not as "authentic", but the main ingredient and concept is quite Canadian. The fact that it's discretely located in the basement of a building in historic Gastown also adds to the overall charm and Canadian pride the restaurant offers.

We originally came here for the oyster friend has never met an oyster he didn't love. About sixty oysters after...yes between 2 people...we managed to still try their entrees and desserts. Come to think of it, I'm going to dedicate a separate post just for the oysters.

I can definitely taste the passion and love for cooking the chefs/cooks/kitchen have...they pay so much attention to detail. I've never had a sauce/gravy as reduced as the ones they serve here. They make everything from scratch - they even pickle their own pearl onions - and that was more or less a garnish! With that being said, I do appreciate their efforts and creativity - however with all that effort and creativity the food should have tasted better. Sometimes they were trying to do too much and it was overkill, or the idea was there but the flavours were just a bit off and not thought out thoroughly.

The menu isn't for everybody. If you're not into exotic, overly creative, or adventurous dining then you'll probably think everything tastes off or weird here. I'm into "weird" combinations of flavours and cooking outside of the box, so I was able to appreciate it even if it didn't taste great.

Added note: If you want to try this restaurant you better go soon because they're reinventing themselves - changing names and everything. However they are staying with the 100% Canadian/First Nations theme.

On the table:
  • **Bison Steak 6/6
    • Breaded bison steak with mushroom and cranberry reduction, smoked quail's egg, potato croquette, mushrooms & carrots.
    • If you've never tried bison it basically tastes like steak, but a bit sweeter. It's not gamey at all, so it's definitely not like lamb. This one was really tender and moist and cooked medium rare.
    • They bread it with a very traditional First Nations bread called bannock.
    • Bannock is a flat quick bread that is typically baked or roasted around a campfire. It's amazing!
    • The bannock is homemade and they wrap it around the bison and deep fry it. The bannock is so crispy it tastes just like crackling! Crackling is the fatty skin on pork that gets really crispy when it's roasts. It becomes super crunchy and sweet almost like candy. That's exactly what this bannock tastes like and you don't have to feel guilty for eating it because it's "healthier" than pork fat
    • It's ridiculous how good they make it here. As you can see it's multiple layers of deep fried bannock. It's so good! I think they even sweeten the bannock with a little maple syrup. That's traditional how bannock is eaten anyways.
    • The mushroom and cranberry reduction is insane. It's so thick and sticky and there's whole cranberries in it. It's quite sweet but a slightly tart at the same time. It's not necassarily the best tasting, but it goes with the bison well since the bison is naturally sweeter. It's also really really reduced.
    • I also appreciated the little details like the mini potato croquette and the single smoked quail's egg. It gave you just enough to want you craving more.
  • **Organic Chicken 4/6
    • Organic chicken with wild mushrooms, glazed sunchokes, pearl onions, blueberry confit and chicken jus
    • The chicken was very tender and not dry at all. I think they pan fry it first and then let it finish cooking in the oven. It has a crispy caramelized and flavourful exterior. It wasn't the juiciest chicken ever, but it was still really good.
    • The sauce on this is again ridiculous. I can't emphasize how reduced it was. It wasn't necessarily the greatest in terms of flavour - but in terms of quality it's top notch. It tasted like they used a pound of fresh blueberries and reduced it to 2 tbsp. It's the thickest reduction I've ever had to date. Surprisingly it actually wasn't that sweet even though it looks and is the texture of caramel. The cranberry sauce on the bison is sweeter and tastes better. This blueberry reduction is more hickory tasting almost like a charred taste. It's very syrupy and not tangy at all. It literally coats your whole mouth.
    • The menu said with pearl onions, but they forgot them in mine.
    • The glazed sunchokes were I can't say good, but just different. This is what I mean by trying to do too much. I think the dish would have went better with Yukon potatoes or something simple like that. They had too much going on. Sunchokes taste like raw potatoes too so they should have gone with something that just tastes better.
    • The mushrooms were terrific and I'm pretty sure they were dried Chanterelle mushrooms. It's one of the best mushrooms, a gourmet mushroom that's almost like an apricot. Dried mushrooms work better for sauces because they absorb flavours well and get all plump and juicy in the cooking process. The sauce definitely had an intense wild mushroom flavour and there were lots!
  • Jellied Buttermilk 1/6
    • Chamomile glazed bannock, peaches and vanilla cured fennel.
    • Another example of trying to do too much and letting creativity take over.
    • It's an interesting concept that just doesn't fly in the makes me think they didn't even try it. There's no way they could have thought this tasted good or that customers would like it. It felt like something a test kitchen would make...and then toss.
    • The jellied buttermilk is almost tasteless, except maybe a bit sour. It literally tastes like buttermilk mixed with gelatin powder. I could see it was infused with real vanilla bean, but it didn't matter - you couldn't taste it at all. Not sweet either.
    • The cured fennel tastes like onions without the onion flavour. I thought it was coconut meat but it wasn't sweet and had no flavour. I expect sweet for a dessert. There was the slightest licorice taste and that's because fennel has a natural licorice flavour.
    • The only thing good about this was the bannock, and unfortunately you only get a small sample of it. Smaller than a Timbit and it was the best part! (Bannock is a very traditional First Nations flatbread) They make it in house and it's freshly baked for this dish. It was rolled in icing sugar and had a sweetness to it from the chamomile glaze.
    • This dish was just poorly thought out and executed. It wasn't a dessert at all. They should have just stuck to what they do well and just served mini bannock balls. That's all they needed - simplicity!
  • **Canadian Cheese Plate 5/6
    • Camembert, Brie, Blue Cheese, Smoked Gouda. Served with homemade breads, olives, pickled pearl onions and drizzled with basil oil.
    • Sounds simple, but they dress it up like crazy. The reason why I recommend this is because the condiments it comes with is ALL made in house...except the olives and cheese. It's totally worth it with all the labour they put in!
    • This is a dish where they paid attention to detail and it actually paid off.
    • The pickled pearl onions: I couldn't believe that they actually pickle their own pearl onions. It's not like they need too and it's not even typical or expected when you're dining Canadian or First Nations cuisine!
    • They were very juicy, but also very acidic and very sour. It was very slightly sweet in the end notes but it definitely gets your saliva glands going because they are sooo sour.
    • It comes with 3 different homemade breads that are all baked fresh. They do a wonderful job with their breads!
    • Focaccia: Sea salt and herb crusted, very cake-like and very soft.
    • Sourdough: Nice and chewy
    • Crostini: Brushed with olive oil, and good enough to eat on their own. Like chips!
  • **Saskatoon Berry Iced Tea 4.5/6
    • Non alcoholic. Nice, light and refreshing. This is lightly steeped Saskatoon berry tea leaves sweetened with organic Agave nectar.
    • It was a very light tasting iced tea. It was very aromatic and florally. It tastes like melted gourmet candies, but it's not that sweet because there's no sugar, except for the agave nectar. This is a perfect summertime drink.

So.Cial at Le Magasin on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Freshly grated wasabi

Restaurant: Kingyo
Cuisine: Japanese/Izakaya/Fusion
Last visited: October 23, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC
871 Denman Street
Price Range: $20-30 (average bill per person)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5.5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 5
Additional comments:
  • Izakaya/Tapas style Japanese food
  • Trendy, creative/funky fusion dishes
  • Small selection of sashimi specialties
  • Fresh ingredients/homemade sauces
  • Menu includes description of sauces
  • Seasonal menus
  • Japanese owned/operated
  • Home made desserts
  • Home made ginger ale, and lychee liquor
  • Extensive drink menu
  • Winner of tons of awards
  • Busy/Lively
  • Attracts ages 20-35, large groups/couples
  • Reservations recommended
  • Complimentary frozen grapes at the end
  • Recently opened for lunch now (different menu)

Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, any of their daily Sashimi specials, Sockeye Salmon Carpaccio, Pressed Mackerel Sushi

Kingyo is one of my favourite Izakaya places in Vancouver - and we have a lot to chose from. The quality of food is up there and the service is lively with the staff greeting you from the moment you walk in. It has a contemporary Japanese atmosphere, young staff, and funky menu. Kingyo is great because they offer homemade sauces, pay attention to detail and presentation.

I've been here a bunch of times and have tried pretty much every item on the standard menu. However there's always something new to feature on their daily fresh sheet that includes chef's recommendations and daily/seasonal specials. I have yet to be disappointed and it's a solid choice for Izakaya.

What impresses me is the quality of sashimi and the proper techniques they use to cut it. That and the fact that they give you freshly grated wasabi, the best way to eat sashimi.

On the table:
  • **Ahi Tuna Carpaccio 6/6
    • Thinly sliced ahi-tuna and avocado over Japanese radish topped with garlic chips, kaiware radish wasabi mayo and soy based dressing.
    • Take your taste buds on a journey! This dish is amazing and one of my favourites. The texture is perfect and it's so finely executed and delicate to eat with beautiful colours too. Everything is finely sliced - the avocado and tuna the same size, and the "decorations" the same size.
    • Nothing is overwhelming because the ratio of all the ingredients is spot on. It's a very refreshing dish from all the fresh veggies and you still get a little creaminess from the avocado and tuna.
    • There's different levels of crunchiness, from the veggies, garlic chips (way better than croutons), and masago so it's almost like a salad. The dressing aids to the freshness - it's served with a tangy and citrusy vinaigrette and a wasabi mayo that gives the dish a slight kick...the Japanese radish sprouts also give it a slight spiciness.
  • **5 kinds of Sashimi 6/6
    • Scallop, local shrimp, local sockeye salmon, hamachi (Yellowtail tuna), ahi tuna
    • The 5 kinds of sashimi are chef's choice and it changes seasonally according to what is available.
    • You can't go wrong with ordering sashimi at Kingyo. They have a small selection of sashimi so you can guarantee it's fresh and very high in quality. Just look at it! It's beautiful pieces!
    • They serve it the authentic Japanese way where each slice is cut perfectly with a real sashimi knife. It's bite-size, how it should be, and each fish is cut differently to bring out maximum flavour. He uses proper technique to cut the fish so that you get to taste not only the flavour but the texture of it too. The salmon just melts in your mouth.
    • The shrimp is kind of sweet and really slimy.
    • The scallops are served with a dollop of mixed caviar which gives it a salty bite bringing out the scallops natural flavour; as well as for presentation.
  • **Yellowtail "Japan" sashimi and Ahi-Tuna "Hawaii" sashimi
  • Ahi-Tuna Hawaii 6/6
    • It's cut in cubes and on a slight diagonal like it should be. The flavour is outstanding and all it needs is a little wasabi. It's firm, hearty, and almost meaty in texture and flavour.
    • The only thing is I can tell they don't sell much of it (at $13.80) - so it's not as fresh as it should be. Don't get me wrong - you won't get sick from it or anything, but it's not day-of fresh.
  • Yellowtail "Japan" 6/6 versus Hamachi (Yellowtail) 4.5/6
    • I took a photo so you can see the difference between Yellowtail "Japan" (the lighter coloured one which we ordered separately), and Hamachi, also Yellowtail, but not from Japan (came on the 5 kinds of sashimi boat).
    • The Yellowtail "Japan" wins hands down, and at $13.50 it should. It's firmer and has this rich buttery flavour. It has a higher fat content and has more flavour, it's delicious!
  • Sizzling Stone Sea Urchin Bibimbap 3/6
    • Sea urchin, salmon caviar, prawn, squid, & mixed seasonal veggies on premium Koshi Hikari rice served in a stone bowl.
    • This is a Japanese spin on a very popular Korean rice bowl the "bibimbap".
    • They serve it in a very hot stone bowl and the server does the mixing for you at the table. He shows you what you're getting and then does the mixing. They press the rice to the sides of the bowl so it can crisp up. The longer you wait to eat it the crispier it gets and the better it is.
    • The texture is a little gummy and slimy from the sea urchin and the saltiness is a fishy saltiness (from the sea urchin and salmon caviar). They used green onions, Enoki mushrooms, celery and water chestnuts to give it crunch which it really needed. None of these ingredients really have flavour though so I found it a bit bland. I understand if they want to show off the natural flavour of the sea urchin, but it was a big bowl of rice and it needed something extra.
    • Still good, but compared to the other dishes there's better. I would also prefer the Korean bibimbap to this.
  • Tako-Wasabi (Raw or cooked) 4/6
    • Chopped octopus and pickles marinated in wasabi flavoured sauce. Your choice of raw, cooked, or half and half.
    • I ordered it raw, but be prepared for a super slimy dish! This is perhaps the slimiest, gooiest and gummiest dish ever...but it's supposed to be. It's really fresh and it's marinated in its own juices. The pickles and wasabi cut through the sliminess a bit. They use freshly grated wasabi in the sauce and that makes the world of difference.
    • I wouldn't mind trying it half and half, but I hesitate because octopus can be easy to overcook and it becomes really tough and chewy.
    • Raw octopus is also a delicacy so it seems like a waste to cook it.
    • It's served with strips of nori. Eat it like a taco: add a spoonful of chopped octopus and pickles to a sheet of nori and eat.
  • Grilled Black Cod 3/6
    • Grilled "saikyo miso" marinated black cod.
    • This was good, but also nothing really special or creative.
    • The saikyo miso is made of fermented soy beans. The one they used for this fish is a sweet miso gravy. The sauce was a bit chalky - which miso naturally is, almost like a sweet peanut butter, but not as thick. It didn't really absorb into the black cod, but was more of a condiment. The fish was really tender and smooth with a nice crispy skin.
    • Personally I think the Chinese do a better cod.
  • Chestnut & Yuzu Gelato 2/6
    • Made in house, but it's not that good.
    • They definitely use the real thing in creating the flavours. The two together were a good balance because the yuzu was light and the chestnut was thicker and creamier.
    • Simply put it tastes like an Asian dessert - not like the gelato you're used to.
    • Yuzu: a slight licorice taste and you get a hint of lemon peel too. It's sorbet like.
    • Chestnut: very potent chestnut flavour. It almost tastes like red bean, which I don't like. A little chalky tasting.
    • Chocolate Brownie-cake thing: ew, no. This was really bad. It tasted like it was made with Splenda sugar, it was really fake and there was no chocolate taste. Just look at the texture, you can tell it was dry and dense.
  • Sake-Kasu Tiramisu 1.5/6
    • I didn't order it on this visit, but I've tried it before.
    • It's really boozey! You can really taste the sake and I think they went overboard. It was overpowering. It's also really rich and creamy and it's hard to finish the whole thing by yourself.
    • Complimentary frozen grapes served at the end.

Kingyo on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shanghai River - Review 2

Tan Tan Noodles

Restaurant: Shanghai River
Cuisine: Shanghainese/Chinese/Asian/Dim Sum
Last visited: Multiple - October 17, 09
Area: Richmond, BC
7831 Westminster Hwy
Price Range: $20-30

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very Good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:
  • Known as the best/Richmond's most popular Shanghai restaurants
  • Higher end Shanghai/Chinese Restaurant in Vancouver/Richmond
  • Hit or miss items - but when it's a hit it's a big hit!
  • Busy/Crowded/Line-ups all the time
  • Reservations recommended
  • Menu in Chinese and English - some pictures
  • Shanghainese staff in front and in kitchen
  • Very popular to locals/Chinese/main stream/tourists
  • Should go with at least 8 ppl - how the menu/portions are designed
  • Visible "Xiao Long Bao" (famous steamed pork dumplings) making station
  • Dishes meant to be shared
  • Private dining room available

**Recommendation: Steamed mini pork dumplings "Xiao Long Bao", braised eggplant with chili sauce, deep fried crab with chili & garlic.

To see my 1st review for Shanghai River

To see my 3rd review for Shanghai River

After talking to my friend from Shanghai I have learned that Shanghai River is not really authentic Shanghainese food. It's still good, but just not authentic. I can see where she's coming from because I've been to Shanghai and when comparing the food I get it.

It's true the dishes here are influence by Chinese/Cantonese cooking. The food is still good, but it's just not authentic Shanghainese. They need to cater to the tastes of the majority so being in Richmond - it's no doubt that the food will have a Chinese/Cantonese flair.

For the record we ordered 16 steamed mini pork dumplings aka "xiao long bao" between 2 people. Don't think we missed out! ;) I just didn't bother to write about it again because it's already in my 1st review for the restaurant.

On the table:

  • Pan fried pea tips 6/6 (Just depends on if you like the veggie though)
    • These are stir-fried snow pea tips. I love this vegetable. It has the flavour of snow peas and the texture of a firmer and sturdier spinach. It kind of tastes like it too, but better.
    • They make it really well here and it's a simple recipe, but who cares when it's good. You get a lot of it too, a nice pile enough for 4-6 no problem.
    • It's not oily even though it's pan-fried and they saute it with a light soy sauce to give it some saltiness and flavour. Nice and healthy .
    • They style if more Chinese than Shanghainese.
  • Tan Tan Noodles 4.5/6
    • This is the most unique way I've seen tan tan noodles done. There's definitely a professional chef in the kitchen and his take on it was solid - although I don't know how "authentic" it was .

    • I have no idea how he made the soup base. It was served with this thick creamy and frothy layer - it looked like a latte! It was really flavourful and I think it could have been a mix of sesame and peanut butter sauce. There were some finely ground peanuts, but not enough of them. There was also lots of finely ground black pepper which is different because usually it's just spicy from all the chili oil they use.
    • It wasn't actually that spicy for me. It wasn't that oily either, which means it wasn't as "authentic" because Shanghai food, and especially this dish, is really really heavy with oil. This is traditionally supposed to be served with red chilies too, and those were nowhere to be found. Nonetheless I still though the soup tasted great.
    • The sliced cucumbers are great because it lightens up the dish and cuts through all the richness and spiciness.
    • The noodles are nice and fresh and made in house. They absorb really easily though and got soft quick.
    • The could have used more mince pork because there wasn't that much at all. Actually everything was just a bit too minced and finely almost became powdery. The pork was so minced it blended in with the peanuts.

Shanghai River on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dragon's View Chinese Cuisine

Steamed Meat Dumpling or "Chiu Chow Fun Guo"
Steamed Meat Dumpling or "Chiu Chow Fun Guo"

Restaurant: Dragon's View Chinese Cuisine
Cuisine: Dim Sum/Chinese/Asian
Last visited: Multiple - October 16, 09
Area: Richmond, BC
#1298 - 3779 Sexsmith Road
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very Good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:
  • Located on the second floor
  • Considered a higher end dim sum restaurant
  • Traditional dim sum dishes
  • Dim Sum should be more gourmet than it is
  • Discount if you arrive before 11am
  • Ordering form service
  • Busy/line-ups at peak hours
  • Fancy set up
  • Serves dim sum and dinner
  • Previous owners of Wah Wing Seafood (the restaurant that used to be there)

**Recommendation: Steamed Meat Dumplings or "Chiu Chow Fun Guo", Sticky Rice Meatball

This place is over a year old and was previously Wah Wing Seafood Restaurant. Wah Wing closed down due to health issues or something scary like that. The same owners renovated the place and created Dragon's View Chinese Cuisine. Don't be scared, even though it is the same owners they've completely changed it and it's clean and safe now.

It's considered an upscale dim sum place, but prices do not match or exceed Kirin. If you go before 11am they offer a discount like most dim sum places. Most of the items were ok, but I prefer Rainflower or Kirin to this one. The items aren't as executed as finely as it's competitors, although they still taste better than the average dim sum. The decor is quite nice and the second floor location gives it that royal feeling it aims for. I just feel like it banks on it's location/decor/ambiance rather than the food they serve. The dim sum doesn't match quite as well, but I would still come again.

On the table:
  • Steamed Shrimp dumplings aka "har gow" 3/6
    • Har gow is a staple item when you go for dim sum - it's every dim sum restaurants specialty. Most of the time you can gauge how good everything else will be depending on the har gow.
    • The skin was a little dry and it was a bit sticky. I'm assuming they used no oil to give it that shiny finish. However sometimes the oil helps to give it that smooth texture you expect when eating a shrimp dumpling.
    • The shrimp was nice and crunchy, but the one at Rainflower is bigger, juicier and more plump.
    • They put a little more bamboo shoot than most other places to give it that extra crunchiness.
  • **Chiu Chow Fun Guo 6/6
    • A dumpling stuffed with minced pork, dried shrimp, water chestnuts, celery, green onion and bamboo shoots.
    • This was delicious. The filling is well marinated in this pork based gravy sauce. It's nice and salty from the soy. It's not a creamy gravy either.
    • The skin on these dumplings are thicker than the skin on the shrimp dumplings. It's a little more gummy and very chewy, probably made with more rice flour/gluten.
    • I love the texture of these. With all these ingredients in the filling you get a bite of everything. It's almost like an Asian 'turkey' stuffing without the breadcrumbs wrapped in a dumpling.
  • Steamed rice rolls with dried shrimp and chives 3/6
    • I always order these whenever I see them on the menu. They pour a sweetened soy sauce on it and you eat them with peanut sauce and hoisin sauce.
    • Traditionally these are known as "peasant food," but nowadays they try to make them more gourmet. In order to do this they make them fresh and they roll the rice roll out nice and thin. The ones here are not as thin or delicate as they should be for this type of restaurant.
    • The shrimp was also dispersed inconsistently and some rolls were thicker than other ones.
  • Steamed BBQ Pork Buns 2.5/6
    • Hmmm I'm really not sure if they make these in house. It kind of reminded me of store bought ones, but it's just my own assumption and I could be wrong.
    • They were freshly steamed and really hot when they came out, but the filling was a bit dry. That's why I think they could have been frozen. It wasn't saucy enough and the pork meat wasn't all lean. They had some fatty pieces in there that was distracting for me. Sure fat adds more flavour, but the ones made in house nowadays use pretty lean BBQ pork.
    • The good thing was that the filling wasn't a bright red colour, so I know they didn't use much red dye which is great...which also makes me think they could have made them in house.
  • Steamed Fish Maw with Shrimp Paste 3/6
    • For me the dish when done well is a 6/6, but the way they make it here is a 3/6.
    • Fish maw is the gas bladder of the fish. I know that sounds pretty weird. Fish maw is a Chinese delicacy so this dish is considered a "high-class" treat.
    • Fish maw is the texture of a sponge and it's also a little bit slimy, mostly because it absorbs so many juices. This is a savoury dish.
    • They steam it in a very flavourful fish or chicken broth so it's sponge-like characteristic just absorbs all the flavours and it gets really juicy. The fish maw held so much juice that the shrimp paste tasted dry.
    • The shrimp paste is basically a shrimp cake. It's also where I mainly deducted points. It's not very good. I think they mixed it with fish paste or something. It was a rough texture instead of crunchy. It was course and a bit bitty as you chewed it.
    • There was a good ratio of fish maw to shrimp paste though.
    • The dish is served with the broth the fish maw is poached in. Drink this - it's really good. However I've had more flavourful ones before. I like it when they add steamed Gogi berries to the broth...they didn't do that here.
  • **Sticky Rice Meatball 3/6
    • This is basically a chicken meatball (the frozen ones you can buy at the Asian supermarket) rolled in white and black sticky rice and some pork gravy.
    • It's not like it's exceptionally good or anything, but the reason I recommended it is because it's one of their own creations. I've only seen it done why not try it.
    • It's simple but it tastes good. It's almost the same as the steamed sticky rice - the gravy is definitely the same.
    • I like the combination of black and white sticky rice. Black sticky rice just has more texture to it, it's a bit firmer almost like wild rice.
    • There's nothing gourmet about this dish, but for an upscale dim sum restaurant I kind of expect original dishes to be somewhat more gourmet.
  • Stir-fried Mixed vermiceilli with veggies 3.5/6
    • I'm actually not exactly sure what name this dish is under on their menu, but I can describe it.
    • It's a mix of cellophane (mung bean) vermicelli and rice flour vermicelli noodles. They stir fry it with Shiitake mushrooms, noodle thin carrots, Enoki mushrooms, green onions and dried scallops.
    • I love the texture of this dish. Everything is chopped into noodle thin strands so you get a bite of everything and you can actually taste all the ingredients. It's well-balanced and consistent in flavours. A little crunchy from the veggies, juicy and sweet from the mushrooms, and soft and slippery from the 2 kinds of noodles. It wasn't too oily either. It's a pretty creative dish that has a lot of flavour without a lot of sauce.

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