DimSumptuous 11: Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant

Ah good ol’ Kerrisdale. When I asked ChaSiewBen where he would want to go eat, he suggested a list of Golden-named restaurants. There were.. quite a few to choose from. There’s Golden Swan, Golden Harvest, Golden House… it’s almost like Asians really like gold or something (ha!)… But eventually we settled on the well-known Kerrisdale stalwart Golden Ocean.


Tiny SignTiny Sign

Located upstairs from a Szechua/Hunan restaurant (New Chongqing), you have to trudge up some steps and heave open the massively heavy door in order to enter Golden Ocean. While the exterior is not much to look at, the interior was bright, clean and relatively modern.

That's a big painting.. of something
That’s a big painting.. of something

Right away we noticed that Golden Ocean still uses carts to tote around their dim sum dishes. Always a plus in our books! But, something didn’t seem quite right.. It took a little while to notice that of all of the dishes being brought around, none of our usual favorites were included. For whatever reason, it turned out that only the “special” dishes were brought around, and that all of our usual dishes had to be ordered a la carte. Compounding this oddity, we didn’t have a menu or a order sheet to order from so we had to order blind to what was available or even the price. A strange setup, but perhaps this is the way they roll in Kerrisdale. If you have to ask the price…

Fried Radish Cake

Fried Radish Cake – light crisp, smooth filling 3/5

Despite the oddness, we’re not here for the menus, we’re here for the dim sum! We started things off with an order of the Egg Yolk Buns. These were gooey and had the right amount of sweetness to the filling — that is, if we had enough of it. You can see, the ratio of filling-to-bun was completely off, and as a result, there was barely any filling.

11_goldenocean-2504
Egg yolk bun of failure

There was also a special “swan pastry” that came by that we decided to try. While impressive to look at, the filling was completely unmemorable, as evidenced by our complete lack of memory on what the filling as was! The exterior was flakey and had a good mouthfeel without being too buttery.

11_goldenocean-2507
Swan pastries 3/5

 

Next came Sesame Spring Rolls. These had a nice crunch and aroma due to the sesame crust, and the shrimp were well-seasoned and a snappy texture due to the addition of water chestnut.

11_goldenocean-2520
Sesame Spring Rolls 4/5

The Shrimp Dumplings carried on this trend of snappy shrimp that was well-cooked. Overall, everything was decent with this dish. Skin was nicely translucent, filling was moist and well-seasoned. However, there also wasn’t anything particularly special about this dish that made it stand out more than normal.

11_goldenocean-2512
Prawn Dumplings: snappy shrimp, thin skin, good balance 3.4/5

The Pork Dumplings were also not particularly special, but unfortunately suffered from poorer execution. While average in taste and portion size, the dumplings were slightly overcooked, and had a bit of the inedible  hard congealed fat that was definitely off-putting.

Pork Dumpling: snappy shrimp but mushy pork with congealed fat 2.8/5
Pork Dumpling: snappy shrimp but mushy pork with congealed fat 2.8/5

Next came the Phoenix Talons, or in other words, chicken feet! These were completely average in every regard. Flavour, texture, even portions were just “average.”

11_goldenocean-2524
Talons of Phoenix! 3/5

We finally ended the meal with an order of the Mango Dessert Rolls. These were sheets of many meat, wrapped around creme fraiche with mango filling. Overall a hit with the table, despite its simple premise.

11_goldenocean-2522
Mango dessert rolls 4/5

In the end, despite the oddness in the ordering style, the standard dishes were completely average overall, with some interesting special dishes. Sadly, these specials also came with special pricing, which was disappointing seeing as how pricing was not visible at any time during our visit. I guess it’s true, if you have to ask how much it cost… you probably won’t like the answer.

Here are our ratings!

[table caption=”Standard Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score (out of 5)
Shrimp Dumpling, 3.4
Pork Dumpling, 2.8
Spare Ribs, 3.2
Tripe/Tendon, 2.8
Fried Daikon Cake, 3.0
Buns/Pastries, 3.8
[/table]

Prices for standard dim sum item ranged from MYSTERIOUS to WHO KNOWS? and our members felt that this gave us BELOW AVERAGE value for the quality of food.

[table caption=”Noteworthy Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score
Sesame Spring Roll, 4/5
Mango Dessert Roll, 4/5
“Swan” Pastry, 3/5
[/table]

All things considered, we thought that Golden Ocean had an overall rating of: 3 out of 5 (AVERAGE)

Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dimsumptuous 10: Phoenix Garden

It must be difficult setting up a restaurant next to Bon’s Off Broadway… their notorious $3 breakfast is impossible to ignore as you walk into Phoenix Garden and every dish of dim sum makes you think, “Is this worth more than an entire breakfast next door?”

Phoenix has a small parking lot in the rear, but more likely you’ll be looking for parking on the street. Thankfully, there’s plenty of legal street parking available in the area and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a spot.

In stark contrast to the greasy spoon next door, Phoenix Garden is a clean and comfortable environment with above average decor and service. The menu has pictures of each dish to make ordering easier. Food came quickly, was presented well and the tea service was excellent. One of the servers even offered little Chhoa Yook Bao some candies when she started to fuss.

10_phoenixgarden-2485
The shrimp and eggplant was presented on this fancy looking dish. Opinions were divided as some found it overdone.

The portion sizes here were all on the larger side without compromising the taste. All our staples – Ha Gow, Siu Mai and Spare Ribs were noted on their ample volume. While the food was generally moist and flavourful, it was generally agreed that their above average rating was earned for size – not taste.

We also ordered the Cha Siu So as our pastry for the day and while it was fluffy and flaky, it was sorely lacking in cha siu content. It was actually a little like biting into a roll of puff pastry. A better name for this dish may have been No Cha Siu So.

The other disappointing dish was the tripe/tendon. Like several of the other dishes, it was a generous portion. However, in this case it was bland and mushy. The only dish where food was left on the table – a rare case indeed for our dim sum enthusiasts.

10_phoenixgarden-2488
No one even wanted to finish this pile mush

Still, the meal ended on a high note. The koi shaped mango pudding was a big hit at our table. It was entertaining to watch as they were carefully filleted, restaurant-style. And it really encapsulated the experience well. Phoenix Garden serves fairly average tasting food, but presents it well, gives you a lot of it, and allows you to enjoy it in a pleasant setting with good staff. Although it was on the more expensive side for us, this restaurant earned one of the higher ratings we’ve given out so far. A very respectable overall score of 3.5.

Final Ratings:

Ha gow: 3.5
Siu mai: 3.5
Spare ribs: 3.5
Tripe/Tendon: 2.8
Lo bak go: 3.33 (points lost from low XO, but gained from crispy texture smooth interior)
Buns/Pastry: 3.5
Decor: 3.83
Service: 3.83

Phoenix Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dimsumptuous 9: Good Choice Restaurant 

While I had to venture out to Oakridge Center for an always-awkward dental appointment, I thought: we should go for dim sum! But where would we go? I don’t want to pick a bad choice, and I don’t want a mediocre choice, so where could we go? So when I found Good Choice Restaurant I thought: wow, that’s exactly what I’m looking for!

I hope this is a ... Good Choice for a restaurant
I hope this is a … Good Choice for a restaurant

Heh all joking aside, Good Choice Restaurant is a smaller place (as Chinese places go) located on Fraser and E44th in the aptly-named Punjabi Market area. If you ever need fabric, Indian sweets, or cheap produce, this is the place. But we wanted to know if this was also the place for a good choice of dim sum? We rustled up ChaSiewBen-Caricerolline, LoBakMo, HoGow, MichSaiGohBow along with newcomers DimSumthia, and ChaSiewSoo to find out.

The interior was typical of a Chinese restaurant. The clientele was mostly from the neighbourhood, with a lot of familiarity between customers and the servers. As soon as we arrived we got seated promptly. Wow, reservations at a Chinese restaurant actually meaning something!? No… they just weren’t full yet. In fact, there was never a lineup longer than two groups  throughout our meal, lending even more to the neighbourhood feel.

We started things off with an order of the Pan Fried Green Beans w/Minced Meat & Preserved Veg ($6.95). These were crunchy and tasty, but we didn’t notice the preserved vegetable flavour, and it became too salty after a few bites. We also noted that it seemed to be quite a small portion for the price, which didn’t make much sense since none of the ingredients were particularly exotic or pricey. Perhaps there’s a global bean or pork shortage?

DSC_2424
Tasty, crunchy, and small..

Next, we had the Stir Fried Radish Cake in Spicy XO Sauce ($6.25). These had a semi-crisp exterior with smooth interior consistency, although the spiciness level was high, the XO sauce flavour was a bit inconsistent piece to piece, but overall this was well-received with the radish flavour coming through.DSC_2425

We continued with Spicy Deep Fried Squid ($7.25) that had a definite radioactive orange glow, Despite this (when have we ever let appearances stop us from eating?) we found it slightly over-crisp, with a somewhat thicker batter, but it had good peppery-salt flavour and just the right amount of seasoning. However, with the price commanded by this dish, we expected a larger portion. Does the radioactive orange colour cost extra?

Nu-clear orange squid
Nu-clear orange squid

The Deep Fried Eggplant wrapped with Shrimps ($4.95) came next. This was fairly bitter from being overcooked and the skin had developed a toughness which gave it an unpleasant mouthfeel when combined with the mushy overcooked interior.

Purple eggplant of bitterness
Purple eggplant of bitterness

The Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($4.95) had a thin, translucent skin that could have been a touch chewier, although it generally held up well. The shrimp filling was flavourful with juicy shrimp that was generally well-received by our group. These dumplings are typical of all dimsums. One may even say that ordering this was…A Good Choice. Heh.

DSC_2432
Standard, but good. Good Choice for a standard.

Then came the Beef Tripe & Tendon in Special Sauce (4.95) which was tender and had a good flavour to the sauce (well, I guess it is special) but we noted a lack of much taste to the tripe & tendon itself separate from the sauce. But overall it was still a reasonably pleasant dish.

Good flavour, but not quite beefy..
Good flavour, but not of beef..

The Steamed Spareribs with Pumpkin ($3.95) were tender, but they also had a fair amount of fat and as a result, the oil content was quite high. It was also notably under-seasoned, and the pumpkin flavour wasn’t noticeable at all. Overall this dish was a disappointment.

DSC_2440
You can sort of see a tiny bit of pumpkin… if you squint…

The Deep Fried Soft Tofu ($7.25) was nice and crispy on the outside, with silky soft tofu on the inside. Even though they came underseasoned, it was well-executed and had a great contrast in texture.

Finally, the Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumplings ($4.95) were large, tender, and surprisingly had bits of watercress throughout which changed the flavour profile quite a bit. This, however, polarized the group. While many enjoyed this addition, some also disliked the texture and flavour combination.

More of that radioactive orange..
More of that radioactive orange..

Overall this place had mostly average food with only a few misses. However, the portion sizes didn’t match up to the prices for what you get. However, this lends itself to a less-busy location, and if you don’t mind the value proposition, it could be a Good Choice, but for us, it’s really more of an Average Choice.

Here are our ratings!

[table caption=”Standard Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score (out of 5)
Shrimp Dumpling, 3.5 – above average
Pork Dumpling, 2.9 – average
Spare Ribs, 2.8 – average
Tripe/Tendon, 3.0 – average
Fried Radish Cake, 3.0 – average
Buns/Pastries, 2.5 – average
[/table]

Prices for standard dim sum item ranged from $3.25-$7.25 and our members felt that this gave us BELOW AVERAGE value for the quality of food.

[table caption=”Noteworthy Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score
Spicy Deep Fried Squid, above average
Deep Fried Soft Tofu, above average
Deep Fried Eggplant wrapped with Shrimps, below average
[/table]

All things considered, we thought that Good Choice Restaurant had an overall rating of: 2.9 out of 5 (average)

Good Choice Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

DimSumptuous 8: Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant

This year, on Canada Day, Ca-RiceRoll-ine had to go in to work (what!), so we decided to pick a place along the Canada Line. How fitting! This time, ChaSiewBen, LauraSaoBao, ChowngYowPang, SuMai, MichSaiGowBao, and special guest ZekeMahGuun chose to drop in to Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant in Richmond because it was near Richmond Brighouse, and because they had interesting dishes like a black sesame egg tart!

It's sunny!
So sunny!

We had made reservations in advance, but in standard Chinese-restaurant style, all this meant was that we got the “next available table.” It was like Seinfeld said, they “know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to holddddd the reservation.” And really, that is the most important part, but I digress. They were, however, friendly to us and did eventually set up a large table top on top of a smaller table after we had been waiting for 20 minutes or so. With that said, the table service started to go downhill after that, with the server roughly manhandling our cutlery and plates, and us finding quite a few dirty bowls and cups.

Interior of great waiting
The interior of great waiting

What was surprising was the relatively small length of the dimsum menu. Although they had most of the standard dim sum favourites, they seemed to focus more on the higher-priced “specials” instead of the basic dishes.

But despite the wait (and the dirty dishes), we chowed down with Canadian gusto once we got our food. We started things off with Steamed Dumpling with Crab Meat and Meat ($4.98). These were fairly large, coming 3 to an order. The skin was translucent, but actually a bit too thin for the weight of the dumpling. The filling had a mixture of textures, but it was also on the dry side, due to the different cooking times for the various ingredients.

Crab meat? More like dry meat..
Crab meat and “meat”? More like dry meat..

Next, we had Steamed Prawn Dumplings ($4.98) which came 5 small dumplings to an order. Now the size of each items doesn’t normally matter as much as the ratio of skin to filling. We’ve had super-sized dumplings that had way too much filling, and small dumplings that had too much skin. These had a good ratio of skin-to-filling, and the skin was thin and translucent, but they were also over-done with the skin ripping and sagging, and the filling starting to dry out.

Wow! There’s 5 of them! Oh wait, 5 small ones..

We then had the Chef’s Special Meat Ball ($4.98). With a name like that, we just had to try it. What arrived though, was a chicken ball. Mind you, it was a good chicken ball, but a chicken ball nonetheless. It had decent chicken flavour and a smooth consistency but otherwise it was just a chicken ball.

Eating the "Chef's Special" meat ball... just sounds wrong
Eating the “Chef’s Special” meat ball… just sounds wrong

Next came the Deep Fried Daikon Spring Roll ($4.68) which was perfectly fried, with a light crispy exterior without any greasiness. The daikon filling inside was quite moist (almost wet really) and hot, which gave it a very pleasant contrast.

Daikon Surprise!
Daikon Surprise!

The Deep Fried Eggplant with Fish Paste ($4.98) was also nicely cooked, with a snappy bite to the fish paste while the eggplant was soft without being too mushy. The only (minor) complaint was that this dish came with 4 small pieces of eggplant, and as a result, there just wasn’t enough eggplant to balance the flavour of the fish paste.

Four pieces! Oh.. they're small again.
Four pieces! Oh.. they’re small again.

We then had the Steamed Pork Dumpling with Fish Roe ($4.98). These were normal-sized and properly steamed, with the outer wrap still having some texture and a smooth moist interior, but we detected a bit of grit, indicative of poor cleaning, and they were a bit under-seasoned. The fish roe also was flavourless and had a artificial-looking bright orange colour, which meant this dish rated a “meh.”

11-IMG_0631
Do we get super powers if we eat radioactive roe?

It was around this time that we noticed that the level of service started to ebb. In fact, it got to the point where we had new dishes arrive, but the server was so busy they couldn’t take away the empty plates.

Tower of no-service..
Tower of slow-service..

The next ones is a two-fer. Duck Feet with Pumpkin ($4.98) and Beef Tripe In Scallop Sauce $(?). Both of these suffered from the same problem: the natural flavours overpowered the sauce. The duck feet stayed very chewy and didn’t absorb the flavour of the sauce nor the pumpkin, indicative of insufficient braising time. Ironically the pumpkin itself managed to absorb the flavours wonderfully and became the (only) star of the dish. The beef tripe on the other hand, was completely overdone, with very little texture and the flavours overpowered the scallop sauce entirely.

Twin dishes of blehness
Twin dishes of blehness

The Steamed Spare Ribs with Garlic ($4.68) were tasty, with not too much fat and the fresh red bell peppers gave it a nice fresh acidic hit which contrasted nicely with the spare ribs.

Sharp, contrasty, like a good photo... which this is not.
Sharp, contrasty, like a good photo… which this is not.

We were wrapping up at this point, when we discovered that the famed Black Sesame Egg Tarts weren’t even available during dim sum. What a disappointment! However, ZekeMahGuun was still feeling hungry so he ordered a Steamed Turnip Cake ($4.68) which, although steamed and not pan-fried as usual, was a huge hit with everyone at the table. The dish was a mixture of smooth turnip paste, along with some larger chunks of fresh daikon which gave the dish a great texture as well as the occasional hit of moist daikon. It was so good, that both ChaSiewBen and MichSaiGoBao remarked,

It’s so good I didn’t notice it wasn’t fried!

"Looks like a 1, but tastes like a 4"
“Looks like a 1, but tastes like a 4”

We finished things off with an order of Deep Fried Tofu with Pepper and Salt ($6.95). Despite the fact that it was deep-fried, this dish also had some sort of light garlic vinegar added to it, which gave the outside a slight wet feel. Even with this strange setup, it actually had a great garlic flavour with hints of sour and salty/peppery notes.

Fried, wet, garlic, delicious
Fried, wet, garlic, delicious

Overall, there were some big hits and some big misses, and for a place with such a small dimsum menu, this doesn’t seem like it should be the case. The portion sizes were also a concern, although in some cases they gave you more per order (e.g. prawn dumplings and eggplant), generally the price was higher than expected. The service, although generally friendly, was very spotty at times, even for Chinese restaurant standards.

Here are our ratings!

[table caption=”Standard Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score (out of 5)
Shrimp Dumpling, 3.3 – AVERAGE
Pork Dumpling, 3.0 – AVERAGE
Spare Ribs, 3.4 – AVERAGE
Tripe/Tendon, 2.4 – BELOW AVERAGE
Buns/Pastries, 2.9 – AVERAGE
[/table]

Prices for standard dim sum item ranged from $3.98-$4.98 and our members felt that this gave us BELOW AVERAGE value for the quality and quantity of food.

[table caption=”Noteworthy Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score
Deep Fried Daikon Spring Roll, 4
Deep Fried Tofu with Pepper and Salt, 4
Deep Fried Eggplant with Fish Paste, 4
[/table]

All things considered, we thought that Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant had an overall rating of: 2.9 out of 5 (AVERAGE)

Click to add a blog post for Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant on Zomato

DimSumptuous 7: Wah Lun Chinese Restaurant

Despite living in North Burnaby for over 10 years, I actually have never made it to Wah Lun Chinese Restaurant. Well, you can chalk that up to having parents that choose restaurants by parking availability. Okay, that’s not entirely true. We did come here more than 10 years ago for a friend’s birthday dinner but back then it was run by a different owner and we almost overdosed on all the peppery-salt items we had because of birthday-girl’s ordering, but that’s another story… Anyways, we decided to bring the usuals MichSaiGohBao, HoGow, ChaSiewBen, Ca-RiceRoll-ine, SuMai, ChowngYaoPang, along with new member LoMaiGaiOrFan, back into the old ‘hood to check this place out back in late April.

Exterior. Not shown: half a parking lot.
Exterior. Not shown: half a parking lot.

Wah Lun Chinese Restaurant is located on the South-East side of Hastings at Willingdon in Burnaby. Its exterior has a generic-Chinese-restaurant dated-ness that feels right at home in this stretch of the Burnaby Heights. The interior was better than expected, although it was clean and generally unoffensive in a we’re-Chinese-and-we-spend-nothing-on-decor sort of way. But that’s okay, after all we’re here for the dim sum!

Check out the faux crown molding!
Check out the faux crown molding!

We decided that we need to find and rate the signature dishes of each restaurant, and so we started things off with orders of Wah Lun Special Baked BBQ Pork Buns ($4.40). These had a light topping reminiscent of the “Mexican-style” Chinese buns, with BBQ pork filling, but they were plain and somewhat disappointing given their “signature” status. The outer bun portion had good texture, but the filling was quite average and had too much onion, which totally unbalanced the flavour, and lacked the necessary sweetness of BBQ pork.

7_WahLun-6
The “house special”

They were average buns, not special buns – MichSaiGohBao

For comparison, we also ordered the Baked BBQ Pork Pastry ($4.10) which had a nice crisp top, although it too had a average filling. If anything, it seemed like the signature version just had more onion in the filling..

Vs the "normal"
Vs the “normal”

We then received the Steamed Pumpkin w/Spare Rib ($4.40) which sounded quite interesting actually: pumpkin being the main focus of the dish with the spare ribs on the side? Disappointingly it was mostly spare rib. We kid, we kid. We love meat so the strange engrish on the menu didn’t dissuade us from chowing down. Despite them having quite a few large chunks of bone, there wasn’t too much fat and had a subdued pumpkin flavour, but otherwise this was another average dish.

7_WahLun-3
Steamed pumpkin with spare rib, or is it the other way around?

Next, came the Crystal Prawn Dumplings (Har Gow) ($4.75). The skin was translucent and these had large pieces of shrimp, but unfortunately they missed on the seasoning just a tad so they turned out on the blander side. It’s notable that these were also more expensive than their standard large items as well.

"The ubiquitous"
“The ubiquitous”

The Rice Flour Rolls with Shrimp & Veggie ($4.75) and the Rice Flour Rolls with Chinese Donut ($4.75) were both deemed average in every way, except the skins were too thin. It’s notable that these were also more expensive than their normal large items.

The Pan Fried Radish Cake with Spicy XO Sauce ($5.99) had a smooth consistency although it could have used a crispier exterior and more XO sauce flavour.

The "XO"
The “XO”

Now, so far most dishes were surprisingly average despite their name and/or price. One dish that was surprisingly above average was the Deep Fried Taro Paste with Portuguese Sauce ($4.10). It had a crispy exterior, with a moist and flavourful filling that had a surprising curry flavour. While the coconutty notes of a real “Portuguese” sauce were missing, this dish was still a big hit with our group with LoMaiGaiOrFan declaring,

Mmmm. Lovely. Crispy comfort. -LoMaiGaiOrFan

"The curry surprise"
“Crispy Comfort”

We also liked Deep Fried Squids with Peppery Salt ($7.99) which had good crunch and flavour.

Finally we wrapped things up (get it?) with a wrapped dim sum standard: Pork Dumplings with Tobiko (Shiu-Ma) ($4.40). This were large, with big pieces of pork that had good texture and flavour.

The "other standard"
The “other standard”

Despite the higher-than-average pricing and special naming of certain dishes, most dishes were disappointingly average.

Here are our ratings!

[table caption=”Standard Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score (out of 5)
Shrimp Dumpling, 3.3 – above average
Pork Dumpling, 3.3 – above average
Spare Ribs, 3.3 – above average
Tripe/Tendon, 3 – average
Fried Radish Cake, 3 – average
Buns/Pastries, 3.5 – above average
[/table]

Prices for standard dim sum item ranged from $3.30-$4.75 and our members felt that this gave us AVERAGE value for the quality of food.

[table caption=”Noteworthy Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Deep Fried Squid with Peppery Salt, 4 – above average
Deep Fried Taro Paste with Portuguese Sauce, 4 – above average
[/table]

All things considered, we thought that Wah Lun Chinese Restaurant had an overall rating of: 3.2 out of 5 (average)

Click to add a blog post for Wah Lun Chinese Restaurant on Zomato

DimSumptuous 6: Park Here Seafood Restaurant

Seeing how the wife, MichSaiGoBao, and I needed to sign some papers in Vancouver, we decided to look for an interesting dim sum restaurant in the area and found Park Here Seafood Restaurant. A restaurant named after parking? This seemed to qualify as interesting, so we got HoGow, ChaSiuBen+family, SuMai, and his friend Tearesa to check it out.

Parking Awning
Parking Awning

Park Here Seafood Restaurant is located on Kingsway near Knight street. Ironically, due to parking restrictions in the surrounding residential areas, there actually isn’t much parking at all. It’s a medium-sized restaurant that has a neighborhood-restaurant feel. The wait wasn’t long with adequate service throughout the meal. The interior was bright, with large windows facing the street and mirrors running lengthwise along one wall making the interior seem expansive.

Spare Ribs!
Spare Ribs!

We started things off with an order of Steamed Spareribs w/Pumpkin ($3.28) which came in a smaller-than-average portion, although they also came with good pork taste and the pieces were meaty and not too fatty. The Stir Fried Daikon Cake in Spicy XO Chili Sauce ($6.50) came next, and were nicely crisped on the outside, with a smooth consistent interior, but our members struggled to detect much XO sauce flavor which was a bit disappointing.

Lots of egg garnish, not much XO sauce
Lots of egg garnish, not much XO sauce

Deep Fried Golden Garlic Tofu ($5.50) was crispy on the outside, the seasoning was spot on, with a good amount of garlicky flavor without overpowering the tofu and was a big hit with everyone. The Steamed Pork Dumplings w/Fish Roe ($3.28) were solid, with a interior that was juicy with good pork taste.

Lens is sharp, our focus is not. :(
Lens is sharp, our focus is not. 😦

The House Special BBQ Pork Buns ($3.80) had a crisp ‘pineapple’ topping but lacked sufficient filling to give it much pop. Our members rated it a “meh.”
The Steamed Creamy Egg Yolk Buns ($3.28) on the other hand, was a hit with SuMai, our man of few words, who gave it “+1”.

Crispy pineapple on top, disappointment on the inside.
Crispy pineapple on top, disappointment on the inside.

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($3.80) which had a larger than average size, with big pieces of fresh-tasting shrimp that had a good snap, although the seasoning was a bit lacking. Rice Flour Rolls w/Chinese Donut & Dried Pork Floss ($3.80) was crispy on the inside, obviously double-fried to perfection which held up well even with the rice wrap.

The average shrimp dumplings, and the above average donut in rice roll
The average shrimp dumplings, and the non-average donut in rice roll

The Beef Tendon & Tripe with Satay Sauce ($3.80) came in large pieces, with a nice texture, with just the right amount of tenderness/chewiness, but unfortunately didn’t have much satay flavor, likely due to the larger pieces.

The satay tripe/tendon that didn't taste of satay
The satay tripe/tendon that didn’t taste of satay

We were also surprised to find that they gave us a 10% discount on our bill, which was an unexpected bonus!

For a place that has a parking-centric name, it has a definite lack of parking. But despite that, this neighborhood gem really gave us great value for some solid dim sum!

Here are our ratings!

[table caption=”Standard Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score
Shrimp Dumpling, 3.2 – AVERAGE
Pork Dumpling, 3.3 – AVERAGE
Spare Ribs, 3.5 – ABOVE AVERAGE
Tripe/Tendon, 2.8 – AVERAGE
Radish Cake, 3.6 – ABOVE AVERAGE
Buns/Pastries, 3 – AVERAGE
[/table]

Prices for standard dim sum item ranged from $3.28-$4.80 and combined with the 10% discount, our members felt that this gave us exceptional value for the quality of food.

[table caption=”Noteworthy Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Rice Flour Rolls w/Chinese Donut & Dried Pork Floss, 4 – ABOVE AVERAGE
Steamed Creamy Egg Yolk Buns, 4 – ABOVE AVERAGE
[/table]

All things considered, we thought that Park Here Seafood Restaurant had an overall rating of: 3.6 out of 5 (above average)

Park Here Seafood Restaurant 百喜海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

Dimumptuous 5: Spring Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant

After our last meeting, ChaSiewBao suggested that we try a not-so-well-known place, aka a hole in the wall joint. Well, I can’t say no to someone with such a cute baby and I’ve been wanting to check out some smaller places, so off we went to Spring Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant in New West.

5_springgarden-15
Who says Vancouver weather is always bad?

I had been here before with my parents since it fulfilled every item on their wishlist: 1.) Ample parking 2.) Not busy 3.) Decent prices 4.) Reasonable eats, and in that order (erg). Well, maybe it almost fulfilled every item on the wishlist. Anyhow, we had heard that they actually had pretty good dim sum service as well, at least, “pretty good for New West.” It seems like once you get out into the ‘burbs you have to always qualify how good the food really is.

Is it actually “good”? Or just “good for New West”?

Anyways, when we arrived we found HoGow had been seated promptly, with menus and tea. Service continued to be quite friendly and prompt throughout, the fact that it’s a family-run joint was evident as the service continued to be quick and friendly even as the restaurant got busier as the day went on.

Chinese art
Chinese art

The decor was a bit, in a word, dated. “Old School Chinese Family Restaurant” describes it aptly, with traditional Chinese artwork (mixed with random hotel art) on the pastel/seafoam green walls, and the white plastic wrap on the tables for easy cleaning. But despite the dated interior, we found it to be quite clean and bright with large front windows letting in lots of natural light. But we’re really not here for the decor, or even the light, on to the food!

Old school plastic table cloths!
Old school plastic table cloths!

We started off with an order of Pork Dumplings with Tobiko (Shiu-Mai)
which came piping hot, and had bigger chunks of pork and shrimp without being too fatty. The tobiko topping had a very orange tint and wasn’t quite as crunchy as fresh tobiko normally is, but this didn’t detract too much from how much we enjoyed this dish.

Check out the nuclear-orange tobiko
Check out the nuclear-orange tobiko

Next came the Pan Fried Crispy Bean Curd Wraps w/Mushroom which had a very crispy exterior, but the filling was a bit under-seasoned and didn’t really pop with flavor.

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Super crispy skin. Crisper than a new $20 bill.

We then had the Crystal Prawn Dumplings (Har Gow) which were a bit on the smaller side, and had a skin that was a bit doughy and inconsistent, and the filling was a bit pasty and lacked texture or snap. This was followed by an order of Minced Pork & Pres Egg Congee that had good flavor that was well-appreciated by MichSaiGohBao and ChhoaYookBao

Little
Little balls of inconsistency!

Next we had Braised Beef Tendon in Curry Sauce which were nice and hot, and had a good curry flavor, although some of the larger pieces didn’t have the curry flavor infused through enough. This was followed by Steamed B.B.Q. Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao) which had a dense exterior which had very little sweetness, with a notably small amount of bland filling inside. It led us to wonder if it was steamed from frozen which may have taken away from much of the lightness of the bun.

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Steamy curry-ey tendon-y

Unfortunately this disappointing dish led to another, the Prawn with Scallop Dumplings. The scallops lacked taste, were small, and had an overcooked texture which was countered with a thick skin which then held a small amount of lackluster prawn filling.

Like raisins in a sauna.

Like an old man coming out of a sauna
Or, like an old man coming out of a sauna

Sadly, this downward trend continued, albeit briefly, with the Steamed Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce which came in a large pool of oiliness. While some of the larger pieces were good, there were also quite a few pieces with large chunks of fat which were chewy and unpleasant.

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Pigs in a pool… of oil?

We moved on to the Stir Fried Radish Cake in XO Sauce which we found had a milder XO flavor than we would normally prefer, but otherwise was crispy and had a decent smooth interior.

Crisp, smooth, and mild. Just like beer.
Crisp, smooth, and mild. Just like a nice beer.

Finally we wrapped things up with Deep Fried Squids with Peppery Salt which were nicely fried, with a good crispy exterior without any rubberiness to the squid. While it had good peppery salt flavor, it was also too salty which took away from the enjoyment.

Overall this place had good service, with food coming quickly and piping hot out of the kitchen, and while the overall experience had a few misses here and there, it is a solid choice, despite the fact it’s in New West. Here’s a bonus pic of the interior!

It's... not December.
It’s… not December.

Here are our ratings!

[table caption=”Standard Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score (out of 5)
Shrimp Dumpling, 2.2 – below average
Pork Dumpling, 3.6 – above average
Spare Ribs, 2.8 – average
Tripe/Tendon, 3 – average
Buns/Pastries, 3 – average
[/table]

Prices for standard dim sum item ranged from $3.05-$4.29 and our members felt that this gave us above average value for the quality of food.

[table caption=”Noteworthy Dishes” width=”500″ colwidth=”25|15″ colalign=”left|center”]
Dish Name,Score
Prawn with Scallop Dumplings, below average
Minced Pork & Pres Egg Congee, above average
[/table]

All things considered, we thought that Spring Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant had an overall rating of: 3.0 out of 5 (average)

Spring Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant 綠茵閣海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon