Chinese · Dim Sum · Restaurants

Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine- Dim Sum

My parents picked me up at the airport. I purposely didn’t eat all morning because I knew we were having dim sum at Shi-Art. Located inside Richmond Centre, I like how there’s always parking and that the restaurant takes reservations.

In Richmond, Shi-Art is not considered the best or the cheapest. However, if this restaurant was in Calgary, it would be easily considered a dim sum destination. Office Dad told me it’s because the top chefs won’t go to Calgary due to the climate and its smaller Asian community. My mom thinks it’s because the restaurant scene is so competitive in Vancouver and Richmond, that if you’re mediocre, you’ll be out of business in no time. The seafood is also cheaper and fresher in Vancouver. So it makes sense that my favourite dishes included shrimp and scallops.

One of the best dishes I tried was Mushroom and Scallop Congee. The rice soup wasn’t heavily seasoned, which I preferred, as it allowed the natural taste of the scallops and mushrooms to shine through. The mushrooms were cut in thin wedges, soft and slippery. The scallops were fat and silky.

The haw gow was supersized with sweet crunchy shrimp. The white dumpling wrapper was thin, but not wet. My pet peeve is moist haw gow, when the wrapper gets wet and slippery from the moisture.

The shui mai was also large. Each dumpling contained a flavorful, juicy mixture of pork the size of a golf ball. I didn’t try the beef balls because there was cilantro in it. My mother enjoyed it.

Another winner was the deep-fried shrimp spring roll. The wrapper was crunchy and cracker-thin, filled with a cylinder of crunchy shrimp meat.

The pan-fried radish cake with preserves tasted fresh from the kitchen. Steaming hot, the cake was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The deep-fried rice doughnut was delicious. The doughnut was freshly fried and warm and crunchy, snuggled inside a perfectly steamed rice wrapper. So tasty, I didn’t bother to use the side of peanut and hoisin sauce.

The steamed shrimp roll was less than average. The shrimp was small and not sweet or crunchy. I should have listened to my mother and ordered the BBQ roll instead. I didn’t bother to take a picture of it as the roll didn’t look too appetizing.

The seafood E-Fu noodles didn’t have much flavor, but the scallops and shrimp was plentiful and properly cooked. Again, I didn’t mind the noodles were bland as it allowed me to taste the freshness of the scallops and shrimp.

Overall, I was happy with the food and service. My pick for Shi-Art – any dishes with scallops and shrimp, excluding the steamed shrimp roll. The prices are reasonable and I believe if you eat here before 11:00 a.m., you receive a discount off your entire bill.

Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Dim Sum

Vancouver – Red Star

I like Red Star. My parents hosted my wedding reception at the Richmond location. I heard that their dim sum is pretty good too. I suggested to Beep Beep that we enjoy our last lunch together at Red Star’s Marpole location.

Red Star offers free parking, though there are limited stalls. When we arrived, I noticed several parties were ordering crab and lobster to supplement their dim sum feast. It took a while for the dishes to come out, but everything that arrived was hot and fresh.

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Beep Beep asked me to order radish cake.  The image below is what showed up at our table. I mistakenly ordered radish shrimp cake instead of radish cake with pork. She wanted the latter, which comes in stacked white pan-fried squares, soft on the inside and the perfect comfort food. I didn’t care for shrimp cake that I ordered,  as it had a gummy texture and was too oily.

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The how gow wasn’t bad. The shrimp ball was large, sweet and crunchy. However, I found the wrapper too soft and moist. The how gow wrapper broke too easily when I picked it up with my chopsticks.

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The pan-fried soy sauce rice rolls with chives and sprouts is one of my all-time favourite dim sum dishes. Red Start does a good job. The chives were a flavourful  addition.

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Beep Beep wanted to order the rice roll doughnuts. I don’t care for this dish because I always find the deep-fried doughnut greasy. We received a little dish with two dark sauces you can use to dip the doughnuts into.

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The deep-fried bean curd with pea tips and shrimp was the best dish. I found the filling vibrant from the generous amount of pea tips. Red Star doesn’t cheap out in the amount of shrimp either. I would happily order this dish again. I noticed most tables ordered the stuffed bean curds.

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The sui mai was tasty. The juicy pork, Chinese mushroom and shrimp mixture made for pleasant chomping. Again, I found the wrapper over-steamed.

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Overall, I enjoyed dim sum at Red Star. Some of the dishes are superior to what I get in Calgary but the how gow and sui mai could use a little more finesse. The total bill for seven dishes was around $60.00.

Red Star Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chinatown · Chinese · Dim Sum

U & ME – Dim Sum with the Ivy League Crew

Office Daddy and I were walking to Chinatown for lunch. We spotted Ms. Biz with her friends. Immediately, I told Office Daddy that we were not inviting ourselves to their lunch. Office Daddy snickered and told me when I repeated myself several more times that he heard me. He said, “I bet they are going to U & Me” and then ran up to Ms. Biz to say hello. Office Daddy walked with them for a couple blocks and asked them where they were going. “U & Me”, said Ms. Biz, “do you want to come? The more the merrier!”. Office Daddy gave a squeal like a teenage girl at a Justin Beber concert and looked at me defiantly.

Ms. Biz asked everyone for their input and proceeded to order Taro Dumplings, Chinese Doughnut Crepe, Black Bean Sparerib with Pumpkin, Gai Lan, Chicken Feet, Pork Congee with Century Egg, and Fried Turnip Cake. Ms. Biz gets the staff to fill up the pots with her own tea, which is lovely, fragrant stuff.

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All the dim sum we sampled was very good. The har gow was plump, full of crunchy sweet shrimp with a thin rice wrapper.

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The siu mai was full of juicy goodness, each with a whole fat shrimp, topped with roe. The wrapper was thin and firm, perfectly steamed just like the har gow.

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The Chinese doughnut was a large portion, the doughnut itself arrived soft and not crunchy. By the end of the meal, the doughnut was a tad mushy.

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The sparerib was meaty and not too fatty. The kabocha  soaked up all the juices and fat, yet retained its fluffy, chestnut like texture. Delicious.

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The turnip cake was crispy on the outside, the interior soft and firm. The cake was cooked properly, sizzling hot and cooked through. Some restaurants that are very busy sometimes get sloppy and serve it undercooked, so that the texture is too firm.

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I’ve been trying to eat chicken feet, mostly because I don’t want to seem like a Jook-sing around native speaking Chinese people. The chicken feet was soft and flavourful, but I almost gagged when I sucked the skin around the two claws. I couldn’t finish it. I guess I am what I am.

The Singapore noodles were cooked differently than I’m use to. Instead of the usual notes of curry and heat, the noodles took on that wok hei smell and taste. I also noted that U & Me was generous with the big pieces of shrimp. We all enjoyed this dish.

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The BBQ pork pastry was light and crispy, the filling of saucy sweet BBQ pork was still warm. Ms. Biz nodded in approval of the flakiness of the pastry.

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The pork congee with century egg was flavourful. I noticed the egg was cut up in smaller pieces than usual. The texture was smooth, and it was served piping hot. There was the addition of cilantro, which I personally dislike.

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The fried taro dumplings were incredible. The filling is noodle-like, soft and wet. The airy exterior was light and crisp and melted on your tongue. The flavour is hard to describe. The only thing I can think of is fatty pastry goodness. We actually ordered this dish twice, at Office Daddy’s request.

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The gai lan was cooked just to the point of tenderness. Bright green, crunchy and lightly sauced, I enjoyed meeting my quota of daily greens.

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The best time to eat at U & Me is on the weekdays and weekends, around noon. I’ve been at late night and the food does not taste as good. It makes sense to have the most senior chef working when the restaurant is at its busiest time.

Thank you Ms. Biz for welcoming us party crashers and treating us out for this dim sum feast. I also enjoyed meeting your friends, an affable group of post graduate Ivy Leaguers. It was refreshing to be in the company of intelligent yet humble individuals. My treat next time.

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U & Me Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinese · Dim Sum

Forbidden City Dim Sum & Seafood

My work buddies Office Daddy, Playboy, and Leng Lui coerced me to join them at Forbidden City for dim sum. The food was good, the company even better, though I suffered a major headache after the meal. I thought initially that the MSG got to me. In fact, I came down with an illness, which has visited most of my colleagues on the third floor. Ah, the joys of working in an office. I ended up working from home the next day.

Back to the theme of this blog… which is my food experience, not my physical well-being. The restaurant is nicer than most dim sum joints. The linen on the table was fresh and crisp. Sparkling chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Servers were easy to wave down and for the most part, were pleasant.

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The first of ten dishes we ordered was BBQ Pork Pastry. The pastry was buttery and light. The filling was still warm, sweet and tangy.

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Everyone except for me ate Chicken Feet. I tried it once and didn’t like the texture of the skin. Also, these feet were particularly intimidating – big and claw-like.  Leng Lui  told me she thinks I need to try chicken feet at least three times to give it a fair try. I agree, but I “chickened out” this time.

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Leng Lui ordered Deep-Fried Won Ton. The wrapper was delicate and not overcooked. The shrimp filling was a small portion. I couldn’t resist dipping the won ton in the side dish of sweet mayonnaise.

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Taro with pork. This was the winning dish. The exterior was airy, the batter delicate and melted in your mouth. The taro was smooth and creamy. The pork filling was hot and saucy.

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The Fried Meat Dumplings were tasty, in a greasy sort of way. The dough was thick, gummy and warm (the way it should be). The meat filling consisted of ground pork in a gravy like sauce.

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The BBQ pork crepe was my second favourite dish. I liked how much lean pork and cilantro filled the rice wrapper. I find most places don’t have the right proportion, as they skimp on the meat.

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The Pork and Preserved Century Old Egg Congee was good. The soup was served in a hot black cauldron, which bubbled for a good five minutes. The texture was smooth and more fluid than the fluffy thick congee served at Lucky Place.

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Office Daddy ordered Cow Stomach, which I have grown to like. The texture was bouncy and chewy, flavoured by a light, clear sauce.

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How Gow was pretty good. The shrimp filling sweet, mixed with water chestnuts which gave it more texture. I prefer a less wet filling.

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The Sui Mai was tasty too. Again, it’s a personal preference but I prefer a less wet filling. I liked how we were served five dumplings for the how gow and sui mai instead of the standard four pieces.

I agree with my friends that Forbidden City has some of the better dim sum in Calgary. I prefer Forbidden City over T.Pot China Bistro. Central Grand makes better meat buns and dumplings, but Forbidden City does a delicious taro and pork dumpling and a far better BBQ pork crepe. Also, the food at Forbidden City taste quite fresh and the service is better than T.Pot.

Thanks to my buddies for taking me out to check out Forbidden City. It’s been on my bucket list for a while, but I never usually get out into NE quadrant of the city due to limited mobility. Our next adventure? Oiishi!

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T.Pot China Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinatown · Chinese

Great Taste Chinese – What’s in a name?

Great Taste Chinese Restaurant gets to the point, just like me at work. What does this restaurant want to tell you? That their food has great taste! I appreciate their candour. There’s no ambiguity or mixed signals here.

Joking aside, I have another joke. My ex-neighbour is a wine connoisseur and he once said to me, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a Chinese restaurant that had great wines and service?”. Well, Great Taste does serve wine and the service is well.. for lack of a different word, great!

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This Monday, I went to Great Taste with AC (aka my Calgary father), PB and Choi. We all ordered soup noodles. I ordered the lunch special, Dandan noodles ($9.99). The portion was filling but not overly so. The noodles were a little too soft for my taste, but the soup was creamy and pea-nutty.

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The complimentary seaweed egg drop soup was light. I liked it, though I wouldn’t pay for it. For my money, I would rather sup on the fish maw or the hot and sour soup.

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We ordered three rounds of the Shanghai soup dumplings ($7.99). The dumplings tasted great (of course)! CL taught us to gently pick up the dumpling by the “nipple” (she makes everything sound so dirty) and to nibble on the side and suck out the hot juices. Worth ordering again.

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A few days later, I took out a graphic designer for lunch. She bailed my office a few times and I wanted to thank her. I wasn’t sure what she liked so I played it safe. We started off with a medium size bowl of Hot and Sour Soup ($11.95). Damn, this was fine soup! In fact, even better than great. Thick and spicy, spot on in the right balance of vinegar and heat. The soup was thick, crunchy with silky smooth lines of tofu. I liked the pieces of shrimp in it. Best hot and sour soup in town.

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The Beijing Style Dumplings ($7.99) were simple but really well-done. The wrapper tasted homemade and was bang on with its smooth, thin dough. The filling was delicious with the taste of fresh green vegetables.

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The Beef and Cucumber Roll ($7.99) was tasty in a greasy sort of way. The pancake was super crispy and chewy. The roll could have used a bit more beef. Good portion. I was full.

Service at Great Taste was great. For those who complain that service at Chinese restaurants is not always great, you should check out this restaurant. Servers smile! Servers are polite! I even get a thank-you when I pay for the bill! Great Taste lives up to its name and deserves copious exclamation marks to show my enthusiasm!

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Great Taste Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinatown · Chinese · Dim Sum

Regency Palace – Dim Sum

Office Dad took AC, Gee and myself out for lunch at Regency Palace. I have to say on this second visit, the dim sum was much better than my first experience. The food was hot, fresh and the seafood dishes were really good.

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As with most lunches with AC and his friends, this was a work lunch. The last time I went out with AC friends, we talked taxes, customer service and finances. This group of friends were chatting about some private venture overseas. I occupied myself by eating and posting the photos on Instagram.

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One of the best dishes I tried was Beef Tendon. The tendon was soft and took on the flavour of the light sauce. The beef and tendon was served piping hot. I only like tendon when it’s served really hot, as I think it makes the texture smoother and richer.

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I really liked the Shrimp Rice Crepe. One prawn per half rice roll, the seafood was crunchy while the wrap was smooth and glossy in texture. The soy sauce was sweet and just enough to flavour the crepe.

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The Salt and Pepper Squid was tender but the batter was too soft and bland in flavour. The batter also had this sweetness to it that reminded me of plastic. I would skip this dish.

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I remember that the last time I wasn’t impressed with the How Gow. This time, the shrimp ball was full and plump. The rice wrapper was perfectly steamed so it wasn’t gummy or too soft.

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The Sui Mai was scarfalicious. These were big balls (that’s what she said). The flavour of the dumpling was really tasty. I particularly liked the big piece of shrimp and I thought it had a nice crunch to it.
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The sticky rice was a no-go this time. The rice was over-cooked and the meat tasted quite bland. I wouldn’t order this dish again.Overall, I was really pleased with the food. I would hit Regency Palace the next time I’m craving me some haw gow, sui mai, and beef tendon.

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Regency Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinatown · Chinese · Dim Sum

Chuen May Food Products

cheun may

My favourite thing to do after a night of moderate partying is to eat. In Vancouver, there was no shortage of late night restaurants. Well, I’m not in Vancouver anymore. Lucky for me, I found Chuen May Food, a store that specializes in homemade dim sum.

Chuen May list

The store itself is spotless. I’ve peered behind into the kitchen and I have seen first hand how clean the equipment and work areas. I also talked to the owner about the local ingredients she uses. She informed me that unlike some competitors, she never uses the scraps and end pieces of meat. For example, she buys whole local chickens and the best ingredients she can find. I can tell.

My dipping sauce - a mix of everything.
My dipping sauce – a mix of everything.

Before you see the photos, I’ll warn you that I use very little oil when I cook up the dumplings and spring rolls. As I have an unhealthy penchant for mayonnaise, I try to cut calories in other ways. If I used more oil, the spring rolls and dumpling would have a more consistent golden hue. I also bake my spring rolls instead of deep frying it. My picks at Chuen May include the Pork and Vegetable Dumplings ($15 for 50), Pork and Cabbage Spring Rolls ($35 for a huge bag), Sticky Rice ($7.00 for 2 large or 3 small), and Ground Pork and Mushroom ($8).
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For the dumplings, I drizzle about a teaspoon onto the pan and throw the dumplings on medium for 15 minutes. I put some water on the pan and put a cover on for the first 7 minutes. When I can see the dumpling plump up, I flip it over so that the dumpling is crispy all over. The dumpling wrapper is thick enough to hold the meaty goodness inside. The pork is mixed with minced Chinese greens and ginger. I like to put a little mayonnaise and red rooster sauce while L prefers to make his own soy based sauce.

spring roll

For the spring rolls, I lightly brush the shell with oil and chuck the tray in the oven at 400 degrees for about ten minutes. I watch for the spring rolls to turn a golden brown, then I shut the temperature off and let it sit inside the hot oven for a few more minutes. These spring rolls are quite large and filled with ground pork and bright green cabbage. I dig the saucy almost gravy-like filling, and I think I can detect Chinese five spice.

Before I cook the Sticky Rice, I defrost it in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat it, I plop the lotus wrapped parcel in a bowl filled halfway with water. I nuke it for about 5-7 minutes, depending on its size. If you have the time and patience, you can steam the sticky rice instead of microwaving it. I love the big pieces of Chinese mushroom, fat chunks of juicy chicken, and lap cheong (Chinese sausage), which makes for a substantial snack.
Minced pork

Recently, I tried the Ground Pork and Mushroom dish. For this dish, you need a steamer or a tray in a covered pot. I improvised and found a little ramekin or miniature baking ornament. I let the water simmer for about 15 minutes, then I turn off the heat and let it sit for five minutes. L really enjoyed this dish. The meat is so tasty and succulent and cooks in a broth-like juices. This dish tastes like sui mai, a pork based dumpling served during dim sum. I liked the addition of the shredded beige vegetable with its crunchy texture.

I love Chuen May Food Products. The food is superior to the vast majority of dim sum restaurants I’ve consumed in Calgary. The frozen food is made daily and sells out regularly. Cash only. Chuen May Food Products is located on 221 1 St SE Calgary, AB T2G 2G3 (403) 232-8364

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