Wendy’s parents recommended this restaurant for a recent family dinner since it’s one of her and Wendy’s favourite dim sum spots (see Wendy’s review here –sad to say that apparently they no longer have the food carts though). I wasn’t planning on a review since it had already been done…until I saw an especially interesting menu item: snake! I’m always up for trying new and exotic foods and this was both to me.
The snake comes in a soup, Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup ($18.80 or $6.80 per head) to be exact. You can season the broth with white pepper but it had enough flavour on its own for my taste buds, including small amounts of preserved orange peel. The fungus and bamboo shoots were present along with a few morsels of pork and little slivers of ginger for a bit of kick. There was cilantro and some type of airy wonton crisps which immediately changed texture when added to the soup and were a welcome addition. As for the snake meat, the white portions tasted like chicken and the darker pieces where you could see the spine indentation like the one top right reminded me of eel. Overall a dense, satisfying soup that was nuanced in flavour and texture.
The Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth ($9.88) consisted of bok choy and mushroom along with the bean curd in a fish broth. I always find these fish broths a bit bland but it did make the otherwise unappetizing bean curd taste pretty good when soaked in it, and it enhanced the flavour of the bok choy without smothering it.
The Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot ($12.80) was an interesting dish, and one that not everybody liked. Had the bland, milky pork been served on its own I wouldn’t have had more than a bite, but when combined with the strong taste of the pickled veggie it worked to an extent. For me it was hard getting past the texture of the soft bone, which was somewhere between a tendon and a bone in firmness. I thought it was the actual rib bones at first since that’s exactly what it looked like, but turns out it’s just cartilage that joins the ribcage to the spine. Either way…meh.
This was another dish I would have appreciated more had it not been for the texture. Apparently the “shelled” in Pan Fried Shelled Prawns in Maggi Sauce ($9.88) was an adjective and not a verb 😛 I was expecting “shelled” to be synonymous with “peeled” but no such luck. They came deep fried along with the heads, some attached and some not. The maggi seasoning was great but I wish they came peeled so I didn’t have to spit out chewed up clumps of shell every few bites. Oh well, at least I’m getting plenty of glucosamine tonight!
Last but not least, the Halibut with Tofu in Hot Pot ($9.88) was the star of the night in my eyes. It came with delicious bits of sweet and salty cured pork and thick collagen-laden strips of halibut skin along with the fish meat. The fish comes battered and it’s difficult to tell where the bones are, so chew cautiously. Even the tofu, something I tend to avoid, was great in this one; soaked in the soy sauce based broth and bursting with its flavour once the chewy skin gave way to the milky flesh within. Wow, never thought I’d be gushing like that about a hunk of coagulated soy milk!
The complimentary red bean soup for dessert wasn’t overly sweet and came with bits of tangerine peel in it as well. I should mention the complimentary tea too, it was Iron Buddha and was quite strong.
The bill worked out to about $15 each between the four of us pre-tip, including two small rice ($1.50 each), and we had enough leftovers for a meal for two the next night! They also have a bubble tea cafe attached for those who are interested, although I can’t comment on it since we haven’t tried it yet.