Showing posts with label Chinese broccoli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chinese broccoli. Show all posts

Choice of the Orient (Richmond Hill) for takeout

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

My husband’s officially another year older, and the occasion also marks our annual dinner from Choice of the Orient (COTO).

Sadly, his favourite dish, the Peking chicken ($13.95), was the worst of the meal. It’s an item  that doesn’t travel well, not because it becomes soggy – typically, it’s not crispy anyways, since it’s slathered in a thick sweet sauce – but rather because it’s made from lean chicken breast that’s cut into thick chunks, which after being sealed in a hot container for half an hour becomes SO overdone. My suggestion to COTO is consider cutting these thinner so that even overcooked they’re not quite as tough.

Not being a fan of things like lemon chicken, the orange beef ($13.50) had the same repulsive citrusy meat taste I detest. Nonetheless, I tried a piece and once the fruity flavour subsided, the spicy savoury sauce that was left behind was actually quite tasty.

Give me the beef with Chinese broccoli ($13.50) any day! Wok tossed with some oyster sauce, the dish doesn’t taste like it’s mixed with dish soap and there’s so much of the tender gai lan crammed into the container.

Unlike chow mein, the noodles in the mixed vegetables lo mein ($11.95) are left soft, which you would think is better for delivery. Except, it gets so soft that the dish has no texture at all. Thankfully, we had gotten an order of moo shu pork and the leftover filling went perfectly with the noodles, adding crunch and extra flavours that the lo mein was lacking.

COTO provides four large pancakes with their moo shu pork ($11.95) - you can really stuff these to the brim. Nonetheless, there was plenty of the wok hay laced filling leftover, a delicious addition to other dishes like the lo mein and fried rice.

Despite the chicken fried rice ($8.50) being such a rich hue, the soy taste was rather weak. On its own the dish is too bland, but considering it’s generally eaten in lieu of steamed rice, I can see why it’s left neutral so that it doesn’t become too salty once you add saucy dishes on top.

Choice of the Orient has been a mainstay in Richmond Hill since the late 1980s and the go-to place for my better half’s friends and family when they wanted Chinese food. While it’s not my top choice, I’ve got to give COTO credit, there’s not that many places that have garnered customer loyalty like them. And given the amount of business they had on a weeknight, they’re still going strong.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Richmond Hill, Canada
 Address: 9555 Yonge Street
 Delivery: store delivery, Uber, Doordash, Skip the Dishes
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!

Is That It? I Want More!

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CLOSED: Chic Xi (Toronto)

Upon entering Chic Xi, the scent of steamed soup brings back memories of Chinese New Year at my grandmother’s or a special Sunday meal prepared by my father. For my family, a hot bowl of soup can start or end a meal. It’s the hours upon hours of cooking, as an ingredient’s flavours are slowly coaxed out and co-mingles, this is what makes it special.

So with the intoxicating rich aroma permeating the air, I already knew Chic Xi wasn’t going to be the typical chop suey “Chinese” restaurant. Indeed, their menu includes over half a dozen soups and boasts they’re prepared in individual vessels and steamed for three hours. This is the proper preparation that should result in a flavourful broth.

However, timing is everything and not serving the soup in the proper order can detract from the experience. The first thing to arrive was their ramen ($12). Akin to a beef noodle soup, their broth is unlike any other – rich in flavours (there must be a piece of jinhua ham somewhere) with a silky mouth feel. The beef pieces are slowly stewed so the spiced soy sauce marinade permeates the meat rendering it tender, even the soft bones could be eaten. Meanwhile, the noodles are the hand-pulled variety so it’s chewier and doughier than a Japanese ramen, but stands up to the flavourful broth. Whenever I’m craving a bowl of hot noodles, I’ll be going to Chic Xi.

Since the ramen’s beef broth was so rich, when the free range chicken soup with sea coconut, conch and bamboo fungus ($18) came afterwards, it was like drinking diluted consommé. If you really concentrate there’s the faint umami taste of the chicken bones and the bamboo soaks up the soup’s flavours. But being under seasoned, especially following the salty ramen broth, the steamed soup feels underwhelming.

I understand that steamed soup is generally less salty as it’s the broth’s natural sweet essence people value. But then it’s important to serve it first and at least provide soy sauce or salt for people to dip the pieces of chicken into.

At almost every table you’ll find a white porcelain container holding a candle underneath. These are Chic Xi’s luxurious rice pots topped with abalone or shark fin. Having stopped eating shark fin for animal welfare concerns, we tried the braised whole abalone lo fun ($32) where two glistening plump ping pong ball-sized abalone sit on a mound of steamed rice in a pool of oyster sauce. The abalone is well braised so it’s fragrant and soft, while the rich sauce makes the rice delicious by itself.

Despite looking plain, the stir fried vermicelli ($18) is still tasty thanks to a generous spoonful of XO sauce. The noodles incorporate plenty of plump mushrooms and sufficient crab meat dotted throughout (some in large chunks while most in smaller pieces). While the vermicelli is more neutral compared to other dishes, it goes nicely with some of the other flavourful offerings.

In fact, it pairs nicely with the spiced squid roll ($12), also known and spicy salt squid in other restaurants. Here the pieces are smaller so it develops a lot of the crispy edges and takes on more of the spices.

The special marinated pork cha siu ($16) is worth trying. Warmed before serving, allowing the fats and juices to combine, the meat is laid out on a plank; being well glazed, it’s sticky, salty, and sweet with slightly crispy edges.

With only three vegetable dishes to choose from, the simple stir fried Chinese broccoli with mashed garlic ($14) had to suffice. The chef uses the baby Chinese broccoli and takes the time to shave off the outer skin of the stems so the vegetables are delicate and crispy. While snow pea shoots weren’t found on the menu, they were served at a neighbouring table so there may be off menu seasonal vegetable dishes as well.

Chic Xi also offers a condensed selection of seven dim sum dishes. The siu mai ($9.50) arrives hot as it’s made to order; each dumpling topped with a whole spot prawn, scallop, and a dollop of truffle paste. While double or triple the price of the other dim sum restaurants, if you’re craving them in the evening, these are satisfying.

From the limited dessert selection, the osmanthus jelly with coconut juice ($5) sounded interesting. While pretty to look at, since the top jelly layer holds small delicate flowers, the dessert is rather tasteless with only a mild rock sugar flavour. The jelly would be better if the coconut juice bottom was made with a richer coconut milk instead and incorporating a touch more sugar.

Chic Xi’s service has improved since an initial summer visit. At the beginning, the servers seemed lost and didn’t think to serve the proper cutlery with each dish – we had to ask them for spoons for the ramen. While returning in November they seem more comfortable, but still have difficulties with describing a dish.

The menu has also been shortened (sorry the salt and pepper squid has disappeared), but at least most items are actually available. During the soft launch, out of four dishes we wanted to order, two weren’t available. In November only one dessert item, which we didn’t even want, couldn’t be filled.

While there are better Chinese restaurants located in Toronto, within the Yonge and Lawrence to York Mills area Chic Xi is by far the best. It’s my go-to place for a bowl of ramen where it’s comforting warm broth envelopes me from the cold winter chill.   

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3471 Yonge Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Is That It? I Want More!

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