Showing posts with label banquet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label banquet. Show all posts

Elegance Chinese Cuisine for Dinner (Markham)

Elegance Chinese Cuisine

When a banquet dinner to celebrate my mother’s birthday was required, Elegance Chinese Cuisine, the restaurant we generally go to for dim sum, came to mind. The restaurant is a gem, tucked in a quiet plaza so there’s plenty of parking during the dinner and the service attentive, not only during dinner, but throughout the entire process. From the moment I called in to make the reservation, Andy (their General Manager) was helpful at ensuring the menu was catered to meet our party size.

The banquet meal I chose normally feeds ten ($668 inclusive of taxes and gratuities), but with the exception of three dishes where I added on additional pieces, the existing menu was more than enough to accommodate four extra people.

Having located myself far away from the “serving station” and our server being so diligent at portioning dishes, most of the pictures within this post will be for the single serving. Sadly, they’re not photogenic, but hopefully provides you with an idea of the ingredients in each dish.

The skin on the roasted suckling pig was divine, very thin and crispy so it could shatter with a light pressure. The warm pieces of juicy pork contrasted with cold marinated jelly fish and sweet seaweed salad.


One of the large prawns in the seafood with vegetables plate was missing. Upon telling our server, they apologized and had it quickly supplemented (complete with an extra portion of vegetables) so the replacement dish wasn’t unadorned. Both the prawn and squid was just cooked through and the celery and snap peas crispy and fresh.


Interestingly, Elegance’s deep fried crab claw (hot, moist and a fair size) is each served with a hollowed out cucumber holding a mango and whipped cream filled crepe. They don’t exactly go together, but when eaten separately isn’t weird either. We all rather liked the early dessert in the meal.


Normally, I wouldn’t order shark fin, but this came set in the menu. The braised shark fin soup was chocked full of minced seafood in the thick umami broth.


The whole abalone was delicious having been slowly braised to that it was infused with flavour. Trying to describe abalone to a family member, I’ve synthesized it to the steak of the seafood world – if you can imagine a tenderloin having a scallop and oyster twinge to it.


Both the steamed chicken with superior soup and steamed green bass were decent – cooked well so the moisture remains and not overly seasoned so the chicken and fish shone through.


The lobster could have been stir fried a bit less as they were a little shrunken in their shells. But, the sweet and savoury Maggic sauce lightly coating each piece was tasty and not too overpowering.


Elegance jazzed up the rice dish by mixing wild and jasmine rice together, giving it a pretty contrasting hue. Egg white, shrimp and diced Chinese broccoli completed the fried rice, but a bit more salt would help.


The braised e-fu noodles had plenty of mushrooms (enoki and prince) mixed into the oyster sauce laced spongy noodles. Slivers of snow peas help to add crunch and colour.


For dessert, a bowl of coconut black glutinous rice soup, which was surprisingly sweet for a Chinese restaurant. On the side were petit fours of chewy soft almond cookies and a sticky pastry filled with red bean paste and tossed in dried coconut.


Since we were celebrating a birthday, we had to have an order of birthday buns (Elegance threw in on a complimentary basis). They were made fresh before dinner, arriving pillowy soft and filled with lotus paste – these were seriously the best birthday buns I’ve ever had.


Each bun is shaped into a longevity peach, decorated with a pink dye and green flour leaves. According to Wikipedia, they’re supposed to represent the peaches of immortality, a mythical fruit produced every thousand years and grants immorality. What a great way to live eternally, dining on good food amongst family and loved ones.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 20 Gibson Drive


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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!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Elegance Chinese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dinner at Royale Fine Dining & Banquet 皇家御宴 (Toronto)

Chinese set dinners promises tons of food and a meal filled with the land and sea. Various proteins will be incorporated into the menu and if something makes you squeamish, you don’t have to feel bad taking a time out, given there’s plenty of other items to come.

Having been to Royale Fine Dining for dim sum, we decided to return for dinner, when the restaurant wouldn’t be as hectic and cramped. As part of their set menus, there was one fit for 10 people for $688, inclusive of taxes and gratuities.  

Half a suckling pig started the meal, the thin crispy well rendered skin the traditional first bite of most banquets. The pork was well flavoured and the accompanying cold crunchy jelly fish and sweet seaweed salad a nice compliment to the warm pork.


The plump prawns were cooked well, just oddly presented with a limp vegetable skewered through it. I enjoyed the crisp broccoli florets and sweet straw mushrooms piled in the middle, with a light hint of ginger permeating throughout.


After two good starters, the following dishes started to take a downhill plunge. The shark fin soup with shredded crab and preserved ham was decent, but needed more seasoning as the broth wasn’t nearly flavourful enough.


The braised duck feet with sea cucumbers could have been delicious, but I can’t get into the slippery soft texture of the two ingredients. So, I really only sampled the pea shoots, which were leafy and satisfactory.  


Rather than stir frying the lobster, Royale chose to steam theirs with green onions. Unfortunately, it spent too much time in the heat so arrived shrunken and overdone. Such a shame that the fresh lobsters were robbed on their natural succulent sweetness.


On the other hand, the fish wasn’t steamed, instead presented two ways: juicy deep fried filets and stir-fried with mushrooms and snap peas. Both were quite delicious, but it was disappointing that the showcased deep fried bone was too hard to break apart and when you could get a piece it left an unpleasant fishy essence.


Normally, I love the final noodle and rice dishes – something about the comforting carbs is a must for ending the meal right. Although I appreciate Royale’s attempt to change up the dishes, the variations just didn’t work. Firstly, the noodles presentation left much to be desire – sitting limply in a thick sauce of slice mushrooms and sea cucumber. Indeed, the sauce was well seasoned but the noodles were much too soft.


When fried rice is steamed in lotus leaves, it’s a great combination – the flavourful rice infused with a great essence and becoming moister. However, the large pieces of eel on top made it much too difficult to eat given the spine with all its tiny bones were not removed.


Luckily, the petite fours escorting the sweet red bean soup were better – the mango jello hearts richly flavoured and the almond cookies light and crispy.


Certainly, the dinner incorporated many options and we were presented with large portions of food. But, many of the dishes simply weren’t executed well. In the end, it seems I will just stick with their dim sum. 


Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 648 Silverstar Boulevard

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Royale Fine Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


CLOSED: Dragon Dynasty 龍騰金閣高級粵菜 (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 2301 Brimley Road
Type of Meal: Dinner

Dragon Dynasty is like many uptown Chinese restaurants – located in an unassuming strip mall in a suburbia neighbourhood.  It’s one of the nicer restaurants located in Scarborough that I often visit and thought I’d take this opportunity to share with everyone a Chinese banquet meal.

Ten course dinners are typically eaten on special occasions including birthdays and holidays.  Restaurants will offer a multitude of menu options with varying in price ranges. The one in this blog is just one of many offered by Dragon Dynasty. 

The first course is almost always some sort of roasted meat.  In this menu it was an entire roasted suckling piglet but sometimes can be an assorted meat platter.  The one served this night was one of the best I’ve ever had – the pig was cooked perfectly so that the meat was tender and juicy but the skin extremely crispy and delicate.  There was just a paper thin layer of fat between the skin and the meat that added great flavour.  You can eat it plain, with hoisin sauce (my preference) or with sugar.


Roasted suckling pig (1)

The second course is generally a seafood based appetizer. Normally, the most popular version is the deep fried crab claws, but with this menu we were served baked stuffed conch (?).  I appreciated the change and found the curry an interesting flavour with the vegetable, conch and other seafood pieces.  For those that are squeamish about ingesting snail like creatures, the mixture is not slimy and the spices mask most of the texture and tastes.  Almost like an oyster Rockefeller, but without the cheese, the dish was wonderfully hot and delicious.




Usually the third course is a stir-fry.  In this case, we had chicken,shrimp, sugar snap peas, celery and white garlic chives (essentially garlic chives that are not exposed to sunlight). For those who have never had garlic chives, they are milder in taste than the chives on baked potatoes, so can be eaten whole rather than chopped into little pieces.


Oddly, in Chinese set menus the soup is normally served fourth.  We had shark fin soup with crab meat at this dinner.  I know about the horrors of how sharks are de-finned and thus have vowed to never order the dish myself.  But, to respect the elderly during times of celebration I will eat it if served.  I was surprised to see it given I had thought it was banned in Toronto, but, it appears the ban has been over turned. 

To be honest, I could make do without shark fin and was just as happy when restaurants were serving crab and fish maw soup as a substitute.  What makes shark fin soup good is the soup base, not the shark fin.  The base is generally made by boiling chicken bones, Jinhua ham and other ingredients for a long time.  The shark fin is tasteless given it’s really cartilage and has a crunchy, smooth, yet gelatinous texture.  Shark fin soup tastes good because of the melding of ingredients creating an “umami” taste – akin to having a bowl of ramen; the noodles themselves have no taste but become perfection with the right soup base.


To follow, we had braised abalone with Chinese mushrooms and snow pea shoots.  Abalone is a type of seafood and is a mollusk in a shell.  For this dish they are originally dried, the restaurant will then rehydrate the abalone by braising it for many hours.  The flavour is unique and unfortunately I’m at a lost to find a comparison, so you will have to try for yourself.  However, the texture is similar to eating a large, meaty shitake mushroom, without the fungi taste.  As always, Dragon Dynasty cooked the abalone well – allowing it to be tender and flavourful without overcooking to the point that the outside is too soft. However, I found the dish too salty this evening so had to scrape some of the sauce off.


These final five dishes are served at the end of every Chinese banquet – chicken, fish, lobster (sometimes substituted with crab), noodles and rice. As soon as you see one of them, you know you’re at the half-way point!


The deep fried chicken was moist with crispy skin and well-flavoured. The chicken was flavoured with a peanut mixture which didn’t add much to it, I would have just preferred it plain or with green onions.  The person who cut the fowl needs to work on their technique as it ended up looking hacked up and haphazardly served.  Generally it should arrive cleanly laid out so that the entire chicken is distinguishable. 



The fish in this case was stir-fried pieces with gai lan (Chinese broccoli).  The fish was a strange texture – which could mean it was either under cooked or was previously frozen so was disappointing.  I would have preferred the normal whole steamed fish that accompanies a banquet.  The gai lan on the other hand was great –thin pieces with the ends of each one peeled so they were extra crispy and tender.


Stir-fried double lobsters in a maggi sauce were the last proteins for this menu. The lobster was nicely cooked and retained its juiciness.  The choice of sauce, which tastes like a sweet soy sauce, detracts from the succulent flavour of the lobster, in my opinion.  My preference is for a simple green onion and ginger stir-fry.


The last dishes to arrive were the stir-fried e-fu noodles and fried rice.  For those who haven’t had e-fu noodles, they are noodles that have been fried and then dried.  Restaurants later rehydrate the noodles and stir fry them with sauce and vegetables (in this case Prince mushrooms and garlic chives).  The cooked noodle is an interesting texture that’s soft but very chewy and soaks up lots of flavour.


The Yeung Chow fried rice was good and had a decent balance of rice and fixings (roasted bbq pork, shrimp, Chinese sausage, green onion and egg).


For dessert we had sweet red bean soup with black sesame filled glutinous rice balls. It may seem strange to have beans with dessert and is an acquired taste.  The beans are boiled for many hours with dried orange rind, then once it becomes soft and bursts from its skin, rock sugar is added to sweeten the mixture. The soup itself is then thickened, sometimes with chestnut powder.  I love the glutinous rice balls and was disappointed there was only one per bowl; they are lovely balls of dough filled with a thick sweet black sesame paste.  These balls are usually eaten during Chinese New Year and symbolize togetherness.



As we were celebrating a birthday, we also had birthday buns.  These clementine sized steamed buns are filled with a sweet red bean paste and decorated with edible coloured dough. Dragon Dynasty makes great birthday buns with a generous filling to dough ratio.


The restaurant’s décor is slightly tacky with gold phoenix and dragons’ adorning the walls and strange patterned carpeting, but this is characteristic in many of the older Chinese restaurants.  What sets Dragon Dynasty apart is that their staff is relatively nice and attentive – sadly a quality that can hard to come by.  Additionally, I like that they maintain a good pace at serving each dish – not too fast that you feel like you’re rushing through them.   Ultimately, if you’re looking for a place that serves “real” Chinese food that’s clean and good, this is the place to go.   

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


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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!

Photo Sources:
  1. In my haste to start I forgot to take a picture of the first dish and only have a picture of one slice of roast pork.  Luckily, was able to find a picture of the entire piglet from Chrisleecm's Flickr account - http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrislee-cm/7181003233/in/photostream/