Showing posts with label har gow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label har gow. Show all posts

Riz (Toronto) for delivery


Note: Prices in post are based on UberEats (the only delivery service they use) and may be less when ordering directly from the restaurant

I’m skeptical about restaurants with an extensive menu of varied cuisine. With no focus, how well can chefs actually prepare dishes? Riz is one of these places. The menu encompasses cuisine from so many east Asian countries, that dishes are either decent or a complete flop. Other restauranteurs would likely trim the subpar items from their menu. At Riz they have a permanent home, so ordering is like playing a mild game of Russian roulette.

Having dined-in at the restaurant and ordered take-out a couple of times pre-COVID, something seemed off about the October delivery we had. Maybe we lost at the game of roulette, but the ratio of dishes that disappoint to appease was at an all time high. Could it be that one of the chefs, pivotal to making the dishes decent, was let go?

The Szechuan crispy beef ($19) was the sole dish that continues to impress and truly one of the better renditions I’ve tasted. Thin sticks of beef are just barely coated and deep fried to give the protein a delicate shell and cooked to the point the beef is chewy and not hard. Their sweet and salty sauce is much thinner than ones found elsewhere, still full of flavour but doesn’t saturate the beef to the point it’s too sticky and candy like. Indeed, it tastes even better at the restaurant, but for delivery was delicious.

If you’re in the mood for a “healthier” complete meal, the drunken garlic shrimp ($29) is not overly oily and arrives with a cup of nutty wild rice. Yet, it lacked that fragrant aroma and taste of Chinese rice wine you’d expect, and despite it looking like there was plenty of garlic and shallots sprinkled throughout the shrimp, these aromatic flavours weren’t prevalent either. If simple stir-fried shrimp is what you’re looking for, this isn’t bad. But, for being labelled a “signature dish” and called “drunken garlic” it really needs more oomph.

Like others, the crispy noodles are separated from the sauce for the vegetable and tofu chow mein ($18). While the sauce is a nice consistency and flavourful, there’s so much of it and not much else: several scant broccoli florets, sliced carrots, squares of cabbage leaves, and small tofu pieces - that’s about it. Missing were traditional Chinese ingredients like bok choy, bamboo shoots, baby corn ... things that would make this much heartier.

But truly anything is better than the chicken young chow fried rice ($19). Seriously, was this actually made by someone who had any cooking experience? If you took steamed rice and mixed in boiled chicken and vegetables, then sprinkled finely chopped scrambled egg over everything you’d get Riz’s fried rice. There was absolutely no flavour and no wok hay. I had to scoop crispy beef over it to add any flavour and ended up stir frying the ample leftovers with more eggs and other ingredients the following day to make it edible.

The wrapper on the shrimp dumpling or har gow ($9) was sticky and something leads me to believe these were frozen, but I understand… Riz isn’t known for dim sum and therefore likely not making these fresh daily. For a dinner delivery, they weren’t terrible.

Yet, what threw me off was the black square of who-knows-what stuck onto a dumpling as soon as I opened the package. How much time could it possibly take someone packing the dish to remove the debris? Is a dirty dumpling really the thing you want customers to see?

For everyone’s sake, I surely hope the delivery was just an off night. Because one thing that’s great about Riz’s expansive menu is their commitment to serving those with ingredient intolerances: not many Chinese restaurants offer a gluten-free menu safe for a celiac person and also have a number of vegetarian options that can be made vegan. Unfortunately, these customers will also never get to taste their crispy beef, the one thing we would ever re-order for. 

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3321 Yonge Street
 Delivery: Uber
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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!


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Dim Sum Queen (Toronto)


Aside from being an opportunity to gather friends and family, dim sum is also an excuse to gorge and indulge. Steamer-after-steamer and plate-after-plate of the small bites get placed on the table… just as quickly, it seems, things disappear. Who can keep track of what actually gets eaten?

When Dim Sum Queen opened in the neighbourhood, I had my doubts about its authenticity. From the outside, it looks nothing like a traditional Chinese restaurant and even the name seemed dubious. Yet with the limited dim sum options by my place and the fact that they accept reservations (!), we tried and we conquered (the steamers and plates that is).

Dim Sum Queen does not offer an early bird special, instead, dishes are always charged at the same rate: M ($4.50), L ($5.30), and XL ($6.50). While they don’t have any dishes sized as small, there is a fair selection at the medium range (for example, most of their buns). I'd opt for the BBQ pork (M) ones over the pan fried pork and vegetable (M) as the filling is much tastier. While the BBQ pork is stuffed with large pieces of meat in the traditional sweet sticky sauce, the pan fried buns lacked flavours and needed more vegetables. Moreover, weren’t fried long enough to develop a nice crust.


In general, a lot of the pan fried items could use more time in the pan. Their grilled turnip cake with preserved meat (M) was actually made really well with tons of ingredients and big chunks of turnip, but its lukewarm temperature couldn’t do it justice. The pan fried chicken pot sticker (L) was rather run of the mill, but with the right crunch against the soft filling, it could have been better. Out of all these types of dishes, the pan fried chives shrimp & cake (L) was the tastiest, maybe because its thinner wrapper requires less time on the flattop.


The wrapper on the shrimp dumpling har gow (L) is thicker than I typically like, but the shrimp was well-cooked so it retains its sweetness. For tables with odd numbers, the shrimp and snow pea leaves dumpling (L) may be a better choice as you get a similar shrimp filling but it’s balanced by the vegetables to give it an extra texture and flavour element.


While the pork and shrimp dumpling siu mai (L) doesn't look quite as nice as competitors (lacking that pop of colour on top), it tastes just as good. Dim Sum Queen is made for those who don’t eat pork as they also offer siu mai in tangerine beef (M) and chicken shitake (L) alternatives. The chicken has a similar texture but milder taste and I rather like the slight earthiness from the mushroom. Meanwhile, the beef is in a paste form and has a springy texture – similar to the steamed tangerine beef balls but denser.


Dim sum wouldn’t be the same without an order of rice rolls, the BBQ pork (L) was tasty and contained enough filling. For something different, the vegetarian spring roll version (M) uses a crunchy deep fried spring roll, which makes for such a great contrast against the soft silky wrapper.


While the steamed sticky rice with meat in lotus leaf (L) could use more filling, for what was there, it was flavourful. 


A bowl of the shrimp dumpling in soup (L) (sometimes known as Shanghai dumplings in other restaurants) is also great during the cold weather as they’re steamed in the bowl arriving piping hot. The plump shrimp are further enhanced by crunchy black fungus slivers.


Dishes that should be taken off the menu are the green onion pancake (M) and red bean pancake (M). The dough is much too dense, especially for a green onion pancake that’s normally known for the flaky layers. Moreover, the filling in each is so sparse that they really don’t taste like much.


On the other hand, dishes you should order are ones consisting of a sticky glutinous flour exterior that’s deep fried. The sesame seed and lotus paste balls (M) made fresh so they’re piping hot. What makes them stand out is the glutinous dough – it’s rather delicate so it’s not too dense but still has a lovely crispy crust. In the sesame seed ball, you bite through to be greeted with a lotus paste that’s thinned so it has a silkier texture but still a nice amount of sweetness.


For a savoury version, the deep fried meat & shrimp dumplings (M; 2 orders shown below) is similar but instead filled with bits of pork, mushroom, and shrimp.


While I wouldn’t say every dish at Dim Sum Queen is a hit, what I love that you’re able to visit on a whim and not have to wait. On busier days (think holidays), they still let you book reservations so it’s a great option for larger tables. Having been twice, on busy and slow days, the food and service quality remained consistent.

So, I take back my initial judgment. Maybe their name, signage, and dining room doesn’t look like a typical Chinese restaurant, but their food tastes just as authentic. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3241 Yonge Street

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


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Crown Jewel Fine Dining for dim sum 御膳豪庭 (Toronto)


For as long as I can remember, weekends were a time for gathering family members (whether it be one other person or the entire 20 member gang) for dim sum. The meal consisted of varied bite-sized  dishes and desserts weren’t reserved as the last bites… eat it first, who cares!

As I’ve grown, dim sum has changed from a weekly to bi-weekly affair, but acting as the conduit for gathering family members, that hasn’t changed. How dim sum is enjoyed has morphed - lunch used to take longer as you waited for the must have dishes to be wheeled from carts to your table. With the exception of one or two restaurants, everyone has moved to the ordering method so waiting and surprises are things of the past.

To be fair, I don’t mind the transition, made-to-order food is hotter and fresher. You also rarely leave disappointed. Crown Jewel Fine Dining offers a decent selection at competitive prices: S for $3.50, M for $4.50, and L for $5.50, but on non-holidays if you order before 11am, S-L dishes will be $3.50.

Where Crown differs is the size of their dim sum. Their steamed shrimp dumpling har gow (L) and steamed shrimp & pork dumpling siu mai (L), are huge and about 50% larger than other restaurants while the taste is still relatively consistent.


Some dumplings could use more seasoning. The steamed vegetable dumpling (L) is a great vegetarian option containing snow pea shoots and prince mushroom slivers, but desperately needs salt. Similarly, the seafood dumpling in soup (L) is fairly bland despite containing chunky portions of various seafood and mushroom.


I’m glad restaurants are starting to offer more vegetarian options. A pumpkin congee with chestnut and corn (L) seems to grace most menus and truthfully is quite delicious. At Crown, they leave some pumpkin pieces strewn throughout the congee so it ends up having more texture and bite. The chestnuts also make the congee savoury.


If you prefer your congee with meat, the traditional pork and preserved egg (L) is available. At Crown, the pork is shredded rather than diced, which may make it easier for some to eat.


Of course, there are a host of other family favourites including steamed beef balls with vegetables (S), which were a little dense for my taste; silky steamed BBQ rice rolls (M) that had me reaching for seconds; and flavourful steamed curry cuttlefish (M), although the quality varies depending on the visit.


What surprised me the most were their buns, something I normally don’t order but in a large family setting someone’s bound to want. The Crown Jewel BBQ pork buns (L) have a slightly sweet crust and is stuffed with chunky pieces of BBQ pork – they’re similar to the ones you’ll find at Hong Kong’s Tim Ho Wan. These are now a must-order dish for me. 



The steamed lau sha custard buns (M) were also tasty, the fluid milky egg custard specked with pieces of salty egg yolk so it added a bit of saltiness without becoming overboard.


The deep fried shrimp spring rolls (L) arrive with a beautiful fried lattice on the bottom. However, the filling had little to no shrimp and instead tons of pork and a fragrant herb that I can’t identify.


Larger tables may want to “splurge” for an order of the clay pot rice ($8.80). It’s at least two times the size of what you’d find elsewhere and a bit of rice helps settle the stomach after the heavier proteins. There’s three versions to choose from but the ground chicken and octopus patty is one that’s generally not found elsewhere.


With so many of the dishes being larger than competitors, the mango pudding (M) was shockingly sparse with two palm sized gold fish in the order. The Chinese description also notes it arrives with ice cream - in reality it’s canned whipped cream, but admittedly an improvement over evaporated milk.


Not all desserts were small. Crown certainly doesn’t skimp on the beans in their clear red bean jelly (M); the dessert was bricks of soft beans solidified in a lightly sweetened jelly. The coffee and cream jelly (M) was also a sizeable portion and had a hefty kick of coffee flavours.


If you need an excuse to gather a group, why not look into trying dim sum? There’s tons of options and doesn’t cost much to try something new. My family has been doing it for decades.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 325 Bamburgh Circle

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:



Crown Jewel Fine Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tim Ho Wan 添好運點心專門店 (Hong Kong)


How different could a har gow be? I wondered to myself after hearing about Tim Ho Wan, a dim sum specialist restaurant in Hong Kong, which has long held on to its one Michelin star. After all, in Toronto, most shrimp dumplings are similar, the wrapper sometimes stickier, but otherwise most are filled with crunchy shrimp that have little taste. They’ve become larger throughout my lifetime, some of them reaching golf ball status, but the bland crunchy shrimp has remained constant.

Therefore, to draw comparisons, we stuck with the basics at Tim Ho Wan; I wanted to see what these “specialists” could do! Getting back to the har gow ($28), they indeed differ - smaller in size, the steamed dumplings are delicate so you can taste the shrimp’s sweetness (these are also tinier) with the seafood not packed together. The wrapper is soft, but not gummy, and has an elasticity to its consistency allowing them to be easily picked up. So, I stand corrected, har gows can be different.


Their steamed pork dumpling with shrimp ($28) or sui mai follows a similar recipe for success: big chunks of pork (as opposed to being pulverized) and shrimp combined loosely so there’s a juicy succulence to the dumpling. Oh, how I want more. 


The wrapper for the vermicelli roll stuffed with BBQ pork ($25) is impossibly thin, yet withstands the large pieces of BBQ pork stuffed in it. Personally, I like the bigger pieces of meat and full springs of cilantro placed throughout - you can taste the ingredients.


Tim Ho Wan’s glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf is the old-school format arriving as one gigantic package: a thick layer of chewy sticky rice stuffed with chicken, Chinese sausage, and mushrooms. The longer cooking time helps the lotus leaf essence seep into the rice, but having this dish again makes me realize I prefer the new miniature versions. The rice is softer and overall the dish more flavourful because of the gravy minced meat mixture used. Of course, the traditional way of making the dish requires experience (as you need to ensure everything is cooked throughout) and there is more filling, but you end up with one or two pieces of protein and big hunks of rice. 


Forgetting we already ordered the glutinous rice, the steamed rice with spare rib and chicken feet ($27) was too much; sadly, the rice was wasted. Frankly, unless you’re with a large table, this is a forgettable dish, the spare ribs and chicken foot both fairly average.


A dish that graced every table was their signature baked bun with BBQ pork ($21). Fresh from the oven, they are piping hot and the thin bun containing a large piece of BBQ pork. There’s a sweetness from the sauce and pineapple crust you’d expect, but it’s well balanced with the meat’s savouriness. For those who like it sweeter, allow the bun to cool down and the flavours intensify.  


The pan-fried pork and chives dumplings were also delicious, the meat cut into pieces (rather than minced) with enough vegetables to create a lightness to the dim sum. It’s wonton wrapper was so thin that it’s barely there, merely forming a fantastic crispy crust over everything.  


With only four desserts to choose from, we decided against the signature tonic medlar & petal cake, instead going for the tried and true deep-fried sesame dumpling ($18). At Tim Ho Wan, aside from the red bean paste they also add a piece of banana, which when heated turns into a creamy consistency. 



In the end, what makes Tim Ho Wan so good? From my experience: thin wrappers, ingredients left in chunks, and well-balanced flavours. If you don’t want to wait, head their as soon as it opens on a weekday, you’ll walk right in and find a seat at a number of tables. It’s a quick meal with dim sum flying out of the kitchen, which runs like a tasty, dumpling-making, well-oiled machine.


Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: North Point, Hong Kong
 Address: 2 Wharf Rd (Seaview Building, GF)

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!