Showing posts with label moo shu pork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label moo shu pork. 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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Asian Legend 味香村 (Scarborough)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4452 Sheppard Avenue East
Type of Meal: Dinner

Asian Legend is a chain specializing in Northern Chinese dishes. They’ve been around for over 20 years – likely thanks to their reasonable prices and extensive menu. In my books, they are not known to be the “best” for anything; you can get better Peking duck or stir fried dishes at other places. But, their dishes are consistent and they are always a decent version of it (I have never had a horrible one).

A popular dish is the steamed soup filled dumplings with ground pork ($5.96 for 6). Asian Legend’s is good but eat them quickly as the wrapper can sometimes split if left too long. Each dumplings holds a fair amount of soup and the dough is thin enough.

Their chicken potstickers ($4.95 for four) is a nice change from the typical pork ones. With diced black mushrooms mixed throughout there’s a bit of a contrasting texture. Although it’s not as juicy, the wrapper does seem crispier with a beautiful developed crust.

My aunt likes the rolled onion pancake with sliced beef ($5.95; two orders shown below). Personally, I prefer the green onion pancake plain. Normally, it’s pan fried so a nice crust develops and contrasts against the soft inside while making the green onion taste more pronounced. Whereas, in the wrap it’s not pan fried and thus seems a little plain. Plus, I find the beef a bit dry – not my favourite but plenty of people order it.

With a variety of cold appetizers to choose from, with larger groups we order the preserved pork ($6.95). The meat is shredded, well salted and then mixed into a savoury gelatin.  Once cooled and solidified it is sliced. It can be eaten plain or dipped into the Chinese vinegar which accompanies it. I prefer the version where the pork is compressed on the bottom and the gelatin is on top (forming two layers), but Asian Legend’s isn’t bad either.

The freshly made Taiwanese street-style deep fried tofu with garlic sauce ($3.95; two orders shown below) was delicious. I know, you may be thinking … tofu really? But it’s the combination of the crispy crust, soft airy inside and flavourful sweet soy sauce that makes it great for snacking on.

Like most places, the Peking duck ($34.95) is served two ways. With plenty of wraps (about fourteen), the main dish is wrapping the crispy pieces of skin into a thin flour crepe. I like to slather on the hoisin sauce, cucumbers and green onions, while others may like it plain. Asian Legend’s Peking duck could use more flavour as I found the skin and meat by itself was rather bland.

The second dish is simply the remaining carcass chopped into pieces; unfortunately, not the most photogenic. There is the option to pay $8.95 and have the second dish as lettuce wraps, sautéed duck with vegetables or as a soup but we prefer to keep it simple. Plus, since we also ordered moo shu pork, no more wrapping dishes were required.

The moo shu pork ($10.95) arrives with six pancakes ($0.60/each for extra wraps). It’s one of my favourite dishes from Asian Legend. There’s a great combination of crunchy textures from the black fungus, napa cabbage and bamboo shoots. Plus, the scrambled egg works well at soaking up the various juices. All wrapped into a thin crepe with hoisin sauce this is full of flavour.

We normally don’t order the shredded chicken noodle soup ($7.95) but seemed to be a good choice for my grandmother. The noodles are doughy, soft and soaks in the thick flavourful soup. Simply accompanied with pieces of chicken and Shanghai bok choy it’s decent but not really a must-have dish.

A noodle in soup we order often is the braised beef noodles ($8.95). The dish is aromatic and although the broth looks like simple soy sauce there’s a much richer taste to it. Asian Legend’s version of this dish is decent and the beef tender and excellent quality. The chunks of pickled preserved vegetables on top are also a nice addition.

If you want a starchy dish try the stir fried Shanghai rice cakes ($10.95). It is traditional yet not normally found outside of Northern Chinese restaurants. The rice cakes are nothing like the light styrofoam version found in the chip aisle, rather they have a soft chewy texture. Stir fried with pork, shrimp, napa cabbage and a light sauce it’s well worth trying.

The Shanghai noodles with seafood ($11.95) is a safe crowd friendly dish. The thick yellow noodles are soft with a slight bite to it. Mixed throughout are crunchy bean sprouts, shrimp, scallop and a simple soy sauce. Asian Legend’s is fine but needs to be cooked longer to develop that wonderful wok essence.

Wanting some vegetables, we order the sautéed water spinach with fermented tofu and shredded chili ($10.95). In my Day and Day Soup review I’ve wrote a bit about this hollow vegetable and condiments if you want a further description. Overall, it’s an average version of the dish and could benefit from more fermented tofu.

If you plan on visiting regularly, their VIP membership ($20) could be a good investment. Valid for a year, it can be used at the time of purchase providing card holders 10% off food items.  Additionally, you earn points that can be used for future purchases. As they were celebrating an anniversary, I even received a coupon for a surprise gift. Now that I’m a “VIP” cardholder, who knows I may be returning more often.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!