Showing posts with label peking duck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peking duck. Show all posts

Grandeur Palace 華丽宮 for dinner (Toronto)


I have a love-hate relationship with Grandeur Palace: they’re one of better dim sum restaurants, in terms of taste for value, but the sheer amount of “friends and family” they let go to the front of the queue grates on the nerves while you’re waiting. Luckily, they’re quiet during dinner and with a small group we’ve just walked-in. It’s so much better when there’s no one jumping the line!

Unlike other Chinese restaurants, Grandeur doesn’t serve complimentary soup. So, if you’re used to wetting the whistle before the food arrives, plan accordingly. Their soup of the day ($9.98) is reasonably priced and sufficient for about 8-10 people. While it changes, one evening brought us a bone broth made of pork, carrots, apples, and white fungus, arriving piping hot and flavourful (not having been diluted).  


Almost every table orders the roasted Peking duck special ($19.80), a steal for two courses (duck with wraps and chopped carcass). While it’s not the most stellar version of the dish, it’s still satisfying. Their biggest flaw being the consistency of the bird – larger tables are given larger birds.


Moreover, their wrappers are a little thick and left in the steamer too long causing the top ones to dry out and crack. Nonetheless, they’re a good three-bite size ideal for making a duck taco.

You will spend more on other dishes – even a simple vegetable dish is above $15. However, Grandeur doesn’t skimp on quality or portion sizes. The sweet and sour pork ($16.80) is made with pork tenderloin, so even older family members could bite through the meat, and there was enough sauce for flavour. Sadly, the large chip is prettier to look at than eat: thinking it was a gigantic shrimp chip, I was disappointed to be greeted with the taste of Styrofoam.


The salt and pepper pork chop ($16.80) is a substantial dish. Again, the kitchen ensures it remains tender while creating a crispy crust, it just needs to be spicier.


While it’s common in Chinese restaurants, the actual seafood in the tofu, vegetable, and seafood in hot pot ($18.80) has little flavour given it’s quickly blanched before cooking. Most tables order the hot pot for the sauce over the natural shrimp, scallop, and squid flavours.


If you’ve never had bamboo fungus, it has an interesting crunchy spongy texture that I love. At Grandeur, you’ll find the ingredient in the stir-fried vegetables with bamboo fungus ($15.80), topping broccoli and mixed with black and white fungus.


The baby bok choy with salted and preserved egg ($13.80) isn’t my favourite dish as the grainy texture of the salted egg yolk is strange against the vegetable. However, it’s simple and relatively healthy feeling for those wanting a lighter option.


At $19.98 a pound, it doesn’t sound expensive for a large lobster, but when you’re greeted with a behemoth 6-pound dish ($119.88), it adds up. Best for big tables, large lobsters aren’t always as sweet as their younger counterparts but there’s more meat, especially in the claws and legs. The traditional stir-fried lobster with green onions and ginger was done well, chopped into large enough pieces so it didn’t become overcooked.


The braised grouper ($48) is another dish for larger tables – a platter with a big slab of meaty fish topped with tons of tofu and surrounded with vegetables and mushrooms (these sides alone enough to count as its own dish). The thick grouper was just cooked through and there was sufficient oyster sauce to keep everything flavoured.


Whoever chopped the deep fried whole chicken ($33.60) did so in a haphazard manner, it arrived disheveled looking. Nonetheless, it was well flavoured, the skin crispy, and the meat cooked through but not tough. Perhaps it was cut while it was still hot - if it’s between presentation or temperature, I choose temperature any day.


Although the restaurant doesn’t provide soup, customers do leave with a sweet ending. The customary green bean soup with tapioca was hot and sweet and on a weeknight dinner there were also bite-sized mango pudding and cookies.


While dining at Grandeur Palace doesn’t make you feel like royalty (even on quiet nights it’s hard to get a staff member’s attention), their dishes are decent interpretations of Cantonese cuisine. Just go in a table of six or more; they don’t skimp on portion size.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2301 Brimley Road

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:

Grandeur Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

QJD (Quanjude) Peking Duck 全聚德 (Markham)


QJD or Quanjude has flew over the ocean from Beijing to Canada, and is one of the oldest Peking duck restaurants, operating since 1864. The Markham outpost is the second location outside of China (the first is in Melbourne) and is prominently set on the main floor of the Courtyard Marriott - just look for the towering duck statue. With the hotel comes a confusing parking situation: after asking the hotel’s concierge and restaurant staff we’re advised to park on the garage’s 4th floor and didn't need to pay for a ticket from the parking machine.

After settling into the sparkling white and turquoise dining room, I couldn’t help but drool over the carts of glistening ducks that just kept coming out – even tables of three (the smallest we could see) order duck. Our waiter suggests we put in the request for the Peking duck first, as it takes 30-minutes to prepare; a time-saving recommendation that allowed dinner to be finished in little over an hour.

Due to the long preparation time, all the other dishes come out first. QJD offers an extensive menu with a lot of offal items. We shied away from these but did try some atypical offering. One of these dishes was the Xi’an rice noodle dressed with spicy sauce ($11.99), which although described as cold, the knife cut noodles were thankfully warm. Overall, it’s a simple but enjoyable dish: the spicy sauce (bean paste mixed with chili oil) went nicely with the chewy noodles, crunchy julienned cucumbers, and spongy slivers of gluten.

Another little seen dish is the traditional Beijing style smoked chicken and tofu sheet roll ($15.99). While it looks pretty, the dish’s texture and flavour reminded everyone of cold mild Spam; for those who like the canned meat this could be fine, but for someone who doesn’t I was disappointed.


While the fried squid in pepper and salt ($18.99) was tender and had a great crunchy crust, it could stand to be drained longer and tasted like the chef forgot to add salt (although there was enough pepper). Luckily, we saved the chili oil from the chilled noodles, a good universal condiment, which helped to flavour the dish.


Finally, to balance out all the meat and carbs an order of sautéed snow pea shoots ($21.99) seemed ideal. It arrives in as a sizeable mound and was cooked nicely retaining the bright green colour and slight crunch.


After all the other dishes were finished, the main event … the DUCK ($118) … was served. The first teaser consists of bite-sized pieces of the oiliest skin – indulgent tastes you can augment with sugar.


Then the beautiful peony dish arrives - the reason you’d pay a $30 premium over their regular set. Since I’ve never had the "non-premium" version, I can’t comment whether you actually receive more of the fowl, however six hollow sesame seed buns are extra items with this combo. 


Presumably, since the buns arrive with the dish, these are meant to be eaten together. Sadly, the buns are cold and its dough is in dire need of seasoning; without adequate hoisin sauce, it’s rather plain – yet you don’t want to waste too much of the sauce as despite the hefty price the duck, each additional dish is another $1.39.


All the sudden, a manager arrives with a gong (how theatrical!) to announce the presentation of the rest of the duck. After the beautiful peony, everything else comes in a hacked up pile, seemingly to resemble the duck’s body. On the side, another dish holds slices of the duck’s neck and head – the neck is pretty tasteless but an interesting cut that’s not normally served.


QJD does provide plenty of steamed pancakes (24 to an order) all large enough to allow adequate folding around the ingredients. They’re unbelievably thin and elastic, one of the most impressive parts of the meal! Meanwhile, although the duck has glossy slightly crispy skin, it isn’t seasoned enough (especially the duck’s meat) so all the flavour comes from the condiments.


Surprisingly, despite the $118 price, there is no “second course”– typically lettuce wraps or the even a chopped-up carcass. Hence, even with all the dishes, it left our table of five comfortably satisfied but not overly full.

We opted for the cute duckling shaped crispy puff stuffed with date paste ($21.99) for dessert, which caused everyone to squeal like school girls when presented. In actuality, the overly thick pastry dough isn’t crispy and the dessert reminds me of a drier fig newton - picture worthy, but not an overly delicious dish. Luckily, we each received half a bowl of sweet almond soup, which although lukewarm helped to balance the crumbly dessert.


Without a doubt, QJD is nicely decorated and is a restaurant for celebrating an occasion or impressing guests. Unlike some Chinese restaurants, the service is also attentive and friendly: our waiter spoke three languages (so could answer everyone) and joked around with us.

Oddly, with all the branding elsewhere - from the gigantic duck out front to the duck chop stick holders) - their menu (the first thing a customer reads) looks like someone whipped it up on Excel and pressed print … not a drop of colour or even a logo in sight. I can understand they’re likely testing out the menu during their opening period, seeing what sells and adjusting accordingly, but at least pretty up the temporary document so it doesn’t paint such a stark contrast against everything else.


Duck statue, duck flowers, duckling desserts … all cute and flashy. Yet, I expected more from a restaurant that’s been operating for over 150 years. Who knows, maybe the recipe hasn’t changed since the Qing Dynasty and back then salt and spices were rare and used sparingly. Nowadays, it makes for a bland duck - pretty, but tasteless.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 7095 Woodbine Avenue

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:


QJD Peking Duck Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Szechuan Legend 半畝園 (Toronto)


Gather a group of ten before heading to Szechuan Legend as their set meals, especially on weekdays when they are even cheaper, are an amazing deal. The $198 weeknight non-spicy menu had enough variety to satisfy.

Of course, you’ll get your seafood fix with a medium four pound lobster done “fishermen wharf” style (essentially deep fried and then stir fried with garlic and chilies). It’s a nice change from the traditional ginger and onion and adds a spicy salty kick to the lobster. Afterwards, the tomalley is used in the fried rice, giving it a sticky and rich (albeit slightly fishy) essence.


The crustacean parade continue with two Dungeness crabs simply done with ginger and onion. Both seafood dishes are decent – not overcooked and incorporates enough seasoning without overpowering the seafood.


Although it’s not really Szechuan, a large steamed golden tilapia, is also included to counteract all the fried dishes. Again, the cooking time is bang on so that the fish flakes away from the bone without the texture turning tough.


Other seafood dishes completing the meal includes a Peking style sea cucumber – a sea creature that despite its name is not actually vegetarian. Normally, I’m not a fan of its soft blubbery texture, but at Szechuan Legend it’s chopped into small pieces and quickly stir fried (rather than braised) keeping them crunchy. Lastly, a plate of vermicelli noodles containing a fair amount of seafood and vegetables; it could use more salt as it’s colourful but tepid.


A favourite for my family is Peking duck, so we were in luck when the set menu included one done three ways. Traditionally, the highlight is the slices of skin cocooned in flour wrappers. They’re fine at Szechuan legend – the skin crispy (to the point the duck may have been flash fried) and the wrappers impossibly thin. Yet, the duck needed more seasoning as without the hoisin sauce, it’d be pretty bland.


On the other hand, the lettuce wraps and duck bone soup arguably steals the show. Large chunks of duck meat is reserved for the stir-fried lettuce wrap mixture and the Styrofoam rice noodles are left out in favour of crunchy vegetables and water chestnuts. There’s little meat within the duck bone soup, but the restaurant adds soft cubes of tofu and quickly boiled napa cabbage to make it hearty. A hot boil of soup is a nice toasty way to end off the meal.


The sole vegetable dish included with the set meal is stir fried baby bok choy with shrimp… boring and rather unforgettable compared to everything else. For this reason, we added an order of the stir fried lotus root ($8.99), which has a great crunchy refreshing texture.


The execution on the crispy half chicken ($8.99) varies. Since we had a larger table, we ordered a full chicken and each half arrived separately. The first looked man-handled and was starting to border on dry, while the second better but the breast a tad undercooked. Even so, we all agreed the sweet and spicy sauce accompanying the chicken was fantastic and helped mask the flaws.


In need of more starches, the seafood fried rice cakes ($8.99) were a nice change from noodles. The chewiness of the rice cakes pairs nicely with the crunchy black fungus; pork slivers, shrimp and napa cabbage completes the dish.


On both visits, dessert consisted of red bean soup. The restaurant’s rendition incorporates what looks and smells like Baby’s Breath. Given a limited amount of sugar was used in the dessert, there was little flavour to hide the floral taste. Nonetheless, despite tasting strange, the red bean soup did have a digestive effect after a heavy meal.


Even without the lower pricing, I’d suggest visiting on a weeknight. The restaurant is generally understaffed so service tends to be slow even when the dining room isn’t full. All the same, Szechuan Legend is a respectable restaurant; for the most part, the food is tasty despite being affordable. You’ll leave full and satisfied … just with a floral aftertaste in your mouth.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3280 Midland Avenue

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:


Szechuan Legend Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Peking Duck Kitchen 東成酒家 (Toronto)


In my opinion, some of the best restaurants are small family run affairs; Peking Duck Kitchen seems no different with father and son in the kitchen and mom and other son running the front-of-the-house. Food may arrive slower and dishes don’t arrive with serving cutlery, but good things come to those who wait.

Trust me, their Peking duck ($48.99) is worth the wait. Despite listing only two dishes on the menu, it actually arrives as four:

Think of the first as a paid amuse bouche: six bite-sized slices of the thickest skin served in sugar. My husband describes it as duck candy, which may sound odd, but the crisp skin and bit of oil that leaks out goes nicely with the sugar – like a duck skin timbit.


Next, the main course, where the fowl’s skin and meat is sliced and arrives with steamed flour wrappers. The duck’s skin is crispy despite not being fried (you can monitor the cooking process with their open kitchen and the oven on display) and there’s a bit of spice added to the bird so by itself there’s already flavour.


Even the wrappers are outstanding, so translucent and thin, but strong enough to withstand being pulled apart and filled with three slices of duck. Nothing fell apart and I happily bit through each sweet (thanks to the hoisin) and crispy bite. Plenty of skinless cucumber and scallions are included to help cut through the fattiness of the duck. Having had my fair share of Peking ducks in Toronto, it was one of the tastiest.

The lettuce wraps were average, there’s enough seasoning and contrasting textures, but too much fried vermicelli – a bit is good, but when there’s too much it tastes like you’re eating bits of Styrofoam.


Lastly, the duck bones. By now there’s very little meat left on them, given everything has been sliced off and even the meat around the carcass is shredded off for the lettuce wraps. Nonetheless, you can jazz them up – for an extra $4.99 the chef stir fries them with salt and pepper to give it interest. If only the restaurant has television screens playing sporting events … imagine the viewers who’d love to nibble on these while drinking cold beers (they have mini kegs available).


Peking Duck Kitchen isn’t a one dish wonder. Everything else we tried was solidly executed. I had doubts about ordering sweet and sour pork ($9.99) at a Beijing restaurant, but was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The sauce was balanced in terms of flavours and consistency (not too thick that it became slimy but thick enough to cling to the ingredients). Each bite of pork had enough batter to develop a crispy exterior but you could still taste the meat. The bell peppers remained crunchy and even in the dead of winter the pineapples were fresh as opposed to the canned variety.


Another popular Sichuan dish is boiled fish filets in hot chili oil ($14.99). It’s one I’m generally not ecstatic about as it becomes a chore to try to pick out all the chilies – especially the smaller Sichuan pepper that releases a bitter taste and numbs your tongue. Luckily, the wire mesh helps extract the fish easier and I like that the soup underneath wasn’t a clear broth, instead incorporating something sweet (perhaps bean paste or oyster sauce) so that the fish has taste even without the peppers.


If you’re wondering what the garlic A dish ($8.99) is, the “A” denotes the A choy, a leafy green vegetable that has the whispy leaves of romaine lettuce and the crunchy stalk of Chinese broccoli (or gai lan). Sometimes the vegetable can have a slight bitterness, but this wasn’t evident at all at the restaurant, maybe due to the abundance of garlic in the dish.


Some Chinese restaurants give complimentary soups, a custom they don't follow at Peking Duck Kitchen. Nevertheless, their menu has plenty to choose from and the prices are reasonable. We settled on the hot and sour soup ($7.99 for a medium) that was large enough for a table of six. The restaurant certainly doesn’t skimp on ingredients with plenty of slivered vegetables, tofu and black fungus.

The soup’s taste, although still enjoyable, was a little off for me. The “hot” came from adding tons of cracked black peppercorns to the broth instead of chili, so the soup tickles your throat as consumed. Meanwhile, the “sour” really wasn’t prevalent – something I personally enjoy – but could be the missing flavour for someone else.

Mom and pop restaurants always have a special place in my heart. The décor may not be picturesque and the service less polished, but I appreciate that many stick to dishes they can execute well and at Peking Duck Kitchen you can’t go wrong with the duck.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1 Glen Watford Drive

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:



Peking Duck Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato