Showing posts with label sweet and sour pork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sweet and sour pork. Show all posts

Dim Sum Queen (Toronto) for delivery and takeout



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

Coming from a Cantonese Chinese background, my brunches were less about eggs benny and pancakes and more about steamed dumplings and pan-fried delights. Being able to have dim sum was something I took for granted, just a lunch we’d have as a family every other weekend. It wasn’t until the quarantine hit that I realized how much I would miss these small bites. So much so, that one Saturday, I placed a huge order at Dim Sum Queen and delivered care packages to family members.

A groan of delight must have escaped when I bit into my favourite dish, the siu mai (pork dumplings). They were a little wet from sitting in a steamy closed container, but once the condensation evaporated, they’re not that far off from what you’d get at a restaurant. Both the pork ($5.30 for 4 pieces) and chicken shitake ($5.30 for 4 pieces) versions are delicious, a nice meaty consistency but not overly dense.

The shrimp and snow pea leaves dumpling ($5.30 for 3 pieces) doesn’t travel as well since the wrappers get soft and sticky. Order the pan-fried shrimp and chive cakes ($5.30 for 3 pieces) instead, the thin wonton wrappers don’t mind a steam and the filling is just as good – plump pieces of shrimp studded with bits of leafy vegetables.

Of all the dishes, I would have thought the steamed sticky rice with meat in lotus leaf ($5.30 for 2 pieces) would be best for takeout - the wrapper helps keep in the heat and they are steamed for so long anyways that another 15 minutes wouldn’t make a huge difference. Alas, Dim Sum Queen’s has so much rice and so little filling that it’s a bland forgettable dish.

Their steamed BBQ pork rice rolls ($5.30 for 3 pieces) are thicker than what I’ve had at the restaurant, nonetheless, they’re a still decent and the restaurant smartly sends the soy sauce separately so it doesn’t get too soggy.

One of my favourite items from Dim Sum Queen is their sesame seed and lotus paste balls ($4.50 for 3 pieces) – when they are freshly fried these sweet spheres are A-MAZING! Understandably, takeout doesn’t do it justice (maybe if they were shipped in paper bags instead of Styrofoam it’d allow it to breath better), but still fairly decent and the just-sweet-enough lotus paste was as tasty as ever.

Despite the restaurant’s name, their non-dim sum items are good as well. While the sweet and sour pork ($14) and General Tao chicken ($14) look identical, the sauces do differ: the pork using the typical sweet and sour combination but ends with a gingery finish while the chicken savoury and sweet. They’d be even better if the batter weren’t quite as thick and the General Tao given a spicier finish.

Nonetheless, both went quite nicely with the yang chow fried rice ($12), a sizeable portion incorporating shrimp, large cubes of BBQ pork and enough scallions to add a freshness to the rice.

The mixed vegetable chow mein ($10) is also a great choice, they serve the sauce on the side so the noodles remain very crispy and crunchy. They also don’t skimp on the vegetables, the container held big chunks of broccoli, snow peas, cabbage, and carrots, amongst other greens.

Honestly, dim sum tastes SO much better when it’s fresh; not all dishes lend itself to delivery. So, since the restaurant offers dim sum all the time, if you want to miss their busy lunch rush, a dinner of noodles, rice, vegetables, and select dim sum may be the smarter choice. 


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10*
Higher marks for their noodle, rice, and other dishes than the dim sum


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3241 Yonge Street
 Delivery: Uber, 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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Lamma Rainbow 南丫天虹(Hong Kong)


Lamma Island makes for a great day trip if you’re visiting Hong Kong. After a short ferry ride, 20-30 minutes depending on the arrival point of the island, you’ll be transported out of the sky scraper metropolis onto a coastal island with rolling green hills and plenty of flora.

Which point of the Island you should arrive at largely depends on the time you’re visiting, when you want to eat, and where you want to eat. Yung Shue Wan is the busier portion of Lamma with little shops and a variety of restaurants (seafood, Italian, Thai, etc.). Whereas, Sok Kwu Wan is quieter, offering secluded beach areas (that could be populated by a pack of cute napping wild dogs) and waterside seafood restaurants.


Most tourists seem to go to the Yung Shue Wan portion of the island before making their way across Lamma to end at the other side for lunch or dinner. Since my husband and I like exploring areas without the crowds, we opted for the reverse itinerary. Arriving at Sok Kwu Wan, we decided to explore the small pier area, visit the tiny Tin Hau temple, and take in the calming views by the temple before stopping for brunch.

With so many ocean view seafood restaurants to choose from, we decided to go with the largest and most well-known: Lamma Rainbow (or formerly known as Rainbow Seafood Restaurant). 


Most reviews say the seafood is fresh and dishes taste good (the most attractive quality being no one has fallen ill after eating there), while most complain about the price (especially dishes that are “seasonal” where prices aren’t listed on the menu) and the mandatory tea and sauce charges ($16 a person), which are common in Hong Kong. Armed with the expectation we’ll be paying more, but to order dishes with menu prices to avoid crazy charges, we went in and sat down at a table by the railing.

During the week, especially in the morning, it’s very quiet. We took the opportunity to relax and look out onto the marina, filled with boats, junks, and small huts. Our waiter explained the buildings are relics of homes fishermen used to live in. Nowadays, everyone lives onshore and the huts are generally used to hold and sometimes raise caught fish until they are larger, which are later sold to Hong Kong establishments. Aside from the strong-smelling bleach aroma, it was a tranquil atmosphere; a nice respite after being amongst crowds of people and buildings for four days.


We’re spoiled in North America with our meaty sweet Dungeness crabs, one bite into the flower crab with honey and pepper ($360) and I knew we were better off with shrimp. The shell shatters and the meat sticks to it so there’s the painstaking process of spitting out all the small shell bits. Moreover, there’s little flavour from the crab itself, merely the sweetness from the honey and not enough pepper. 


The stir fried fresh sliced grouper with broccoli ($180) was decent – the fish much meatier than the frozen variety. The chewier texture isn’t necessarily bad, but does take some getting used to. As with most fresh seafood, the dish is simply prepared, stir-fried with salt and ginger, a smear of the oyster sauce makes it even better.


The sole non-seafood dish at brunch was the sweet and sour pork ($88). It’s pretty tasty, cut into large chunks with just a light dusting of batter, the sweet and sour flavours of the sauce nicely balanced. It just wasn’t crispy enough since the dish arrives covered in a dome – great for keeping everything sanitary - but causes the crust to get soggy.


Lamma Rainbow even has a private ferry that shuttles guests to and from the restaurant and the Central piers, if a reservation is made. A service we didn’t use, so unfortunately can’t comment on the experience.

Filled with sustenance we started the hike to Yung Shue Wan along the “Lamma Island Family Walk”. As the name implies, the trail is suitable for most ages and it’s relatively easy. There are plenty of signage so you don’t need to worry about being steered off course. The trail is also largely paved although there are some areas done with stone that did get slightly slippery when it started spitting.

After a filling meal, an hour long walk is the perfect way to help digest. Any incline is gradual so the walk wasn’t taxing and there are some great stops that branch out from the main path to rest and take in the beautiful views from Lamma Island.


As you make your way towards the “town” there’s a large public beach – a nice place to sleep off the food coma, if the weather’s warm. By the end of the hike, it’s actually nice to end in the busier area: there are various little shops, if you had made purchases you wouldn’t want to lug it around; and the bars and restaurants a great excuse to rehydrate with a drink.


So, while the seafood brunch at Lamma Rainbow was disappointing. The visit to Lamma Island, other the other hand, was a great way to spend the day. I declare it a success.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Lamma Island, Hong Kong
 Address: 23-25 Sok Kwu Wan First 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!


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

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