May 13, 2012
玉庭轩海鲜酒家 – The Jade Seafood Restaurant, Richmond BC
皮蛋子姜炸虾筒 (Pickled Ginger w/ Century Egg & Prawn Roll)
松露香菇饺 (Steamed Mushroom Dumpling)
紫米麻沙糍 (Black Glutinous Rice Dumpling)
香煎沙葛腐皮卷 (Pan Fried Stuffed Bean Curd Roll)
雪影蓝莓 (Blueberry Glutinous Ball)
飞鱼子烧卖皇 (Steamed Pork Dumpling)
黑松露叉烧酥 (Truffle Flavoured Pastry with Roast Pork)
香草鲜蘑菇盏 (Baked Mushroom & Fish Tart)
脆盏避风塘炒萝卜糕 (Stir Fried Radish Cake in Hot Sauce)
After discovering yesterday that 玉庭轩海鲜酒家 was named the best upscale Chinese restaurant and third for dim sum, we decided to try it out for Mother’s Day since most brunch places were either too overpriced or fully booked. I have not had decent dim sum for two months so I was really excited, especially after reading rave reviews about some of their specials. With an early morning reservation in order to get the 20% off and make it in time for my riding lesson, we got up extremely early for a Sunday but with no regrets.
First to arrive on the table is 皮蛋子姜炸虾筒. I was delightfully surprised to find large chunks of tender, chewy shrimp and great preserved duck egg. I did not like the Japanese pink ginger, as I dislike ginger as a general rule. It was sweet enough, though, and the rest of the roll was savoury enough to make the taste acceptable for me. I found the wrapper to be not too oily or crispy but it was not soggy either.
Next to come was their famous 松露香菇饺. This award-winning dumpling was by far my favourite steamed dumpling I have ever had during dim sum anywhere. The variety of mushrooms were especially delicious, especially the bundle of enoki mushrooms. They were chewy and tender, cooked to perfection. The sauce it came in was lightly flavoured with truffle oil but had a very refreshing aroma while still being very tasty and flavourful. The texture was perfect. The dumpling wrapper was thin but quite chewy. Pair that with a viscous sauce and a bundle of delightful fungi and voila – the perfect dim sum dumpling!
The 紫米麻沙糍 looked fantastic with the shredded coconut and the dark purple colour of the glutinous black rice ball. The texture was also great, with a thick layer of the sticky black rice and a very nice and warm black sesame filling inside. The glutinous black rice was slightly hard and tasted as if it was not made fresh in the morning, which is expected I guess. There is no way they can cook this dish in twenty minutes. It was still chewy, though. The black sesame filling was quite liquid and was very flavourful. It was sweet but also quite aromatic, with sesame and a hint of peanuts. It was decently sweetened and provided the dish with most of its flavour.
Mom ordered 香煎沙葛腐皮卷 since she loves bean curd wraps. I thought this dish was just average, though. The bean curd wrapper was crispy but too oily for me. I would have liked it to be fried a little less. The filling was okay. It was my first time eating yam bean. The texture was okay – it was quite crunchy. This dish, although with nice flavouring, did not particular stand out, nor was it memorable.
As suggested by some online reviews, I went ahead and ordered 雪影蓝莓. First, the name is so lovely! In my opinion, it matches the dish perfectly. I love the mochi wrapper, though I wish it was slightly thicker. It was so think I could barely feel the chewiness of it. The whipped cream inside was not my favourite. I should have foreseen this given my almost dislike for whipped cream. I find that they usually taste bland. This was no exception. It was really light though, so paired with the fresh, tart blueberries, it was actually okay. The blueberries really made this dish. I just love their aroma! Overall, it was a cute little dessert that cannot be found at other dim sum places. It was also served cold so it was like a little frozen treat!
We realized we did not have enough dishes, so Mom went ahead and ordered 飞鱼子烧卖皇. This was a very average dish. The pork and shrimp were both very tender, but I would have preferred more shrimp. The fish roe on top was good, and I always love a good siu mai texture. This was good, just not outstanding. I still loved it but I felt like it is too common to be anything special. Compared to the other dishes unique to this particular restaurant, it was not the star of the meal.
I was really surprised by the texture of the phyllo pastry dough on the 黑松露叉烧酥. It was super thin, with so many layers, and very light and fluffy. It was not too oily either – though I could not taste the truffle oil – and I liked the freshly-baked goodness. Not a fan of phyllo dough, however, I did not like it much despite my preference for BBQ pork fillings. If I had to eat baked phyllo pastries though, I would definitely pick this for the freshness and the texture.
The 香草鲜蘑菇盏 was also one of those that I knew about beforehand because people have given it good reviews. It shall receive another one from me. This was the first time I have eaten cheese at dim sum, but it was absolutely scrumptious! The mushrooms again were perfectly cooked in the viscous sauce. The tart shell, again layered so I did not like it much, was flavoured enough with the sauce that I ate it without complaining. It was also very thin so the ratio of the shell to the filling was good. Not only were there delicate mushrooms, there were also large pieces of white fish fillets, which made the dish taste even more fresh and better. The melted cheese on top was just gooey goodness. I love how unique this dish was and definitely wish other restaurants can be just as creative.
Finally, after 10am, we were able to order 脆盏避风塘炒萝卜糕. Mom loves radish cake but I am not a fan. This dish changed my perspective, however. Of course, the fried garlic mixed with edamame gave the dish that lovely spice and savoury flavouring, though it was not actually ‘hot.’ I love fried garlic. The radish cakes were also amazingly fried. They were just crispy enough on the outside to be firm and slightly crunchy but the inside was still incredibly soft. I loved that texture mixed with the garlic and edamame. The string cheese on top was a nice little garnish. I was just surprised I would take to this dish so nicely.
Overall, we were quite pleased with The Jade Seafood Restaurant’s dim sum. The portions were small but I did not complain. It just gives me more excuses to try a variety of dishes! Each dish was clearly made with care and was of high quality. Quality over quantity is just fine by me. The flavours were delicate and complex, but nicely blended and hinting at simplicity. I love how they have so many unique dishes that cannot be found elsewhere. That is certainly their way to attract customers and it works because it provides a change from the usual dim sum dishes – a very refreshing twist to a traditional meal!