Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Generically Overrated – 新瑞华海鲜酒家-Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant

on June 17, 2012

ImageJune 14, 2012
新瑞华海鲜酒家 – Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant, Richmond BC
蟹肉鱼肚羹 (Fish Maw with Fresh Crab Meat Soup)
特色拼盘 (Appetizer Platter: Jelly Fish, Sliced Marinated Beef, Chicken Knee, Bean Curd Rolls & Sea Weed Rolls)
{扒时菜 (Pan Fried Vegetable)}
豉汁凉瓜炒咸肉 (Pan Fried Bitter Melon & Salted Sliced Pork in Black Bean Sauce)
红烧乳鸽 (Roasted Squab)
蒜茸开边蒸虾 (Steamed Prawn with our House Special Garlic Sauce)
清蒸石斑 (Steamed Rock Cod)
[糖水 (Dessert Soup)]


Originally planning to try their very popular dim sum, a friend’s family invited us to Sun Sui Wah for dinner. I figured it was a good chance to get a feel for their food, especially since I do not remember my previous visit here years ago with the same family. Regardless, they have their famous Roasted Squab anytime so I was just hoping they would order that dish so I can finally try it for myself and see whether the restaurant is really as good as more people claim it to be. I was sadly disappointed.Image

First up was the soup course with the traditional 蟹肉鱼肚羹 (Fish Maw with Fresh Crab Meat Soup). The ingredients were plentiful, with the fish maw, or fish belly, and shredded crab meat. The fish and crab were very tender and chewy and were not very rare to find. However, I was missing the freshness of the seafood in the soup. Clearly, it was free of MSG, which I am certainly happy about. However, that delicious, fishy aroma did not come out. There was nothing special about the dish. The flavour had to be coaxed out with the red vinegar. In a fish maw soup with fresh, high quality ingredients, you should be able to drink it without the vinegar or MSG and it should taste very refreshing.

ImageSecond to arrive is the traditional Cantonese appetizer platter, the 特色拼盘 (Appetizer Platter: Jelly Fish, Sliced Marinated Beef, Chicken Knee, Bean Curd Rolls & Sea Weed Rolls). This was a huge disappointment. The dish is such a classic and I do not require it to be complicated, just delicate and pretty with a nice and refreshing taste. The jelly fish in the middle was chewy and bouncy, but somewhat bland. I find the julienne bell peppers had more flavour and were more refreshing. The chicken knees were fried a little too much. Although the flavour was okay and not too bland, it was quite greasy. The bean curd roll had no taste whatsoever. It was not even salty, just plain old completely bland. It was the least inventive part – just plain boring. The seaweed roll was actually decent. It was a stick of imitation crab wrapped in seaweed, battered, fried, and then cut up. It was crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. The fake crab was okay but it got greasy after it turned cold. Finally, the sliced marinated beef was sweet and tender, with a nice flavour that I liked. It kind of tasted like BBQ pork with that sweetness, and was finely sliced.Image

Next on the table was the 扒时菜 (Pan Fried Vegetable), a dish that was not on the menu. They probably just asked for a vegetable dish and this was what the server told them about besides the other ones on the menu, most of which included mushrooms, bamboo, or some other sort of non-leafy vegetables. This was so plain that it acted like a palate cleanser and a filler for me. It was refreshing, non-oily, and a very light, simple dish. This was not a restaurant-worthy – and it was not on the menu – but I prefer this over something deep fried and greasy any day. They could have cleaned the baby bok choy a lot better though. Some of the bottom parts still had a little dirt in it which was totally unacceptable!

ImageThe 豉汁凉瓜炒咸肉 (Pan Fried Bitter Melon & Salted Sliced Pork in Black Bean Sauce) was nicely flavoured with the black bean sauce. It was a tad too salty though, since it was made with salted pork already – the Chinese version of bacon. The pork was half lean, half fat, which was a nice balance. The slices were thick enough to be chewy but thin enough to have enough flavour coated on it. The bitter melon was actually not too horrible. I never liked bitter melon, but the bitterness worked – somewhat – with the black bean sauce. It was no longer pure bitterness so I could actually eat a few slices, even though the slices were too thick and kind of inconsistent. Image

Next was the dish I waited for, the 红烧乳鸽 (Roasted Squab). This was another disappointment, however, There were barely any flavour other than the squab’s natural fat and some saltiness. It was the first time I recall eating squab, and I was surprised how fatty it actually was. The whole bird was coated in grease and the skin with the fat was really difficult to peel off. There were not much lean meat underneath it to be satisfying. The little bit I did get was coated in grease from the fat – something I certainly did not appreciate. Yes, it was more tender than a duck but still had a nice smokey flavour that you do not get with chicken. However, I would have preferred it to be chopped up a bit more, instead of just into quarters, so that it would make it easier to eat without getting myself covered in grease as well.

ImageThe 蒜茸开边蒸虾 (Steamed Prawn with our House Special Garlic Sauce) was perhaps my favourite dish of the night. Steamed with the garlic sauce, the prawns were extremely tender and chewy. They tasted very fresh and had that natural sweetness, which balanced out the flavour of the garlic sauce nicely. It was basically garlic in hot oil to bring out the nice, garlicky aroma. I love garlic so this dish worked for me. A little less oil to the sauce would be appreciated though.Image

The last entree of the night was the 清蒸石斑 (Steamed Rock Cod), which was another disappointment. The fish did not taste completely fresh. It was tender but could perhaps be steamed for one minute less. The sauce they poured on it did not make it taste too fresh and had the opposite effect. Instead of light and refreshing, the sauce made it dense and thus, took away from the scallion and ginger flavour. The meat was falling off the bone, which was nice. However, this dish is easily made at home and made a lot better, too!

ImageThey gave us complimentary 糖水 (Dessert Soup). On this night, it was a mix of peanuts, mung beans, and barley. I loved the slightly undercooked mung beans with the barley. Both were chewy due to being slightly undercooked, a texture I am very partial to. However, the peanuts did not need to be slightly undercooked as it still tasted kind of raw and hard. I generally do not like peanuts in soups, though. The sweetness was good, quite sweet but not overwhelming considering it is still a Chinese restaurant. It was not very thick and more watered down, but as a final course, it was not heavy.

Overall, I am really disappointed with the quality of the dishes at Sun Sui Wah. Nothing was particularly horrible, and they are not overpriced. However, nothing stood out either, which means no highlights and thus, I would probably not be returning for dim sum either. It seems like they have nothing special to offer, just an overrated, generic Cantonese meal.

Sun Sui Wah 新瑞華海鮮酒家 (Richmond) on Urbanspoon


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