June 17, 2012
麒麟 – Kirin Restaurant, New Westminster BC
麒麟拼盘 (Kirin Special Cold Cut Platter)
西施海皇羹 (Assorted Seafood and Egg White Soup)
头抽姜葱焗蟹 (Live Crab in Premium Soy Sauce with Ginger and Green Onion)
香草特色鸳鸯 (Sautéed Beef Tenderloin Cube & Fillet of Fish with Basil and Black Pepper)
翡翠虾球 (Sautéed Prawn with Selected Vegetable)
吊烧盐焗走地鸡 (Roasted Free Range Chicken)
红豆沙 (Red Bean Soup)
椰汁西米露 (Chilled Tapioca and Coconut Cream Sweetened Soup)
To celebrate Father’s Day, we dined at Kirin Restaurant. Originally planning to just go to the one in Richmond, they were fully booked and thus, we had to settle for New Westminster. We would have preferred lunch to dinner, but due to a most exciting yet exhausting horse show, dinner was our only option. Poor Dad had to be the photographer and wake up early. Technically, he should not have to work and it should be the other way around with me spoiling him for the day, but he makes such a good ‘horse show dad!’
Since we were not very familiar with the menu, to make things simpler and try a bit of everything, we went with the set menu for four. First to arrive was the delicious 麒麟拼盘 (Kirin Special Cold Cut Platter). It was so much better than the appetizer platter at Sun Sui Wah we tried a few days ago. The jellyfish was plentiful. It was nicely marinated and quite bouncy and chewy. The BBQ pork was sliced so thin yet it was still tender. The flavour was a rich, dense one that I loved, quite sweet but lovely. The smoked salmon was cut into thick strips and had a very deep pink colour. I did not really like it with the soy sauce and wasabi, since it was already smoked, even if it was raw. It was tender with a very nice smoky flavour yet still quite fresh. The pork hock was thinly sliced. While it was tender, it was perhaps the blandest, yet it was still good. Since the meat can be too much after a while, I preferred the lighter flavour. Finally, my favourite part of the platter, the bean curd (a.k.a. vegetarian goose) and marinated shiitake mushroom rolls were absolutely delicious. It was not as sweet or strongly flavoured as I would have liked – Mom’s tasted better in that sense – but there were so much mushroom slices inside. The bean curd was very thin but hard enough to be chewy. It is amazing how much mushrooms they managed to stuff in there.
Next was the soup course with the 西施海皇羹 (Assorted Seafood and Egg White Soup). I loved the seafood inside. The small shrimp, small scallops, and bits of fish fillet were tender and did not taste too fishy. Yet, it had that distinct seafood taste. It would be nicer with fresh seafood, but you get what you pay for. My favourite were the scallops since the shrimp still tasted like the defrosted ones and thus, not too appealing to me. The carrot and chayote cubes were tiny and did not require much chewing. The egg whites were very light in thin strips and bits. The soup was very light and refreshing. Although it had a starch base, it was hardly seasoned and flavoured, allowing the seafood and freshness of the ingredients to stand out. I was glad that I was not thirsty after, so there was probably no MSG in it, or at least very little.
Now onto the first entrée course, the 头抽姜葱焗蟹 (Live Crab in Premium Soy Sauce with Ginger and Green Onion). It was a small live crab. It was very nicely fried with the exposed parts getting a nice crunch. The flavour seeped into the meat very nicely, the lovely soy sauce flavour with scallions and onions. The scallions were actually quite tasty! It was, however, a bit over fried in my opinion, as my hands got extremely oily. The oil coating on the outside was quite thick and somewhat unnecessary. The flavour was great, though, and the meat in the legs was very tender and tasty.
With the mess of the crab behind us, we moved onto the dishes that came along with the rice. First was the 香草特色鸳鸯 (Sautéed Beef Tenderloin Cube & Fillet of Fish with Basil and Black Pepper). This dish had the worst plating of the night and was not visually appealing. However, the taste was almost impeccable, even though I could not find or taste basil anywhere. Made in an open-fire wok, the onions lost their sting and were sweetened without taking the crunch out of them. The iceberg lettuce allowed a nice refreshing contrast to the meat, which was pan-fried marinated beef cubes and fish fillets. The beef were so tender and well flavoured with a sweet soy sauce. The only complaint about the beef was that the pieces on the bottom became slightly soggy, or at least lost some of its crunch, after being pan-fried. The fish was nicely battered and light in flavour. This dish needs to be served as soon as it is cooked so I hope they had done that rather than wait for us to finish the crab.
The next dish was the 翡翠虾球 (Sautéed Prawn with Selected Vegetable), made with sautéed snow peas, carrots, yellow chives and prawn balls. The prawns translate into ‘balls’ but they were just peeled prawns. I am not sure if these were those completely frozen prawns or just recently frozen. They did not taste like live prawns, but they were very chewy and tender that they did not taste like the defrosted ones from the freezer either. I am so glad they did not overcook the prawns. This dish was perhaps the lightest in flavour, with not much in the way of salt or any other flavours in the sauce, just a little starch. The snow peas were also not overcooked, retaining their moisture and crunchiness. They were sweet and provided a nice contrast to the texture of the prawns.
Our final entrée was the 吊烧盐焗走地鸡 (Roasted Free Range Chicken). This was only half a roasted chicken, but it was roasted extremely well. The skin was so thin and crispy! It did not get soggy or soft at all. The chicken was cooked thoroughly but still very tender and mouthwatering. I did not like the salt and pepper sauce they served it with. I found it way too salty. Instead, I used the XO sauce as a dip. Despite how lovely the chicken was – no complaints here – my favourite part of the dish was undoubtedly the sweetened soybeans. They were cooked till the insides were mushy but the beans were still in tact. Marinated in a sugary sauce, they were super tasty.
The set menu also includes dessert. Since we had a fifth person, they offered us five bowls and we tried both options. The first was the 红豆沙 (Red Bean Soup). This is a very traditional dessert soup for Cantonese meals, made from boiled azuki beans and orange zest. The beans’ shells were broken so the insides seeped out to give the soup more texture. This was watered down though, and not as thick as I would like. The orange zest flavour was strong and it was nicely sweetened, but more beans would have been nice.
The other dessert option was the 椰汁西米露 (Chilled Tapioca and Coconut Cream Sweetened Soup). Unlike the Red Bean Soup, this dessert was made from tapioca in a chilled, coconut milk soup base. It was also nicely sweetened. I am usually not a fan of coconut, but this did not taste too strongly of coconut. Rather, it was milky and sweet. The cold tapioca texture also made it very appetizing. We actually mixed the two soups together, just as Mom suggested and as some online reviewers had suggested. However, I think I prefer them to be eaten separately, either warm or cold. Otherwise, it was just room temperature and got boring quickly.
I have not been to Kirin for too many years. I do not remember any of my previous visits, which says something about how long ago I dined there. However, this meal did not disappoint. On the contrary, I am very eager to go back now and try some dishes from their a la carte menu. Cantonese-style food suits me quite well. The dishes are light in flavour, not very oily, and sometimes sweet. Some dishes are spicy with influence from Sichuan, which is very close to the area geographically. We also received a ‘Happy Father’s Day’ pen that delighted Dad. It was just a nice touch. The restaurant was the quietest Chinese restaurant I have been to. That is probably because of the new renovations including materials that mute sounds. The ambiance and service were both great so I am sure we will be going back soon.