This Chinese Bites dinner found us in the heart of Kerrisdale, at Golden Ocean, where I had only frequented for lunch/dim sum. I was very excited to try some of their signature dishes, though we would also be treated to some Dim Sum as well. Joining us today were Rick, Janice, Sherman, newcomers Sean and Amy, as well as Diana, Alvin, and of course, Raymond of Chinese Bites.
Dim Sum for dinner? I don't see why not! This is the Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant, and it's a dish that I used to hate as a child. I recall eating the shrimp paste and then pawning off the eggplant to my sister or mother. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate the dish in its entirety. The Shrimp mousse was plentiful and had a good sear on the outside. Once you bite into it, you get a nice bouncy chew from the shrimp itself. The eggplant was cooked to a soft pulpy consistency, which is what I really like.
Another shrimp stuffed dish was the Deep Fried Tofu. As with the first dish, the shrimp mousse was generous with a great texture. The sauce accompanying this dish had a bit of a tang to it, giving the otherwise blander tofu a punch.
Slicing both of the dishes in half, you can see a good Stuffing Eggplant/Tofu ratio here. They definitely didn't skimp on the toppings.
For our final Dim Sum offering, Golden Ocean presented us with their Shrimp Dumplings. Wow, three shrimp dishes in a row. Could this be a theme? As mentioned, I've been here for dim sum before and have had these many times. The dumpling skin is thin and delicately nestles the abundant shrimp filling within. This was no different than the other times I've had it here.
Now, onto the dinner time dishes. First up was the Steamed Tofu with Egg White and Seafood. Loaded with shrimp, scallops and mushrooms, this dish was is a classic. The tofu and egg are steamed to a creamy velvety texture and the seafood is mildly seasoned to accompany this delicate dish. It's saucy and creamy, and a mild way to really kick off dinner.
The next dish I tried was the Crab in Signature Sauce with Egg Noodles. Although you can't see it below the crab, there is a bed of noodle under there, soaking up all the delicious juices from the crab and the sauce. This dish was as visually stunning as it was tasty. The noodles are a bit clumpy, but persevere and you'll be rewarded with a bowlful of well-seasoned noodles. Coated in the sauce, half the pleasure of eating the crab came from gnawing on the shells themselves. Yes, feel free to use your hands, they have plenty of wet napkins for you to clean up with later.
Our next dish was Stir Fried Beef with Steamed Buns. Considering how large our portions were with the Steamed Tofu and the Crab, this dish seemed a bit light on the beef. The beef was well marinated and cooked to a nice tender morsel, along with some peppers, onions and green onions. Considering they gave us steamed buns though, I would have thought that the dish could have been saucier, so as to help keep everything moist.
And yes, more Shrimp. This dish was a rather oddball combination, with Honey Garlic Spare Ribs in the middle and a ring of Deep Fried Shrimp Mousse on the outside. As with the earlier incarnations of the Shrimp Mousse, these were good, obviously from the same batch. The spare ribs are lightly coated in a batter with a gentle honey garlic glaze. Not a standout in my books but nothing inherently wrong with it.
Our next dish was seafood again, but this time, it was a Deep Fried Sole. The head and tail are kept and served as part of the dish, with the body having been filleted and deep fried separately. Then everything is reassembled with a ring of broccoli around it. This looked quite pretty, but the fish itself was just a touch overly oily. Either they didn't drain the pieces properly or they didn't cook it long enough, something was amiss.
After all the deep fried goodness and the many dishes of seafood, we had a simple vegetable dish of Pea Shoots with Enoki Mushrooms. The lightness of this dish was welcomed after all the different flavours we've already had. The whole garlic cloves on top were really sweet and gave the dish a deeper flavour profile.
Our final savoury dish of the night was the Deep Fried Duck in Taro. This dish is very similar to the dish we had at Grand Dynasty, but there, it was with Chicken (versus duck) and the topping was Sticky Rice (instead of taro). The taro was light and fluffy, and the duck was meaty. Surprisingly, this dish wasn't as oily as the fish, and I really enjoyed it. The taro and duck is a great combo.
We were served a few desserts at the beginning of this meal, and this Deep Fried Pastry with Coconut Sprinkles was one of them. I found this to be a little too sweet, and the honey glaze made everything just a bit too soggy for my tastes.
Ah, the Egg Tarts, though these looked good, I was really too full for desserts. From comments around the table, the pastry was a bit tough, but perhaps it was because it had been sitting out for our entire meal.
One interesting dessert that I couldn't resist was the Fried Sesame Paste Dough Balls.
Although the Martian Green is quite striking, what was inside was worth breaking into. The sesame paste was smooth and piping hot, and not too sweet. One thing though, these were a bit oily, but I used my napkin to soak up some of the excess oil and it was just fine after that.
The other dessert was the Fresh Soy Pudding. Unfortunately, because this was made earlier in the day, the texture was a bit dry. The pudding itself should be wet throughout, with a bit moisture as each layer is removed. Unfortunately, this isn't the case here.
One final dessert followed, the Baked Tapioca Pudding which is an irresistible classic. Hot and creamy, this is like having oatmeal for dessert.
I enjoyed trying some of the dim sum dishes that I hadn't tried before, but the dinner seemed oddly Shrimp-centric. I really enjoyed the Signature Crab dish and will definitely be back for that. The Taro Duck was also a homerun, so those two dishes would be on my To-Eat list for sure.
**Golden Ocean hosted Chinese Bites for this tasting but my opinions are my own.**
More reviews available here for Signature Dishes Tour Dinners.