Another Chinese Bites dinner and this is just a week after our last meal. Goodness, thank heavens I started working out a few months ago! Joining us today were Sherman, Sean, Rick, Alvin, Kevin + 1, Janice and Dave.
Originally named The One, they recently changed their English name to Nong due to the existence of a few restaurants in GVRD that are also named one. However, the Chinese name has remained the same. And strangely enough, the sign next to the restaurant still says "The One".
Possibly two of the most decorative tea pots I've seen in a long time at Chinese Restaurants. Strangely enough, the one labelled tea (茶) is filled with hot water.
We got some appies to start, four of them to be exact. No, we didn't get full on the appies, because they were thoughtful enough to only give us portions of each one, about a quarter of the normal portion. Here we have the Chicken in Chili Sauce 四川口水雞. This looks a lot spicier than it actually tasted. The skin on the chicken was a bit fatty, but is easily removable. The meat itself was very tender and was steamed to perfect doneness.
This next dish is another classic appetizer, Marinated Beef 五香牛肉. Essentially, it's a beef shank that is marinated and braised for a few hours so that the connective tissues have a chance to break down and become slightly gelatinous. The marinade has hints of five spice, clove, anise and peppercorn.
This is the Asian version of head cheese, a Jelly Pork 肴肉 dish. This was our first pork dish of the night and it won't be our last. It's made with pig trotters in a brine which then is pressed and cut. Although it may appear fatty, the texture of the pork itself is quite lean. It's sometimes dipped in vinegar to enhance the rather mild taste.
And although this dish is commonly referred to as Vegetarian Duck 素鵝, I think of it more as a bean curd roll. For people who have eaten duck before, this is nothing like duck! Rather, it's a bean curd skin rolled with assorted marinated vegetables, such as mushroom (for the meaty texture), and some celery & carrots for crunch.
Here's my plate with just a bit of everything. I think my favourite was the chicken, followed by the beef.
We also had a huge terrine of Crab Meat with Winter Melon Soup 蟹肉冬茸羹. This was a little grainy, rather unusual for this type of soup, but the flavours were good. I found bits of crab shells in mine. The melon had completely broken down in the cooking process but the crab added the much needed texture.
For our seafood fix, we had the Lobster with Bitter Melon and Shredded Pork 涼瓜肉碎炒龍蝦. The two lobsters were amazing, but combining them with the melon and ground pork was a little puzzling. The texture of bitter melon is hard to get used to, you either love it or hate it. I'm in the latter category, but I did enjoy the plentiful ground pork. Not your average surf and turf, but good nonetheless.
And this was the first of our Pork dishes, the Dong Po Pork Hock 東坡肘子. The brown sauce is a result of the slow cooking method and is made up mostly of sugar, wine and soy sauce and the pork hock's natural juices. This is a very rich dish and the vegetables are a welcomed complement.
Our waitress sliced the Pork Hock opened for us and you can see how the pork itself is fairly lean, with a layer of fat and skin on top. The meat inside was very moist and had a good saltiness. Unfortunately, the sauce on the outside was a bit on the sweet side, and didn't add much to the dish or the vegetables.
Our next dish was somewhat lighter, the Stir Fried Shrimp with Vegetables 勝瓜雲耳蝦球. I really like the texture of Cloud Ears (雲耳), how they are so thin but have such a great crunch. I wasn't familiar with 勝瓜, but after doing some research, I found out that it's called Angled Loofah in English. Yes, when the melon is matured, it can be processed into a loofah. But when it's young, you can eat it as a regular melon. It's also called Chinese Okra, but doesn't have the same texture as okra, it's actually more like a cucumber.
And here is the second pork dish of the night, the Braised Pork Belly 梅菜扣肉. The mustard greens at the bottom of this dish does a great job of soaking up all the juices and sauce. As you can see, the pork has three layers, the skin, the fat and the meat. This is a very rich dish but the mustard greens help ease the heaviness. The sauce is serious stuff, we even ordered a white rice to help drink up the sauce. This isn't something you have everyday, which makes is even better when you do have it.
This is one of the Signature Dishes of Nong, their Tea Smoked Duck 馳名樟茶鴨. The skin of the duck was very crispy with a sharp salty flavour. Most of the fat had been rendered out from the smoking process, making this a leaner duck dish than Peking Duck. The best part was the smokiness of the flesh, it almost overcomes the normal game-iness of the duck. I didn't quite know what to do with the buns though, but it reminded me of Peking Duck.
Our second last dish was the Stir Fried Lamb with Spicy Cumin 籽然炒羊肉, and yes, it indeed was spicy. The cumin make you think of curry, but it was more of a pepper and onion stir-fry. I liked the heat of the dish but it seemed the most average of all our dishes.
Our last dish was the Vegetable with Salty Pork Rice 鹹肉青菜飯. The ham and vegetables were stir-fried with the rice before actually being cooked. There were both lean and fatty pieces of ham, and the vegetables were very finely diced. I also noticed the fluffiness of the rice, it was like fried rice, but not quite. This is a nice comfort dish and one that I resolve to try to make this fall.
And just when you thought we were done with dinner (and pork), I was wrong, the chef had prepared one final surprise for the night, their Shanghai Dumplings 小籠包, aka, XLBs. Normally eaten at lunch, but now more often at dinner, these soup filled pork dumplings were good, juicier and with a more delicate skin than others I've had, like at Peaceful Cafe.
And the dessert everyone know, the Red Bean Soup 紅豆沙. I've never been a huge fan of this but gave it a try anyways. This had a better depth of flavour than most which normally just features sugar and red beans. This one went a bit further and added some dried tangerine or orange peel, making it that much better.
**Nong hosted Chinese Bites for this tasting but my opinions are my own.**
More reviews available here for Signature Dishes Tour Dinners.