Yes, it's Back! Chinese Bites dinners! Having been on hiatus for the past couple months, I was delighted that these dinners are back again! With a large group of us gathering at a Taiwanese eatery nearby UBC, we were treated to 15 different items! It was a great way to try lots of items and we always love eating family style.
First up, a plate of Yam Fries - 甘梅甜薯薯條, sigh, where was my mom? I've never been a fan of these, but decided to give it a try, because I was absolutely starving. On a few people's recommendation, I avoided the dipping sauce, which was supposedly cloyingly sweet. The fries themselves already had a bit of sweetness and the dip seemed like overkill.
The next item was an appetizer as well, Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce - 紅油炒手. I know the chili oil looks potent, but it really wasn't. In fact, it seemed like there was more sesame oil than chili oil. The skins of the wontons were really thin, which I really liked. The pork filling was plentiful but had a drier than expected texture.
If you like Pork Floss, you will love this Taiwanese Braised Minced Pork Rice. And yes, adding an egg is quite common in Taiwanese cooking. The preserved veggies also gave this dish a unique flavour.
Now this dish isn't for everyone, because it is served cold. Taiwanese Cold Noodle -台式涼麵 is great in the summer when you want the comfort of noodles without sweating buckets over a bowl of hot pho or ramen. The flavours are very light and the veggies help to give the bowl texture as well. It helps to think of it as almost like a salad, with its soy based peanut sauce as dressing.
The next dish was the Special BBQ Chicken - 破店燒雞腿, essentially a whole chicken thigh and drumstick. I found this a little burnt for my liking but it did have a great grilled flavour. And despite the appearance, the meat inside was quite juicy.
This Five Spice Beef Wrap - 大餅夾牛肉 was a bit of a confusing dish. The wrap was far thicker than what I'm used to, but I did like the presence of green onion built into the wrap itself. The meat was well-seasoned but was overwhelmed by the doughy wrap. Eaten separately, this would work, as a wrap, not so much.
I absolutely loved this Stewed Tofu with Garlic Sauce - 油豆腐, something so simple but huge flavours here. I liked the tender inside of the tofu as well as the slightly fried exterior. The sauce was excellent, a good blend of sweet and savoury, this is something commonly seen in Taiwanese cuisine.
This Deep Fried Pork Chop - 炸排骨 was pretty tasty, and I liked that they cut it up for us, making it easy to share. I also liked the fact the there were some bony pieces, those are my favourite! There isn't much sauciness here though, with the flavour coming mostly coating on the pork.
More deep fried goodness, these are Deep Fried Chicken Nuggets - 鹽酥雞 and boy, these were a hit! The chicken is breaded and then deep fried. Lots of garlicky flavours and a nice punch of saltiness too. And these are super crispy and you will never want to eat McDonald's Chicken Nuggets again.
As with so many of our Chinese Bites dinners, this is the Slow Braised Pork Belly - 東坡肉. The skin and fat had a really nice chew to it, and the meat itself was richly flavoured. The sauce was really good and I appreciated the veggies as we were eating lots of meat already! This isn't on the menu currently but it is something they plan to add.
This was another winner, the Thai Style Chicken - 椒麻雞. Too much raw onions for my liking, but the chicken itself is solid, juicy and tender. The Thai flavour comes through with just a bit of sour and a touch of sweet.
The next two dishes are very similar, both arrive on a sizzling hot plate and are served with noodles, veggies such as baby corn, carrots and broccoli. If you look closely, you'll also see the fried egg. This is the Taiwanese Steak with Black Pepper Sauce - 黑胡椒鐵板牛排. Because the sauce is on the steak and not mixed with the noodles, you sort of have to do this yourself. Move the steak off to the side and toss the noodles with the sauce and veggies.
This is the same as above but with chicken, the Taiwanese Chicken Steak -黑胡椒鐵板雞排. The egg is hidden underneath some of the veggies, but it's there. Add the yolk to the sauce for extra creaminess. I found both these dishes to be a bit dry, could definitely use more sauce.
More noodles! This is the House Special Beef Noodle Soup - 牛肉麵. Although this arrived early on in the meal, I didn't actually get to try it. So we asked the owner if we could have another one to try and he graciously agreed. I think round two of these noodles were better, I found the broth to be quite good, although a bit mild, but I really loved the tender pieces of the beef. It came piping hot and it was one of the highlights for me. Those how ate the first bowl didn't have the same experience, so consistency may be an issue.
This dish was the last one to arrive and it took about 30 minutes to come out. It's Stir Fried Chicken with Shaoxing Wine - 一品花雕雞. It's not currently available on the menu yet, but the chef wanted us to try it. This had a lot of flavour, as you can see by the large pieces of ginger, garlic and dried chilies The chicken were bone-in pieces and was excellent as well. Since most people were full already, there were lots of leftovers of this dish, which I was lucky enough to take it home!
**Strike hosted Chinese Bites for this tasting but my opinions are my own.**
More reviews available here for Signature Dishes Tour Dinners.