聚 - Dinesty, Richmond BC
Home sweet home! Of course, Mom had to take me here - her new casual Shanghai cuisine restaurant. The price of the food they serve is absolutely amazing. They do not have the most exquisite food but definitely more home-style and definitely more than reasonably priced.
The 小笼汤包 is supposedly the best in Vancouver. It's true. The wrapper is thin and chewy, perfectly steamed. The pork filling is not fat yet the soup inside was very tasty. It is definitely the best 小笼包 around, only I was never a huge fan of it, regardless of where I eat it.
A traditional Beijing dish, the 京酱肉丝＋薄饼 was not up to my standards. The sauce was not bold enough. There was not enough fresh scallions, and traditionally, there should not be any cucumbers. At least the pork was tender. The pancakes were good though - perfectly chewy and thin with that nice white flour aroma.
The next course, my favourite dish - as Mommy knew - was 镇江骨. The sauce was extremely well flavoured - perfectly sweet and sour. Mom found it a bit salty but I thought it was just about perfect. The sesame and pine nuts added a nice hint of flavour, and the spareribs were perfectly fried. The outside nice and crispy, soaking up flavour, and the insides nice and tender. It was definitely the best I have had ever, hands down. I would go back any day just for this one dish.
The 栗子鸡煲 was a bit salty for my taste. The dates and chestnuts in the pot were good, except the chestnuts were slightly undercooked for me. I like them a bit mushy, so they can melt in your mouth. The sauce was basically just salty, nothing special there. A bit too much salt led to lots of water once I got home. The chicken was at least nicely cooked and tender.
Finally, the 丝瓜毛豆面筋煲 was a nice end to the meal as it was not salty - nice and refreshing and light. The loofah was not bitter so I consider it good. Well, it always has a nice and moist texture. I've always had a soft spot for good loofah. Edamame is just the same old edamame as always. The gluten was chewy too. It was a bit on the bland side but a nice balance to the salty chicken dish.
Overall, their food is homey but very reasonably priced. I would like to go back once more to try a few more dishes, including their stinky tofu. But one thing's for sure, I will definitely go back for the 镇江骨!