Sherman's Food Adventures

Happiness Seafood Restaurant

With a name like "Kung Fu Chef", no one would ever expect to be served authentic Cantonese food.  Au contraire, there was actually decent Chinese food and even Dim Sum found there.  However, without a familiar Chinese-restaurant sounding name, I'm not sure if it attracted enough patrons.  So when it was replaced by the generic-sounding Happiness Seafood Restaurant, I was intrigued to see if there was any tangible changes.  Well, I'm happy (almost a pun right?) to report that they got rid of the booth seating (terrible for Dim Sum) seemed to be serving authentic Cantonese cuisine.

I met up with Chill and few friends for lunch and he proceeded to order 3 Rice Noodle Rolls including shrimp, beef and BBQ pork.  It was not a bad decision as the rice noodle itself had an appealing elasticity while being fairly soft (with a slight chewiness).  Inside, the shrimp was buttery with a sweet snap while the beef was tender and bouncy.  Despite being pretty pale and grey, the BBQ pork was tender and moist.  Exhibiting a firm crunchiness, the Fried Squid Tentacles were tender with an easy chew.  They were wok-tossed in salt, garlic and peppers that were impactful providing aroma and enough saltiness with a slight kick.  The dish was easy on the grease despite the deep-fry and subsequent wok toss.

Onto the 2 dishes that all Dim Sum joints are judged upon, we had the Ha Gau and Siu Mai (Shrimp Dumplings and Pork & Shrimp Dumplings).  If I had to compare, the Siu Mai was better where it was packed with moist and tender chunks of pork.  There was just the right amount of fat to create a buttery rebound texture.  Seasoning was pretty mild though and the dumpling could've used more shiitake.  As for the ha gau, the filling was a combination of shrimp bits and mousse.  It was buttery and moist with a firm rebound.  Flavours were on the sweeter side with a faint hint of sesame oil.  I found the dumpling skin to be acceptable being medium-thick and a little floury.

One of the best dishes was the Fried Eggplant with Shrimp Mousse.  Stuffed within the large pieces of eggplant was a generous amount of shrimp.  The texture was on point being almost juicy with an appealing bounciness.  I thought the exterior of both the shrimp and eggplant to be just right with a light crispiness that was a bit greasy though.  The eggplant was not overly soft while the black bean sauce was a tad bland despite the rich colour.  Interestingly, we also got the BBQ Duck (not something I usually order for Dim Sum) which was surprisingly good.  I'm not sure if they made this in-house or not, but the skin was nicely rendered.  Underneath, the meat was moist and flavourful from the brine.

We also got 2 classics in the Beef Meatballs and Steamed Pork Spareribs as well.  Both dishes were large in portion size with the meatballs barely fitting on the small plate.  Texturally, the meatball had the classic bounciness being tender and moist.  In terms of taste, there was a noticeable amount of green onion, but it was not overwhelming.  I would've liked to see some dried tangerine peel for some varying flavours.  Consisting of rib pieces and some cartilage, the pork spareribs were on the chewier side.  With that being said, this was better than being over-tenderized.  There was a nice garlickiness to the dish as well as some of the green and red peppers from the top.

Lastly, we had the Bean Curd Skin Roll which was filled with pork, celery and carrots.  I found the meat to be tender and not packed too densely.  It was somewhat sweet with the brightness of the veggies coming through.  Outside, the bean curd skin was either not fried or fried lightly, hence it was buttery and soft.  On another visit with Zamboni Guy, we did the North American Chinese food thing starting with the classic Sweet & Sour Pork.  For a half-sized order (Dim Sum service only), this was a generous offering.  The medium-sized chunks were tender and moist with a slightly crispy exterior.  With just enough sauce to coat each piece, it was trending towards sweet more than sour.

Zamboni Guy's go to dish is the veritable Broccoli & Beef, so despite having to order off the dinner menu, we got the large portion anyways.  This was double the price of the sweet & sour pork, but wasn't exactly double the size.  It wasn't offered as a half-portion on the Dim Sum menu.  In terms of execution, the broccoli was on point being crunchy, yet still tender throughout.  The slices of beef were well-seasoned and tenderized where it had a nice rebound.  To complete the trifecta of the classic North American Chinese "dinner for 2", we had the Yeung Chow Fried Rice.  This was also well-prepared with chewy and nutty grains of rice.  Strewn generously throughout was lean BBQ pork and cold-water shrimp.  I would've liked to see a bit more salt though as the dish was pretty mild.

For myself, I still had to get some Dim Sum items that I didn't get to try the first time (because Chill doesn't like offal...).  So I went for the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet) and Beef Tripe & Tendons (which totally turned Zamboni Guy off...  Therefore, I essentially ate both dishes myself.  As evidenced in the picture, the chicken feet were large and plump.  The skin was lightly fried while the cartilage and fat underneath were soft, yet not melted.  Flavours were on point being garlicky, sweet and savoury.  As for the tripe, I found it to be a touch gamy where a bit more rinsing was needed.  Texturally, it was just right having a chewy while being tender.  The tendon was also on point by not being too soft.  With similar flavours with the previous dish, there was a bit more in the way of chili flakes.

I also got the Deep Fried Dumplings which featured an appealingly thin layer of glutinous rice.  It was fried until crunchy without being overly greasy (as this dish can be).  Inside, the filling was as bit different where it featured a mousse-like texture with shrimp, pork, shiitake and cilantro.  We ended off the meal with the Baked Egg Tarts.  Although a touch under-baked, these were still buttery and flaky.  The egg custard itself was soft and silky while being just the right sweetness.  As you can pretty much guess, the eats at Happiness Seafood was more than acceptable, especially given its location.  Other than the nearby Chongqing, there may not be anything better in terms of authentic Cantonese cuisine.

The Good:
- Decent service
- Above-average eats
- Better layout than before

The Bad:
- On the pricier side
- Both times, food took awhile to arrive   

The Holy Crab

Fresh off a tasting at the Vancouver location of The Captain's Boil, it was back to the bibs and plastic gloves at The Holy Crab.  For the first time ever, we see a dedicated seafood boil restaurant in Downtown Vancouver.  I say "dedicated" because there are others spots that have it available on their menu, but they are not full seafood boil establishments.  Unlike the many seafood boils I've experienced, The Holy Crab has an even bigger Asian influence on their menu, especially when it comes to the preparation of the seafood as well as the available sauces.

I joined other bloggers, IGers and mainstream media in a menu tasting that included an interesting take on ShrimpRather than boiling it in a sauce, they did a quick deep-fry instead and topped it off with a saute consisting of onions, garlic, pepper and loads of butterThe result was a more aromatic shrimp flavour since it wasn't boiled.  However, the saute on top was very necessary as the shrimp itself was not seasoned.  About that saute... oh man, it was delicious being sinfully buttery and nutty with a slight pepperiness as well as sweetness.  Next up was the majestic King Crab Legs.  They were meaty and well-prepared, but smaller compared to the ones I had at The Captain's Boil.  However, with no overwhelming sauce, I could taste the natural sweetness of the crab.

When we were presented with the Clams, we immediately noticed the aggressive amount of Cajun sauce poured on top.  Once again, the clams were not prepared in any sauce, hence their natural brininess really came though.  I'm not completely sure if the sweet and only slightly spicy Cajun sauce was the best match.  I would've much preferred the butter and onion saute from the shrimp.  Looking like it was blinded by the same Cajun sauce, the whole Dungeness Crab was on point.  Since it was prepared whole, the sweet juices and brininess was retained within the meat.  I was happy eating it by itself without any sauce other than a quick squeeze of lime.  Now this crab was fresh with meat that rebounded unlike the mushy one we had at The Captain's Boil.

The most surprising dish we had was not anything boiled.  In fact, the Fish & Chips was the best thing I ate and that is including the crab!  That is not to say the crab wasn't good, it was just that the fish was flaky and almost juicy with a light and crispy tempura batter.  Even the fries were good being hot, crispy and nicely spiced.  Not to be outdone, the Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab was pretty solid too with a firmly crispy exterior giving way to the classic soft and sweet soft shell crab.  Although the pieces were on the smaller side, they weren't hard nor lacking in crab flavour and soft texture.  It need a squirt of lime though as it needed something to lighten up the heaviness.

Not that we really wanted to eat any Crayfish, but we figured that we should try it anyways.  Generally, crayfish is a lot of work for very little meat.  This wasn't any different here and it was more or less the same as previous experiences except for the lack of a greasy sauce.  Finally, the robustness of the muddy crayfish meat worked with the Cajun sauce.  Overall, I thought the Holy Crab was remarkably different than any other seafood boil I've ever been to.  From the preparation to the sauces, nothing was predictable.  I enjoyed the butter, onion and garlic sauce more than the Cajun while the fish n' chips was definitely a surprise.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- The fish and chips
- The butter, garlic and onion sauce
- Dungeness Crab

The Bad:
- Wasn't a huge fan of the Cajun sauce - too thick and tasted more like satay
- For me, it wasn't a big deal, but by not cooking the seafood with the sauce, it was less impactful