Boy, we've been going to Golden Swan since it first opened. In fact, we went to it's previous incarnation as Golden Phoenix on Nanaimo and Broadway. Golden Swan first opened up as a small little one-unit operation on Victoria back in the 80's. Gradually, it began expanding by taking over neighbouring units until it has now taken over the entire plaza. Golden Swan is one of the few remaining places that employ push carts for dim sum. Most places give you checklists and you merely choose your dishes and they are brought to you. Now, I am actually indifferent to how the dim sum is brought to me, as long as it's good.
However, at Golden Swan, I would just rather they used checklists. Why? Well, the people that push the dim sum carts seem to have the PNE Showmart mentality where if they bother you enough, you'll want to buy 2 Sham-Wows or a vegetable slicer. If I don't want fried squid, I DON'T WANT IT. No matter how many times you ask me and tell me it's awesome, it won't change my mind. When I go for dim sum, I don't want to experience the same pressure I get at a furniture store. No, I don't want this couch and no I do not want to buy today. Do these ladies get a commission or something for the amount of Haw Gow they sell???
Anyways, dim sum is busy here at Golden Swan, so you'd better come early or later to avoid the 11:30 - 12:30 rush. Parking is also an issue, there are very few parking spots available and most of the street parking is restricted to residents only. Since we had 6 people for dim sum, we were able to order a wide variety of items. They included Haw Gow (steamed shrimp dumpling), Sui Mai (pork and shrimp dumpling), Spareribs, Beef Balls (ground beef and green onion), Dai Jee Gow (scallop/shrimp dumpling), Chicken Feet (it's really not that bad), Pork Knuckles (same, it's not as bad as it sounds), Beef Tripe, Cheun Fun (rice noodle roll), Rice with Spareribs, Seen Jok Geun (tofu skin roll) and Daan Tat (egg tart).
The Haw Gow was pretty good, the shrimp was crunchy; however, it was a bit oversteamed since the dumpling skins were stuck together. The Sui Mai and beef balls were quite good, flavours weren't too salty and the meat wasn't oversaturated with baking soda. However, the spareribs were horrid. It was swimming in sauce that mostly consisted of oil. They either put too much marinade or they steamed it too long. The scallop dumpling was a total miss as well. There was too much onion in the shrimp portion of the dumpling and it killed the sweetness of the shrimp. There is no need for onion in the dumpling. Also, one of the dumplings had pathetic pieces of broken scallop on top. That was aesthetically atrocious. Why the kitchen would let this happen is beyond me. I don't know about you, but I'm not paying good money for scraps . They should have refrained from using the leftover pieces of scallop.
The chicken feet and pork knuckles were pretty good, they were both soft and flavourful. The rice with spareribs was a bit mushy and it is probably due to the same reason the steamed spareribs were swimming in oil. The same spareribs probably saturated the rice with oil; thus making it soggy. The egg tart was very good though. The crust was flaky and the egg was soft and had just enough sweetness. However, the beef tripe was not tender at all, it was quite chewy. Although the tofu skin roll was pretty good, the dim sum cart lady made a mistake. We asked if there was shrimp in it and she confidently declared that there was no shrimp. We had someone at our table who is allergic to shrimp and guess what was in the roll? Yes, shrimp.
That was not the only frustration with the wait staff either. One of the dim sum ladies tried to force the aforementioned fried squid on us and actually had placed it on our table and marked it off on our bill. We told her we didn't want it and she forgot to take it off the bill! We had to track her down to get the item removed. She spent 5 minutes trying to count how many dishes we had. We had 7, and she marked off 8. I'm sorry to be mean, but how hard is it to count to 7? Then, we tried to order a small bowl of noodles. The server kept trying to tell us that they only had big bowls of noodles. Uh... no. All Dim Sum restaurants have small bowls of noodles, what if we only had 2 people??? If we ordered the big bowl of noodles, all we could eat are noodles! Then why come to Dim Sum??? Finally, we were able to order a small bowl of noodles after much trouble. So was there a perfect storm of negative events that made this venture to Golden Swan brutal? I would hope so. I've been to Golden Swan many times before and it's never been like this. So I need to be fair and think that this may be the exception. However, with such intense competition in Vancouver for Dim Sum, Golden Swan better not have too many of these off days.
- Wide variety of Dim Sum
- Always lots of carts coming by your table
- Pressure sales from Dim Sum ladies
- Clueless wait staff
- Some issues with food quality
5380 Victoria Drive