Okay, tonight was the blogger's dinner at The Brave Bull organized by Kim (I'm Only Here for the Food!). There were a few last minute cancellations that pointed towards a postponement. With a bit of miscommunication, I ended up heading out with my family for dinner instead. I had to drop off something at Milhouse's place in Vancouver, so we decided to try a new restaurant. Well, not exactly new; it was the old International Chinese renamed as Golden Star. Just as we were seated, I got a text message on my phone. It was from Kim asking where I was and that they were waiting for me. Uh oh... I ended up kicking myself over missing the dinner. I soooo wanted to try The Brave Bull! Well, next time...
Personally, I didn't notice any significant changes to the restaurant despite the new yellow awning on the front of the building. Side question - why do Chinese restaurants use the ugliest yellow for their signage? One thing I did notice was the old carpet. It has really seen its best days and needs to be replaced. On a positive note, the washrooms were really clean and I didn't have to do my best "get in, do my business and run" routine. I actually took my time and didn't need to hold my breath.
After I stepped out and crossed the street to take an exterior shot of the restaurant (the things we do for a blog), we got down to ordering. We noticed that in addition to their regular menu, Golden Star had set meals which includes soup of the day, crab, rice and dessert. We settled on the dinner for 4 which had a choice of 4 dishes and the aforementioned crab. A pretty good value at $58.80. Curiously, the first dish to arrive was the Gai Lan with Beef. Usually, the crab should arrive first. Anyways, the dish was quite large with plenty of tender beef atop crisp Gai Lan. This was a well-executed dish since there was little to no water at the bottom of the plate, colour of the beef and Gai Lan were good and the overall taste was not too salty.
We had added noodles to the crab dish so it would soak up all the sauce and juices. There are usually several ways a crab can be prepared: Fried with Chili Salt, Stir-Fried with Ginger and Onion, Steamed with Garlic or Butter Cream. We choose the Butter Cream. Since my mom is sensitive to onions, we had requested it to be cooked without it. Unfortunately, it not only came with onions in the sauce, there was lots of it. The crab itself is what we call a "water crab" which means it has been starving for a while. Instead of lots of meat, there was quite a bit of water retained within the shell. No matter, the crab was free anyways, what can we expect? The cream sauce itself was not very creamy, it was more corn starch than anything.
The Peking Pork Chops were both plentiful and very tasty. They were fried up perfectly being tender and slightly crispy. Exhibiting good tang and sweetness, there was just enough Peking sauce to coat each pork chop. I hate it when places drown the meat in sauce, it's neither very appealing nor good to eat. The kitchen redeemed themselves with the Shrimp with Scrambled Eggs because they didn't put green onions into the dish as requested. I thought the dish was executed pretty well with lots of soft egg and big juicy shrimp. My mom did remark that some of the egg was fried too much due to an overly hot wok. On second glance, she was indeed right; however, the dish was still good.
The last dish, Tofu and Fish Hot Pot, was actually quite poor. I'm not sure what fish they used (not a good sign); but it was rock hard and dry. Furthermore the sauce was thin and weak being practically flavourless. Even the pork was dry and tasteless. Only good thing about this dish was the perfectly fried tofu. When the desserts arrived, we were surprised that we got 2 different ones! The first was Sweetened Coconut, Tapioca and Taro Soup. The second was Almond Cookies. I really prefer the coconut soup over red bean soup. This one in particular was delicately sweetened and had lots of tapioca pearls and taro. I didn't get to try the cookies; but the kids seemed quite happy with them (of course they would!).
Overall, the food was a bit hit and miss; however for the price, I really am not complaining much. Portion sizes were very generous and probably after a few visits, we'd figure out what was worth ordering and what to avoid. The dining space is quite spacious and comfortable with the exception of the carpet. The service was generally friendly and attentive; but I thought that the manager didn't handle the onions in the cream sauce incident too well. I made it clear that we weren't going to send it back because you never know what you'll get back if you do! I still need to try their Dim Sum out and I'll make a point to do so soon. But for now, Golden Star is a decent place for Chinese food at a very reasonable price. It's just not anywhere at the top of my list.
- Generous portions
- Reasonable prices
- Spacious dining space
- Food is a bit hit and miss