It seems almost by fluke, I will have blogged about every location of Kirin by the years' end. I guess the only one left is the Downtown Kirin. It was Special Ed's wedding tonight which was the reason I was at the Richmond Kirin. FYI, his nickname is derived from the fact he used to teach Special Education and his name happens to be Ed! Just too funny... Much like me, Special Ed loves food and I believe he made a great choice of restaurants to hold his wedding banquet. He is such a foodie that he drove all the way to Redding, California so he could eat at In 'n Out Burger. I am not joking you, when Ed puts his mind to something, I think he will do it no matter how outrageous it is. While I was in Portland in August, he tried to talk me into doing the same thing. I may be crazy about food; but I do have my limits. Besides, I'll be in San Francisco in November and I'm gonna hit In 'n Out Burger for sure.
The last time I was at Kirin, it happened to be a wedding banquet as well. Unfortunately, it wasn't as stellar as I would have liked. Usually Kirin is known for it's carefully prepared food. However, it could've been just an "off-banquet". This was at the City Square location, so it was good that I could compare with the same menu (more or less) at the Richmond Kirin. As per Chinese custom, we didn't actually arrive for the 6:00pm start time since the wedding never gets started on time. However, we were the last people to arrive at our table. It was nice to see some familiar faces from work, present and past. Also at the table were Special Ed's current coworkers and there was one who was just as crazy about food as I! She was snapping photos of everything as well. It's nice to have 2 crazy people at the table, I get to blend in a bit more.
For once, the speeches were not only bearable, they were quite entertaining, especially from the bride's side. As you know, the speeches only get in the way of the food and everyone did look a bit famished because we didn't get to eat until 8:00pm. Pretty standard timing though, it's always the case at Chinese weddings. By virtue of being the only people who knew exactly what we were eating, Viv and I spent time explaining each dish to everyone (well, other than one other Chinese person at the table). The Assorted Seafood Platter arrived first and I had to stop our server from taking it away so I could take a picture. It seemed that they decided to divvy up all the food at a staging station for us. Therefore, for the rest of the night, I had to get up and walk over to the station to take pictures of the food. Suffice to say, I got quite a few stares from other tables. Luckily I had company and it made it look much less unusual.
Consisting of fried squid, eel, smoked salmon, jellyfish, scallops in the half shell and roasted suckling pig (never knew pig was seafood!), the platter was a solid start to the meal. We were a bit surprised with the inclusion of eel since it's not a common item we see in these platters. The next dish was a bit comical. It was the Baby Sea Cucumber, Scallops and Chicken with Mushrooms and Snap Peas. The dish itself wasn't too funny; but the looks on the faces of some of our fellow diners was classic. The description of the dish on the menu stated "Baby Sea Cucumber"; however, the actual items in the dish are the innards. When I mentioned this, there were some looks; but I give it to them that they ate it. The Deep Fried Crab Claws Wrapped with Minced Prawn were next and they were a bit different. No, the crab claws themselves were quite normal; rather it was the fried mashed taro that was unusual. Again, we haven't seen this very often as well. No matter, they sucked anyways (LOL). They were hard and flavourless. However, at least the crab claws were hot and easy to eat. I mention this because the ones at the City Square Kirin were as hard as rubber the last time.
Synchronizing with the bride's change of outfit, the Shark's Fin Soup with Crab Meat and Fish Maw arrived. The broth itself was very light, almost to the point of bland. Although, it's a whole lot better than being salty. A small addition of vinegar did the trick. There was a good amount of ingredients in the soup though. Alright, the dish I had been waiting for - the Lobster in Consume. It was perfectly cooked and the sauce was just the right balance of salty and sweet. Unfortunately, like the other dishes, they didn't allow us to serve ourselves. I wanted the lobster head (specifically the lobster brain)! Oh well, no brain, on to the Abalone with Sea Cucumber, Shiitake Mushrooms and Pea Shoots. I joked that we already ate the innards, let's eat the actual sea cucumber itself. Someone at the table replied that at least it's a vegetable. Someone else pointed out that it is more of a sea slug than a vegetable. Well, this dish was done right. Mushrooms were soft while maintaining their shape and texture. The same could be said about the sea cucumber. The star of the dish, which is the abalone, did not disappoint. However, the pea shoots were a bit soft. I guess it can be forgiven since they are cooking in such large quantities for a banquet.
All this time, I had to keep an eye on the staging station because food could arrive at anytime and I didn't want them to divide food before I took a picture. I was just about to take a photo of the Crispy Chicken when I remarked in Cantonese, "I can't even see the chicken under all those shrimp chips". The manager overheard me and moved the shrimp chips. How cooperative! Notice how I emphasized the head? I thought it looked freaky. Oh, the chicken was pretty moist and not too salty; but if you look at the picture, the skin was a bit mangled. The Steamed Live Rock Cod was a bit overcooked. Again, it is understandable under these conditions. After the cod, the 2 traditional "filler" dishes arrived. The Scallop Fried Rice with Dried Scallops was a bit hard and bland. On the other hand, the Fried E-Fu Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms was good. Noodles were not overly mushy and there was a good amount of flavour.
If you think this meal is over, it's nearly there! We are now at the desserts and there are 3 of them (actually 4, because there were oranges as well). The first were the Fried Sesame Glutinous Balls with Lotus Paste. Technically, these should have been very good; but unfortunately by the time we got them, they were cold. Thus, they were a bit gummy and no longer crisp. The next dessert was a bit hard to figure out because on the inside, there was sweet coconut. The outer shell seemed to be made with glutinous rice flour; yet it was purple in colour. Viv and I thought that it was indeed rice flour with taro mixed in. Whatever it was, the dessert was good. Slightly sweet, aromatic (from the coconut) and a pleasingly soft texture. The last dessert and also the final course to this meal was the traditional Sweetened Red Bean Soup. However, this one had a twist, there were Glutinous Rice Balls with Black Sesame paste inside. This was a refreshing change from the plain ol' red bean soup.
Well, this was a pretty solid wedding banquet. Very few complaints about the food other than some minor issues. But it is more than understandable when the kitchen is cooking for so many people in such large quantities. Although someone at our table summed it up best when he said, "Every endangered species was represented in this one meal!" We had a chuckle at that.
- Good execution despite the challenging conditions
- Good service despite the challenging conditions
- High quality of ingredients
- Normally, Kirin is a bit pricey
- I had to go to Richmond again!