Sherman's Food Adventures: Wah Lun

Wah Lun

Usually, there is not much choice for eats when it comes to Christmas day. There are the occasional fast food joints and possibly a supermarket open. Leave it up to the Chinese restaurants, which are open practically every holiday, to save the day. This morning, the whole family including the folks made it over to the old Harbour Pacific, now remodeled and renamed Wah Lun. It's under new ownership and they did what the previous owners couldn't do - remove all the remnants of the old Dragon Inn. With a fresh new interior, staff, menu and washrooms, I was anxious to see if we finally have a decent Chinese restaurant in the
neighbourhood. Of course the place was the usual "lineup at a Chinese restaurant for Dim Sum". I hate these lineups with a passion. But we had a "reservation" for 11:30am and that only resulted us in waiting for a table when we got there. Reservations at a Chinese restaurant are not really reservations. The table we ended up with was very cramped and against a wall. Oh well, better than no table right?

We got down to ordering on the little checklist and had to hunt someone down to enter it into the computer. We waited... and witnessed everyone around us get their food. Feeling a bit suspicious we hunted down a manager and asked if our order was entered in or not. Guess what? They didn't. It was just sitting there. Lovely. So we waited for 30 minutes for nothing. I know they're busy, but WTH? We did get an apology; but in Chinese restaurant tradition, nothing else. To add insult to injury, they charged the kiddies for tea, even though they don't drink it. At the very least, they took it off the bill when we complained about it. Starving and a bit peeved, we finally got our first dish - Pea Shoots with bean curd stick and ginko nuts. Completely cooked while still being a bit crisp, this dish was a winner. More often than not, this dish is overcooked; but not in this case. The pea shoots still exhibited a nice "bite" while being completely cooked. The dish was very light tasting to the point of bland; yet, no worries here. This is the exact flavour profile we are looking for due to the broth.

Next up were the Beef Meatballs, which were quite large. Okay, let the jokes begin... There was a proper amount of minced water-chestnut and green onion to provide flavour and texture without overwhelming the beef. A little heavy on the baking soda, these meatballs were very soft with little-to-no meat texture left. I guess it's personal taste; but I like them with a little chewiness. On that note, the spareribs in the Sparerib and Chicken Feet Rice were a bit too soft as well, bordering on mushy. Probably suffering from too much baking soda as well. A bit bland, I would've liked a bit more salt and garlic flavour. Otherwise, the rice was pretty good by being firm holding up to the moisture from the ribs and chicken feet. The most important dish when it comes to Dim Sum is the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings. These were stuffed with plenty of cold-water shrimp which were sweet with a slight hint of sesame oil. It's really a pity that the dumpling wrapper was mushy and stuck to the bamboo steamer. These were probably over-steamed, also causing the dumpling skin to expand becoming a bit thick.

The other go-to dish for Dim Sum is the Sui Mai or Pork & Shrimp Dumplings. Consisting of mostly pork, these were not visually appealing. However, they were better than they looked. The pork was slightly chewy (not over-processed) while seasoned moderately being a bit sweet rather than salty. As you can see in the picture, they were quite large too. Predictably, we got one each of the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll and Beef Rice Noodle Roll. Dim Sum doesn't seem like Dim Sum without it. Besides, this is one of the few things that my son will eat. They were soft while not being mushy. However, both noodle rolls could've stood for a tad more filling.

Deviating for the usual, we got the Shredded Chicken and Jellyfish. Despite what looks like a flavourful dish, it was incredibly bland. If it weren't for the pickled greens, there would be
little else than the aroma of sesame oil. This was crying out for salt or soy sauce. Texturally, it was pretty good with crunchy jellyfish, crisp pickled veggies and slightly chewy chicken. For the kiddies, we got the Seafood Congee. Well, at least for my daughter, she eats the seafood. The congee broth itself was a tad thin, you wouldn't confuse it with Congee Noodle King or Congee Noodle House. But it was a decent effort (considering this is not their specialty) and it was not salty while still exhibiting flavour. There was plenty of big pieces of shrimp, scallops and fish hidden in the broth. All were cooked correctly and did not taste fishy.

We ended up with 3 more dishes: Shrimp Spring Rolls, BBQ Pork Bun and Egg Tarts. Packed with plenty of garlicky shrimp, the spring rolls would've been a winner if it wasn't soaked with oil. If you look in the picture, you can see it just below the crispy first layer. The BBQ pork bun was good with a nice fluffy exterior while having a sweet and savory filling that was not too fatty. The egg tarts did not look that good, especially with the really large shell and smallish looking custard centre. I would say they were only passable since the filling was a bit on the stiffer side. It should be soft and melt-in-your-mouth and the thick shell was not appealing either. Overall, we thought the food was decent for the price. We liked the renovations, the place is no longer a dump. However, they really need to work on the service. Hurried, indifferent and lacking any emotion, this is one way to alienate customers fast. An ominous sign was that I recognized one of the former managers at Yan's Garden. I'm not sure if he has changed places of employment or this is run by the same people. Whatever the case, I hope the service doesn't go down the same road.

The Good:
- Reasonably-priced
- Food is generally decent
- The place is no longer a dump

The Bad:
- They tried to maximize the small space with tables everywhere
- Service needs a bit of work

Wah Lun on Urbanspoon

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sherman, you like chewy balls?

Sherman said...

I suppose?

watercress said...

I can tell just by looking at the photo that the beef balls are mussy and lack the springiness that affect the taste. Too much cornstarch?!

Ms. Fab-u-lous said...

So it seems they may have gotten past the sanitary issues that had their predecessors shut down a couple of times? Will have to give them another try.

Sherman said...

Yes, too much cornstarch and baking soda. Way too smooth.

Yup, it's a lot cleaner. Such a dump before.

Anonymous said...

My experience there was terrible. Think of the Seinfeld episode when they are waiting for a table in the Chinese restaurant and the guy keeps saying "oh, about 5-10 more minutes". Terrible food too.

Sherman said...

I don't doubt you. The service was not good for me and I'm sure that it wasn't good for you either. I don't understand how restaurants do not get it.