Sherman's Food Adventures: Terracotta


Chinese tapas... It is a concept that is fairly new. However, if one really thinks about it, the idea is actually quite old. Under the guise of late night "da lang" and Dim Sum, Chinese tapas has existed long before Bao Bei and Terracotta. Of course, da lang and Dim Sum are generally not very sexy. In fact, most of the time, both are uniquely un-sexy. With bright fluorescent lighting, linoleum floors, vinyl chairs, librarian servers and greasy kitchens, the most sexy you'd get out of these places are tongue and balls on the menu. Honestly, I have absolutely no problem with these joints since they offer decent eats on the cheap late into the night. Perfect for my lifestyle of late night hockey and such.

However, there are times when we might want to experience ambiance, style, vibe and scenery of a trendy place. Yup, I put away my "value" hat for a moment in return for unnecessary frills. So believe it or not, my visit to Terracotta followed dinner at Miku. Although the dinner at Miku wasn't exactly a "Filet-O-Fish meal", there was room for 2nd dinner (or snack in this case). Actually, Lionel Hutz hatched the idea of going for more eats well before we made it to Miku. He really enjoys scenery and apparently Terracotta has many peaks and valleys...

So while Lionel was initiating small talk with our server, Milhouse and I set about ordering some food. We started with the Short Rib Sliders which were ingeniously served on fried "man tau". These fried buns are usually served with condensed milk at Shanghainese restaurants. With tender whole pieces of short rib, I must admit that these sliders were decent. Only problem are the fried buns, they were quite greasy. Now the Duck Wraps were a complete fail. I mean, they weren't horrible. There was plenty of tender duck and veggies hidden in the flour pancakes; however, there were plenty of duck bones as well. All 3 of us got it and trust me, that is not a fun thing to chew into. When we alerted our waitress, she merely giggled a sorry. How about some Orajel here? However, the Potstickers were a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting much out of these honestly. What we got were perfectly crisp dumplings with a thin wrapper and juicy, flavourful pork filling. This happen to be the least expensive of the items we ordered as well.

Finally, our last item could be considered a classic - Beef Pancake Roll. Normally, we would find marinated slices of beef shank, cucumber and onion rolled up in a green onion pancake. In this case, the filling was braised short rib. I found that the short rib to be too fatty and loose for this application. Furthermore, the pancake was not very good. It was gummy and a bit oil soaked. Combined with the fatty short rib, it was far too rich to be considered a "snack".

Okay, here is the thing, I'm fully aware some people will cry foul over a place like Terracotta. After all, it doesn't fit the conventional mold of an Asian restaurant. However, Terracotta is not just a "restaurant". If someone was wanting Chinese food in small little plates, they could easily get better and cheaper at a multitude of places around town. However, the premise behind Terracotta is to blend location, style, drinks and food into a hip "to be seen in" atmosphere. If that is what you want, then that is what you'll get here. If you just want good tapas-style Chinese food for better value, then I suggest you go elsewhere.

The Good:
- It's a place you can grab some drinks
- Service wasn't bad, except for the non-response to the duck bones
- Hip

The Bad:
- You don't necessarily come here for the food
- Pricey for what you get

Terracotta Modern Chinese on Urbanspoon


parkerpages said...

...tongue and balls on the menu
...I'm aghast!

How did you take the pictures of the dishes with a completely black background?

Sherman said...

LOL Elaine... About those pictures, the place was quite dark and the tables were black. That's how I did it!