* Restaurant is closed*
Labour day. The last day before school for a lot of kiddies and also the unofficial end of summer. Sure, it really ends near the end of September; but the weather takes a turn for the worse at this time most years. Usually, it makes for a pretty wet last week of the PNE. As a matter of fact, the weather has been pretty good and of course, it had to pour on the last day of the fair! So really, a very good day to stay indoors. Well, let's not let it go to waste spending it at home shall we? So the whole family including the grandparents headed over to Spicy Court for some early morning Dim Sum. Yes, I've blogged about this place before. It was over a year and a half ago. Time to revisit! Also, if you finished before 11:30am, they take 20% off regular Dim Sum items.
Spicy Court is in a category of upscale Chinese Restaurant which include: Kirin, Victoria, Sun Sui Wah, Fortune House, Red Star, Sea Harbour, Imperial and Fisherman's Terrace. There is a wide variety of Cantonese Dim Sum. In addition, there are some Shanghainese Dim Sum items as well including Chee Fan (sticky rice roll with chinese donut, pickles and dried pork), Tan Tan noodles (noodles in peanut sauce), Beef Noodles, and Hong Yow Chow Sau (spicy wontons). Now, maybe I'm sounding quite repetitive here; but for some reason or another, Chinese restaurants have parking lots that are designed specifically for Smart Cars only. I've made fun of the Crystal Mall parking lot on many occasions; but I have to admit that the Spicy Court parking lot takes the cake (or cupcake in this case). Imagine a lot that has only one entrance and comes to a dead end on P2 (at least for customers). So if there are no spaces available, the only way to get out is to reverse or make a tight U-turn. Sounds alright until you consider that there are other cars coming in without any idea that there are a bunch of other cars in front that are stuck. This is further exacerbated by the prevalence of luxury SUVs with drivers who have no idea how to drive them in tight spaces. And to top it all off, if you are luckily enough to find a parking spot, it is so narrow, you can't even open a door without hitting the car next to you. Of course, with all this whining on my part, I happen to get the best spot of all this time around...
By pure randomness, we ended up sitting in the private room a the back of the restaurant. Great for us really. Kids can do whatever they want and I can snap photos with flash sans other people. We ordered the Haw Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) as usual, since Dim Sum is not Dim Sum without Haw Gow. Packed with moderately seasoned cold-water shrimp and a thin dumpling wrapper, they are pretty good and large. The Sui Mai (pork & shrimp dumpling) was tightly packed; thus being quite stiff. The positive was that the pork and shrimp filling had a nice "bounce". On the other hand, it was dense and not very moist. It could've used a bit more seasoning as well. The Beef Cheun Fun (rice noodle roll) was pretty good. The rice noodle was soft; but there was not a lot of beef. Although, the beef was tender and not overly inundated with green onions or cilantro. For the kiddies, we got them the Pan-Fried Rice Noodle Rolls. Pretty much more of the same as the beef rice noodle rolls, without the meat. Of course, by virtue of being pan-fried, the noodles can get oily. These ones weren't too bad. The Black Bean Spareribs were both tender and chewy at the same time. That is the perfect texture for this dish. I really liked how the ribs were packed with flavour from the black beans, garlic and peppers.
Unlike Shanghai River, the Chee Fan here is too heavy on the rice. Much like poorly rolled sushi, there was way too much rice in relation to the salty donut, pickled vegetable and dried pork. Thus, it was a chore to eat it. It felt like just eating a pile of rice (which was dry and hard to boot). We also went for an order of the Tan Tan Noodles and we really wished we hadn't. Where to begin... First, the noodles were thicker than most other versions we had. Furthermore, they were soggy and soft. Second, the peanut sauce was more like watered-down broth than anything else. It was extremely bland with no hints of nuttiness, savoriness or even sweetness. Drinking the soup didn't help either. Only Toko had a worse version of this. Well, at least the next dish was better. The Stir-Fried Daikon Pudding was very good. The ideal texture of the pudding is soft while maintaining its shape. There was no doubt that the pudding was delicious and of perfect texture; however, it was quite oily. I guess this shouldn't have been a surprise since it would stick to the pan otherwise.
Paying homage to a recent Top Chef episode (well, at least in the States), we got the Duck Tongue with taro. You see, the Food Network up here likes to show episodes of Top Chef very much after the fact compared to Bravo! in the States. Maybe it's some sort of broadcast agreement... I digress. Much like the show, the duck tongues were done right. A bit gelatinous and slightly fatty, these practically melt in your mouth. Well, after you suck them off the bone. Yah, there is a small bone and cartilage under the "flesh". TMI? Lots of good flavour here and the soft taro soaked up it all up underneath. Lastly, we got a plate of the Egg Tarts for the kiddies. Served barely luke warm, these were alright. Due to the temperature, the tarts were not as flaky or soft as a "fresh-out-of-the-oven" order. With that being said, they were still decent.
In terms of dinner service, we've had it on numerous occasions and it has always been consistently good. I will update this post when I go for dinner next time. The service at Spicy Court is efficient and pretty much what you expect from this class of restaurant; however, if you replaced the staff with robots, it would probably be the same. The staff are quite impersonal and indifferent. The dining room is not really all that big and you will be very close to the table beside and behind you. Yet, it's still fairly comfortable. If you do not want to brave the parking lot, there is limited street parking outside due to the resident parking restrictions. Parking and service aside, the food is usually pretty good here (albeit not as good as I had remembered). A pretty good choice for Dim Sum in the Oakridge are. Much better than Fortune Restaurant kiddie-corner in Oakridge Centre.
- Dim Sum is solid (price is reasonable for the location and class of restaurant)
- Diverse selection of Dim Sum
- Dinner is also good
- Disinterested staff
- Narrow parking lot and limited street parking