The state of Dim Sum in the Tri-Cities area can be summed up in one word - pathetic. Other than a few places, it is a Dim Sum wasteland of sorts. Kirin, by default, is the go to place. Of course this may not be everyone's first choice; but there is very little in the way of competition nearby. Sure, there used to be Maple Garden near the Brick. That is long, long gone. And yes, there are/were some on Anson Ave as well. Those come and go, with Kam Ding being current one. When I used to live in Coquitlam, Dim Sum would mean "driving to Vancouver or Richmond". Oh, and don't lump Hon's into the equation, that is not a true Dim Sum restaurant. So while we were out with the kiddies at Coquitlam Centre, we briefly considered eating at the food court. Okay choice when you got kids in tow. However, we wanted something more interesting. How interesting? Try Dim Sum in Port Coquitlam. Okay, please don't laugh. Ever since we got really good Dim Sum out in Langley at Luxe, anything is possible. As we passed every conceivable chain restaurant while driving down Lougheed Hwy (it's like this in the burbs!), I really began to wonder if this was a good idea. Yet, as I turned onto Oxford, I noticed the line of Bimmers and Benzs pulling into the parking lot.
Walking into the place, it is quite obvious that it has changed hands a few times. It's got this mix of decor including a former sushi bar and North American decor. Quite comfortable with the booth seating; but makes for a tight squeeze when it comes to Dim Sum service. Moreover, there was a substantial lineup too. I wanted to leave; but Viv talked me into staying. Turns out it was a good idea, the food was not bad. And about that food, we started with the Haw Gow. I found that the dumpling skin to be slightly overcooked. However, as it sat there and cooled, it tightened up and was not bad. The shrimp filling was crunchy; yet quite sweet. On that note, we found the Sui Mai to be more sweet than savoury as well. I could definitely taste the pork, which was not necessarily a bad thing. Texturally, it was mostly soft with a few bits of chewy pork and crunchy shrimp. Not bad, just a bit too one-dimensional in the flavour profile. Sweetness continued into the next dish which was the Szechuan Green Beans. Normally, this dish is quite spicy and savoury with a touch of sweetness. However, this version was far from spicy. In fact, it was very sweet. Despite this, I didn't mind the dish, if I thought of it as something other than Szechuan. The beans were oil-blanched nicely so they were still crisp. I also liked the addition of crunchy pickled radishes. Nice texturally and flavour-wise. I didn't care for the julienned pork. It was not necessary.
From too sweet to lack of flavour, we have the Pork Spareribs. In terms of the meat itself, it had a nice chewiness to it without being tough. Furthermore, the ribs were not fatty or oily. Thus, it was really too bad that there was almost no seasoning whatsoever. All we could taste was pork. Not that again is not necessarily a bad thing. However, there was no garlic, peppers or black bean flavour to be found. One of my favourite dishes that we normally do not order is the Fried Bean Curd Skin Rolls. Viv is not a big fan of it and really, if I ate all 3 of them, I would lose most of my ability to eat anything else. But I went ahead and ordered it anyways, knowing full well I'd be taking leftovers home. Well, after trying one of them, I probably wished I didn't order it after all. Once again, the main flavour I got was sweet. Generally, the starch-thickened sauce should be a good mix of savoury and sweet. It is based on oyster sauce, so saltiness should be a given. But the flavour wasn't the biggest issue here. Rather, it was the texture of the pork inside. It was pretty dry and almost mealy. Not very pleasant to chew. Furthermore, there was a lack of veggies to provide the necessary textural contrast. Normally, there are a good amount of wood ear mushrooms, carrots and celery. There was a minimal amount here.
As if there was a sale on Rogers Sugar, the Honeycomb Tripe was also pretty sweet. In fact, it had a sweetness with depth. Believe it or not, I didn't mind this since it went well with the soft tripe. Also, there was a discernible garlic flavour. It was possibly slightly too soft; but I didn't mind it since it still had a bit of chew left. Nothing worse than overly chewy tripe. Can't eat it. Viv spotted some people having the Pan Fried Taro Cake and it was massive. Suffice to say we got an order. Thickly-cut while still soft, these were good. Nicely browned (well, 2 of them at least) and full of taro and Chinese sausage, these had good taro flavour.
Now for a dish we just don't find much of anymore - Deep Fried Shrimp Toast. As the name suggests, we got a mix of prawn mousse and pieces of prawn atop bread, then deep-fried. In this case, there was a considerable amount of sesame seeds on top. The sesame seeds provided a nuttiness to an otherwise one dimensionally-flavoured dish. Toast was crispy and the shrimp mixture was sweet while exhibiting a nice bounce. I love shrimp toast, too bad it is so darn oily. Continuing onto our 9th dish... Yes, we were hungry and well, we had lunch for tomorrow too. Okay, the Beef Meatballs. Often ridiculed since many people refer to to them as "beef balls" which scare away those who don't know what it is. They are merely pureed beef usually tenderized with baking soda and mixed with starch, water chestnuts, green onions and/or cilantro. Typically, the desired texture is one that is somewhat "bouncy"; rather than moist or chewy. These ones were indeed bouncy and had a nice balance of flavours being not too heavy on the greens.
Dim Sum is not complete without an order of Rice Noodle Rolls. We ended up getting both the beef and the shrimp. For some odd reason, instead of the typical 3 large shrimp per roll, there was a combination of shrimp mousse and shrimp. Not something that I am used to; however, it was not much of a detriment to the final product. The rice noodle itself was slightly on the thicker side; yet was still soft and easy to divide with chopsticks. The beef was pretty good too with essentially the same meat as the beef meatballs. Finally we get to dessert. I'm not a huge dessert person, so these were mostly for the kiddies. We started with their favourite, the Egg Tarts. Served fresh from the oven, these were hot and flaky. Maybe not as flaky as others I've had; yet these were still very good. The filling was custardy and not too sweet. And as evidenced from the picture, these were baked nicely with good colour.
Last dish was the Steamed Custard Buns. We normally do not order these; but since our Portland trip, our son has discovered that he likes them. And in this case, it was no different. He willingly ate the bun and quite quickly I must add. So fast, I didn't get to try them. From handling them, I could tell the bun was soft. Beyond that, the kiddies seemed to like them a lot, so we'll leave it at that. Overlooking some issues, specifically the overuse of sugar, the food was more than acceptable. Take into account that the pricing for most dishes is only $2.75, we have ourselves a winner out in Poco. Pleasantly surprised is the only thing we could think of as we left. I could definitely see myself returning if we were in the area. A good, less-expensive alternative to Kirin.
- Very affordable
- Good portions
- Despite some issues, decent eats (Dim Sum)
- Restaurant is small, long waits during peak times
- Place is not designed for Dim Sum, space is at a premium