"Hey, I was at Golden Swan the other day for Dim Sum and they ran out of food!" That's what I heard from someone in the changing room before we took to the ice for late night hockey at Brit. Ran out of food? What's up with that??? Well, I've already heard the rumours; but I wasn't aware they had already gone through with the sale. Upon further investigation, the story is that the owners of Golden Swan were given an offer they couldn't refuse, so they sold the business to the people behind Golden Ocean. Hence, there were changes to both the kitchen and the front-of-the-house. Low and behold, where was I going to eat with the restaurant changing hands that week? Fate would have it, Guy Smiley was going to have his baby one-month there. Perfect! I can see for myself what sort of impact the change might or might not have on the place.
So it was a normal Saturday dinner service for the restaurant to a 3/4 full house. We had 6 tables for the one-month dinner in a cordoned off area of the restaurant. As per usual, we were served an Appetizer Platter to start. This particular plate included Smoked Fish, Marinated Jellyfish, Sliced Beef Braised Beef Shank, Surf Clam and Vegetarian Goose. Honestly, this was not a good start to the meal. Everything was bland beyond belief. The jellyfish had a nice snap texture with no flavour while the vegetarian goose was even more bland. Normally, the bean curd skin on this would be fried, this one was not. Hence, it was mushy. Some people might like this version. I for one do not. The smoked fish was very light in colour and predominantly sweet. At least it had some form of flavour. The surf clam was inexplicably served as is. No marinade nor a wasabi dip. I'll just let you guess how the beef tasted.
Next up was the Stir-Fried Snow Peas with Scallops & Baby Sea Cucumber. This was a well-executed dish. The seafood was not overcooked while the veggies were crisp and vibrant. I wouldn't go as far as calling the dish bland; but it was definitely mildly seasoned. The same could be said for the Pea Shoots with Conpoy. Normally, dried scallops are quite potent in terms of both salty and sweetness. I guess they didn't put much seasoning into the oyster-based sauce. However, this was not necessarily a negative since there was sufficient flavour for the dish. The pea shoots themselves were fresh and perfectly cooked with a nice crunch while still being soft.
With any of these types of set meals, there is soup. In this case, it was Shark's Fin Soup with fish maw. Yes, I know the moral debate over shark's fin and once again, I will reiterate that this blog is not a forum for political debate. I'll leave it at that... Anyways, the broth itself was quite good. It had depth and a natural sweetness (from chicken). However, the flavour was somewhat tainted by a pronounced fishiness from the fish maw. It wasn't exactly that bad; but it is worth noting. From one standard dish to another, we have the Lobster in Consume. The lobster itself was quite meaty and sweet. It was fried up nicely being just barely cooked. The sauce was flavourful without being salty; yet there was just too much of it. The lobster was literally swimming in it. Then again, it was the lobster we were eating, not the sauce, so no big deal really.
As for the requisite poultry, we got the Huang Fei Gai or Royal Chicken. The name behind this dish is quite interesting. The name directly translates as the Emperor's subsequent wives after his first. So I guess Royal Chicken works and I guess any other name would just sound rude. Essentially a poached chicken in concentrated consume, this is typically more flavourful than say, a Hainanese Chicken. This particular one wasn't too bad. A little dry in parts while tender in others. It had a nice sweetness to it with a little bit of seasoning. So usually, the steamed rock cod would come next; but that is becoming increasingly rare because we have depleted the rock cod stocks way too much. Hence, alternative fish are used instead. In this case it was Steamed Whole Tilapia. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Tilapia due to it's mushy-like texture. With that being said, this one was steamed beautifully and I didn't mind the texture much.
Our next dish was the Baby Bak Choy with Mushrooms and Bamboo Pith. First of all, the bak choy was cooked nicely and neatly arranged. Vibrant and not overcooked at all. I found the sauteed mushrooms to be fantastic. Full of flavour and earthiness, these provided enough flavour for the rest of the components. Good thing too since bamboo pith is quite mild. It is mainly for the texture - where they are soft while having a slight bite. Just like clockwork, we have the "filler" dishes at the end of the meal starting with the Fried Yee Mein. Unlike the crappy version we had at Kirin City Square, this one was nicely done. With enough heat, the noodles had some caramelization which in turn provided a somewhat smoky-sweet flavour. The noodles were dry (as they are intended to be) and none-too-oily. This was a textbook fried yee mein. Lastly, with the noodles, comes the rice. This was the Yeung Chow Fried Rice. Commonly known as the BBQ Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice, this was an average attempt. The rice was sufficiently dry; but it was closer to crumbly more than whole grains. I did like the abundance of ingredients; yet it did little to add to the flavour. This rice could've used a bit more seasoning. Just like the noodles, it was not oily at all.
So despite the meal not be completely representative of a regular dinner here, it did provide somewhat of a snapshot of the new setup. Of course, I still have to do a re-visit to see how the Dim Sum service is like. It couldn't be much worse than my last visit. For this dinner, the consensus was that the food was not too bad; yet could use improvement. I will cut them some slack since it was the week of the changeover. With that in consideration, there weren't drastic difference and some tweaking, Golden Swan should remain a popular spot for Chinese food.
- Ingredients are fresh and good quality
- Service seemed quite good; but it was not a usual dinner though
- Food came out fast
- A bit hit and miss
- That parking lot is woefully insufficient
- Gotta work on those washrooms