Wah Wing

Alright, here goes another Dim Sum adventure out in the Tri-Cities area. Wait. This maybe one of the last "new" adventures since there aren't many Dim Sum joints around here. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, there is a severe lack of Dim Sum options especially given the large Asian population. It really boggles the mind. Take Henderson Centre for instance. This ghost town of a mall looked good in theory; but for some reason or another, it is a fail on epic proportions. Where do all the Asians go to shop? Richmond??? Kinda far... and kinda bad for your car's safety too. So for the most recent Coquitlam Dim Sum foray, we found ourselves at Wah Wing. Now, this place is hardly new. In fact, it was here when I lived in Coquitlam a long time ago. However, we never ate at the place. Oh yeah, I know why. We would go to Richmond... Yikes. What am I sayin'? Now I have lost all credibility.

Okay, back to Wah Wing. The reason we came out here was to meet up with Rich Guy. Due to our busy schedules, I haven't been able to eat with him as much as I would've liked. Hey, he's only here for a little while, I need to take advantage of his eating companionship. In fact, he brought out his mom this time, so more people meant more food! To get things straight before we get to the food - Wah Wing is a Szechuan restaurant. Hence, Cantonese Dim Sum should not be their specialty. So I'll cut them a bit of slack. However, we did start with the Xiao Long Bao, which is a Shanghainese speciality. So I guess they are trying to be all things to everyone. That is usually a recipe for disaster. We'll just have to see right? Since this is not a Shanghainese restaurant, we weren't holding out much hope with the them. Even with our tempered expectations, they still turned out to be pretty sub par. With a dumpling skin that was too thick and doughy, these were not the excellent XLB's one would find in Richmond. I will give it to them that the filling was decently seasoned and there was soup. Too bad the soup was more oily than broth.

Now for some Cantonese items starting with the Haw Gow (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings). These were "okay". The shrimp filling was a mixture of whole shrimp and shrimp mousse. The flavour was pretty one-dimensional while the filling itself was the proper texture. We felt the dumpling skin could've been a bit less thick though. When the Sui Mai (Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumpling) arrived, it sure looked promising. Yet, very much like Lindsay Lohan, it looked much better than it turned out to be. I give them kudos for using whole cold-water shrimp on top of the actual sui mai. However, it was not seasoned enough being bland. That would be the same for the rest of the dumpling as well. I found the pork to be a little soft. I much prefer a "bouncier" texture. Something that confused me a little was the Beef Meatballs. Normally we see it comprised of some or all of ground beef, green onions, cilantro and water chestnuts. But, there was white onion in these. I've never seen that before. And the reason why there is no white onion is due to its potency. The flavour of the onion was too much for the beef and I found it to be detracting. If we didn't focus on the white onion, the beef meatballs were pretty decent. The texture had the desired bounce and the meat itself was well-seasoned.

For our first bowls of noodles, we got the Tan Tan Noodles. It turned out to be pretty good. The noodles were al dente; but curiously the wrong type of noodles? The texture was a bit weird being slimy. What made these noodles was the excellent spicy peanut broth. It was very flavourful and balance. Nice consistency too. As for the Potstickers, they were fried up nicely with a pleasing colour. The filling was not bad. The meat was not gritty and did taste pretty good. It's really too bad that the dumpling skin was far too thick. So much so, it was a bit difficult to bite all the way through. On the other hand, the Black Bean Spareribs turned out to be quite good. Consisting of mostly edible meat rather than cartilage or fat, it was slightly more on the chewier side. We didn't mind that. It's a whole lot better than being over-tenderized. As you can see, there was plenty of garlic and enough black beans for flavour. As expected, I ended up eating the Honeycomb Tripe a la Eric Carmen - all by myself. Seems like there is no "love" for the stomach lining of a cow. No matter, I got "hungry eyes" and enjoyed every strip of tender; yet slightly chewy tripe. I particularly liked the generous use of minced garlic. It added a lot of flavour without being salty.

One of the more confounding dishes was the Szechuan Beef Noodles. For a restaurant that specializes in Szechuan cuisine, this was the least authentic version I've seen for some time. Now, the noodles themselves were fine being al dente. The beef was passable as well since it was tender and not too fatty. However, it is the starch-thickened sauce that was all wrong. Usually, the beef is braised in a spicy broth that is thin and is mixed into the soup base to create the signature Szechuan beef noodles. But what we had here was a clear soup base with a goupy sauce floating on top. WTH? Ultimately, it wasn't terrible; but really... We also added an order of the Four Seasons Beans which included rice and Hot and Sour Soup. The soup had a aesthetically-pleasing dark colour and there was certainly enough ingredients. Furthermore, the soup had a nice silky consistency buoyed by the proper amount of starch used to thicken it up. However, the predominant flavour was that of tartness. Not much depth in terms of meat flavour nor was there enough spice in the form of chili oil. I guess we could've asked for more chili oil, so that is not such a big deal. As for the Four Seasons Beans, they were prepared the restaurant way, which is being oil blanched before stir-frying. In terms of the cooking of the dish, the execution was fine. The beans were still slightly crunchy while being cooked all the way through and there was no absence of flavouring ingredients, except for one. The one ingredient that was lacking would be salt. The beans had a good initial flavour; yet as we chewed, it was bland.

For us, this was a good indication of one thing - the food is alright; but there is definitely better nearby. It was actually disappointing considering that Wah Wing does have its faithful clientele. Maybe we were expecting more? Of course to be fair, it is a Szechuan restaurant. So the Cantonese Dim Sum and Shanghainese dishes would not be their specialty. However, the Szechuan Beef Noodle was sub-par. Seeing how this dish is pretty much a standard for Szechuan cuisine, it is quite disturbing that they would prepare it the way they did. It's really too bad. The restaurant decor is nice and the staff are super-friendly and efficient. I just hope the food somehow catches up someday.

The Good:
- Excellent service
- Place is modern and clean
- Prices are okay

The Bad:
- Overall, the food is not up to standard

Wah Wing Szechuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Ginseng said...

Does it have carts? That's a big factor for my Caucasian neighbour who likes to go to dim sum with me, so that he can see what he's ordering. Fewer and fewer places seem to serve with carts anymore as the ordering-from-the-sheet method probably is more cost efficient.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sherman,you mentioned that the Tantan Noodle was the wrong type of noodle...what is the "right" kind of noodel in that dish?

Sherman said...

@Ginseng Nope, no carts!

@Anonymous Well, that is a complex question. Reason being is there are 2 types of Tan Tan noodles - Szechuan and Shanghainese. Strange thing too. The one served here at Wah Wing is the Shanghainese version which is soupier and with more sesame/peanut. Don't know why they didn't serve the Szechaun version which is their cuisine. The Szechaun version has less liquid and has more chili oil and more savoury. In terms of the noodles, I think the thinness was fine for the Shanghainese version; but it was very sticky and "glutenish", which made it a bit difficult to eat and became goupy. That's what I meant about the wrong noodle.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sherman, now I get it...from your reply...When growing up in Hong Kong I always remember the Tantan Noodle from my Aunt's shop in Diamond Hill, Kowloon...so after that I really dont know what is the "right" kind esp here in N. America...but I think the point here is to "TRY" all different styles...p.s. I tried the Ding Tai Fung in Bellevue food was ok n ofcuz the place is super hip but I got MSG attack after I got back to the Hotel...=( But thx for the review so that I can try!! =)

chris said...

Hey Sherman, what are your chinese recommendations nearby Wah Wing?

Sherman said...

@Anonymous You know what? It's almost kinda difficult to find authentic anything anymore! I find that the Tan Tan noodles here more of a hybrid than anything else!

@Chris I would go to Kirin only for the fact it is probably the best; but not necessarily the best value. I like Deer Garden myself.