Sherman's Food Adventures: Penny Restaurant

Penny Restaurant

The first time I blogged about Penny Restaurant was after Wednesday late night hockey over a year ago. At that time, Polka King and I had only 3 items which were extremely underwhelming. However, after reading several other posts and comments about Penny, it has convinced me to do a revisit in order to try a much wider variety of dishes. This time around, I got the whole hockey team to join me including Polka King once again. This is no small feat because he has become quite anti-social after getting engaged to Polka Dot. Hey, I don't blame him! Although he is the butt of jokes courtesy of Milhouse and Lionel Hutz. Something about doing his best impression of cream... whipped... Anyways, we all decided to order one dish each and do a typical Chinese shared meal.

Milhouse really wanted congee and thus ordered the really large bowl of Preserved Egg and Salted Pork Congee. Much like last time, the congee base was more like an homemade one than being restaurant quality. That maybe attractive for some; but for me, I do not mind the MSG-laden thick restaurant congee base. Consequently, the base was neither thick nor flavourful enough. There was, however, a good amount of preserved duck egg and diced salted pork. And once again, just like last time, Polka King ordered his favourite being the Beef Fried Rice Noodles (or Gawn Chow Ngau Hor). I think Polka King only knows how to order this one dish in Cantonese. That's why he orders this all the time. This was an average attempt. The noodles didn't have an appealing colour and it was oily as per usual. The lack of colour didn't only affect its appearance, it was very bland as well. This needed hot sauce badly. At the very least, the beef was tender.

Boss Woman loves Scramble Eggs with Shrimp, so she ordered it again. Man, we seem to have the same dishes over and over again! Anyways, this dish was a fail. The scrambled eggs were very greasy and in little clumps. It had actually separated while being wok fried, so most of it resemble spatzle rather than scrambled eggs. Although the shrimp was cold-water crunchy, it was underseasoned and bland. All around a very substandard attempt. I'm not sure who ordered the Sweet & Sour Pork; but I didn't mind because I actually like it. It's really too bad this was another disappointing attempt. The sweet and sour sauce was not typical of an authentic Chinese restaurant. Rather, it resembled one you'd find at Manchu Wok. Radioactive in colour and really too sweet, this was not good. There was a lack of pork itself since everything was almost gone after one circle of the lazy Susan. The pork was in small chunks which led to crunchy bits with very little meat texture.

With a total lack of greens, I decided to get the Gai Lan and Beef. This was a significantly better dish than the rest so far. The gai lan was reasonably fresh in texture with a nice crunchy while not being too old. The wok heat was sufficient since there was no pool of water at the bottom of the plate. The beef was tender and there was a good amount of garlic and seasoning. Another decent dish was the Yeung Chow Fried Rice or BBQ Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice. As evidenced in the picture, there was an ample amount of cold-water shrimp, BBQ pork, peas and egg. While the rice could've been more dry and chewy, it wasn't a big deal since there was enough seasoning. Lastly, we got the Cod and Tofu Hot Pot. It arrived bubbling hot and looking slightly pale. The positive? There was a huge amount of food stuffed into the hot pot. The fish was fried up crispy while being flaky on the inside. The tofu was fried perfectly as well being silky in the middle. However, the whole hot pot lacked seasoning. Once again, I had to resort to using hot sauce to liven it up.

Alright, I think there is enough food evidence here to make a re-evaluation of Penny Restaurant. And as expected, it has confirmed what I concluded last time - the food is very average. There were some decent dishes mixed in with subpar efforts. Seeing how there are quite a few late night options for Chinese food in town, Penny would not be anywhere on my radar. Furthermore, not mentioned in this post was the terrible wonton noodles I had last time. The pork wontons were gritty and bland while the noodles did not have the desired chew-bounce texture. The only thing they got going for them are the cheap prices and the late opening hours.

The Good:
- Cheap
- Open late

The Bad:
- Below average food
- Epitome of a dive

Penny Restaurant on Urbanspoon


LotusRapper said...

Ha, I was there a week ago. For some strange reason, I've been driving out to On Lok about 2-3 times a month for el cheapo lunch or late night snack these past months. But last week I decided to have a change, so ended up at Penny's instead. Food was ok, but the place definitely lacked the ambiance of On Lok next door. And I like On Lok's $5-6 specials listed by the entrance .... Chinese fast food on the cheap. They even have a large screen TV now !

Sherman said...

@LR Penny and On Lok are good for late night; but otherwise, the food is very average. I guess that is how they stay in business.

LotusRapper said...

Just so happens I was on way home from N. Burnaby last night. Got hungry around Victoria Drive. Haha, well I can choose either On Lok or Penny. Decided to give Penny a whirl. Had the S&S pork on rice. Different than On Lok's, but for both I would rate teh dish as 5/10, maybe 5.5 for Penny because the meat was crunchier and they had red *and* yellow pepper in it ..... ooooh fancy !

Penny's interior definitely declined from my memory, last time I was there they still had the booths. But I didn't get the sodium + MSG after-effect I usually get from OL.

Sherman said...

@LR Yup, Penny serves a purpose and if expectations are not too high...