Sherman's Food Adventures: Ruby Chinese Restaurant

Ruby Chinese Restaurant

As much as online comments about a restaurant give insight into the establishment, there are often some that really stand out. You know the type. It's either glowing (which indicates someone related) or it is incredibly negative (ie. worst meal of their life). Just like scores from figure skating, it's best to throw out the highs and lows. This is the situation that we faced when we wanted to venture out for Dim Sum in PoCo. Yah, it's not the hotbed for Chinese food; but hey, Rainbow Butterfly was not half-bad. We figured, why not, let's give Ruby Chinese a try despite the warning from one diner who claimed it was "the most terrible Dim Sum that they ever tasted". Pretty damning eh? A warning perhaps? Or was it a challenge for a food adventure? Yah, it was the latter.

So we packed up everything and loaded the kiddies into the SUV and headed out on a glorious sunny day to Downtown PoCo. When we walked in, there were other Asians present, so that was a good sign. Little did we know, these were either holograms or Asians who really had low expectations for their Dim Sum! I have to declare right now that this was one of the worst Shrimp Dumplings (Haw Gow) we've ever had. Looking beyond the thick and overcooked dumpling skin, there was a shrimp filling that would offend most people. First, the small shrimp were full of veins. That didn't make for an appetizing nor texturally pleasant experience. Second, the shrimp were not cold-water crunchy; rather, they were rubbery. Third, the binding agent was a goopy mess which looked like a combination of pork fat and filler. Hence the whole thing fell apart once bitten into. And let's not even get into the taste.

Continuing on with the same bad shrimp was the Shrimp Spring Rolls. These sad things were woefully greasy and overcooked. The shrimp inside had begun to take on a "dried" appearance and texture. It is probably due to the poor wrap job and the small shrimp. Lowering my standards a bit, the Sui Mai was somewhat acceptable. The chunks of pork were chewy, maybe a bit too chewy though. Once again, there was too much pork fat. Yes, I realize that is what acts as both the binding agent and for flavouring/texture. However, with really large chunks of flavourless fat, it becomes a huge turnoff. Furthermore, these dumplings also fell apart on contact.

Okay, after 3 dishes, we were already wondering what we got ourselves into when suddenly we got a dish that was not readily recognizable. If you can believe it, despite not looking remotely like it, this was the Stuffed Eggplant. With all the lovely colour of eggplant sucked out by over-steaming, this was not appealing to look at. One bite and WTF? Gritty pork??? Where's the fish or shrimp mousse? Texturally and flavourwise, this was an utter disaster. Futhermore, any black bean flavour was washed away by the steaming process. We left this as is and didn't bother with it for the rest of the meal. Finally, after that, something edible arrived in the Black Bean Spareribs. The meat was actually the right texture being soft while retaining a nice chewy texture. There was also a decent amount of black bean flavour. It could've stood for more garlic since it was mostly a one-note dish.

You won't believe it. The next dish was okay as well! Wow, a 2-dish winning streak! But you know that is just the kiss-of-death. Anyways, the Satay Tripe had the right texture. It was super soft with some bite left. It was not gamy - a clear indication of proper cleaning and prep. However, the whole dish was lacking flavour. Sure, I could taste something; but tripe is not exactly flavourful on its own. Hence, they needed to add more satay sauce. Okay, here is the when the good stops again. The Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll was purely laughable. The rice noodle was far too thick and as stiff as a pubescent teen surfing the internet. Moreover, the tiny shrimp (once again) were not the desired cold-water crunchy texture. And to top it all off, the sweet soy was bland as can be. The soy is supposed to
be watered down; but they took it a step too far. It was no longer able to flavour anything.

The same soy also didn't help the Chicken Rice much either. It was better off that the soy wasn't used extensively anyways because the rice itself was wet. The chicken, mushroom and sausage on top helped moisten the rice too much and most of the top was soggy. The chicken itself was white meat and it was mostly dry. And yes, it was none too flavourful as well. It's as if they didn't even marinate it. A very poor attempt all around. Lastly, we had the Egg Tarts. The first thing we noticed was the predominant tart shell. It seemed to overwhelm the egg. And about that egg filling, it was cracked. In fact, if I had taken a picture of both tarts, the other one would've looked worse. Also, yes there was only 2 tarts. Very unusual number. Generally, there are 3 or 4, not 2. The tart shell ended up to be quite flaky; but the filling was too sweet.

Alright. I am a loss for words. And that is not very common for me either! How can Dim Sum in the GVRD be so poor? And why are there Chinese people eating here? I've had better Dim Sum in Portland of all places. Sure, the food isn't very expensive at only $2.75 per dish; however, we were not really all that motivated to eat it all. Viv was only eating it because she was hungry. Otherwise, she had no intention of putting herself through this experience. I hate to be so negative. Really! However, the food on average was extremely poor in terms of execution and quality of ingredients. I know some might attribute it to its location in PoCo. Yet, there is Rainbow Butterfly only 5 minutes away. Furthermore, Kirin and Kam Ding are only 10 minutes away. I think this time, I should've listened to that poor review on Urbanspoon...

The Good:
- Cheap
- Friendly owners
- Spacious

The Bad:
- Sub-standard ingredients
- Poor execution

Ruby Chinese on Urbanspoon


LotusRapper said...

Asian horograms ??

C. said...

I'm the one who wrote that review...

Sherman said...

@LR I can't believe they were actually eating there AND enjoying their food.

@C And I should've listened to you!

LotusRapper said...

I been there a couple times, twice for lunch and once dinner, all for work (had meetings in PoCo). Food is very average, but I don't know downtown PoCo well 'nuff (nor had time to research) to seek out other places. So I settled for Ruby each time.

The other Chinese patrons seem to be retirees who like to meet there socially. And the staff all seem to know them well. So, while not a Vancouver/Richmond-caliber dim sum place, they do serve the purpose of being a community hub. Kinda like the food courts in suburban malls like Brentwood, Scottsdale, Royal City Centre, etc. hahaha.

Au-Yeungc9 said...

a side track.. There's a vietnamese noodle place around the corner is pretty okay

Sherman said...

@LR Yah, I hear ya. It's just that the food we had was really bad. It was difficult to find any good dishes. If you are ever in the neighbourhood again, try Rainbow Butterfly, if you haven't already.

@Au-Yeungc9 LOL, I went to Pho T&T immediately the week after. The post will be up shortly. It was about 3 weeks ago that I went.