Ever since I started blogging, it has become quite easy to remember the last time I had visited a specific restaurant. Whenever in doubt, just pull up the blog on my iPhone and voila, not only do we find out roughly when we ate somewhere, we also can see what we ate. In fact, with the online record of everything we've eaten in the past 3+ years, there have been fewer disagreements. Just pull up the blog. No need to try to remember anything! Now, pulling old posts often make me cringe because some of the pictures were crappy (ironically, the new pictures turned out crappy as well due to poor lighting). This was such the case with Prince Chinese Restaurant. We haven't been back her for 3 years and if my memory serves me correctly, the service was not exactly a strong point. Since it has been such a long time, it was a good time to do a re-visit. Well, the real reason was because of convenience. Viv invited her parents out for Dim Sum and wanted something close by to them.
After we submitted the order sheet, as per usual, the Egg Tarts arrived first. Yah, I know they are probably sitting there in a warmer ready to go, however, must we be served dessert first? This happens at many Chinese restaurants, so I'm not pinning this on Prince. One bite into the tart and I wished they had stuck it back into the oven because I got a bit hit of raw flour flavour. I asked Viv to try it and she concurred. Underdone puff pastry. Yuck. That was too bad since the top part of the pastry was quite flaky and the filling was good as well. The BBQ Pork Pineapple Buns didn't have any issues concerning the dough and as such was above-average for a restaurant. The buns themselves were light and soft while the sweet topping was the right crumbly texture. I only wished they didn't put onions in the BBQ pork mixture. For me, it is too sharp and detracts from the flavour.
Finally, we got a dish where it belonged in the meal being the Shrimp Spring Rolls. These came out hot and crispy stuffed with crunchy shrimp. A little heavy on the seasoning, yet good nonetheless. We liked how they weren't greasy despite the obvious frying time required to get such a golden colour (or was it old oil? LOL). Then the standard dish we order whenever my son is present - the Soy Fried Rice Noodle Rolls. These were not very good. They were stiff, mostly under-fried and bland. Furthermore, it looked as if the person who prepared it was pretty lackadaisical in their approach and plating. It showed in the overall execution. Oh and as you can tell, they were greasy too. Seems like they might've put it into a wok that wasn't hot enough at first.
The stiff rice noodle was evident in the Beef Rice Noodle Roll as well. It wasn't as bad as the pan-fried version due to the steaming process, yet we've had better. The beef filling was good though, there was a nice hint of dried orange peel which added something different than the usual green onion flavour. They probably used the same meat mixture for the beef meatballs (which is common) for the rice noodle roll since the meatballs had the exact same flavour (not pictured), particularly the strong orange peel presence. Onto the Dim Sum must-have was the Haw Gow (shrimp dumpling). These were pretty good. Other than the dumpling skin being a touch thick, the filling was full of whole shrimp. It was not aggressively seasoned which allowed the natural sweetness of the shrimp to be heard. As for the other must-have (well, at least for me, Viv is indifferent) was the Sui Mai. Sort of the Ying and the Yang of the meal. These were also quite good. There was a good balance of shrimp, pork and shiitake mushroom. Textures were bang-on as well with the pork having a good bounce texture and the shrimp exhibiting a nice snap when bitten into. Flavours were good, especially from the mushrooms. Loved the tobiko on top, I can't understand places that don't use it (or at least some salted duck egg yolk) because it makes it much more appealing.
For me, the Steamed Black Bean Spareribs are another must-order as well. Although the pieces were fatty, there was plenty of tender meat attached to the bone. In fact, those are the most desired pieces when it comes to this dish. Not much in the way of cartilage either, which are not as good to eat. We would've liked to see more in the way of flavour, especially from the black bean, but it was far from bland. One of the more interesting items we had was the Steamed Eel. It came laced with a garlicky sauce which was just flavourful enough without overwhelming the fatty flesh. I really liked this dish despite the indifference shown by everyone else. I think they thought it was bland. For me, I thought it was fine. The eel was cooked perfectly having the qualities of black cod/sea bass. Therefore, the meat was moist and quite pleasant to eat. I particularly loved the skin.
Now cue the drum roll... The requisite offal dish! This time, it was the Steamed Bible Tripe. Not trying to sound monotonous, but the tripe was solid. It had the right combination of being tender enough to chew while still retaining some texture. This is not as easily accomplished as it sounds. Sometimes the tripe is too chewy and one could lose a tooth trying to bite it, while it can also be too soft where it becomes mush. Again, it could've used a touch more in the way of seasoning, yet there was enough green onion and ginger to offset that. Lastly, we didn't have dessert. Remember, we were served dessert first! Rather than sweets, we had the Phoenix Talons aka Chicken Feet. These were a touch over-steamed with the skin detaching. Not a big deal though since there was still plenty of gelatin/cartilage to be found underneath the fried skin. I'm sure this is grossing some people out! Trust me, it's good! It was quite flavourful with lots of garlic with a touch of black bean. I think they used copious amounts of sugar too.
Well, just like 3 years ago, the Dim Sum is quite acceptable at Prince, especially with their price points. There is a good selection on the order sheet and the food comes out fairly expeditiously. In terms of the service, I would say it was better than the couple of times we went before, but I wouldn't classify it as warm and fuzzy (what Chinese restaurant would have that anyways? LOL). I have seen a lot of comments made about their service and maybe they are trying to improve? Or did I come on a lucky day? Whatever the case, the place is busy and their parking lot is usually full, spilling out into the street. So they must be doing something right.
- Above-average Dim Sum
- Lots of choice
- Service is indifferent
- Nice that they have a parking lot, too bad it's always full