Signature dishes - these seem to define many of the restaurants in this town. Not a bad strategy if you ask me. Think of it, make something well and people will remember it, even if the rest of the food is forgettable. Or better yet, hype up a signature dish, even if it is pretty "meh". And not surprisingly, people will still flock to try it because of the endless promotion. I'm not saying we are all lemmings, but it is pretty obvious customers can identify with a certain product, it is forever memorable or associated with that restaurant. Case in point, the former location of Double Double out on Kingsway was synonymous with their Yau Ja Gwei (Salty Donut). Unfortunately, it met an untimely end due to a kitchen fire. For many years, their outstanding salty donuts were nothing more than a fleeting memory.
Fast forward to the present and they have reopened (about half a year ago) in Richmond offering up the same things (and some others) that made them famous. Once again, we made the trek out to driving hell for some grub (curse you good grub!). And without further ado, we started out with their Yau Ja Gwei. What a complete letdown... First of all, it was not fried to order, so it was stone cold. Second, it was fried too long, where it became chewy and heavy. This was not what we were looking for and really, there was no excuse for not making to order. It's their signature item for heaven's sake! Suffice to say, their Sweet Donut was not any better as it was even colder and more dense (because it is thicker). Not impressed at all. I realize they were packed and very busy, but if these are your signature items, put the effort to make them right.
Thankfully, another one of their more popular items was mostly prepared right, being the XO Fried Daikon Cake. These were cut into strips, deep fried, then wok-fried with XO sauce and other seasoning. That other seasoning was MSG as the whole dish was very salty and far too flavourful. It was really too bad since the daikon cake was soft in texture with lots of daikon. The exterior was lightly crisp kissed with a nice spice level. Moving onto the Shrimp Rice Noodle Rolls, we found it a bit unusual for there to be slivers of Mo Gwah (Hairy Cucumber) mixed with the crunchy shrimp. Whatever the case, they were soft and added so veggies to the dish. As for the noodle, it was buttery soft with some elasticity. I found it to be just the right texture.
Now with the 2 orders of donuts, it was only fitting to get a bowl of the Minced Beef Congee. It arrived steaming hot and really thick, however, it appeared to be due to the addition of starch. That made the congee a goupy thick rather than a smooth thick. The plethora of tender beef mixed with fried mung bean thread was good, but we couldn't get over the amount of MSG they used. Boy was this far too flavourful... And along with the congee, we got another specialty being the Wonton Noodles. This was good with chewy al dente noodles nestled in a flavourful sweet broth. The wontons featured whole crunchy shrimp which packed a whole lot of natural flavour. While we were perusing the menu, we noticed that the Sweet & Sour Pork was described as "soooo good!". Okay, we'll see about that... Yes, they were pretty good being crispy on the outside while juicy on the inside. There was probably too much sauce on the plate, but at least it was balanced where the sweet and sour were distinctive.
We added a few things at the end including the Stir-Fried Crystal Noodles with Beef. It arrived glistening like a teenager's forehead. And yup, it was super greasy and OMG salty. Both MSG and soy were used liberally in this dish. Too bad since it was good otherwise with nicely textured noodles and tender beef. We finished off the meal with something sweet (with no MSG) in the Steamed Sponge Cake. It was semi-sweet, rich (from the lard I'm sure...) and fluffy. Thankfully this was a mild finish to an extremely salty meal. Don't get me wrong here, there were some good eats, but with the salt and MSG content in the food, it eroded our overall experience. Not to mention, the disappointing donuts. We had high hopes, but ultimately, they failed to deliver a complete meal.
- Despite the MSG/salt content, there is good food here
- Quick expedition of dishes
- Really large menu (if that is what you like)
- Too much MSG and salt
- Not made-to-order donuts
- Servers were friendly, but completely over-extended