Okay, if you live in the GVRD (and like Chinese food), it is pretty obvious Richmond is King. However, for a city that boasts such as large Asian population, it is as if there is a black hole of Chinese food in some of the burbs, most notably Surrey. Yes, there are lots of Chinese restaurants around, but unless you consider Combo #5 as Chinese food, there is not a lot to choose from. Not until now that is - enter Neptune Seafood Restaurant at Surrey Central. Being an almost carbon copy of the Richmond setup, they have their Wonton Noodle joint right next to it. Originally, we had made a reservation the night before, but somehow they never wrote it down. My dad was not exactly impressed and didn't hide his disappointment. Kudos to them for relenting and giving us a table almost immediately.
The first thing we noticed as we sat down was the incessant yelling and scolding of the staff by the manager. Sure, some of the servers were quite green, but not very professional to degrade them in front of us in our opinion. Also, they might want the check the spelling on chrysanthemum on the tea pot. Just sayin'. Anyways, the first dish we got was the Pork Spareribs. I found them slightly over-tenderized by baking soda. However, they did taste very good with lots of garlic. Next up was the BBQ Pork Buns which arrived in a really large steamer. We found the buns themselves light and fluffy. However, the pork filling was a bit stringy and dry. It could've been the luck of the draw though with the meat. In terms of flavour, it was mostly balanced between salty and sweet.
At $8.95, the Lobster Dumplings were definitely a splurge of some sorts, but we just needed to try it. It was actually a shrimp dumpling with a slice of lobster tail on top. We found the shrimp filling dense and lacking in snap while the lobster was decent. Interesting dish, but we'd probably not order it again. Moving onto a kiddie favourite, we had the Mini-Lo Mai Gai (sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves). Each one was further wrapped with parchment paper which kept things nice and tidy. As for the rice, it was moist and glutinous. The pork filling was fantastic where it was tender and really flavourful with lots of shiitake, dried scallop, Chinese sausage and salted egg yolk. Interestingly, there was no chicken.
The Brisket & Tendon Hot Pot with daikon was shockingly small for $8.95. Normally, most other places would be at least 1/2 larger in size. Despite the name of the dish, there was also a good amount of tripe, which ranged from soft to overly soft. The brisket was a bit chewy, but cooked long enough. However, some of the tendon could've used more time. Flavourwise, it was quite mild, except the tripe was a tad gamy. With an attractive amount of tobiko on top, the Sui Mai was completely saturated with baking soda. Not only was the meat too soft, I could taste the baking soda in every bite. Suffice to say, the dumpling was not that great. Too bad really since the shrimp was okay and the flavours I could make out beyond the baking soda were balanced.
Going for something a bit different, we had the Scallop and Pea Shoot Rice Noodle Roll. We liked the purposeful dish it was served in as the sweetened soy sauce was perfectly accessible. As for the roll itself, we found the rice noodle to be somewhat stiff. However, our order of plain rice noodles (not pictured) was soft and fluffy. The filling was pretty good with sweet scallops and tender pea shoots. Onto the most important dish of all, the Haw Gow, it was not bad. Within the slightly chewy dumpling skin, there was a mix of whole shrimp and mousse. It was sweet with discernible white pepper and sesame oil notes. The shrimp itself could've used a bit more cold-water rinsing to attain that classic snap.
Taking us by surprise, the Shrimp Spring Rolls were not wrapped in a wheat wrapper, rather, in rice noodles. This made the whole thing very light and crispy. However, it also made it quite oily since they were open-ended (which allowed the oil to seep through). Interestingly, the shrimp filling had much more snap than the dumplings. It may have been cooked less and/or be due to the cooking method. The Egg Tarts actually arrived earlier in the meal, as with most Dim Sum services. Yet, I left it to nearly the end to talk about it. Just seems more right! Anyways, the pastry was flaky and buttery while the filling was super light and barely sweet. Furthermore, we loved the aesthetically-pleasing browned edges too.
Lastly, we had the House Special Fried Noodles, which was pretty decent. The noodles were crispy while not greasy. There could have been more sauce though. The seafood was nicely done except the squid was a bit too chewy. Overall, this was an acceptable Dim Sum experience considering they are newly opened. The service still needs some refinement and the food expedition needs to be more efficient as some of the food was not hot enough. Given there is literally no comparable competition nearby, they will be consistently busy.
- Nice and classy dining space
- Food has potential (if they iron out the kinks)
- Service was decent considering they just opened, but the manager should take a chill pill
- Manager is fare too abusive to his staff (in front of customers)
- They are new, kinks have not been worked out yet