Sherman's Food Adventures: HML Seafood Restaurant

HML Seafood Restaurant

Despite the inconsistencies in the voting system on Urbanspoon, I still look to the "like" percentage as a rough guide.  Now when I see a Chinese restaurant rated at 50% or lower, especially if it is located in Richmond, it really makes me wonder.  Could it be a bunch of haters voting or does the food really suck?  Well, there is only one way to find out - bite the bullet and eat there.  Yes, it can be risky, but no more than trying to drive into Richmond during rush hour traffic with a scooter on #3 Road playing chicken with a luxury SUV.  No, I didn't attempt this feat...  I'm adventurous but I don't have a death wish.

But much like Chuck Norris, I did bring in my own Delta Force to sample the "under 50%" restaurant in question (being HML).  If we had to judge the restaurant on looks alone, I could see why it was rated under 50%.  The decor could use an overhaul.  Onto the food, we started with the Soy Chow Mein and it was not bad.  I liked how it wasn't "over-soy'd" with dark soy sauce.  Therefore, the flavours were lighter.  The lack of grease was good too. Next up was the Shrimp Spring Rolls which were fried a crispy golden brown.  Unfortunately, the shrimp filling was dense lacking snap or bounce.  It had the texture of being overcooked.

Off to a duo of offal dishes, we had the Honeycomb Tripe and Beef Tendon.  The tripe was actually quite soft with very little chew.  Despite exhibiting a good amount of garlic and spice, the entire dish was curiously bland.  Maybe in need of salt or *gasp*, MSG?  If we thought the tripe was on the softer side, the tendon was downright mushy.  It barely made it onto my plate without disintegrating on contact.  Again, it was garlicky with some sweetness, but missing that extra "oomph" of flavour.  I guess those trying to avoid MSG will like these dishes.

Onto the most important item of all - the Haw Gow (Shrimp Dumplings).  These were fairly large with a doughy and gummy dumpling skin.  However, once past that, there was a good amount of crunchy whole shrimp.  We had a hard time distinguishing the natural flavours as they had dumped far too much salt into the mix (making up for the previous 2 dishes?).  As for the Sui Mai (Shrimp & Pork Dumplings), they were also big, but featured a filling that had far too many chewy fat pieces.  The meat was decently bouncy, yet was mild in flavour except for the bits of shiitake.

Trying to be a bit different, we decided to try the Scallop Rice Noodle Roll and wished we hadn't.  Look at the picture!  Was it a corn rice noodle roll or scallop?  We had to really look for the scallop as the corn took over.  And when we found a scallop, it was pretty soft with no distinguishing texture nor flavour. Furthermore, the rice noodle was soft and sticky.  Not good.  On the other hand, the mini Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice) was not bad.  They were fairly large in size and featured moist, yet chewy rice with plenty of tender saucy meat, shiitake, Chinese sausage and salted egg yolk.

From the starches, we moved back to the meats with the Steamed Pork Spareribs. These were actually decent compared to some of the other dishes we had.  Although the pieces of pork were a bit too fatty, there was a decent bounce texture.  Moreover, there was plenty of garlic and seasoning.  As for the Beef Meatballs, they too exhibited a nice bounce texture.  We thought the flavour was pretty mild, yet not underseasoned.  Aesthetically-speaking, the balls were pretty pale and possibly needed some dark soy or a visit to the tanning salon.

Lastly, we had the BBQ Pork Buns which were good.  The fluffy bun encased a filling which was not too fatty and balanced in flavour.  This was an okay end to a "meh" Dim Sum service.  I'm not sure if HML deserves such a bad rating, yet at the same time, the food is not good enough to compete with all the others in Richmond.  If it were located somewhere else, it might possibly be ranked higher.  But for now, there are better choices nearby.

The Good:
- Fairly inexpensive, especially for early Dim Sum
- Service we got was decent

The Bad:
- Dim Sum isn't terrible, but ain't good either
- Decor looks tired

HML Seafood Restaurant 明月樓海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon