For me, one of the most inconsistent restaurant chains out there is the Kirin group of restaurants. The variation between each location can be as wide as a bike lane in Downtown. Thus, by visiting one, there is no way someone can make a blanket assessment of the food. In fact, that would be with any group of restaurants including some of the more popular chain restaurants in town. Furthermore, considering Kirin has Dim Sum service, that is a totally different animal since it usually involves a separate chef. And off we went to Kirin at City Square for the aforementioned Dim Sum.
Shockingly, not only did we get our reservation on time, we scored a nice table near the window. Brownie points for them! We started with the must-order Haw Gow (Shrimp Dumplings). These were rather small with a mix of shrimp and mousse. Mostly sweet with a hint of white pepper, the filling was a touch soft with a slight snap. We found the dumpling skin to be floury with little elasticity. Continuing on with shrimp, we had the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll. Interestingly mixed with fluffy eggs, the large whole shrimp had a buttery snap. They were well-seasoned standing on their own even without the addition of sweet soy.
Next, we had the Steamed Spareribs which were pretty good. Although a bit heavy with the cartilage pieces, there was very little fat. The meatier pieces had a chew with some bounce and were well-seasoned and garlicky. This dish was ultimately very flavourful which led us to believe there was a good amount of MSG as well. We found the Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice) to be firm while moist enough exhibiting that classic glutinous texture. There was a good amount of fatty pork mixed with dried scallop which ensured an aromatic flavour. Hence, there was a natural savoury and sweetness to the dish.
Whenever the Shrimp Spring Rolls arrive, it's like Christmas morning to the kids. Maybe I should put some of them in their stockings? Boy would that be interesting. Anyways, my son's enthusiasm turned to dismay as noticed the pea shoots mixed in. They were crunchy and hot with a loose shrimp filling. The shrimp had a decent snap while being garlicky and properly seasoned. Onto another fried item, we had the Deep-Fried Taro Dumpling. Although these were fried up crispy with minimal grease, the taro itself was bland while the ground pork filling was far too fatty. Not a relatively bad dish, it just wasn't great.
Onto the Sui Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling), they were both good and bad at the same time. As for the good, the dumpling had a nice bounce texture with a balance of flavours. However, there was far too many chunks of fat that were unappetizing. Furthermore, the dumplings were loose, which meant they fell apart after one bite. We really liked the moist bounce-texture of the Beef Meatballs though. There was a good mix of greens and dried orange peel to provide variation in flavours as well as colour. The addition of water chestnuts afforded a light crunch which was a good textural contrast to the meat.
Of course we couldn't do without the obligatory offal dish right? So we had the Crystal Noodles with Beef Tendon. Despite the visuals from the picture, the dish was far smaller than it appears. For us, this was pretty much a fail because the noodles were too soft while the tendon lacked any texture at all. Furthermore, there was too much sauce that really didn't impart any flavour either. Then we had the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet) which was an inconsistent offering. You see, my claw was scrawny and over-fried while some of the others were plump and just right. I loved the ample amount of garlic they used as it was really flavourful.
Fluffy and light, the BBQ Pork Buns were good. The pork itself was lean with very few fatty pieces while the sauce was sweet and rich. We felt this was one of the better dishes of the meal. Finally, we got the Green Tea Pudding, which took forever to arrive. Aren't these usually ready to go from the fridge? Anyways, it was anti-climatic as they were bland and essentially the same as coconut pudding in texture. Overall, the Dim Sum was decent and surprisingly well-priced considering the class of restaurant. The validated parking for the time we spent there was a plus as well. However, the service was a bit slow and some dishes could've been better. At the very least, the Dim Sum service at this location is a whole lot better than their dinner.
- Okay pricing considering everything
- Despite being cramped, the dining space is nice
- Validated parking
- Service could be a bit better for this class of restaurant
- Food could be more consistent across the board