Normally, one would not visit a hot pot joint for Dim Sum. It's like going to a Japanese restaurant expecting Korean and Chinese food... Wait... Bad example, especially in Vancouver. Furthermore, one would not visit Crystal Mall in hopes of Dim Sum at a hot pot restaurant, not because it sounds strange, rather it is just the mere thought of parking at Crystal Mall that sends people running. Ironically, this foreshadowed Betaboy's experience after our meal...
Anyways, there is actually Dim Sum to be found at Top Gun Hot Pot, despite its namesake. I've tried it before a long time ago, but never blogged about it. With Big D in my car, he convinced me to park across the street (which would prove fruitful...). To start off, we had the Shrimp Spring Rolls. These were well done with a crunchy, minimally greasy exterior packed with well-seasoned shrimp exhibiting a cold-water snap. Next, the Stuffed Eggplant and Tofu were also quite good. Although the shrimp mousse was a bit chewy, it was well-seasoned. Both the tofu and eggplant were fried just enough for texture without drying out. The black bean sauce was pretty good being flavourful for once (unlike other places).
My argument for only having 2 kids rests partially on things made for 4 people like hockey game packages, booth seating, passenger cars and of course 4 Haw Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) in a steamer. Well, they had 5 here... Better not take Viv to this restaurant... Anyways, these were not bad with a slightly chewy dumpling skin featuring large pieces of crunchy shrimp. It could've stood for more seasoning though. The same could be said about the Sui Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling), which thankfully numbered only 4... A touch on the bland side, the sui mai benefited from the ample amount of shiitake and shrimp. The meat had a nice bounce texture while being easy on the fat, yet the whole thing was somewhat loose.
On the menu, we were trying to figure out why the Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice) was advertised at "60's style". When it hit the table, it made sense as it was a big ass lo mei gai (just like ol' times). Suffice to say, if you look at the picture, there was a bevy of moist ground pork, shiitake, salted egg yolk and tender pieces of chicken. The rice was moist while maintaining some chewiness. This was very well-executed. Next up was the Steamed Black Bean Spareribs which were accented by some vibrant scallions. It didn't add much other than colour, but it looked pretty. The ribs themselves were chewy, yet easy enough to eat. I found the whole dish too wet and greasy though. Moreover, it was lacking in seasoning.
Onto the weird part of Dim Sum, for some people that is... We had the Steamed Honeycomb Tripe, which was also garnished with scallions. I found the texture to be just right with a good balance between chewy and tender. There was minimal gaminess which gave way to plenty of garlic and a touch of heat. And then we had the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet) with... scallions. Okay, it looks nice with the vibrant green colour, but really, on every dish? Sadly, these chicken feet were undercooked (as in not fried and steamed enough). Hence, the darn things were chewy with crunchy cartilage underneath. Much like the tripe, these were well-seasoned being garlicky and spicy.
Lastly, we got a bunch of rice noodle rolls since Big D cannot do without them. His favourite is the Salty Donut Rice Noodle Roll and yes, we got a couple of them. The donut itself was airy, light and crispy while the rice noodle was a touch too soft. Furthermore, it could've benefited from some dried shrimp as the whole thing was missing savouriness despite the soy sauce. We also got one each of the Beef Rice Noodle Roll and Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll. Although it was stuffed with lots of hand-chopped beef, the plethora of greens made the roll "interesting". We weren't sure what to make of it. As for the shrimp, they were large and had a nice snap. They were seasoned nicely while the flowering chives added some variation in texture. After the meal, we all agreed that it was above average with some really good dishes. However, the prices were almost shocking as they rival some of the most expensive in town. Oh, and Betaboy took all of 30 minutes to exit the Crystal Mall parking lot. Good call Big D...
- Carefully prepared food
- Above average
- Okay service
- Overpriced in our opinion
- Seating is strange due to the hot pot setup
- That parking lot...