Sherman's Food Adventures: Kirin (New West)

Kirin (New West)

Honestly, Kirin in New West at the Starlight Casino was not our first choice for Dim Sum.  Nothing against the place, but it was a backup plan of sorts because the new Pennisula in Oakridge was booked solid.  A strange phenomenon if you ask me since the dishes are well over $6.00 per dish and more often than not, closer to $10.00.  Do people have that much money to burn???  Don't they need to save it for car repairs and increased insurance premiums?  I digress.

In reality, Kirin New West was not really that bad of a consolation as my last visit was pretty good. We were able to coax them into reserving a larger table for us since we tend to order a lot of food.  We started with the Shrimp Spring Rolls which were good.  They were lightly crispy with a thin exterior and minimal grease.  Inside, the filling was a combination of mousse and pieces of shrimp which exhibited a snap.  One thing we didn't like was the overuse of salt as it overpowered all other flavours.  Next up was the Beef Meatballs.  These had a good bounce texture where the meat felt almost airy.  There was a good mix of greens that added flavour without taking away from the meatiness.

We ended up getting both the Donut Rice Noodle Roll and Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll.  This was due to my son not liking the latter.  It truly makes no sense as he eats shrimp spring rolls and ebi tempura...  Anyways, the donut rice noodle roll had a particularly strong bonito taste due to the abundance of flakes on top.  We found the donut too dense and no longer crispy which didn't help the already dense rice noodle.  In turn, the shrimp rice noodle roll was also too dense and chewy.  However, the shrimp itself were large and had a good snap.  Flavours were mild as the shrimp was not really seasoned, but then the sweet soy made up for it.

Onto the most important dishes, we has the Haw Gow and Sui Mai. Although the dumpling skin on the haw gow was decent being slightly chewy while not dense, the filling was so-so.  It was predominantly shrimp mousse with only a few pieces of whole shrimp.  Furthermore, it was quite bland with no distinguishing flavours.  As for the sui mai, it was much better.  There was a good mix of pork, shrimp and shiitake where the flavours were diverse with a touch of sweetness.  Moreover, the textures benefited from the ingredients as there was bouncy and meaty pork and shrimp with snap.

My obligatory offal dish was the Curry Tripe.  As evidenced in the picture, there was definitely the taste of curry while at the same time, not over-sweetened (which usually happens in Chinese cuisine).  There definitely was a spiciness to the dish, yet not overly so.  What I didn't like was the very soft texture of the tripe.  There was no chew left.  We got a bigger dish in the Fook Chow Fried Rice and it was quite pedestrian.  The fried rice was done right with a nutty chewiness.  However, the sauce on top was one-note in flavour (which was salty).  Despite being generous with the large chunks of duck meat, it wasn't texturally appealing when eaten.

The Fried Capelin must've been the worst dish of the meal as it was completely over-fried where the meat was chewy and the exterior was leathery.  Suffice to say, it wasn't crispy at all.  Even with all the seasoning sitting on top, it only added spice, yet very little in salt.  At first glance, the Spicy Wontons looked great.  However, the sauce was not spicy at all.  In fact, there was far too much sugar which made the dish taste funny.  On the other hand, the wontons themselves were really good.  With a thin buttery wrapper giving way to a meaty filling, this somewhat saved the dish.

Onto dessert, we had the Egg Tart first.  We found the tart shell to be buttery and flaky except for a few denser parts at the bottom.  The egg custard was light and quite sweet.  On that note, the Steamed Sponge Cake was really sweet due to the use of brown sugar (and lots of it).  It was fluffy though benefiting from a nice dose of lard. Overall, we felt the food was acceptable, but hardly impressive given the price point.  Of note, the service was quite attentive and relatively friendly (despite a mix-up with one dish).  The one thing that this Kirin benefits from is its location (no real competitors nearby) and nicely appointed interior.

The Good:
- Nice comfortable digs
- Decent service
- Lots of parking

The Bad:
- Food is okay, but doesn't justify the price point

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