Sherman's Food Adventures: Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine

Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine

With all the activities in my life, the game of golf has seemed to taken a back seat.  Hey, I wasn't that great at it to begin with, but with only one round per year, let's just say the only good thing about golf is the eats afterwards.  So after our round of golf in Richmond, we headed over to Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine for Dim Sum (despite its poor 56% rating on Urbanspoon).  Why there you might ask?  Well, it was more about convenience than anything else.  There was at least a chance we'd find parking and table...

To start things off, we had the "healthiest" dish of the bunch being the Pea Shoots with bean curd skin.  Although they were prepared properly, I found the pea shoots to be a bit old and stringy.  The big pieces of bean curd skin were good with a slight chew.  The broth was flavourful enough to help impact the ingredients and the addition of shiitake didn't hurt either.  Arriving in different shades of brown, the Phoenix Talons (Steamed Chicken Feet) were also inconsistent.  The lighter coloured claws were soft and had a fatty texture while the darker ones had skin which was drier and chewier.  Underneath, the cartilage was a bit crunchy in all of them.  The dish was well-seasoned though with the flavours trending towards sweet.

Whenever there are more than 4, yet less than 8 people sharing Dim Sum, it means inevitably there will be an uneven amount of dumplings.  Hence, we ended up with 2 steamers of Haw Gow.  These were a fair size with a slightly thick skin which was a bit chewy.  The filling was a mixture of shrimp pieces and mousse where it was moist with only a mild snap.  It was mild-tasting with some sweetness and hint of sesame oil.  Luckily, the Mini-Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaves) came in groups of 3 which meant 2 steamers worked out perfectly.  Inside the lotus leaves, the glutinous rice was nicely textured being chewy while moist.  The filling was impactful with plenty of seasoning that featured possibly a bit too much salt and interestingly a sesame oil aroma.

Onto some fried stuff (yay fried stuff!), we had the Deep Fried Taro Dumplings with a Portuguese-style sauce shrimp and pork filling. Despite the golden brown exterior, these were not very good.  The filling was dry and mealy where it could've used much more sauce.  Furthermore, the sauce itself has no impact whatsoever.  I couldn't get any of coconut milk nor curry hints.  Strangely cut by our server, the Deep Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls were crunchy and hot.  As you can see in the picture, in addition to the diagonal cut from the kitchen, the rolls were further scissored into little nubs a the ends.  Boy, did some people at the table get short-changed!  As for the filling, it was similar to the haw gow where there was a mousse mixture that was moist with only a bit of snap.

Served with a purposeful amount of sauce, the Pan Fried Stuffed Eggplant were a bit oil-soaked (albeit still not too mushy).  Not sure why they put "pan-fried" in the description as these were obviously deep-fried.  The shrimp mousse filling was completely overcooked where the texture was rubbery and lacking moisture.  The aforementioned sauce was not just an accessory (as it sometimes can be) because there was a nice saltiness.  We ended up with 3 different types of rice noodle rolls.  Our first one was the Beef Rice Noodle Roll that interestingly featured pea shoots.  Unfortunately, due to the stringiness of the pea shoots, the firm texture interfered with the soft beef.  Other than that, the rice noodle was medium-thickness being soft with a bit of elasticity.

Without any unnecessary additions (such as the pea shoots in previous dish) taking away from the main ingredient, the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll was more typical.  Well, there was the light smattering of flowering chives, but that only provided aromatics.  With a light snap, the whole shrimp were well-seasoned and good on their own.  However, the rice noodle was thicker here which meant a good amount of soy was needed for both flavour and moisture.  As for the Salty Donut Rice Noodle Roll, it was pretty "meh".  The donut itself was refried which meant it was too crunchy where the inside was no longer exhibiting the counterbalancing chewiness.  Furthermore, the donut was greasy as a result.

Moving onto some seafood, in particular fish, we had the Pan Fried Smelt with spicy salt.  Again, these were deep fried, not pan fried as in the description.  The smelt were full of roe (as per the Chinese name) and were crispy on the outside.  They were not dried out retaining a nice moist texture.  As for the spicy salt, it was not very impactful as it was neither spicy nor salty.  Next, we had the Steamed Fish Collars in black bean chili sauce.  Depending on which piece, the taste ranged from mild sweet fishiness to outright 5-alarm hot (when you got a pepper).  Being the collar, the fattiness of the flesh meant the fish was moist and buttery.  But for those afraid of bones, they should best steer clear.

Of course we couldn't get out of there without having the "partner dish" of the haw gow - Sui Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling).  But for some reason, Gordo never had it before (and he is Chinese???).  Anyways, these were very mediocre as the meat was more chewy than bouncy.  Furthermore, the taste was one-note being "porky".  There needed to be more shiitake and shrimp in the mix.  Equally disappointing was the Steamed Pork Spareribs. The textures were inconsistent as some were chewy and others were too soft.  Mirroring the previous dish, the meat was "porky" without a good hit of garlic or enough seasoning.  The one positive was that all the pieces were mostly meaty (with no fat and cartilage).

Cue the ball jokes as the Beef Meatballs arrived next.  When you get 6 guys together with varying levels of maturity (heck, we have none), we were too busy making ball jokes rather than eating.  When we did get to the balls, they were slightly bouncy and airy.  The mix of water chestnuts and green onions was just enough for both flavour and texture.  We added one last dish which was the Soy-Fried Noodles.  This dish cost a whopping $16.80!  Not only was it overly expensive, it wasn't very good either.  The noodles were a tad undercooked being too dry and chewy.  Furthermore, the caramelization of the soy was incomplete, hence the flavours were flat.  Not only were we shocked at the pricing in general, they actually charged us for water.  Yes, you read it right.  We didn't have tea because we were thirsty after golf.  But they still charged us for water on the bill totalling $7.50.  So I get the 56% rating now...  Service wasn't as bad as people have stated, but the food was "meh" and the price...

The Good:
- Some dishes were okay
- Not sure about others, but we got good service

The Bad:
- Cramped seating
- Overpriced for what you get

Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon


thefridaylunch said...

Not trying to be the spelling police or anything, Sherman, but "shitake" has two I's. Unless, of course, you're trying to slip curse words into your post. Then, never mind! We gotta go eat again sometime. Miss you!! :)

Sherman Chan said...

@Karl Yup, you're right. For some reason, I got it in my head to spell it that way after watching Austin Powers... LOL...

LotusRapper said...

Oh sith !