Sherman's Food Adventures: On Lok

On Lok

On Lok?  Really? Wow, that is really kickin' it ol' skool...  I guess late night hockey calls for really late night eats and On Lok was the destination for the night (or should I say early morning?).  We had not been back for 3 years or so.  I wondered if our tastes have changed in the meantime or would we still crave On Lok like we did before.  I guess with a big group of us, it was about time to find out...  Well, one thing was for sure, nothing had changed in terms of decor - looked exactly the same as it did 20+ years ago.

For myself, I went for the basics including the Wonton Noodle.  I gotta say this was one ol' skool (much like the place itself) version of the dish.  The broth was okay but not exactly aromatic.  It was more along the lines of mildly salty without any distinguishing flavours.  The noodles were good though being toothsome.  I wasn't a huge fan of the wontons (and I didn't even bother finishing them).  They were mainly pork with a few small shrimp here and there.  I found the pork to be rather chewy and lifeless while the taste was a little bland.  My next item was the Preserved Egg and Salted Pork Congee.  This was much better with a thick rice broth that only began to get watery at the end.  It was mildly seasoned where it was easy on the MSG.  There was plenty of preserved egg and appealingly chewy strands of mildly salty pork.

Milhouse went for his standby being the Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice.  We thought this was well-executed where the rice was chewy and nutty.  The beneficiary of good wok heat, the rest of the dish was dry.  Hence the flavours were caramelized which went well with the ample amount of impactful salted fish.  The one thing we didn't like was the greasiness of the dish.  Unfortunately, Groundskeeper Willy didn't have much luck with his Squid Chow Mein.  He found the squid to be noticeably fishy which turned him off.  Texture was okay, but there was a bit too much sauce which made the noodles quite soft.  Although there was plenty of sauce, he didn't think it tasted particularly flavourful though.

Emilicious had her go-to dish which was the Ma Po Tofu on Rice.  I was able to sample some and it was indeed very good.  The steamed rice underneath was appropriately dry and chewy, which ensured it didn't get soggy from the sauce.  About that sauce, it was a fine balance between sweet, salty and spicy.  The tender nuggets of tofu held up to the cooking process while the meat was tender.  Gordo went for the Curry Beef on Rice which was a bit hit and miss.  The curry sauce was fine where it was sweet and salty with plenty of curry flavour.  However, the brisket was dry and lifeless.  The veggies were good though with lots of crunch.

The same brisket afflicted Lionel Hutz's Brisket Fried Rice Noodle. Yes, the same brisket (all from the same pool of meat, just used in different dishes) was dry and chewy.  Too bad really as the noodle was done quite well.  There was plenty of wok heat where caramelization occurred which went hand-in-hand with the right amount of soy.  Sweet Tooth, with no desserts to choose from, settled for the Fried Tofu.  This was a fairly straightforward dish with crispy tofu triangles laced in salt, garlic and chilis.  It wasn't particularly evenly distributed though as some pieces were really salty while others were completely bland.  This dish effectively summed up our most recent experience at On Lok - okay for late night eats, but not really a top choice when there are so many better Chinese restaurants around.

The Good:
- Large portions
- Okay pricing
- Open late

The Bad:
- Hit and miss food
- Divy decor from the 70's

On Lok Restaurant & Won-Tun House 安樂麵家 on Urbanspoon


LotusRapper said...

Wow I spent many a nights here for dinner in my UBC days (late '80s). Most of theeir daily special items (handwritten menu on red paperboard on your right side after you walk in) still range in the $5-9 range. Nostalgic ambiance, just like Hon's, Daisy Garden (Kam Gok Yuen), Penny's (next door to On Lok), etc. Good times.

tony said...

i just had some take out from here a few nights ago..its cheap and just ok for the area. Been going here on and off for over 25 years. One issue (and chinese Sherman will agree...) just usual rude or non existant service. lATELY IVE BEEN GOING TO James on hastings in vancouver...much much friendlier and way better quailty food.