Oh wow... Here we are again at Lin Chinese Cuisine... For me, this is a fairly big deal because I didn't expect to return so soon after my last visit. As the years went by, we have felt that Lin has continued a downward spiral from really good food to slightly below average. However, due to the Chinese Restaurant Awards, I had to come back in hopes of comparing their beef roll and smoked tea duck against the others. Hence, I rounded up the family including the grandparents for lunch.
We began with the Hot & Sour Soup which consisted of a decent amount of ingredients including a healthy amount of crunchy wood-ear mushrooms. Since we requested it to be light on the spice, it was mild with a conservative hit of vinegar. With the help of the ample ingredients and just the right amount of starch, the soup had a silky and thick consistency. Next up was the Stir-Fried Pea Shoots with Garlic. This was like a carbon-copy of the last time we were here. Good consistency I suppose, but really, it was as greasy as we remembered. Despite this, it was cooked properly with tender leaves that still had a light crunch. There was definitely a nice garlic hit to go along with the ample seasoning.
We then moved onto their "best in town" Xiao Long Bao as seen on the Food Network (Bob Blumer's show to be exact). Since many of the heavy hitters in town did not participate in the "best XLB" show, the results were flawed. In reality, we find the XLBs here to be "okay", but hardly the best in town. The skin could've been more thin while there could've been more soup as well. It was sweet with a mild shaoxing wine finish. The meat was moist and juicy though. Onto a dish that my son actually enjoys, we had the Shanghai Stir-Fried Rice Cake. Heavy on the dark soy, the dish exhibited a rich stir-fried and caramelized hue. Hence, there was a certain smokiness in addition to the inherent salty kick from the soy. The slices of rice cake were appealingly chewy.
Up next, we had one of the dishes we were specifically here for - the Beef Pancake Roll. Constructed with a green onion pancake, there was a nice aroma from the lightly browned exterior. However, the pancake itself was a bit chewy and doughy. Inside, the beef was lightly seasoned with a mild five-spice finish. There wasn't too much hoisin which meant that the roll stayed more on the savoury side. Presented in a relatively large bowl, the Dan Dan Noodles was an equally large portion. We found this version to be much more savoury than aromatic and nutty. With a considerable amount of meat, this was a hearty concoction that could've benefited from more toothsome noodles. With all that being said, we still enjoyed it for what it was.
For the kiddies, we got an order of the Pulled Roti with curry sauce. Yah, Lin won't pass for a Malaysian restaurant, yet they don't try to be either, so it wasn't much of a surprise the roti was their own style. Hence, the exterior was more akin to fry bread and the inside was doughy with an undercooked texture. But that didn't stop the kiddies from devouring it. The accompanying curry sauce was not very good as it was starch-thickened powder and water. Our other CRA dish was the Tea-Smoked Duck (which I've had in our last visit). We have to hand it to them as it was almost exactly the same. That meant the duck itself was moist and just smoky enough. However, the skin was pretty fatty while the not crispy enough. It probably has to do with the type of duck they use rather than the cooking process.
Lastly, we had the Meat-Stuffed Pastry at the insistence of my mom. Well, she must've had a premonition because this was the best dish of the meal. With a light and soft bun on the outside that was nicely crisped up, it only served to hold in the super juicy meat filling. Normally, the meat can be really greasy, but not in this case. So... Did this revisit to Lin change my mind about the place? Yes and No. I would say that the food isn't as nearly as good as I remembered 5 years ago, but not as bad as my last visit. So I guess a visit to Lin is truly dependent on what you order.
- Depending on what you order, some dishes can be good
- Fairly large menu
- Service can be hit and miss
- Food can be hit and miss