Sherman's Food Adventures: Asia Kitchen

Asia Kitchen

After my initial visit to Asia Kitchen last year, I came away indifferent with their buffet and didn't have the urge to return anytime soon.  Strangely, I noticed that they offered Dim Sum earlier this year.  How were they going to serve Dim Sum independently from the buffet?  Well, I discovered the answer to that question when I walked through the doors recently.  They ended up turfing the buffet and Vietnamese menu in favour of Cantonese fare including Dim Sum service.

With as many Dim Sum options in Coquitlam as there is cheap housing, we were intrigued to see if at the very least the food would be serviceable.  Arriving first was the Stir-Fried Pea Shoots with garlic.  This featured tender pea leaves that still retained a crunch.  There was decent wok heat where the moisture was kept to a minimum while the grease was moderate.  In terms of seasoning, it was a bit weak where more salt and garlic was needed.  For a reasonable $8.50, the Seafood Fried Noodles featured a bevy of shrimp, squid, fish, zucchini and baby bak choy atop crunchy noodles.  Although there was a considerable amount of starch-thickened sauce on top, the firm noodles held their own.  Again, the seasoning was a bit weak while the shrimp needed more cold-water rinsing.

Onto the steamed items, we had the Haw Gow (Shrimp Dumpling) and Sui Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling).  Slightly thick and doughy while too wet, the haw gow skin was also oversteamed.  Inside, the shrimp filling was a combination of whole shrimp and mousse.  There was a firm meatiness and only the slightest snap.  It did taste okay with a balanced sweetness accented by sesame oil.  As for the sui mai, they were on point.  By appearance alone, they looked appetizing and in fact, they were really good.  Sporting an even mix of whole crunchy shrimp and properly tenderized chunks of pork, the dumpling was juicy and buttery (due to the processed pork acting as a binding agent).  Flavours were good too with a balance between savoury and sweet elements.

For the kiddies, we got them the Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice) which were portioned into 3 mini wraps.  Inside, the rice was definitely glutinous while being a touch dry.  However, the ample ground pork filling did help moisten things when mixed together with the rice.  Moreover, the well-seasoned pork also helped season the rice.  Of course, we had to get my son's favourite being the Shrimp Spring Rolls that were cut on an angle (similarly to many places these days).  We enjoyed these as the exterior was hot and crunchy without much grease.  Inside, there was a bounty of buttery shrimp (and shrimp mousse) that was bordering on salty.

Another kid favourite was the Donut Rice Noodle Roll.  They enjoyed the super crunchy donut in the middle of the overly chewy rice noodle.  For me personally, the re-fried donut was far too crunchy and greasy.  In fact, I could taste the grease which was not particularly appealing.  Combined with the hard exterior noodle, I thought this was the weakest dish.  The same rice noodle was found on the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll.  In turn, that affected the overall success of the dish.  Too bad really because it was packed with crunchy shrimp and shrimp mousse.  Similarly to the spring rolls, the shrimp was well-salted.

We went off the board and decided to try the Fish Dumplings with Cabbage since it was something different.  These turned out to be large fish mousse meatballs with green onion and bits of cuttlefish.  Although a touch fishy, the ample amount of salt and sugar helped masked it.  Texturally, the large fish balls exhibited the classic bounce texture akin to fish mousse.  As expected, we had our token offal item which was the Steamed Tripe and Tendon.  In a deep shade of reddish-brown, the whole dish was aggressively spiced with a noted sweetness.  We found the tripe to be tender, but rather dense lacking the typical butteriness.  As for the tendon, it was a bit too soft where some portions had melted.

The next 2 dishes were pretty good, but suffered from seasoning issues.  With the overpowering pungency of bamboo shoots, the Bean Curd Skin Rolls were also over-salted.  Hence, I needed to dunk them into Worcestershire sauce to mask it.  On the flip side, the textures were good though with chewy and moist fried bean curd skin as well as the same properly tenderized and bouncy chunks of pork (as the sui mai).  The saltiest dish of all was the Black Bean Spareribs sporting a really dark hue.  Texturally, it was just right with a chewy rebound that was still tender.  Furthermore, the pieces were easy on the fat and cartilage.  Yet in the end, the salt content made it difficult to eat.

Also for the kiddies, we got the BBQ Pork Buns that were bursting with filling.  We found the bun itself to be somewhat dry and dense.  However, the ample filling helped alleviate the this.  Sticky and sweet, the BBQ pork was lean and completely enveloped in sauce.  For dessert, we waited for the fresh made-to-order Egg Tarts.  Our patience paid off as these were fantastic.  Flaky and super buttery, these were served smoking hot from the oven.  We enjoyed the light tart shell that held in the silky semi-sweet egg custard.  These were definitely the highlight of the meal.  This was a good end to a relatively serviceable if unremarkable Dim Sum meal.  But if we take into account the price point and its location, Asia Kitchen serves as an option for Burquitlam.

The Good:
- Pretty attentive service
- Reasonably-priced
- Spacious dining room

The Bad:
- Dining room could use more light
- Food is relatively average with some hightlights

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