The last time we visited Sandy La, it was after late night hockey. Lionel Hutz had ordered a crispy noodle dish and remarked how it was lacking sauce. Upon notifying our waitress that he needed more sauce, she snapped back, "well, you should've told me when you ordered!". Um... if he knew that (since he is supposed to be psychic), he wouldn't have to tell you right??? Well, from then on, we really had no need to return since we get enough aggravation from Vancouver traffic, let alone from a foul-mood server.
Well, I reluctantly made a return visit many years later because Costanza wanted to meet up for a meal. We ended up picking some dishes as part of the Dinner for 6. The first to arrive was the Brisket and Daikon Hot Pot. Since all of the ingredients were not actually stewed together (allows usage of ingredients for other dishes), the flavours were bland. In particular, the daikon had no flavour penetration at all. At least the tender brisket had some seasoning, but the starch thickened sauce did little change things. On the other hand, the Deep Fried Pork Chops with Chili Salt were much more impactful. Marinated and tender, the crispy pork was plenty seasoned by the chilis, garlic, salt and white pepper. Since each slice was quite thin, there were some dry portions.
We then moved onto the cliche dish of the meal being the Sweet & Sour Pork. Hey the kiddies love it... Anyways, there was just enough sauce clinging onto each chunk which ensured that there was some crispiness left. It was too bad the sauce was mostly sweet with very little zing. As for the pork itself, it was moist and meaty while easy on the fat. For our one veggie item, we tried the Stir Fried Green Beans with Chicken in black bean sauce. Much like every other Chinese restaurant, the green beans were oil-blanched first. Yet, the beans were unusually light and crunchy without being all shriveled in appearance and texture. They timed the fry very well. The black bean flavours were infused into the beans including the tender slices of chicken.
Onto one of my personal favs, we had the Satay Beef and Vermicelli Hot Pot. This one didn't disappoint with an abundance of buttery slices of beef bathed in a mildly spicy satay sauce. In actuality, the sauce was all soaked up by the vermicelli which was a bit clumpy. It wasn't mushy though due to the modest amount of moisture. I liked how it wasn't overly greasy either. Again, for the kiddies, we got them another usual dish in the Scrambled Eggs and Shrimp. This was also well-executed with silky and moist eggs that were barely cooked. They were well-seasoned without being salty. Hidden within, the big shrimp (oxymoron?) were cold-water crunchy while still retaining a natural sweet shrimp flavour.
For our last dish, it was the complimentary Lobster with Ginger and Green Onion. Seeing how it was thrown in with the meal, we couldn't expect more than the puny little thing served to us. Despite this, it was cooked up properly with juicy and appealingly chewy pieces of lobster meat (where we could find it). Again, there was just enough salty sauce clinging onto each piece so nothing go mushy and wet. So as you can clearly see, the food at Sandy La was pretty solid in terms of a family dinner set. Portions were good and the price was very affordable. But it always comes down to service here as the bottom line - it plain sucks. Other than the odd semi-friendly server, most of them are indifferent bordering on impatient and damning. Not sure if I can overlook that despite the positives.
- Decent eats
- Fairly large portions
- Overall, inhospitable service
- Not the cleanest of establishments