Late night eats are always welcomed after a hockey game, especially one that don't involve a drive-thru . However, there was one place I avoided despite being open into the wee hours of the night. 9 Dishes, with their array of spicy offerings was not the best idea prior going to bed. Hence, we never made it out to the place before its closure. However, Gala Cafe, tucked in Old Orchard Mall in Burnaby has resurrected the aforementioned 9 Dishes. Emily and I decided to check it out one day in hopes of a tongue-numbing experience.
In an unexpected fashion, we were given a blank order sheet to write down our order. Also, we served ourselves when it came to water and tea refills. So essentially the place was a de-facto counter service restaurant. We dug into the Cucumber with Garlic first and it was definitely fresh and crunchy. But it was lacking in impact, especially with the mild garlic and slight savoury notes. Next up, we had the Shredded Pork Stomach with soy, cilantro and chilis. As flavourful as it looked, the dish was actually rather tame. Despite this, the pork stomach was appealingly chewy and properly prepared (not too gamy). There was a nice combination of soy, spice and background sweetness.
Something Emily really wanted to try was the Chicken in Chili Sauce (or more commonly known as Mouth-Watering Chicken). It definitely looked legit being immersed in chili oil with scallions, cilantro, peanuts and sesame seeds. Hence there was a spicy aromatics to go with the tender and meaty chicken. On the other hand, we felt the flavours didn't necessarily pop, rather it just lightly coated the chicken. We could done with spicier, but it was a good dish nonetheless.
For our larger items, we tried the Braised Chicken with Potato and Peppers (since the table beside us seemed to be enjoying it). This was a massive offering and completely justified the $15.99 price tag. It featured tender nuggets of potato (that didn't melt into a mush) and large pieces of chicken leg (which were still juicy with flavour penetration). The dish was indeed spicy (with peppers and Szechuan peppercorns) and savoury with plenty of depth, but once again, we could've done with spicier.
Continuing with even more peppers, we had the Szechuan Water Boiled-Fish that looked promising. We felt the quality of the fish was spot on being buttery soft and flaky while maintaining a bite. Even with a bevy of crushed Szechuan peppercorns, the dish did not cause much tongue-numbing (if at all). Now with that being said, it was delicious and very appetizing despite this. It just might be that we are spicy freaks, whereas many would find most of the dishes plenty spicy. In the end, I mulled over whether the place was worth a return visit. I concluded yes, because we could always ask for spicier.
- Well-prepared eats
- Generous portions
- Service, what service?
- Could be spicier