Here we go with another ChineseBites adventure with Emily where we could order as many dishes as we could handle. With that freedom, eating with Emily is just plain dangerous to one's health. She would do the entire menu if no one stopped her! That girl can flat-out eat! How she stays thin is a complete mystery to me... Maybe she drinks the same water Mijune does... Anyways, this time around, we we visited Qoo Cafe in the former location of Flo on Granville Street.
We ordered dishes in waves with the first few that included the Rosemary Lamb Chops and Chicken Nuggets. I liked how the lamb was not over-marinated where it still retained its natural meat texture. Too many times, Chinese restaurants marinate it like they do with their beef and it becomes a bouncy-textured mess. This one was tender, natural tasting and succulent. However, I would've liked to see more char. As for the nuggets, they came is a strange shade of orange. One bite and it was clear they dusted them with togarashi. That meant there was a definite spiceiness to go with the saltiness. The meat wasn't exactly juicy, but hardly dry either. On the exterior, the batter was slightly thick, but nicely crunchy and easy on the grease.
Up next, we had the Stir-Fried Prawns with chili and garlic. I found the prawns to be slightly overdone where the meat was a touch dry and chewy. However, the shell was fried nicely as it could be eaten whole without any issue. Hence, all of the wonderful flavours from the garlic,chilis and salt were apparent . For our first large item, we tried the Chicken with Abalone Sauce. The chicken meat itself was decently tender and moist for free-range. Naturally, it was slightly chewy due to that fact. It was seasoned enough to stand on its own without the sauce. We felt there was too much sauce which was not really necessary as it didn't add anything to the dish.
We then moved onto some HK-Style cafe items including the Curry Lamb and Ox Tongue Spaghetti. The curry was creamy and thick with the richness of coconut milk. There was noticeable curry-like flavours going on (and I mean like Chinese-style), but there was not much spice involved. The large chunks of lamb ranged from a bit chewy to completely tender. The fried potatoes were soft and didn't disintegrate due to the cooking process. Served in shreds, the ox tongue spaghetti was very mildly seasoned and in fact, with the significant amount of fresh tomatoes, it tasted more like tomato beef (another popular Chinese dish). Other than that, the tongue was tender and the spaghetti was not overdone. I could've done without all the peppers as they dominated the flavour profile.
Of course when it comes to HK-Style cafe classics, one cannot do without the Baked Pork Chop Rice. It was no surprise that the tomato sauce was almost exactly the same as the spaghetti dish. With that being said, there was more of it, so there was a subtle tang to go with the natural tomato taste. I personally would've liked to see more ketchupiness to it. As for the pork chop, it was meaty while tender. I found the fried rice base to be chewy and just right for the amount of sauce. We then had something more luxurious in the House Special Lobster with Rice Cake. This was a bit surprising as the lobster itself was quite good. It had a rebound texture and tasted naturally sweet and salty. There was some spice thrown in from the wok toss as well. Not sure about the rice cake as they were a bit greasy though.
Heading back to some carbs, we got the Stir-Fried Rice Noodle with Beef in Fine Shrimp Sauce. Interesting sounding dish, yet at the same time, it looked and tasted very familiar. There was a good amount of spiciness to the dish, but at the same time, we didn't get much shrimpiness nor any other distinguishing flavours. We liked the tender slices of beef as well as the properly cooked noodles tough (albeit greasy). We also got the Thai Style Grilled Chicken Rice, which arrived smoking hot from the wok fry. As a result, there was a decent amount of caramelization and nuttiness. However, for something that has Thai in the name, the rice was not all that flavourful. We wished it had the same pop as the noodle dish except with more salt.
Our last 2 items consisted of their Mix & Match Specials. The first plate included Charbroiled NY Steak and Chicken Steak with black pepper sauce. Although thin, the steak was almost medium-rare (it was more medium). It was sufficiently tender though. The chicken steak (deboned leg) was juicy and succulent with crispy skin. I found the black pepper sauce to be on the saltier side, but definitely peppery. The next plate had a Pork Chop and Beef Short Ribs with mushroom sauce. The pork chop was tenderized enough that it was not dried out as well as being flavourful. It sported an attractive and crispy sear. With a buttery chew, the short ribs were pretty good while also being marinated enough. I found the mushroom sauce to be a bit too thick, but okay. So after trying all these dishes, it was pretty clear that the portions are generous while the execution is pretty consistent. On the other hand, flavours could've been more tight.
*All food and beverages excluding gratuities were complimentary*
- Large portion sizes
- Proteins were more or less on point
- Okay pricing
- Flavours could be more refined
- Menu could be more focused as it tries to cover too many bases