Sherman's Food Adventures: TRUE'STEA Restaurant

TRUE'STEA Restaurant

For all of the late night spots in Richmond, it baffles me that I could miss one, especially one that is located on Restaurant Row (aka Alexandra Road).  An invite to True'stea finally solved that mystery as I knew it by its old name...  Yes, just remove the "tru" and you will magically see the clever (or maybe not-so-clever) name change from Estea.  True'stea happens to be one of the participating restaurants during Chopstick Fest (think Dine-Out for Chinese restaurants) and we were going to sample their special menu for the event.

So what is a visit to a Taiwanese joint without Chicken Nuggets?  Well of course we started with them, plated interestingly with a swash of hot sauce and some garnish.  I found the nuggets to be more firm than crispy.  The meat was still relatively tender though, but not succulent.  I thought the 5-spice was pretty strong, but at the same time, it wasn't overpowering either.  Up next was the Green Onion Pancake with Egg which was also plated nicely with different garnishes.  I liked this dish as the pancake was soft and thin while the egg was fluffy.  I didn't notice a whole lot of green onion essence though.

We had the obligatory nuggets, so it was no surprise we had the 3-Cup Chicken as well.  I liked how the sauce wasn't overly greasy and there was just enough of it.  I found it more on the sweeter side with the slightest of tang and aromatics from the sesame oil and basil.  The pieces of leg meat sported rendered skin while being fairly succulent.  As mentioned, I would've liked to see a touch more zing to the dish though.  I thought the Ma Po Tofu looked pretty good aesthetically with the right colours and texturally with soft, yet intact tofu.  Furthermore, the ground pork was had a nice meaty and moist texture.  Although there was spice and tang to the dish, I would've personally liked to see it spicier.

The Fish with Pickled Mustard Greens was a dish that kept on giving as there was so much of it.  There was very little filler other than the sour greens and some frozen tofu.  Most of it was tender consisting of soft basa.  There was a definite spice to the dish to go with the ample preserved sourness of the mustard greens.  The Dry Squid and Double Cooked Pork with chili sauce was a tasty dish despite being prepared in a different manner.  Sliced razor-thin, the pork ended up to be rather chewy, but for some reason, this didn't kill the dish.  The chewiness combined with the pressed tofu and seasoning was quite nice, especially with rice.

Served to us in individual bowls, the Braised Beef Rice Noodle in soup was visually appealing.  However, for the life of us, we couldn't figure out why they cut up the noodles.  Hence, they were difficult to eat and a bit soft.  The soup was meaty enough, yet lacking impact.  The beef was quite tender though.  Naturally, we didn't get out of their without having a few bevvies as well.  On their recommendation, I had the Grass Jelly Milk Tea with a twist.  In addition to the grass jelly as evidenced in the picture, they blended more grass jelly into the drink.  This made it pretty thick and more bitter (in a good way).  Texturally, it was a bit strange, but the flavour was impactful.  Overall, the drinks were all decent while the food was merely serviceable.  However, since the place is open late, it does the job when others are closed.

*All food, beverages and gratuities were complimentary*

The Good:
- Open late
- Reasonably-priced for the portion size
- Lots of activities such as electronic darts and mah jong

The Bad:
- Food is serviceable, but not the highlight
- Place could use a reno