Sherman's Food Adventures: Grand Crystal Seafood Restaurant

Grand Crystal Seafood Restaurant

Generally, it is a pretty safe bet that most Dim Sum spots in the GVRD will offer up at the very least, a serviceable experience.  Of course, there are the outliers that truly disappoint including a horrific experience in PoCo at the now defunct Ruby Restaurant.  Now being located in PoCo made it much less of a surprise, but the former Victory Restaurant in Crystal Mall was truly a shocker.  How did a Chinese restaurant survive all this time in a Chinese mall with crappy food?  Well, I guess this was answered as it closed and now Grand Crystal took its place.  

We decided to check out their Dim Sum service to see if things have changed in any way.  Well, we did know for sure that the nightmarish circular parking lot with pie-shaped space was still there to piss us off...  Well, it didn't exactly start off on the right foot since the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet and sorry about the pun) were awful.  The combination of it not being fried enough and over-steamed rendered the dish into a mushy mess.  There was no texture left in these things.  On the other hand, the satay flavour was impactful though with a briny spiciness.  Similar in flavour, the Tripe and Tendons were pretty good as both retained a bite while completely tender.  The tripe could've been rinsed a bit longer as it was a bit gamy.

When I bit into the Siu Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling), it made me go hmmm... (and not like C+C Music Factory style either).  Very similar to the old Victory, these were filled with large chunks of inedible fat.  Normally, fat added to the dumpling creates a moist and bouncy texture, but this was just not appealing.  Flavours were okay though being natural meat flavoured with some sweetness.  Could've used more shrimp and shiitake though.  As for the Ha Gau, the skin was chewy, possibly too chewy.  The shrimp filling was good though with natural sweetness, but it was also lacking in seasoning.  We would've liked to see more sesame oil and white pepper.

Off to another disappointing dish, the Donut Rice Noodle Roll was not appealing whatsoever.  Starting with the donut itself, the texture was too crunchy (possibly from refrying) and worse, the whole thing was so oil-drenched that the bottom of the dish was a lake of grease.  To top it off, the rice noodle was too thick and floury.  Of course, that didn't bode well for the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll either.  In fact, the rice noodle was even thicker and more dense.  The one thing going for this rice noodle roll was the shrimp itself.  They were large and exhibited the desired snap texture, but similar to the ha gau, they were bland and under-seasoned.

Moving onto the Beef Meatballs, they were large in size, but the colour was an unappealing pale gray.  Texturally, there was a slight rebound to the meat, but in the end, it was too soft for our liking.  That didn't make or break the dish though.  We thought the meat was rather bland with only the green onion and cilantro adding some form of flavour.  Again, not a huge issue as normally, one would eat it with Worchestershire sauce anyways.  One dish that was completely on point was the Steamed Pork Spareribs.  These were garlicky and well-seasoned with a touch of spice. The big pieces were meaty with very little fat nor cartilage.  I liked how there was a natural meat chewiness while still being tender and bouncy.

Another solid dish was the Garlic Spring Rolls as the outside was uniformly crunchy, hot and not greasy.  Inside, the shrimp filling was meaty with only a slight rebound.  It was fairly moist despite the deep fry.  There was also a good amount of flavour including the sweetness and brininess of the shrimp and plenty of garlic.  Despite plated nicely, the XO Daikon Radish Cake was a miss for us.  The cubes were far too soft and pasty.  In fact, they had soaked up so much oil, that every bite was not appealing.  Consequently, the outside was not crispy at all.  On a positive note, the flavour was quite nice with a seafoody spiciness.

We also got 2 orders of steamed buns including the Sticky Rice Bun Roll.  We found the rolls lacking in flavour, even with the wok-fried sticky rice in the middle.  Texturally, the rice was on the drier side, but still nicely chewy.  With a thin layer of steamed bun, it was fairly fluffy.  The same could not be said about the BBQ Pork Buns as the exterior was fairly dense.  Also, they layer of bun was substantially more than that of the filling.  About that filling the meat was too fatty and the glaze was too sweet.

We ended off with the Egg Tarts and they were okay.  We thought the tart shell was a bit dry and not flaky enough.  It needed more fat (butter or lard).  The custard filling was silky and semi-sweet although a bit pale in colour, other than the food colouring on top. As you can probably guess, we were not convinced that the food had actually improved significantly from the former Victory Restaurant.  In fact, the siu mai was eerily similar with chunks of inedible fat.  Have they actually changed?  Or is it a change in name only?

The Good:
- Large, spacious dining room
- Okay service
- Okay pricing

The Bad:
- Hit and miss (and when it missed, it missed hard)
- That parking lot   

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