For the longest time, people have been accustomed to reasonably-priced Chinese food in Vancouver. In fact, even the higher-end spots didn't even come close to fine-dining prices of their non-Asian counterparts. However, in the last 5 years or so, we have seen the introduction of true high-end Chinese cuisine that also carried the corresponding price tag. For myself, I've always believed that if the food is of good quality and prepared exquisitely, I do not mind paying a premium (no matter what cuisine). That is the thought going into a tasting at the newly-opened The Deluxe in Richmond.
They weren't fooling around with our first course as we were served a Whole Australian Abalone. We received the smaller 4 head abalone as they did not have any 2 heads in stock. No matter, because they were still large enough for one person! These fresh abalone were able to maintain a delicate rebound texture despite not being the dried variety. They were tender, sweet and lightly briny. The silky sauce on top was just salty enough without being overbearing. After that, everything else arrived including the Lobster with chili soup. Similar to many Szechuan dishes, this appeared a whole lot spicier than it truly tasted. Sure, there was some numbing from the Szechuan peppercorns, but other than that, it was an underlying spice that didn't overwhelm the buttery and sweet lobster.
The same could be said about the Boiled Fish with chili oil. This is a classic Szechuan dish that is usually not super spicy despite its appearance. This was exactly the case here where the fish was buttery and flaky, yet only lightly spicy. The sweetness and brightness of the fish was apparent despite the amount of Szechuan peppercorns and chili peppers. I thought this dish was expertly prepared except for the intermittent fish bones found in the slices of fish. The decadence continued with the Braised Sea Cucumber with tendon served in a hot pot. There was no filler here as it consisted of soft sea cucumber that still retained a bite as well as just-soft-enough tendon. Now the charred leeks were not a filler because it provided that brightness that lightened up the heaviness of the dish.
Interestingly, 2 of my favourite dishes were actually the least expensive being the Marinated Cucumbers with peanuts in dark vinegar and Jellyfish with vinegar. As much as a lobster or abalone can be impressive, sometimes more humble ingredients need precision to make them taste good. I thought the cucumbers were on point being crunchy and fresh in texture while being marinated with a balanced amount of acidity, saltiness and sweetness. My favourite dish of the night was the baby jellyfish as they were cute (yes cute) and exhibited a wonderful snap texture. I enjoyed how the seasoning was pretty mild where it didn't make the dish too salty nor acidic. This dish was all about the texture anyways and it was very appealing.
When I first laid eyes on the Braised Pork Ribs with shrimp paste, it looked savoury and smoky. Okay, there was some smokiness from the deep fry, but it was actually on the sweeter side, which was unexpected. I liked it though as the sweetness went well with the brininess of the shrimp paste (which wasn't too strong). The ribs themselves were meaty and tender with an appealing chewiness. Sporting a similar texture were the chunks of Fried Beef that was served with Crispy Tofu. The fatty beef was tender, yet still had an appealing chew. There was an inherent umaminess that was accented well by the balanced sauce that was barely clinging to each piece. Sporting a crispy and lightly salty crust, the tofu on the inside was silky and soft.
Onto the carbs, we were served the Healthy Multi-Grains with truffle fried rice and Braised Vermicelli with crab roe and foie gras. Similar to the wild rice fried rice found at Red Star, the healthy multi-grains exhibited a beautiful robust chewiness. There was aromatics from both the restrained use of truffle oil and toasted pine nuts. I also enjoyed the vibrant and crunchy bits of vegetable as well. The dish was lightly seasoned though and went well with the saltier dishes, but on its own, it could've used a bit more salt. As for the noodle, it was on point al dente with an appealing chewiness. Love the crunch from the sprouts, celery and pop from the roe. I didn't get a whole lot of the foie though.
It wasn't by chance that I left the 2 vegetarian offerings to the end, but in reality, they were very good. Definitely a study of textures, the Sauteed Loofah with pine nuts, black fungus and egg white was prepared properly. Silky and buttery soft, I kept going back for more of the egg whites. The crunch from the wood ear mushrooms and the firm (yet tender) loofah were a nice textural contrast. Earthy, smoky and completely caramelized, the Stir-Fried Mixed Mushrooms were meaty despite the absence of meat. This went very well with the fried rice. In fact, I was quite impressed with the overall execution and quality of ingredients. Of course it comes at a price, but it the food warrants it...
*All food & beverages were complimentary*
- High quality ingredients
- Solid execution
- Nice dining space
- At times, parking is limited