Sherman's Food Adventures: Neptune Seafood Restaurant (Richmond)

Neptune Seafood Restaurant (Richmond)

For those who pay attention to these things, it is hard to miss the quick expansion of the Neptune restaurant chain.  From it's original location in Richmond (complete with a formal restaurant and a smaller wonton noodle joint next door), it expanded into Surrey Central with the same setup.  Then we found in rapid succession locations at the Hard Rock Casino, McArthurGlen and Station Square.  I've been to the Surrey restaurant and the one at Station Square, but have never had Dim Sum at the original spot.  In my long and seemingly endless quest to try every Dim Sum joint in Richmond, it brought me to the first Neptune.

We started off the meal with dessert...  Yes, I did the stupid thing and marked it down on the checklist and the Egg Tarts showed up first.  These featured a silky egg custard that had a pleasant consistency and was only mildly sweet.  The flaky tart shell was powdery and somewhat mealy.  It was baked long enough, so that wasn't the issue, rather, there needed to be more butter or lard.  Hence, the entire tart ate dry.  Onto something savoury, we had the Beef Meatballs which arrived in a darker shade than we were used to.  They were tender with the desirable bounce texture.  There was a good mix of water chestnuts and green onion where the meat was moist and well-seasoned.  However, I did run into a few chewy bits.

Onto the most important items, the Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumpling) and Siu Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling) arrived next.  Medium in size with a thin dumpling skin, the shrimp filling was a tad overcooked where it was more meaty than buttery.  There was still a firm snap though while it could've benefited from more seasoning.  I also found the skin to be overdone as well (predictably since the filling was too).  On the other hand, the siu mai was on point with large chunks of shrimp that had a sweet snap mixed in with bouncy pieces of whole pork.  I found these to be well-seasoned with a balanced amount of sweet and savouriness.  The ample amount of fish roe on top added a briny pop.

Something that we were mildly disappointed with was the Bean Curd Skin Roll.  Although the presentation was nice, the actual bean curd skin was too soft where it was practically melting and disintegrated on contact.  The filling was okay being a combination of bouncy pork, veggies and shrimp.  But the noticeable chunks of fat (that were not pleasant texturally) detracted from the overall roll.  Looking pale and in need of something colourful on top, the Pork Spareribs turned out to be quite good.  There was a soft tender bounce texture to the predominantly meaty rib pieces.  Although there was some garlickiness at the end, the seasoning was too mild where the pork flavour was dominant.

Served in a set of 4, the BBQ Pork Buns were both good and bad.  The actual bun itself was fluffy and light (almost airy) which was very appealing.  On the other hand, the bottom of the bun was rather wet and fell apart easily.  Inside, the filling consisted of lean pork which was a bit dry, but heavily sauced.  We found the glaze to be pretty sweet where we felt like we were eating dessert.  Something that didn't look good visually was the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet).  They looked scrawny and overly pale.  In fact, they ate exactly how they appeared where there seemed to be very little of anything clinging to the bones (as if there is much to begin with).  It did taste okay though with a sweet garlicky hit.

Another below-average dish was the Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice wrapped in banana leaves).  Before I even opened up one of them, I noticed that it was really soft and malleable.  Inside, the reason for that was pretty evident where the rice was pretty wet.  Therefore, I felt like I was eating a sticky paste rather than rice.  Moreover, the pork filling was dry and bland.  On the plus side, there was lots of it (or was that a negative?).  Served hot and crunchy, the Shrimp Spring Rolls sported a thick hard exterior that was not greasy.  Inside, the shrimp was overdone as it was a bit rubbery in spots.  It was well-seasoned though.

We had to wait until 10:00am to order any larger dishes as that chef started at that time.  We decided on the Fried XO Daikon Cake and Deep Fried Chicken Knees.  Fried until golden brown and crispy, the daikon cake was a little on the denser side.  It tasted fine though with the brininess of the dried shrimp coming through.  The XO sauce added more dried shrimp flavour, but little in the way of spiciness.  I liked how this dish wasn't overly greasy as it can be.  Served in large nuggets, the chicken knees were crispy and tasted pretty sweet (almost like fresh mini-donuts...).  Inside, the meat was juicy, tender and well-salted.

Our last item was the Stir-Fried Flat Rice Noodle with beef, sprouts and chives.  This was a fairly large portion with tender slices of beef, crunchy sprouts and chewy noodles.  It was lightly seasoned and could've used more dark soy.  In terms of the glossiness, it is common for this dish to be greasy since rice noodles stick to woks.  However, I found the mouth feel to be unpleasant with the amount of grease.  Overall, this was surprisingly the weakest of all the Neptune locations in terms of Dim Sum that I've personally encountered.  With that being said, it was still more than serviceable.

The Good:
- Attentive service (for Richmond standards)
- Well-appointed dining space
- Parking lot is pretty big for this location

The Bad:
- Hit and miss
- Pricey

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