Sherman's Food Adventures: Phoenix Garden

Phoenix Garden

There are some things that are best shared with friends.  If we are talking about food, that would include tapas, Izakaya eats and Dim Sum.  That is why I have never gone for Dim Sum by myself.  This may have something to do with my insecurity about eating alone as well. 😒 Therefore, if I do not find anyone to eat with, I'll skip the Dim Sum.  Fortunately, Grace was available this time for my food adventure and we went somewhere nearby in Phoenix Garden.

Despite her protests that I was ordering too much food, I went ahead with 12 dishes.  Hey, what's Dim Sum without variety?  First dish that hit the table was the XO Daikon Pudding Cake.  These were fried lightly crispy while being soft and fluffy inside.  I thought they were seasoned well on their own, but the toss in XO sauce added spice and brininess.  Another specialty dish we ordered was the Deep Fried Chicken Knees.  I enjoyed the balanced amount of saltiness and spice, but the actual texture was too crunchy.  This was a result of an aggressive deep-fry, but more due to the small size of the pieces.

Sporting a semi-thick and slightly doughy skin, the Haw Gow at first didn't seem that appealing.  In reality, the dumpling skin wasn't that great, but the filling made up for it.  First, it was large, being 1/2 size bigger than most and second, the texture was on point.  The mostly whole shrimp filling exhibited a buttery snap while being sweet and naturally-flavoured.  There was a good amount of sesame oil as well.  Equally large, if not bigger, the Siu Mai were a bit pale, but ultimately ate well.  I found the pork to be more like a mousse than having a meaty texture, but there was a good rebound to it.  There was an equal amount of sweet snap-textured shrimp which added some more sweetness.

Onto some offal, we had the Steamed Bible Tripe with ginger and green onion.  I found the starch-thickened sauce to be somewhat goopy, but tasty nonetheless.  It was not overly salty and did exhibit a gingery brightness.  As for the texture of the tripe, it was a bit spongy but it didn't kill the dish.  I would've liked it to be a touch more chewy.  Topped with colourful bits of red and green pepper, the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet) were pretty good.  Grace thought the peppers didn't add anything positive to the dish (other than colour) because there was a raw flavour.  Texturally, the chicken feet were plump with soft cartilage.  The skin remained intact and was not overly soft nor chewy.

Topped with the same undercooked peppers, the Steamed Black Bean Spareribs didn't suffer as much raw flavour as the chicken feet.  Suffering the same fate as the tripe, the sauce was goopy adhering to each piece in clumps.  However, it didn't taste bad though as it was garlicky and not over-salted.  We found the spareribs to be mainly meat and rib pieces.  They were tender with a nice rebound.  Something that caught us off-guard was the Bean Curd Skin Rolls as they were really pale.  It appeared to us that they were either not deep fried or not deep fried enough.  Hence, the texture was rather soft and lacking the usual robust quality.  Inside, the filling was bouncy with a good mix of pork and shrimp as well as bamboo shoots. 

Onto some carbs, we had the larger version of the Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaves).  Personally, I prefer this version as the rice seems to always be more moist than the mini ones.  This was evident here as well as the equal amount of ground pork filling.  The flavours were on the milder side though.  Normally, we wouldn't even consider ordering Xiao Long Bao at a Cantonese Dim Sum service, but it was on special (always looking for a deal).  They were slightly better than the typical thick-skinned no soup versions, yet at the same time, it would not give any real XLBs much of a challenge.  At least it was cheap.

For our Rice Noodle Roll, we chose the usual shrimp version.  In actuality, I liked the BBQ pork the best, but something in my head keeps telling me the shrimp is worth more...  LOL...  Well, this one was pretty good with a medium-thick noodle that had good elasticity while being soft.  Inside, the whole shrimp were meaty with a light snap.  It was mildly seasoned, but then again, there was sweetened soy sauce to deal with that.  Crunchy while easy on the grease, the Deep Fried Taro Dumplings could've used a bit more mashed taro in spots since it created air pockets (as evidenced in the picture).  No matter, the filling was moist with tender pork which balanced well with the crunchy exterior.  After this visit, we returned shortly after and tried most of the same dishes with a few extra.  Although some items could use improvement, it was pretty consistent overall.

The Good:
- If you take into account the specials, pricing is fair
- Fairly diverse menu
- Decent eats

The Bad:
- Some items could use further refinement
- Service is hit and miss

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