Sherman's Food Adventures: Golden Swan

Golden Swan

As much as we have a multitude of choices when it comes to Dim Sum in the Lower Mainland, they are generally the same ones over and over again.  Most of us have our standbys and rarely venture beyond them.  Furthermore, not everyone lives in Richmond, so the trek out there and subsequent driving obstacle course may not be practical.  Interestingly, we rarely see new Chinese restaurants popping up with Dim Sum service.  That also encourages us to stay with the existing ones.  Hence, when Guy Smiley wanted to meet up for Dim Sum, we went to the good ol' Golden Swan.

One of the last places left with push carts, it is pretty easy to get all of your food quickly.  That we did with everything hitting the table at once.  We started with the BBQ Pork Rice Noodle Roll.  Now we usually get the shrimp, but they didn't have any.  Although one could technically order it, this is one of the negatives of push carts as you are privy to only what is available.  Or you can do the Hong Kong thing and run up to each cart and hog all the food...  Anyways, the noodle roll was good though as it was stuffed with a bevy of lean BBQ pork.  I found the rice noodle to be soft and thin with an appealing elasticity.  For no good reason, my Mother-in-Law ordered the Osmanthus Jelly right off the bat.  First of all, we didn't need dessert at that moment.  Second of all, she is diabetic...  Nothing she does makes sense!  Well, it was good though with a light sear being semi-sweet and not overly dense.

Since the deep fried cart was the next to arrive, we got everything off of it including the Deep Fried Taro Dumplings and its cousin, the Deep Fried Glutinous Dumpling.  One common thing among them, that I personally dislike, was the addition of both cilantro and green onion.  I'm okay with the green onion as it adds flavour, but the cilantro is just too strong for both items.  With that being said, I thought the taro dumpling was good nevertheless.  There was a fluffy taro exterior surrounding tender morsels of pork.  As for the glutinous dumpling, the layer of mashed sticky rice was a little thick, but not dense.  Both were a touch greasy, but not to the point where it wasn't appealing.  Back to the negatives of push carts, these were not cold, but hardly hot either.

Also from the same cart, we got the Deep Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls.  It came with a plate of 4 smaller rolls.  As such, they were wrapped more tightly and had more layers.  This meant the roll itself had a considerably more firmer crunch.  This is completely subjective, but I personally prefer a bigger spring roll with more shrimp filling and a lighter crunch.  Despite this, the spring roll was still good and the shrimp inside was buttery and meaty.  Due to the fact we probably caught the cart early, the Fried Eggplant stuffed with shrimp mousse was served hot.  The eggplant itself was tender while not too mushy.  It had a crispy exterior and was blessed with a good amount of buttery and bouncy shrimp mousse.  Luckily it had enough inherent seasoning as the black bean sauce was pretty bland.

Onto some steamed items, we had the Beef Meatballs and the Bean Curd Skin Roll.  Although a bit small in size and pale in appearance, the beef meatballs were pretty textbook.  Beyond the initial bounce and resistance, the meatball was soft while retaining some meatiness.  There was a balanced amount of greens and the seasoning was mild.  Great for dunking into the side of Worcestershire sauce.  Usually, the bean curd skin roll is doused in an obscene amount of watered-down and thickened oyster sauce.  This was lacking that and as such, ate rather dry.  Inside, the filling was dominated by wood-ear mushroom which gave a nice crunch.  There was only a smattering of tender pork which was a bit fatty.

My favourite items were next in the Steamed Honeycomb Beef Tripe and the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet).  Presented as a fairly large portion, the beef tripe was not bad.  I thought the texture was on point riding the fine line between soft and chewy.  There was a good amount of garlickiness mixed with a touch of spice and sweetness.  There was a tinge of gaminess that I didn't mind, but for some, could be a turn-off.  As for the chicken feet, they were equally bathed in a sweet, garlicky and slightly spicy sauce.  I though they were cooked enough so that the cartilage and fat underneath were soft while not melted away.  The skin itself was tender and plump.

For some odd reason, the lady with the Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumplings) on her cart nearly whizzed right past us if we hadn't stopped her.  There was no Siu Mai, so we didn't end up ordering it because it would've been a 15 to 20 minute wait.   Served as a steamer of 5 dumplings, they were a bit smaller, but great for sharing.  The dumpling skin was chewy and on point.  Inside, the whole shrimp filling was buttery and moist with a sweet snap.  This was a solid rendition of this classic Dim Sum dish.  For the kiddies, we got the obligatory Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice).  Again, this was textbook with soft chewy glutinous rice that was not too wet.  There was a balanced amount of ground pork filling that was mildly seasoned.

To carb up even more, we ordered the Pork Spareribs on Rice served in a clay pot.  This was a special order and took about 25 minutes to arrive.  Loved the plethora of tender spareribs on top as they maintained a meatiness while having that classic bounce.  There was a bit of spice to go with the ample garlickiness.  Unfortunately, the rice underneath was pretty mushy and wet.  This was exacerbated by adding the sweetened soy to it.  Yet another form of carb, we had the Preserved Egg and Salted Pork Congee.  Normally, I find the Dim Sum version of this usually watered-down and lacking in ingredients (especially from a push cart).  However, this was full of egg and pork.  Hence, it ate robust and was full of flavour.  Furthermore, it was fairly thick and consistent throughout.  So despite so inconsistencies, the Dim Sum at Golden Swan is still pretty solid.  If you like push carts, this is is a place to reminisce, but prepare to wait for your favourites.

The Good:
- Still good Dim Sum
- Push carts if you like them
- Okay pricing

The Bad:
- Push carts, food can get cold and also run out
- Service can be hit and miss 

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