Sherman's Food Adventures: Mei Le Bakery & Restaurant

Mei Le Bakery & Restaurant

Sometimes, a certain location can be jinxed.  All we see is one restaurant after another open and close.  Take the "Chinese Restaurant" spot on Schoolhouse and Lougheed Highway for instance.  First it was New China Kitchen Buffet, then Asia Chinese Buffet, then some Vietnamese/Chinese hybrid under the same name, then Grand River and now in its current iteration, Mei Le Bakery & Restaurant.  The new spot looks every bit the same as Grand River except with the addition of a Chinese bakery and BBQ on one side (that has taken up 1/3 of the restaurant space).

Although the Chinese name implies that it is a Hong Kong-style cafe, nowhere on the menu does it include the usual dishes associated such an establishment.  Whatever, we decided to order from their "build-your-own-meal".  It included a complimentary plate of their BBQ Duck and although we got the wing (we always get the wing!), it was not bad.  The skin was nicely rendered, yet a bit dry and tough (to be fair, it was the wing).  The non-wing parts exhibited tender and moist meat, but the skin was still a little hard.  However, there isn't anywhere in the neighbourhood that sells in-house Chinese BBQ, so they have that market cornered.  Next, the Stir-Fried Gai Lan with Beef was generally well-prepared.  There was enough wok heat to keep the veggie crunchy with little moisture on the plate.  Most slices of beef were tender and bouncy while being well-seasoned.  However, there was the odd piece that was very chewy (so uneven tenderization).

For the kiddies, we got them their favourite in the Scrambled Eggs with Shrimp and it was one of the better dishes of the meal.  There is a fine line between undercooking eggs and overcooking them.  For this dish, most times we see a bit underdone, but that is fine.  This one was perfect being only a little runny, but still generally cooked all-the-way through.  The eggs were silky and well-seasoned.  Best of all, they didn't skimp on the shrimp (or should we say more like prawns).  They were cooked just enough being cold-water crunchy while still maintaining a sweet brininess.  We also got the ol' standby with the Sweet & Sour Pork.  The smallish chunks of pork were tender and moist sporting a very light batter.  We found the sauce to be a little mild in need of some more tanginess.  The dish was pretty standard in my opinion.  Not a bad thing really, but it didn't wow me either.

The next dish was something my mom really wanted in the Deep Fried Fish with Cream of Corn.  We chose to have the sauce served separately so that the fish would remain crispy.  Personally, I would've had the sauce on top because in this case, the fish was a bit on the drier side.  It wasn't super dry, but the sauce soaking in would've made it softer.  So in this case, I'm not blaming them because the dish was not served as it was intended.  Viv chose our last dish being the Singapore Fried Noodles.  This is one of her favs and this was respectable.  It could've used a bit more wok hei, but otherwise it was fine.  The noodles were chewy while the ingredients were okay (but a bit sparse).  There was enough curry for impact without being too spicy.

Before we left, we ended up picking up some of their bakery items including BBQ Pork Bun, Pineapple BBQ Pork Bun, Cocktail Bun, Curry Beef Bun, Apple Tarts and Sponge Cake.  I found the buns to be fairly soft and airy, but lacking in elasticity. Filling was adequate.  The sponge cake was terrible being overcooked at the top and underdone in the middle.  I would say these looked a whole lot better than they ate.  They need to work on the bakery side of things.  However, the food at the restaurant was more than acceptable and reasonably-priced.  Just don't expect your traditional HK-Style Cafe menu here.

The Good:
- Once stop shop, restaurant, bakery and BBQ
- Good service
- Fair pricing

The Bad:
- Bakery items need work
- BBQ is decent, but can be better

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