Sherman's Food Adventures: Ming Yan

Ming Yan

White Rock (or South Surrey) and Dim Sum usually go together like bike lanes and Downtown Vancouver.  Wait bad example.  But whatever, for the longest time, that didn't even exist.  However, with the recent housing explosion and subsequent entry of restaurants and services, this is not the case anymore.  CeCe recently ventured into the area and had some pretty authentic Chinese food at Ming Yan just off of King George Highway in the same strip mall that houses Choices Market.  Seeing that, I decided that I needed to check out their Dim Sum service myself with the help of the family and Inner Fat Girl.

Although the store frontage didn't look particularly attractive, the inside was another story.  Modern, clean and inviting, Ming Yan could totally fit as a restaurant in Richmond.  Appearances are one thing, but how about the food?  We got a nice array starting with the XO Daikon Pudding Cake.  This was good and bad on one plate as the outside was crispy and golden brown, but the inside was overly dense.  It did exhibit good wok heat where the XO was aromatic and provided some spice.  To make the meal a little more balanced, we got the Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli) simply blanched and flavoured with soy sauce.  We actually were served baby gai lan which made for easier handling.  They were cooked just right maintaining a crunch.

With a mini-dumpling in the middle, the Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumplings) were mostly good.  The filling was the highlight sporting pieces of whole shrimp.  Texturally, there was the usual bounce and snap with an appealing butteriness and sweetness.  However, the dumpling skin was too chewy and a touch thick.  However, as a whole, the ha gau were generally solid. If we had to compare, the Siu Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumplings) were more better.  Served in a basket of 5, the dumplings were textbook in appearance with nice colour and fish roe on top.  The filling was a nice balance of tender bouncy pork, shiitake mushroom and shrimp.  I thought the seasoning could've been more aggressive as I could taste the natural flavour of the pork more than anything else.

One dish that wasn't really my favourite was the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet).  I would've preferred that they didn't cut them up into little pieces.  Sure it was easier to handle and eat, but the texture was too soft as a result.  Furthermore, there was far too much sauce as I couldn't differentiate it from the chicken feet.   Yes, it was that goopy that everything just blended together.  Lastly, it was far too sweet.  On the other hand, the Beef Meatballs were on point.  They exhibited the classic buttery bounce texture while maintaining chunks of meatiness.  There was a bit too much green mixed in, but it wasn't overwhelming.  Lightly seasoned, the meatballs were perfect for the accompanying Worcestershire sauce.

Rather than the usual goopy watered-down oyster sauce, the Bean Curd Skin Rolls were sitting in a consomme instead.  I thought this helped keep the dish from being too heavy and overly salty.  With less moisture at the top, the bean curd skin was chewier and drier.  This gave the roll a more al dente texture.  Inside, there was good mix of tender bouncy pork and veggies.  On the fattier side, the Steamed Pork Spareribs were still generally good.  Texturally, they were a bit soft, but still had an appealing bounce and chew.  Flavours were on point with a good mix of garlic, saltiness and slight sweetness.  It could've used a bit more spice (chili flakes and/or white pepper).

Continuing on with our dishes, we had the Stuffed Eggplant with shrimp mousse.  I found the exterior of the eggplant to be particularly crispy which was fine by me.  Inside, the eggplant was its usual soft self, but not mushy though.  Interestingly, the shrimp mouse was more meaty and dry compared to most other places.  Not a bad thing though as there was more textural contrast between that and the eggplant.  For once, the black bean sauce was flavourful and impactful.  Just because the kiddies wanted it, we ordered the Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings).  Predictably, these were only "okay" since Ming Yan is not a Shanghainese restaurant.  The dumpling skin was thick, yet tender while the meat centre was juicy and somewhat bouncy.  However, there was no soup to be found.

We ended up with 2 types of Rice Noodle Rolls including shrimp and salty donut.  Although thicker in some spots, the noodle itself had a good elasticity giving way to a soft tender texture.  The shrimp weren't the biggest, but they were sufficiently impactful with a meaty snap.  They were nicely seasoned where the rice noodle roll could stand on its own without the accompanying soy.  About that soy, normally I don't remark on it, but this was good since there was a noticeable amount of dark soy mixed in.  It wasn't as watered-down as some other places.  Interestingly enough, the rice noodle encasing the salty donut was remarkably thinner.  The donut was pretty crunchy, but light and airy.

Compared to the thin and over-wound Spring Rolls I had at Golden Swan, the ones here were more typical.  With only a thin layer of wrapper, there was a light crunch that gave way to buttery and bouncy pieces of shrimp.  Again, there was plenty of seasoning going on, but I still dipped it into the Worcestershire sauce.  Lastly, we had the Salted Egg Yolk Buns which were leaking before we even touched them.  We found the bun itself a bit dense, but the filling was quite nice being runny, purposefully sweet and aromatic.  Overall, the Dim Sum at Ming Yan was more than respectable.  Considering its location, they don't do a bad job.  Combined that with a nice decor and great service, it is worth a try if you live nearby or are in the neighbourhood.

The Good:
- Decent Dim Sum
- Nice decor
- Great service

The Bad:
- Pricey
- Overall good, but a few misses

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