Sherman's Food Adventures: Mei Le Bakery & Restaurant (Dim Sum)

Mei Le Bakery & Restaurant (Dim Sum)

Not too long ago, we visited the newly opened Mei Le Bakery & Restaurant for dinner.  In actuality, it didn't change too much from the previous occupant - Grand River Chinese.  The major addition was the Chinese bakery and BBQ that now occupies the right side of the restaurant.  They took away some seats to accomplish this, yet funnily enough, this is where they added some seats back right in front of the BBQ display and within a few feet from the bakery display cases.  This is where we were seated for our revisit for their Dim Sum service.  Suffice to say, the foot traffic around us was pretty brisk and staring at BBQ ducks throughout our meal was interesting.

The first 2 items to arrive were larger in size including the XO Fried Daikon Cake.  This was decent with soft cubes of daikon cake that held together.  They were crispy on the outside and not overly greasy.  There was some spice, but I would've liked to see more XO tossed in.  Sometimes a minor detail, but the bean sprouts were still crunchy and also not too greasy.  I'm not sure if it was because the Lo Mei Gai was sitting in a steam warmer at the bakery, but it wasn't hot.  It was actually lukewarm and the middle wasn't even moist.  In fact, it was hard and dry.  Did it need more time in the steamer before they put it in the display?  Was the warmer not hot enough?  Not sure, but greatly impacted this dish and due to the texture, it wasn't very good despite the ample ingredients.

Next, the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll looked absolutely bizarre where it was one continuous ribbon/sheet of noodle with lots of green onion throughout.  As you can see in the picture, the shrimp was strewn everywhere like some open face version of this dish.  The noodle quality was actually quite good being buttery soft with some elasticity.  However, they completely overdid it with the green onion and should've called it a green onion rice noodle roll instead.  At least the Shrimp Spring Roll was more typical.  It featured plenty of shrimp and shrimp mousse packed into the middle.  So much so, it was a touch dense.  Whatever the case, it was still juicy with a buttery snap.  It was well-seasoned and the wrapping itself was crunchy.

Onto the Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumplings), it was a bit hit and miss.  Nothing wrong with the filling as it mimicked the spring roll with a moist buttery snap as well as being properly seasoned (but not too much, as we could taste the natural shrimp sweetness).  The real problem (and you can see in the picture) was the thick and gummy dumpling skin.  This made for a unpleasant mouth feel and also lead to the shrimp filling falling out.  On the other hand, the Siu Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling) was remarkably better.  These featured a buttery and juicy bounce where the pork and shrimp were nearly the same texture.  Seasoning was on the milder side, but that wasn't a bad thing as the dumpling ate mostly sweet.  I dunked it in hot sauce anyways.

In a very deep shade of brown, the Beef Meatballs were probably the victim of too much dark soy.  Visuals aside, the meatballs ate a whole lot better than they looked.  They were airy and bouncy with quite a bit of beef flavour (which is usually not the case).  I guess other than the dark soy, there wasn't a whole lot of seasoning.  There was bits of water chestnut to add some crunch and the amount of green onion was surprisingly low.  On the flip side, the Steamed Pork Spareribs were a bit pale in colour.  Once again, appearances didn't mean much as these also ate well.  Loved how most of the pieces were meaty rib portions where the fat and cartilage was kept to a minimum.  Beyond the natural meatiness, there was a firm rebound.  There was plenty of garlickiness to go around, yet there was lots of pork flavour left.

With our last 2 dishes, we went for the Bean Curd Skin Roll and the proverbial Egg Tarts.  Featuring tender, yet chewy fried sheets, the bean curd skin roll was texturally on point.  Inside, the bouncy pork filling was well-seasoned and moist.  Now if you were wondering why the egg tarts consisted of 2 small and 1 large, it was because they ran out of the smaller ones.  By virtue of being plucked from the bakery display case without reheating, these were not a their optimal state.  Even with that being said, they were average with a dense pastry that was still buttery.  The egg custard was stiff due to the temperature where it was semi-sweet.  This was not really the ending we were hoping for here.  But it really did reinforce the feeling that the Dim Sum service is merely average at best.  It also didn't help that some items were not freshly made which didn't help in terms of eating enjoyment.

The Good:
- Lots of options (ie. Dim Sum, BBQ, Bakery, Cantonese dishes)
- Provides a one-stop shop for those who don't live near Vancouver/Richmond

The Bad:
- Average at best
- Seating arrangements are awkward
- Might want to ensure ready-to-go items are heated to a proper temperature before they serve it

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