Sherman's Food Adventures: Don Mee

Don Mee

Okay, before you bring out the pitchforks, let me explain why we attempted to do Dim Sum in Victoria (even though we hail from Vancouver where some of the best Dim Sum in the world can be found).  Despite the access to great Dim Sum in the GVRD, we miss having it while on vacation.  Furthermore, call it curiosity or the inexplicable need to validate how good we have it by trying Dim Sum everywhere else.  Whatever the case, we do what we do and I really don't give a rat's ass what others think.  It is Sherman's Food Adventures, not Everyone's Opinion Adventures.  

So we made our way to Don Mee Restaurant, which has been around for 80 years in Victoria.  Hence, when we spotted ol' skool push carts, it was no surprise.  We began with the BBQ Pork Pastries which were very sticky due to the aggressive honey glaze on the outside.  The pastry itself was a touch dense, but still buttery and acceptable.  There was a plethora of lean BBQ pork in the middle that sported a sweet and savoury glaze.  For some reason, we ended up with the Salted Egg Yolk Custard Buns early on in the meal.  Oh why not have something sweet right?  Who's to judge anyways?  Well, if you were expecting the modern runny "golden sand" centre, then you'd be disappointed.  Rather, this was the traditional firmer filling.  It was good though with bits of salted egg yolk and a semi-sweet and aromatic custard centre.

One dish that was pretty terrible was the Spring Rolls.  The exterior was crunchy, but directly underneath, the rest of the layers were dense and chewy.  Naturally, this made the spring roll rather tough to eat and it really didn't have a good mouth feel to it.  To top it off, there wasn't much of a filling other than a bit of cabbage and maybe a touch of pork.  We needed quite a bit of Worcestershire sauce as it was not seasoned enough either.  A really ol' skool Dim Sum offering came next in the form of Shrimp Toast.  This wasn't a typical version though as the darn thing had a massive ball of shrimp mousse on top of the usual oil-soaked white bread.  I thought this was pretty good since the shrimp was bouncy and well-seasoned.  The toast was crispy, but yes, it was essentially soaked in grease (like it should be).

It was also no surprise to find that the Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice with chicken and cured sausage in lotus leaves) to be the classic large version.  I personally prefer this over 3 mini-ones as it seems that the rice is more uniformly textured.  This was the case here where it was sticky and moist with plenty of ingredients.  There was half a cured sausage and a large piece of chicken thigh mixed in with sliced pork.  Therefore, the the whole thing was pretty robust and filling.  Surprisingly, their Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll was on point with a thin elasticity.  Inside, the medium-sized shrimp were well-seasoned with a meaty snap.  As mentioned, the rice noodle was nicely textured being soft with a bite.

Onto some steamed items, we got the Steamed Pork Spareribs with garlic black bean sauce.  This was also well-executed with meaty pieces of pork that were mostly rib portions with little fat and cartilage.  The rib pieces were tender enough that it wasn't tough to chew while retaining the natural meat texture.  In terms of seasoning, they were pretty heavy handed with the garlic (and garlic powder) where it was the dominant flavour.  We didn't mind as it was impactful.  The table beside us didn't want to try the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet), but we were more than up for the task.  However, they didn't fry/steam them enough as the cartilage underneath was still crunchy.  The skin was fine though being tender and completely seasoned with garlic and plenty of spice.

We didn't end up with the 2 most important items until the end (because of push carts).  The Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumplings) featured a fairly thick dumpling skin which was a bit doughy and chewy.  This should've been much thinner.  Inside, the shrimp filling was good though with a delicate bounciness accented by bits of whole meaty shrimp.  It was also well-seasoned being balanced between salty and sweet.  As for the Siu Mai (Pork Dumplings), they were not very good.  They were not visually appealing being too dark and texturally, they were far too meaty without the classic rebound.  Moreover, there was no shiitake nor shrimp to be found inside.  I found that they tasted too porky as well.  Okay, let me have it, I know what you are going to say, "told you so, you shouldn't have even tried!".  Yes, that is true, but some dishes were actually good.  But overall, yah, not comparable to Vancity.

The Good:
- Surprisingly some dishes were good
- Fairly good service
- Decent variety

The Bad:
- When there was a miss, it really missed
- Not that cheap
- Hard to get what you want since they use push carts


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