Sherman's Food Adventures: M8


Funny how certain locations within the city are deathtraps for restaurants.  Case in point, the seemingly awesome waterfront spot along 1010 Beach Avenue sees a turnstile of restaurants coming and going.  The latest iteration, M8, features elevated Chinese/Asian food that "isn't fusion" according to the menu and website.  Featuring the same chef from the former Moma in Richmond, I was intrigued as to what we had in store at this location as well as the somewhat eclectic menu.  Joining me for this food adventure were Maggi, Joyce, Areta and David.

We set out on this meal with some of the smaller plates including the Crispy Chicken Skin sporting chili oil, salty egg yolk, mustard seeds and balsamic glaze.  I have to say right now that this dish has to be one of the "must try" items in the city.  Perfectly and uniformly crispy, the airy chicken skin was kissed with the salty umaminess of the egg yolk powder.  It was further amped by the balanced amount of chili oil, tangy mustard seeds and sweet glaze.  I could have easily eaten all of this myself and 2 more orders.  Next, the Beef Cheeks was also quite good being deep fried and then tossed in aged black vinegar, Sichuan peanuts and lotus root.  Beyond the lightly crispy coating, the beef cheeks were melt-in-our-mouths tender.  Although the sweet tanginess of the black vinegar wasn't everyone's cup of tea, I enjoyed it and thought some white rice on the side would've been great.

I wasn't a huge fan of the Crispy Pork Belly mainly because it was dry and not sinfully fatty.  Since we had 5 of us, I tried to cut the 2 generous slices of belly with a knife.  Unfortunately, all I accomplished by that was shredding the meat due to the dry texture.  This was really too bad as the pork belly was nicely seared and tasted great on its own (as well as with the accompanying pork jus).  We weren't too sure of the taro root puree on the bottom though as it didn't add much.  In fact, the pasty texture didn't really go in our opinion.  Actual chunks of stewed taro would've worked better (like the classic strewed pork belly and taro).  We got a bonus dish since the chef recognized me from my visit to Moma.  It turned out to be one of my favourites in the Shimeji Mushroom Tempura with burnt lemon aioli, warm kale salad and wakame.  This was a textural delight where the crunchy batter revealed tender, yet still firm mushrooms.

Our last small dish was the Smoked Lamb Belly with mint salsa verde and fennel carrots.  Texturally, this was better than the pork belly as it was tender and gelatinous.  The smoke flavour was definitely there, but we found a strong aftertaste which wasn't necessarily appealing.  Naturally, the mint salsa verde was a good compliment to the lamb.  We felt this was a pretty solid dish except for the aftertaste.

Onto our larger items, this is where it became fairly hit and miss.  I would say the Beef and Broccoli was a polarizing dish as many didn't like it.  We actually had 2 versions where the first one featured an overdone 8 oz ribeye steak (our server thought we wanted the steak well-done, huh???).  Anyways, the second steak was perfectly medium-rare and quite good.  Unfortunately, the broccoli in the second dish was far too salty unlike the first dish.  It was properly prepared in terms of texture though being crunchy while cooked through.  Hit and miss on the same plate was the Crispy Aged Duck Breast and Duck Leg Confit.  I really enjoyed the tender duck breast with crispy skin, but the duck leg was over fried being dry and not really all that appealing.  The dish was completed with soybean and preserved mustard greens.

Trying out 2 of their pastas, we had the Tagliatelle Bolognese and also the Tiger Prawn Bucatini.  Reminiscent of a "Ja Jeun Mein", the beef and pork ragu sported shiitake mushrooms and trio soy sauce.  Hence this tasted truly Asian, but mixed with a very non-Asian pasta.  Unlike some others, I didn't mind this dish even though it was missing something.  It could've used some form of acidity or spice to liven up the flat flavours.  However, I thought the pasta was perfect and the meaty ragu exhibited plenty of body and robustness.  Universally, we enjoyed the bucatini more as it was brighter and less heavy.  The pasta featured a shrimp and garlic chive pesto which was aromatic and herbaceous.  Once again, the pasta was perfect and the prawns were meaty with a sweet snap.  Overall, I didn't mind the food at M8, but the appies were definitely the highlight as opposed to the entrees.  Considering its location, M8 is a great place to grab a drink and some small bites while people watching from the patio.

The Good:
- Reasonably-priced considering its location (especially the appies)
- Good location for the Summer
- Some highlights

The Bad:
- Entrees weren't bad per se, but could use some tweaks
- A little confusing with some of the combos


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