Sherman's Food Adventures: Banquet @ Kirin (Starlight Casino)

Banquet @ Kirin (Starlight Casino)

For all of the Chinese restaurants around, there are some that I rarely revisit.  Not that they aren't any good, in fact many of them are near the top of the Chinese food chain in the Lower Mainland.  The real reason is that they are just not close to where I live and/or pretty consistent whereby things don't really change.  Hence, a revisit just means much of the same and a boring blog post.  This dinner service at Kirin was different though since it was a traditional Chinese banquet menu as it was for a wedding.  I guess this post might be handy for people wanting to book a wedding in the future?

Anyways, like most Chinese banquets, we began with the Appetizer Platter consisting of sliced beef shank, mock goose, smoked salmon, marinated jellyfish and roasted suckling pig.  I thought the crispy crackling was on point where it was firm while still being light.  The fat underneath was gelatinous and delicious.  Sliced thicker than usual, the beef shank was meatier in texture and I could definitely taste the braising liquid.  Jellyfish was appealingly chewy and well-seasoned.  Next, we had the Stir-Fried Scallops with black truffle, flowering chives and snap peas.  Gigantic in size, the scallops were perfectly prepared being tender and buttery with a touch of firmness.  They didn't overdo it with the black truffle which was important as scallops are delicate.  Snap peas were done right too being crunchy and sweet.

Another classic banquet dish was the Deep Fried Crab Claws stuffed with shrimp mousse.  These were decent in size and featured a thin crispy coating.  They were not greasy at all and were served piping hot.  Impressive as the kitchen would've been super busy pumping out dishes for the whole restaurant.  The shrimp mousse was bouncy and moist with a good balance between sweet and savoury.  One minor point is that they didn't provide us with any sauce (such as sweet and sour on the side).  For our soup, we were served the Fish Maw and Bird's Nest in lieu of shark's fin (which made us happy because we don't eat shark's fin anymore).  This was mild-tasting and medium thick with plenty of fish maw and a touch of bird's nest.

One dish we always look forward to is the Lobster with thickened consomme sauce.  When we were presented with our plate, it looked really good with dual lobsters sauced just enough that there wasn't any moisture at the bottom.  The lobster meat was perfect being bouncy and sweet.  Unlike many other places, the starch coating for the deep fry wasn't overly thick.  As for the seasoning, the dish was bordering on salty, but didn't go over.  Including all the greatest hits, the next dish was the Sliced Abalone and Dried Fish Maw with shiitake mushrooms and sauteed pea shoots.  As you can see, they did not drench the whole dish in watered-down starch-thicken oyster sauce.  There was just enough for effect with the tender slices of abalone and fish maw.  Although the pea shoots were a bit greasy, they were texturally on point with a crunch.

Presented with the traditional shrimp chips on top, the Crispy Chicken was served with both the head and tail.  Good luck in Chinese tradition!  The chicken itself featured well-rendered skin that was indeed crispy and golden in colour.  I tried the dark meat first and it was juicy while well-brined.  Next, I had a piece of the white meat and it was equally tender albeit not as juicy (which was expected).  Even the shrimp chips were crispy, an indication that they didn't fry these too far in advance.  They really went all out with this menu since we got a Steamed Rock Cod.  These days, rock cod on Chinese menus have gone the way of the dodo bird!  It was steamed properly where it was flaky and moist.  It was cooked just enough where the meat separated from the bone as well.  When fish is underdone, the meat will stick to the skeleton.

As per tradition, we were presented with the carbs at the end.  As with many of the dishes, the portions were divided evenly at a busing station and served to us individually.  We were presented with Fried Rice with dried scallop, corn and egg as well as Yee Mein with shiitake mushrooms and flowering chives.  Although lacking a bit in caramelization, the fried rice was still chewy and decently flavourful.  I would've liked to see more aggressive seasoning though.  It is hard to get fried rice right when the kitchen is wok-frying 25+ dishes.  Hence, the yee mein was a touch wet as well.  Texturally, it was fine having a nice elasticity.  Due to the moisture, the wok heat (or wok hei) was not evident.  Seasoning was fine though with enough soy and mushroom for umaminess.

Moving onto dessert, we had a sweet soup (you can see the splash of it on the lazy Susan...).  It was fine, but that never really excites me.  However, the plate of Deep Fried Glutinous Balls and Coconut Pudding was much more up my alley.  Crunchy with a fairly thin glutinous layer, the balls were aromatic and sweet from the ample lotus paste in the middle.  Much better than red bean in my opinion.  As for the coconut pudding, it was coloured green, but it didn't taste like matcha, so I assumed it was pandan.  It tasted like coconut though, especially with it on the outside.  Overall, this wedding menu was pretty traditional and prepared well.  Considering how busy the kitchen can be during banquet, the food was mostly on point and served hot.  One of the better ones I've had in recent memory.

The Good:
- Food was more or less prepared properly
- Fair portion sizes
- Decently spacious venue with lots of parking

The Bad:
- Service was fine, but one of the managers serving us was particularly careless rubbing an oily plate against my shirt and also rudely budging in to serve without prior warning or an "excuse me"
- Pricier than some other options


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