Sherman's Food Adventures: Blossom Dim Sum & Grill

Blossom Dim Sum & Grill

After a disappointing and expensive Dim Sum experience at Ampersand earlier this year, I was very apprehensive in trying out Blossom Dim Sum & Grill on Robson.  However, I am warming up to the idea of non-traditional Dim Sum restaurants as many news articles have pointed out that older Chinese-restaurant owners are closing up shop as their children have no interest in continuing the business.  So we'd better get used to modern-Chinese restaurants.  One of the best examples is Little Bird, as it serves up traditional Dim Sum in a non-traditional environment.  Ironically, it is run by the son of the original owners of Flamingo.  So back to Blossom, we decided to check it out for lunch and to make our own opinions about the place rather than read the one-sided reviews (either way) online.

With our first dish, it got me worried due to the portion size.  The Green Tea Smoked Duck Breast was very sparse on the plate it was served on.  To be fair, if this was non-Asian restaurant, no one would even blink an eye at spending $12.00 for it.  In terms of execution, it was quite good though being tender and moist.  There was plenty of seasoning without being salty and the smoke did come through.  For $5.80, the  Black Pepper Prawn Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumplings) were a downright steal.  If you have paid attention to Dim Sum prices in the GVRD, a typical order of 4 can cost easily $7.00 and even more so at ritzier places.  We were even happier that the execution was good where the dumpling skin had a pleasing elasticity (albeit on the drier side).  The large chunks of prawn were meaty and had a moist snap.  Naturally sweet, the filling was also accented by just enough black pepper for a bite.

Similar to the one found at Mott 32 (and also New Mandarin), the Hot & Sour Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) were $9.00.  Significantly less than Mott 32 where they charge $20.00 (although they do use Iberico pork and yes, the place is "higher class").  These were pretty good though with a fairly thin dumpling skin. There was plenty of hot and sour broth inside. So much so, it was hard to prevent soup from spilling all over the place.  It wasn't very spicy though, being more sweet with a touch of tang.  The meat was loose and tender.  Something we weren't particularly fond of was the Lotus Wrapped Risotto with free-range chicken and truffle.  Yes, this was like a Lo Mei Gai, but the "risotto" was far too wet and mushy.  Hence, it didn't elicit any good mouth feel.  Furthermore, the dish was rather underseasoned, so yes the truffle came through, but little else.

Also similar to Mott 32, the Quail's Egg Siu Mai featured pork, shrimp and black truffle.  Pricing was also much less at $12.00 vs. $21.00 at Mott 32 (again, not Iberico pork and yes, not as "high class").  If I had to compare, I would say the one at Blossom wasn't any worse for wear.  First of all, they were gigantic and featured a runny quail's egg in the middle.  Second, the texture was on point being light and airy with buttery and bouncy processed pork.  On top, the small amount of black truffle paste was enough for impact.  Onto a baked item, we had the Pineapple BBQ Pork Buns.  I thought these were also good with a golden crispy baked sugar pastry topping.  The bun itself was soft and almost fluffy with some elasticity.  The addition of pineapple added a different sweetness to the glaze and I found it to be balanced.  The slices of BBQ pork were tender and lean.

We really didn't care for the Sweet & Sour Sakura Pork, even though it was reasonably priced at $14.00.  There was nothing wrong with the sauce per se as it was thick enough to coat every piece of pork.  Moreover, the flavour was also good with a nice balance between sweet and tanginess.  The real problem with this dish was the pork itself.  Consisting of pieces that were far too tiny and also completely over-battered, the pork was hard, dry and frankly, not very appetizing to eat.  This was further exacerbated by the lack of sauce (even though we usually do not want that much of it).  It is worth mentioning that our next dish was also reasonably-priced at $12.00.  At most places, a plate of Wok Fried Local Pea Tips would cost equal of even more than $12.00.  The portion size was fairly large and the execution was on point (still crispy and vibrant while cooked all-the-way-through) except the use of oil might've been a bit excessive.

Continuing on with another larger dish, we had the Crab Meat Fried Udon with tobiko, spring onions and Shanghai bak choy.  This was not bad where the udon was cooked just enough that it had softened without giving up any chewiness.  There was a certain amount of smokiness and caramelization from the wok heat.  There was ample amount of crab meat, but since it was all shredded, the texture was lost and in fact, was overdone due to the work fry.  We would've much preferred it to be sprinkled on top without being fried with the noodles.  Their take on a Spring Roll was unique as it was filled with prawn, lotus root and egg white.  We were on the fence with this dish as we enjoyed the crispy exterior and the layer of nori added umami.  However, the filling itself was possibly too soft due to the egg whites.  The prawn portion was perfectly cooked with a cold-water snap though.  So I guess if they did away with the egg whites, it would be better (but then again, more typical). 

Back to the dumplings, we tried the Crab & Prawn Dumpling with carrot and cilantro topped with a balsamic pearl.  These were so large that they stuck to the sides of the bamboo holders.  That also meant the skin was a bit too dry as well, but it didn't make or break the dish.  Inside, the mix of ingredients was fairly loose where the prawn was similar to the ha gau being cold-water crunchy.  There was plenty of shredded crab meat which was also like the fried udon.  I would've liked to see more chunks of leg meat as the crab was somewhat lost texturally (but that might've cost more to make).  We got a couple of the Crispy Crab Claws for $6.80 each and to put the price into perspective, the ones at the Richmond Night Market cost $6.00 each and are smaller.  These were really good featuring a big clump of minced prawn that was bouncy, sweet and on point.  This was served with a side of pomegranate sauce.

Next, we decided to try two items from the Asian Sandwich section of the menu.  The first one was the Salt Spring Lamb Belly served in a squid ink bao with pickled veggies, cucumber and kewpie mayo.  I was a bit surprised by the thinness of the bao itself.  It made the bao a lot less heavy to eat, but at the same time, I had a hard time keeping all of the ingredients inside as well.  This was probably also due to the lamb belly not being soft enough as well.  It tasted okay though with the tang and sweetness from the pickled veggies and the creamy sweetness of the mayo.  Our other sammie was the Shredded Duck with cucumber, leeks and hoisin sauce.  This held together a bit better since the duck was in smaller pieces and hence also easier to chew.  We would've liked to see less fat underneath the skin and also if the skin was crisped up rather than being flabby.

Our final savoury dish was the Steamed Boneless Pork Ribs with black pepper and vinegar.  We really liked this dish as the black pepper really came through with a bite.  Furthermore, the meat was perfectly textured being tender with the requisite bounciness.  We didn't notice much of the vinegar though as the black pepper was pretty strong.  We decided to share two desserts including the Chocolate Lava Cake as well as the Mango Pomelo Soup Cheesecake.  There was nothing really special about the lava cake as it was pretty typical with soft chocolate cake and a runny centre.  It came out quick, so it probably wasn't baked.  On the other hand, the cheesecake was good where there was plenty of cheesiness from the creamy and semi-rich cake.  The mango sauce was refreshing and not too sweet too.  Overall, we were surprised that the Dim Sum at Blossom was less fusion as we anticipated.  If we looked at it from a purely higher-class Dim Sum restaurant perspective, it wasn't even that expensive (relatively).  Sure, not everything was awesome, but most things were fine.

The Good:
- Some really good dishes
- Not as expensive as you might think
- Excellent service

The Bad:
- Some items could use further refinement


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