Sherman's Food Adventures: Yue Restaurant

Yue Restaurant

Awhile back when I was still involved with the Chinese Restaurant Awards, I was introduced to a relatively low-key (yet classy) restaurant called Yue.   I was so impressed with the food, I went back several times and it never disappointed.  They had won for the best Ha Gau (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings) in 2015, so there was definitely some pedigree.  They have since moved from that location further up Alexandra to where Vivacity used to set up shop.  I've had their Dim Sum service again at the new location and it was still just as good.  Therefore, I didn't need much convincing for an invite to try it again recently.

Things came fast and furious since they knew it would make for a great flat lay (for IG).  That also meant I had to act fast with my picture-taking (and hopefully get to eat!).  The first thing I did try was the Fried Squab presented in a "bird cage" type of serving tray.  Very cleaver if you ask me.  As you can tell by the rich brownish red hue, the skin was crispy, nutty and fairly well-rendered.  The meat itself was tender and moist while being well-seasoned  I sampled the Baked BBQ Pork Bun next and they were warm and fluffy where there was still some elasticity to the dough.  On top, the crisp sugar topping was sweet enough and stayed adhered to the bun even after cutting it in half.  Inside, the lean BBQ pork filling was a nice balance between sweet and savoury.

Okay, let's get right to it before it got cold (I took a dumpling from the tray underneath, so it was still hot), I attacked the award-winning Steamed Prawn Dumpling (Ha Gau).  Although there are many versions in town that are just as good, there is no denying that this one is indeed one of the best.  Beyond the al dente exterior wrapper (that had a nice elasticity), the delicate prawn within was sweet with discernible sesame oil and white pepper notes.  Texturally, there was a moist snap that was nearly perfect.  Now the Steamed Pork Dumpling with Crab Roe (Siu Mai) (pork & shrimp dumpling) was no slouch either.  Also served as set of 5, these consisted of nearly as much shrimp as pork.  Hence, the texture was buttery with both the bounce from the shrimp as well as the properly tenderized and marinated pork.  There was a lightness to the dumpling without feeling loose while the seasoning was spot on.

Onto the Rice Noodle Rolls, we had 3 versions including 3 kinds of mushroom, beef and BBQ pork & corn.  Unlike the usual preparation of 3 separate rolls, they were presented as a continuous sheet of noodle with ingredients strewn throughout.  I quite like this method as the texture of the noodle tends to be less dense even though it is scrunched up together.  I enjoyed all 3 of them and really liked the addition of corn with the BBQ pork as it provided both texture and sweetness.  The beef was tender and buttery while still retaining some meatiness.   The same could be said about the Steamed Spare Ribs with Pumpkin as they were buttery and bouncy while still meaty at the same time.  Perfect texture for this dish.  There was a mix of rib portions and some cartilage, but there wasn't too much fat (which was a good thing).  Overall, the flavour was on the milder side but there was definitely black bean (as we could see it too).

Next, I went back to the dumplings with the Steamed Prawn and Spinach.  Normally, spinach dumplings feature a much darker green colour, yet the light translucent one they had here was very attractive.  Seeing the filling inside just made it more appetizing.  This also meant the dumpling skin was thin enough too being chewy and tender at the same time.  The filling was delicate with sweet bouncy prawn and tender spinach (that was not soggy nor soaked with too much moisture).  Evenly browned, the slices of Pan Fried Turnip Cake were on the firmer side, but still far from dense.  I particularly liked the balanced amount of cured sausage, dried shrimp and dried scallop within the cake.  This provided layers of brininess and aroma.  There was also a good amount of shredded daikon that was tender and not overly wet.

We were served another award-winning dish (for 2017) in the Singing Beef Brisket and Rice Rolls Hot Pot.  One might wonder why this version might be better than any other in the GVRD.  There is no need to wonder since the star of the dish was the brisket itself.  The meat was buttery and tender where each piece was similarly sized.  Flavours were good without an over-reliance on salt (soy in this case).  The rice noodles underneath were seared enough and weren't overly greasy either.  One of the more interesting dishes had to the Pork Hock with Maggi Sauce.  It might be assumed the dish would be heavy and really fatty.  Well, yes, there was skin and fat since it is a pork hock, but it ate a lot lighter than one would expect.  Buttery and tender, the skin was lightly crispy and completely seasoned by the umaminess of the Maggi.

I've noticed the trend that spring rolls are getting smaller and smaller.  I guess they didn't get the memo here as the Deep Fried Shrimp and Cheese Spring Rolls were absolutely massive.  Easily a half size bigger than most, the crispy rolls were stuffed with plenty of whole shrimp and shrimp paste.  Since the filling was substantial, the roll ate more robust and heavy.  I didn't notice the cheese as much though.  Wrapped in pan fried bean curd skin, the Pan Fried Sticky Rice with Dried Seafood was deceptive in its appearance.  We all guessed there would be meat in the middle, so it was a total surprise when we found sticky rice instead.  I really enjoyed this as the rice was dry enough without being hard.  The aromatics and umami saltiness of the dried seafood (shrimp and scallop), provided the necessary seasoning. 

We ended up trying some of the Chinese New Year dinner specialties as well including Yue's Appetizer Platter consisting of hokkigai, smoked salmon, sliced beef shank, baby octopus and jellyfish.  The most interesting part of the platter had to be the diced jellyfish.  That's right.  Rather than in strands, the jellyfish was in quasi-cubes.  Therefore, it was a bit easier to chew, yet more buttery soft with a light rebound.  Majestically plated, the Braised Dried Oysters and Dried Black Moss is something you'd find at many CNY dinners.  This one featured large dried oysters that were rehydrated and braised to the point where they were super tender.  They were the proverbial umami bomb with plenty of brininess as well.  I wasn't so sure about the lettuce as it bled too mush moisture onto the plate.

Another bonus item was the Pork Rib in Special Spicy Sauce.  This gigantic bone was dressed in enough chili oil and spices to scare most people off.  In reality, it wasn't spicy at all.  Rather, there was a pronounced nuttiness to go with only a touch of heat.  Moreover, since the rib was not spicy itself (possibly not braised in the spices and oil), I could taste the meat.  It was tender and practically fell-off-the-bone without being mushy.  Personally, I could've taken it a whole lot spicier, but I can see how the way the dish was prepared could appeal to a wider audience.  When I first laid eyes on the Pan Fried Vermicelli with Beef and Bitter Melon with black bean sauce, I was not wanting to eat it.  You see, I'm not a huge fan of bitter melon.  On the flip side, I needed to try it for the purposes of this blog post.  Turns out it was a lot better than I expected.  They prepared it so masterfully that the bitter melon was subtle and the black bean sauce was impactful enough to balance the bitterness.  Moreover, the beef was super tender and the crispy vermicelli provided a nice crunch.

From here, we moved onto the sweets.  The first one I tried was the Steamed Egg Yolk BunMaggi wanted me to do an action shot and as I pulled the soft bun apart, the sweetened salted egg yolk centre proceeded to run out quickly.  Yes, I would've liked it to be a thicker viscosity, but this was also due to the amount of filling.  It kept coming!  Um...  Anyways, it was purposefully sweet and slightly nutty.  Very tasty.  Next, I sampled both the Peach Resin Cake (the white one) and the Lychee & Sweet Olive Jello.  Shaped like a typical mango pudding, the resin cake was somewhat like a pannacotta except not as creamy.  It was lightly sweet with bits of white fungus posing as "bird's nest".  I found the lychee jello to be light and just sweet enough with the unmistakable aroma of lychee.  Texturally, it wasn't too firm which made it very easy to eat.

Our last 2 desserts were somewhat similar in the Baked Egg Tart with Milk Puff Pastry and the Baked Durian Tart.  Resembling a Portuguese tart, these were aromatic, creamy and purposefully sweet.  Loved the nuttiness from the buttery puff pastry.  It was nicely browned where it crispy and light.  As for the Durian Tarts, they were merely the same egg tarts topped with durian paste.  As such, the same qualities existed except with the addition of the pungency of the sweet durian.  These were a great finish to an expectedly solid Dim Sum service.  Once again, Yue didn't disappoint and there were some new dishes I'd never tried before.  I guess I need to do a dinner service post soon too as it appears that that would be good as well!

*Food was complimentary*

The Good:
- Consistent food quality
- Nice dining space
- Solid service (as observed in previous visits)

The Bad:
- Like any other Richmond restaurant, parking can be limited

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