Sherman's Food Adventures: Imperial Garden

Imperial Garden

After our 3-week road trip, we were pretty starved for some good Chinese food whether it be wonton noodles or dim sum.  We did do the latter, but it was only once before we hit the road again for another jaunt out-of-town.  This time, it was a short drive down to Seattle so that we could catch the NCL Bliss cruising to Alaska.  Yes, we realized there are many cruises to Alaska out of Vancouver, but we really wanted too be aboard one of the Breakaway-class ships on Norwegian.  So on our way back from Seattle (which we dined on Chinese food the past 2 meals), we stopped by Imperial Garden in White Rock for some obligatory welcome back dim sum.

There was once upon a time when dim sum didn't exist out here, but they do now.  By the looks of the few dishes, it looked to be legit.  Since they already had the Pineapple BBQ Pork Buns sitting in a warming oven already, we got them first.  Loaded with sweet and savoury BBQ pork, these buns ate rather hearty.  Moreover, the bun itself was a little on the denser side.  I found the sugar topping to be sweet and crumbly.  One good thing of dim sum in Vancouver is that the XO Daikon Pudding Cake is deep fried in cubes.  On our road trip, the versions we had were haphazardly cut pieces that were stir-fried (the one in Victoria was too).  This one was good with a crispy exterior and a fairly light fluffy interior.  Lots of brininess from the dried shrimp along with a touch of spice.

Onto 2 versions of the rice noodle rolls, we had both the shrimp and salty donut.  Sporting a semi-thick rice noodle, the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll was above average.  Although not that thin, the rice noodle was still delicate with a touch of elasticity.  Inside, the whole shrimp were meaty with a aromatic snap.  I would've liked to see larger shrimp, but these were still fine.  In the background, you will see a plate of Blanched Gai Lan which was cut into little pieces for some reason.  It wasn't over done though, yet not aesthetically-pleasing.  In a loud shade of fuchsia, the Donut Rice Noodle Roll was also decent.  Again, the rice noodle was a bit on the thicker side, but it wasn't dense.  Inside, the donut was slightly crispy and completely soft in the middle.

Onto the standards, we had the usual Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumplings) and the slightly-less-than-usual-but-more-usual-now Truffle Siu Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumplings).  As for the ha gau, they featured a relatively thin dumpling skin where it was still appealingly al dente while still being tender.  Inside, the whole shrimp filling was somewhat loose where the texture was on point.  The shrimp were buttery with a sweet snap.  It was seasoned mildly with a background taste of sesame oil.  Regarding the siu mai, there was far too much in the way of fat.  We literally had to pull out half of the filling since it was not appealing to eat.  In addition, there was little-to-no-shrimp inside either.  Too bad really as the dumpling was well-seasoned and the black truffle paste was aromatic.

Heading into the offal course of the meal, we had the Braised Beef Tendon and Tripe.  Interestingly, there was only like one piece of tendon amongst all the tripe.  Not a big deal because I like tripe more anyways.  Texturally, the tripe was perfect where it was soft to chew while still retaining a bite.  This was aggressively seasoned where there was intense hits of sweetness, garlickiness and saltiness.  No gaminess either as the tripe had been cleaned properly.  In the same shade of brown-red, the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet) were pretty good.  Although a touch scrawny, the chicken feet featured soft steamed deep fried skin while the cartilage and fat underneath was soft.  Seasoning was similar to the tripe being imapctful with the same qualities.

The following two items were typical in terms of being on most dim sum menus, but they prepared them with a twist.  Underneath the usual wrapper, the Shrimp Spring Rolls sported a layer of seaweed.  I've seen this before and it does add a certain umaminess to the roll as well as a chewier texture.  This was the case here while the outer wrapper was a touch moist in spots.  Inside, the shrimp filling was bouncy and sweet.  Presented as a dumpling, the Beef Siu Mai combined the usual beef meatball filling with the familiar shape of a siu mai.  I liked the filling as the beef was bouncy and mildly seasoned with only a small amount of green onion.  However, as it was stuffed into a dumpling wrapper, the texture as a whole was not quite right being too firm.  I would've preferred just the regular beef meatballs in my opinion.

Back to the usual, we had the Steamed Pork Spareribs and the Bean Curd Skin Roll.  Although a bit fatty, the spareribs were still meaty with plenty of rib pieces.  While tender, the meat had a good bouncy chewiness as well.  These were full-flavoured from the seasoning that was garlicky with a touch of spice.  Large and plump, the bean curd skin rolls were really good.  The amount of sauce on the outside was just right without being goopy.  The steamed deep fried skin was appealingly chewy while still adequately softened by the steaming.  The best part was the filling as the processed pork was combined with mushroom, veggies and shrimp.  Texturally, there was a light rebound texture that made the roll really easy to eat.  So much so, I ate a lot of it!

To get some comfort food into the meal (as if this wasn't comforting enough), we added the Chicken and Shiitake Mushroom Congee for good measure.  Seems like we all agreed as we dusted it off.  The congee itself was thick and mildly-seasoned.  Viscosity was on point while the amount of ingredients was generous.  Maybe the slices of chicken should've been smaller, but whatever, it was tender.  We took a risk and ordered the Xiao Long Bao which were actually decent, but since they were mushed together, the skin broke and all the soup leaked out.  Yes, there was soup, when we could save it.  The skin was a bit thick, yet tender with no elasticity.  Filling was tender and sweet.  We didn't end up getting dessert because there was so much food (due to my over-ordering).  We generally enjoyed the Dim Sum at Imperial Garden and are happy that White Rock has some legit options.

The Good:
- Comparable Dim Sum to the rest of the GVRD
- Decent variety
- Spacious dining room

The Bad:
- Some execution issues with a few dishes
- A little pricey


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