Sherman's Food Adventures: Jade Palace

Jade Palace

I've always traveled for food, even if it meant going all the way out to Abbotsford (or even further when I go on vacay...).  However, there are many times I just want to grab something which is convenient and nearby.  That brings me to a neighbourhood Chinese restaurant that has changed many times.  I've known it to be Dragon Inn, Harbour Pacific, Wah Lun and most recently Ryan's Restaurant.  Now it has rebranded again as Jade Palace.  I've noticed that there are some of the existing staff from Ryan's, so either it is the same ownership or they kept some of the old employees.  Whatever the case, this place is close to me and we decided to check it out.

Looking over the menus, we opted for the Lobster Set Dinner that started with the Empress Chicken.  This free-range chicken was properly prepared where the skin was gelatinized and the meat itself was tender with the classic free-range chicken firmness.  I thought the seasoning was adequate while the side of ginger scallion condiment was not too salty.  I also liked the thin layer of chicken gelatin underneath the skin. 

As part of the set dinner, we were also served the Dried Scallops & Fish Maw Soup.  Typically, this consists of chicken broth that is thicken with starch.  I thought the viscosity was on point where it was thick enough to coat a spoon yet not too thick.  The silky broth was subtle and could've used more seasoning.  In small bits, the fish maw was tender with a slight chew (due to the pricing, we didn't expect super high-quality fish maw).

Next we were served the namesake of the set dinner in the Braised Lobster with noodle base.  This was a reasonably-sized lobster at around 2 lbs where it was fried properly.  The meat was still bouncy and sweet.  It was then cooked in a thicken chicken stock that was balanced with hints of sweetness.  The well-portioned noodles underneath were still chewy and not clumpy.  

So far, all of the dishes we had were fairly mild in terms of salt.  However, the Diced Beef with mixed mushrooms was aggressively seasoned where it was bordering on being too salty.  However, I enjoyed it since the beef was nicely tenderized while retaining a meaty chew.  There was good caramelization and the glaze clung onto everything perfectly.  Even with the ample amount of mushrooms, there was no excess moisture on the plate.

The last dish in the set dinner was the Yeung Chow Fried Rice.  The "wok hei" was evident here where the wok heat was powerful enough to keep the rice dry while caramelizing the flavours.  Hence, the fried rice was nutty and aromatic.  It was mildly seasoned, but then again, it went with with the flavourful diced beef.  There was enough ingredients (BBQ pork, shrimp, egg and veggies) to keep every bite interesting.

We ended up adding 3 more dishes including the classic Sweet & Sour Pork.  This one featured medium chunks of lean meat.  In fact, I'm pretty sure there were no pure fatty pieces to be found (which is a rarity these days).  The meat was tender and juicy while the batter was light.  There was just enough sauce clinging to each piece.  We felt that the sauce was on the sweeter side though and could've used more tartness.

They messed up one of the dishes, but it really wasn't a huge deal because it was close enough.  We actually ordered the fish & tofu hot pot but got the Seafood Hot Pot instead.  Essentially the same except we got squid, prawns and scallops in addition to the fish.  This was good with the seafood being properly cooked.  The fried tofu was texturally light and fluffy.  We found the sauce to be mild, but enough to season the dish.

To get our fill of veggies, we had the Gai Lan with Scallops.  This featured a bevy of really large scallops that were buttery with a slight chew.  The large stalks of gai lan were fresh with a vibrancy and crunch.  Again, this was mildly seasoned and a side of hot sauce helped liven things up.  Overall, the meal was above average and well-priced.  Portions were fair and the staff were polite and friendly.  That was a real plus because they were severely short-staffed (like many restaurants these days).

The Good:
- Above average eats
- Well-portioned and reasonably-priced
- Friendly staff

The Bad:
- Has been renovated, but carpet might need to be replaced
- Maybe a bit more seasoning (other than the beef dish)


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