Sherman's Food Adventures: Gourmet House

Gourmet House

Guess what?  While in Fremont with relatives, we had...  wait for it...  Chinese food again!  No surprise here.  This time, we made it out to Gourmet House, tucked in a corner of a shopping complex.  It has changed hands a few times, but apparently, it continues to serve solid Chinese food at reasonable prices.  Despite having a big menu with all sorts of Cantonese dishes, we decided to mainly go for Dim Sum, especially it was lunchtime.

Since my daughter was longing for some congee (porridge on this menu), we decided to order both the Minced Beef & Egg and the HK Chiterlings.  The bowls in the pictures were regular-sized portions (wonder how big the large is?).  I thought the congee base was decently thick while having that home-cooking feel to it.  Now it was seasoned enough to make it "restaurant-tasting" though.  The beef congee was actually more like loosely hand-chopped beef, so it was quite meaty and naturally textured.  The chiterlings congee featured pork blood, liver and kidney that was generally cooked well.

Keeping with pale-colored foods, we also had the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll.  This featured a fairly thick noodle which wasn't exactly dense, but it was a bit heavier than most I've had recently.  Despite the thickness, there was still some elasticity which meant it wasn't floury.  Hidden inside, the shrimp were of a good size and nicely seasoned.  They were cooked just enough that they still retained a moist snap texture.

Yes, the pale-theme didn't end with the rice noodle roll as we also had the Steamed BBQ Pork Buns.  These were pretty textbook with the cracks in the dough thanks to the strategic pleating process in the formation of the bun.  The bun itself was fluffy and fairly light.  Inside, the ample amount of BBQ pork was generally lean.  It wasn't as saucy as I would've liked, but it was still appealingly sweet.

Let's keep this pale-train going with the Ha Gau (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings), albeit with some translucency.  Therefore, we could see the slightly pink/orange color from the shrimp filling.  These were decent with a relatively thin dumpling wrapper with good elasticity.  The filling was generally moist with a meaty snap.  It was slightly overdone where the shrimp could've been more buttery.

Of course we had to have the Siu Mai (Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumpling) as well since it is the yin to the yang of the ha gau.  Similar to the ones at Pearl Bay, these featured cooked tobiko on top.  I much prefer raw tobiko on top, mostly for the aesthetics and crunch.  Despite this, the dumpling itself was decent with a rebound texture and tenderized pork.  It was juicy and also had some shrimp that had a good snap.

Back to an off-white dumpling, the Xiao Long Bao (Juicy Soup Dumplings) were served in little metal tart tins.  This theoretically keeps the soup from spilling all over the place if the dumpling punctures.  However, there was no soup to be found in these XLBs though.  Moreover, the dumpling skin was extremely thick and doughy.  Even the meat filling was loose and didn't have much texture.  To be fair, we didn't expect much out of XLBs at a Cantonese restaurant (this is a Shanghainese dish).

Moving away from dumplings, we had the classic Steamed Pork Spareribs with black bean sauce.  Unfortunately, the pieces of spareribs were not very good.  As you can clearly see in the picture, most of the pieces were cut too large and were of the fatty cartilage variety.  In terms of texture, the desirable rib pieces were decent with a rebound texture.  However, the other pieces were tough and chewy.  The dish was seasoned enough though.

Okay, after 2 consecutive below average dishes, we found the much better Bean Curd Skin Rolls.  Although looking oversauced, these were on point with tender fried bean curd skin that still had a nice chew.  Despite the appearance of too much sauce, it was actually welcomed since it helped soften the bean curd skin.  Moreover, the sauce was decently thick and flavorful.  Inside, the pork filling was tender and moist with the crunch from wood ear mushrooms and shrimp.

Now we were on a roll because the Steamed Chicken Feet with black bean sauce were also quite good.  The chicken feet were generally plump with skin that had a bite but was still tender.  The trick is to fry the chicken feet enough so that the skin doesn't break when subsequently braised and then steamed.  Underneath the skin, the cartilage and fat was intact while soft.  There was a good garlicky saltiness to the dish.

Apparently shrimp spring rolls aren't a thing here in Fremont, so we were forced to order the Vegetable Spring Rolls ones instead.  Also, we much prefer Worcestershire sauce rather than sweet n' sour, so we asked for that after the fact.  These were not bad with a crunchy wrapper that was slightly greasy.  Inside, the veggies were still slightly crunchy while not overly wet.

To get some more filling dishes into the meal, we included the Lo Mei Gai (Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf) as well.  However, it took quite awhile to arrive (near the end of the meal).  It was pretty typical with sticky rice, sauced ground pork and cured sausage.  This was also textbook with the rice being soft yet glutinous.  I found the pork to be tender with enough starch-thicken sauce for both moisture and flavor.

Another starchy dish was the Pan Fried Rice Roll with XO Sauce, but it was not really what we were expecting.  This looked more like broken rice noodles than the typical tubes of plain rice noodle rolls.  Furthermore, the dish was really greasy (partially forgivable due to the addition of XO sauce) and ate as such.  There was good spice to the dish though but not much brininess.

For our one sweeter item, we selected the Steamed Golden Egg Yolk Buns.  As you can see, they arrived with the initial round of dishes.  No matter, these were pretty good with a fluffy bun encasing a liquid egg yolk center.  It was sweet, nutty and had the umaminess of salted egg yolk.  So overall, the Dim Sum here at Gourmet House was acceptable, yet not as good at Pearl Bay.  Yes, this is a smaller spot and less expensive, so that needs to be taken into consideration.

The Good:
- Decent eats
- Reasonably-priced
- Friendly staff

The Bad:
- Not enough staff, so service is lacking
- Some duds, be careful what you order



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