Sherman's Food Adventures: ChiuChow Seafood Restaurant

ChiuChow Seafood Restaurant

"Oh another Chinese restaurant", is a phrase I hear often when we see "another Chinese restaurant" open up in the GVRD.  Well, the people who say and think this aren't completely wrong because there are indeed an overwhelming amount of Chinese restaurants.  However, if we dive deeper into what "type" of Chinese restaurant it is, then it becomes a bit more clear.  So where Regal Mansion used to stand, it has now been replaced by ChiuChow Seafood Restaurant.  For those who aren't familiar, Chiu Chow is a specific cuisine in China.  It is famous for using a braising broth that gets replenished but never replaced.  They braise many different items in this broth including the most popular - Chiu Chow Duck.

We were here to try that dish as well as many others.  So we went ahead and ordered Chiu Chow Marinated Meat Platter consisting of pork belly, pig's ear, pig intestine, fried tofu and egg.  As you can see, this didn't include the duck.  I really think they should have an option on the menu that includes the duck (just charge more).  Anyways, there wasn't anything inherently bad about this dish, but I found the braising stock to be a little light in flavour.  Sure, I got the usual soy, sugar and some elements of shaoxing wine, yet the spices didn't come through as much as I would've liked.  Still, the components of the dish were texturally on point though and I did appreciate the egg wasn't overdone.

Instead of duck, we ended up with the Marinated Goose atop more marinated deep-fried tofu.  Again, I would say this was "alright".  The goose was a bit on the dry side, but still sufficiently tender.  Loved the buttery soft tofu on the bottom.  However, the goose itself was flavoured like the previous dish (predictably).  Hence, it tasted okay, but hardly anything to rave about.  At least we could dunk it into the white vinegar and garlic on the side for more impact.
At least the marinated meats and tofu were decent, the Stir-Fried Beef & Gai Lan was not very good.  The major issue was that the gai lan was completely overcooked.  It was soft and lifeless without its signature crunch and vibrancy.  On the bright side, the beef was tenderized enough, yet at the same time, was in little bits rather than big slices.  As much as there was plenty of satay sauce, it wasn't particularly flavourful.
Now the absolute worst dish of the bunch as the Steamed Flathead Mullet with Salted Lemon.  Sure, we knew this was not a fresh fish and also that mullets are usually firmer in texture.  However, this fish was so tough, we couldn't chew it.  My daughter took one bite and refused to eat anymore.  I took one bite and refused to eat anymore!  It also was very fishy-tasting and the preserved lemon didn't help even though it was good on its own.  The only good thing about the dish was the milt on the side.  Interestingly, one of the managers saw that the fish was barely eaten proceeded to clear off the table and didn't even ask us why.  Oh well...

Let's get into the good news about the meal with the Roasted Chicken with Glutinous Rice (1/2 portion).  This was excellent with crispy, well-rendered fried skin.  Underneath, the chicken meat was juicy and tender.  On the very bottom layer, the glutinous rice was soft, yet still appealingly chewy.  The seasoning on this dish was on point and it didn't even require the accompanying sauce on the side.

Another solid dish was the Pork Ribs in Chiu Chow Plum Sauce.  On looks alone, this looked super delicious.  Well, it really was delicious as the sauce was tangy and sweet.  Not only was the plum flavour prominent, the use of black vinegar added even more impact.  Also, there was just enough sauce to coat each piece, so the dish wasn't too goopy.  Finally, the ribs were fried beautifully with a uniformly crispy exterior while the meat was tender with a bouncy chew.

Last dish was the Pan-Fried Scallop & Salted Duck Yolk Prawns.  This was a fairly on point dish featuring stir-fried snap peas, celery and carrots that were crunchy, yet cooked through.  Seasoning on that was balanced and flavourful.  The ample amount of scallops were buttery soft while the prawns were fried perfectly and coated with an aromatic and nutty duck yolk sauce.  So overall, this was quite the hit and miss meal.  Yet at the same time, considering the price point and class of restaurant, we were expecting a bit more.  It is sad though since we don't have a lot of options for Chiu Chow cuisine here in Vancouver.

The Good:
- When a dish was good, it was really good
- Service was decent
- Nice dining space

The Bad:
- When the dish was bad, it was really bad
- Service was decent, but the manager did not care if we didn't even touch the fish (and didn't pack it to go)


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