Sherman's Food Adventures: Deer Garden

Deer Garden

When my parents used to live in Coquitlam, I remember frequenting Deer Garden for dinner.  That stopped as soon as my parents moved into Burnaby.  Mind you, I could've easily just ate at Deer Garden without them, but it was out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  Such a shame really as their food was generally solid and well-portioned.  Recently, along with other foodies, I was invited to try out a variety of dishes at their new location.  That's right, they are no longer on Westwood Street.  Rather, they've moved into Henderson Centre right across from the New Pacific Market.  

We started off the meal with an Appetizer Platter consisting of Salty Peppery Pork Chops, Fried Wontons, Honey Shrimp and Fried Eggplant.  Loved the crispy and light batter on the pork chops.  Inside, the meat was tender and not dry.  There was enough seasoning to flavour the pork chops.  The shrimp were also good with a starch coating.  Since it was tossed in sweet mayo, the exterior was just somewhat crispy.  The shrimp itself was meaty and buttery.  I found the fried eggplant to be cooked-through without being mushy.

Next dish was the Whole Lobster steamed with garlic.  Nothing complex with this dish and really, the most important thing is that they served a live lobster.  That was confirmed with the delicate bouncy texture of the lobster meat.  It was sweet and fresh-tasting.  The ample garlic on top did not overwhelm the lobster.  It only accentuated the already-present lobster aroma.  Absolutely loved that they put the lobster butter on the side so we could easily eat it.  So much umaminess!

Moving onto a classic dish, we had the Hainanese Chicken with chicken oil rice.  The free-range chicken was beautifully prepared with tender and moist pieces of both white and dark meat.  I found that the skin was perfectly gelatinzed while a bit of gelatin lurked underneath.  The pieces of chicken were delicious on their own but the accompanying condiments helped in that respect.  As for the chicken oil rice, it as nutty, a bit fatty and full of umaminess.  The rice itself was chewy and nutty.

Like many restaurants of this style (think Miu Garden) we also had the Coconut Curry Bef Brisket to go along with the chicken dish.  This was every bit as good as Miu Garden with big chunks of beef that were super tender and surprisingly not that fatty.  The coconut curry was rich and creamy with so plenty of aromatics and proper seasoning.  Really needed white rice for this and with the sauce, maybe a few bowls of rice just for myself!

Going in a totally different direction, we had the Seafood Congee with a side of salty donut.  The congee base was a bit more homestyle than other Chinese restaurants.  The colour was bright white and the seasoning was mild.  It was still thick though and the amount of seafood was generous.  I found the slices of fish to be tender and flaky while the prawns had a perfectly-cooked meaty snap.  There was also delicate slices of scallop.

We moved onto a pair of soup noodles after this including Beef Tendon & Tripe Noodles as well as Home-Made 4 Kinds of Meatballs Noodles.  Both featured chewy wonton noodles that had an appealing resistance to them.  The tendon and tripe were tender, but not to the point there was no texture left.  I found the soup base to be quite good.  As much as it isn't as good at a dedicated wonton noodle house, it was still flavourful with a sweet meatiness.  Not much to say about the meatballs other than there were a good amount of them.

We always go for the default with the Sweet & Sour Pork mostly because we enjoy the dish.  However, it is so beloved by everyone, I tend to judge most places with this dish in mind!  Well the version here was actually quite good.  It featured medium-sized nuggets of pork that were juicy and tender.  This was definitely fried-to-order, which meant the exterior batter wasn't hard nor was the meat overdone.  Sometimes restaurants par-fry the pork to make preparation faster.  They didn't here.  The sauce was on the sweeter side and could've used a touch more tang.

We moved onto the a pair of hot pot dishes in the Singing Pork Sparerib Hot Pot and the Satay Sliced Beef Vermicelli Hot Pot.  Both came out sizzling with still vibrant veggies.  I found the ample amount of spareribs to be meaty, yet tender without much in the way of fat of cartilage.  It was seasoned properly with a starch-thickened sauce.  As for the sliced beef, it appeared that the cuts were more with the grain than against the grain, so the meat wasn't as tender as it appeared to be.  It possibly could've benefited from more tenderization through a longer marinade.  It did taste good though with well-seasoned vermicelli.  Love the chewy texture that was not hard nor was it too saucy.

We had a HK-style dish next with the Baked Pork Chop Spaghetti.  Yes, normally, this would be a baked rice, but honestly, I like spaghetti more anyways.  This was a large portion that would be best for sharing.  The spaghetti itself wasn't exactly al dente, but it wasn't soft either, so that was a good thing.  I found the sauce having the right viscosity and having a pleasant taste including just the slightest of tomato tang with balancing sweetness.  There was so garlic notes too.  Served in cut up strips, the fried pork chop was tender and not dry.

The same sliced beef from the hot pot showed up in the Beef with Egg Sauce on Rice.  Hence, it looked great on the place being cooked perfectly.  However, it as still chewy due to the combination of cutting with the grain and not being marinated long enough.  Despite this, the dish was still tasty and went will with rice.  The eggs were silky and the starch-thickened sauce was flavourful and the right viscosity.

We ended off the savoury part of the meal with the Fried Rice with shrimp paste, shrimp and chicken & the Supreme Fried Kuiteow.  The noodles were pretty good despite missing the usual flavour profile of a true chow kuiteow.  It had good wok hei which meant it was a a a bit smoky without any residual moisture.  I would've liked to see some brininess but it still tasted fine.  I found the rice to be quite good with plenty of ingredients.  It had enough of a hot wok fry that it had some caramelization and colour.  The ample amount of shrimp were cold-water crunchy.  I would've liked maybe more aggressive seasoning with this though. 

For dessert, we had the HK-Style French Toast with butter and syrup.  Classic Hong Kong Cafe-style, these French toast bites were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  There was a layer of sweetness already between the white bread, but the addition of syrup made this a satisfying dessert. In the end, we were quite satisfied with the combination of classic Chinese dishes and HK-Style cafe favourites.  Things were generally well-prepared except for the beef.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Well-prepared dishes
- Good portions
- Fairly large menu

The Bad:
- Unfortunately, the beef was not tender
- Kuiteow didn't taste like one, but really, it was still delicious



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