Updated: 30th Dec 2010: this restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.
George and Ease recently invited us for dinner. It had been a very long while since we had met up. It must have been something like over three years. We had utmost respect for them and remembered so well how they had supported us in times of need.
A few years ago Arkensen was in hospital. Suanne and I took turns to stay with him in the hospital every night. There was that one day Arkensen had a rough patch and I stayed with him right through lunch and dinner time. Just then when it was late and I don’t expect anyone anymore, George showed up despite his busy schedule. Seeing that I had no eaten yet, George went out scouring for dinner for me. I will never forget that act of selflessness from him.
Ease told us she had been reading our blog all these while. So when Ease contacted Suanne suggested we meet up for dinner, we immediately agreed. We went to this new place call the Blackberry Bistro.
The Blackberry Bistro is described as a Pan Asian restaurant but to us it is more than that. It is located at the so called “new Shaunessy of Richmond” which I think is more aptly called London Landing. I had been through this place many times before when I was training for the Half Marathon and had always noticed the name Blackberry … this place used to be overrun with blackberries but of late a lot of the industrial buildings had been torn down to make this a new waterfront residential area.
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For those who are are familiar with this southern Richmond nighborhood, I want you to know that it’s on 6011 Dyke Road. It is very near where the London Farm and the starting point of the London Landing dykes.
We had expected a very Asian setting but were quite impressed with the setup. The restaurant had a decidedly modern setting with high ceilings which is lends to it a sense of spaciousness and grandness. This restaurant sure put in a lot of planning and thought into it.
There is even sofa and fireplace in the eating area upstairs with plasma TV and all (and not playing HK variety shows!). We actually did not expect that there were so many customers but were quite surprised that they had a healthy mix of customers. This is perhaps the only place we had seen so far which serves decidedly authentic Asian food and had more than 50% of the customers who are white. I like that.
The table setting was well thought out although I think they put in too much effort to making this good. Case in point … the manually wrap and bind the chopsticks and cutleries. The menu too is really cute … which for a moment I thought was a placemat!
Their menu is very much South East Asian. We had the nice juicy Chicken satay for starters. Having grown up in Malaysia, I know what real good satay are and this is it. He he he … what this lack is the fatty chicken skin which will make it even more juicier. The peanut sauce was quite OK except I had wished it had more chuncks of peanuts and a bit of chilli sauce like the way it’s supposed to be.
The best satay in the world is the one in Kajang, Malaysia called Haji Samuri. Compare the above against this blog entry I made here … looks pretty close, huh?
Suanne had the Laksa. It is creamy, thick, flavorful but otherwise not overwhelmingly spicy. It is pretty good and we agree that this is just not one of the run of the mill laksa. The mere looks of the laksa broth itself tells us that they did not just use any off the shelf paste to make this.
The laksa came with spring rolls. Taste wise, It was alright but in the looks department it was quite unique in that they gave us a dip which I could not quite figure out what it was. Looks like some orangey jam but not quite.
I had been on a mission to search for the best Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup of late after some of you reader had been commenting on this topic. Since, they had this on the menu, I ordered this. The broth is intense to say to least but lacking in spiciness which I personally like.
The bowl is huge. As a matter of fact, their servings are very large and are served in unique triangular bowls and plates.
Arkensen had the Hainanese Chicken Rice. Presentation was good. It came with FIVE sides … nice! The all important rice was flavorful. Hainanese rice is not the normal plain steamed rice but is cooked with chicken broth producing an “oily” chicken flavour rice.
Arkensen did not quite like the chicken because it was made of chicken breast. Chicken breast meat is generally tougher. I remember growing up in Malaysia people specifically did not want chicken breast but here in Canada, Canadians pay more for chicken breasts!
Nanzaro ordered some dish where he gets to pick two types of meat. He likes these kind of food where he gets to choose. I can’t remember what this is called. He had the char siu and honey spareribs which came with rice and sides.
I tried Nanzaro’s spareribs, it was great … crunchy and sweet.
Almost all dishes came with at least two sides — some salty-sweet triangular chips and grilled zucchini. And you know what that means? We had too many dishes on the table … it was jammed pack with dishes of all shapes and sizes.
George and Ease ordered the Singapore style fried vermicelli. Unlike ones we see elsewhere this one is chockful of ingredients. It looked pretty good.
George and Ease also had the curry chicken. It looked nice and good but I did not taste it.
It was when we finished our meal when the owner came by our table and chatted with us. I always enjoyed talking to the owner. In some places we went to, the owners look at us with suspicioun when we whip out our cameras.
The owner, Phillip, told us that almost all of the ingredients are made on their own. He even said that the wonton wrappers are made inhouse. It is because they actually own Soo Jerky too and had a R&D kitchen from which these dishes came from. He told us he would travel to far flung towns in Malaysia to get the original recipe of Kuching Laksa which he claims is the best there is.
Since he talked about Kuching, I asked him about this noodles called Kolo Mee which I had always heard of but never tasted. You know what happened next? He asked us to hang on and disappeared to the kitchen and made us his version of Kolo Mee (this is not on the menu).
I am so impressed and knew then and there, this is not just any restaurant.
The Blackberry Bistro has a good selection of gelato and guess what … they made these gelato on their own too. After all the food we declined the gelato but on their insistence, we tried their blackberry and blueberry ones. It is certainly one of the best we had tried … not too sweet and tastes like what it is supposed to be … fruity blackberry and blueberry. We’ll come back again some day just specifically for this.
You MUST try their gelato.