Oh … this dinner happened about seven weeks ago, I would think. I had been putting off writing this because I had written about this restaurant before. My first visit to the Bejiang Restaurant was back in August and I posted my experience here. Back then, this restaurant was relatively unknown. Both Suanne and I had a wonderful meal there and left feeling very impressed.
There were some discussions around this restaurant and some of us decided to do a chowdown to check out more food.
The Beijiang Restaurant is a Xinjiang style restaurant located on the eastern end of Richmond’s glutton street of Alexandra. It is tucked in the corner of the same strip mall where Cattle Cafe and Michigan Noodles is.
This restaurant is often packed especially for dinners. So a reservation is recommended or else the wait would be excruciating. I had been here several times and each time I see people waiting outside the door.
We had a reservation and so the table was all ready for us. You know, the previous times I was here I really loved the ambiance and the sense of class in this restaurant. Especially at night, when they draw the heavy curtains and the whole restaurant glows in yellow; it was fancy. This time, it was just a bustling restaurant. Gone were the fancy brass tea pots and fine china tea cups. I guess they had been so busy that breakages happen and replacing those were not easy.
We started off with Savoury Cucumber ($4). Simple dish but I love this. The cool crunchy cucumber slices were served along with a salty bean sauce. A good dish to whet the appetite for the feast to come.
The Diced Chicken (Large $24) was that one dish I enjoyed so much the first time I was here. In Chinese this is called the “Big Basin Chicken”.
When I was here for the first time, they serve this in two acts. They would serve the chicken first and let you eat the chicken for a while. After a few minutes, they would then bring along another dish of noodles and pour them over the chicken.
Not this time.
This time they … brought both chicken and noodle dishes at the same time and pour the noodles immediately on serving. No, I did not quite like it. I prefer the way they do it the last time. If they had poured the noodles at the same time, they might as well do it in the kitchen and bring it out to us.
I know why they did this. They were too busy … too many customers. To me this dish need to be savoured slowly but this was rushed. And this pretty much became the theme of the night … rushed.
We also had the Braised Beef Noodle. The same two act of serving, except that it is in reverse from the Big Basin Chicken.
For this dish they pour the beef over the noodles.
I can understand pouring noodles over the meat/food but this sequence I don’t quite get.
The Nan Cake was $2.50 per order. We had two orders. It is served like pizza and is pretty dry. It is like some kind of bread and perhaps they call this Nan is because it’s a Xinjiang version of the Naan flatbread in the region.
The only way it is good for me is to dip it into the the sauces of the other dishes we had (which was a lot!).
Then there is also the Xinjiang Pizza ($14) that we ordered. It certainly looked like its exactly the same as the Nan Cake except that it had meat on it.
This time it looked so dry and unexciting. Let me show you what I mean.
The three pictures were the Xinjiang Pizza we had the first time. They looked more moist the first time while this time it was like all flattened. The bread too was burnt this time.
You know this had also been the theme compared to the last time. Not only was this meal rushed, I felt that the food had deteriorated a lot. I think it’s because they had gotten very busy and in the process the quality of the food has fallen considerably. It is such a shame because they have so much going for them.
The Crispy and Sour Cabbage ($6.69, weird pricing) was surprisingly one of the better dishes. I just like the sourness twist in this common dish where it is generally blander.
The Noodles with Lamb/Beef ($7.50) was just so-so. Yeah, it didn’t make me want to dig in to this quick.
The Eggplant on Hot Plate ($12.58) was nothing special. It just did not remind me of any special or Xinjiang in particular. It is however, one of the more tasty dishes.
The name Chinese Hamburger is kind of interesting. This is $5.50 per order and we had 2 orders of it.
Dryish is how I would describe it. It had so much promise but as it turns out, it was just so-so.
The Mutton Skewers were $2 each and was quite big. I would have preferred that it is charred a bit more but otherwise it is good. This is always good in most places I go to like it cannot go wrong.
The Mutton with Pickled Cabbage was $13. While it looked like any veggie-meat stir fry, this has a somewhat unusual combination of pickled cabbage and lamb.
This one I had absolutely no idea why it is there. Well, someone else place the order and I was just there to eat. Is this supposed to go with some dish? Am not sure.
The Sichuan Pickled Vege ($3.40) is an appetizer and it was quite appetizing. The cabbage was crisp and sourish.
At the end there was a free Eight Treasure rice dessert. But everyone was quite full already.
The bill came up to be about $25 per person including tips. The company was great as always but the food is a miss. Actually the food was quite OK except that it did not impress us as the first time round.
Moreover the place was so busy, the food came almost at the same time. I hate that because it felt so rushed and we couldn’t properly savour each dish one at a time. And you know how I have dishes crowding the table. So yeah, it was messy.
I think Beijiang would still be popular despite our experience. There are not many such restaurants around and so people will still come. Maybe if you visit at off peak periods it may be better but for this time, it was below my expectations to tell the truth.