More than a month a go, we received an email from a couple from New York saying that they will be in Vancouver and asking if we would like to meet up. Aaron and Charmaine wrote that they had been following chowtimes for sometime and that they will be in Vancouver to do the Alaska cruise. After some email exchange, we decided to meet up for dim sum in Richmond.
I suggested meeting at the Garden City Hot Pot mainly because it is high on my list to visit. I had been there for dinner once but not for dim sum.
Truth be told, Suanne and I are bored with dim sums. We are just bored with unexciting generic items like siu mai, har gow, sticky rice and such. We like places like Sea Harbour because they have unique one of a kind dishes.
We came to know Garden City as a place where they serve individual serving of tea from Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken. So at least at the Garden City Hot Pot we get to experience something new.
Interior is clean — much more cleaner than I expected actually. The walls were quite tastefully decorated with paintings and they even have pots of flowers (albeit fake) on the tables. It is something you don’t see often in dim sum places.
To our pleasant surprise, the service was also top notch for a busy dim sum place. They took the time to let us settle down and even took time to chat with us.
We were asked first off what tea we wanted. Having absolutely no idea what to order, we quite randomly picked our choices. We ended up Rose, Lychee Hoong, Chrysanthemum and Jasmine.
Apparently at Garden City Hot Pot, EVERYONE must drink tea, even the kids. They charge $3 per head whether you want tea or not.
Arkensen and Nanzaro asked for ice water but they clearly informed us that we will need to pay $3. So we decided that since we are dinged for it already, we went on to order two additional type of tea. Based on their recommendation, the additional choices were Sau Mei (good for curing sore throat) and Grey Tea (bitter and good for curing cold).
Someday … I will go learn more about the finer aspects of Chinese tea but for now my choice is Rose simply because it has flower bulbs in it.
Since we are unsure how to go about steeping the tea, they gave us a demo. Here … I am reproducing the steps for you info.
The hardest part is pouring the ready tea from the steeping cup to the drinking cup. You got to do that with the lid on. Obviously, we made a mess because we can never get it done right without having spills dripping down the bottom.
Is there a technique to doing this? Our technique is to use the saucer to catch the spill. Not quite elegant but it works.
Enough of tea … on to the food. One of the items we had is called the Steamed Fish Head with Preserved Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce. ($7). The fish was fresh and flakey. Somehow this does not come across to me as a dim sum and more like a normal lunch/dinner dish.
The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the sauce was … steamed rice. Would you think of the same thing too?
Curiously, they asked us twice if we wanted Baked BBQ Pork Bun. We said no initially because we thought it was just the normal char siu bau. They insists that we try their version saying that it is the most popular dim sum they served. We relently … and was surprised.
It is unlike the normal BBQ Pork Bun one would expect. Instead, it is like a cross between a Pineapple Bun (Bolo Bau) and Char Siu Bau. Very unique indeed.
The topping is sweetish with a little saltiness. It is excellent. If you happen to dim sum here, you should try it. Chances are that you will love this. This is $4.50 for three.
The Deep Fried Ground Pork and Tofu Skin Wrap was another item we like a lot. This is $6. It is bigger than one normally expect, partly because, I think, it’s wider than normal. The deep fried crispy skin balances the texture from the ground pork.
Their dish names are soooo long. The above is called “Steamed Pig’s Cheek and Spinach Noodle in Black Bean Sauce”. Five bucks. The Pork Cheek is good … we like the chewy and springy texture.
While the above looked like it’s just liver but it is a combination with pork dumpling. You can’t see clearly from the angle of this shot.
Despite the Pork Dumpling name, the dumpling also has prawns in to. It also looks like they hand chop the pork (not normal ground pork) because of the texture.
So, for the $5 dish they should call it “Steamed Pork and Prawns Dumpling with Pig’s Liver” instead of just “Steamed Pork Dumpling with Pig’s Liver”.
The above is Pan Fried Tofu with Shrimp Paste. It is $5.
What we like about this is that there are more shrimp paste than tofu (see above). The tofu is really smooth. This is $5.
This next one has abalone and so it a bit more expensive than normal. It is $10 and is called Sliced Abalone and Boneless Chicken in Rice in Hotpot. The soya sauce came in a bowl … lots of it.
Our boys just had to order the Fried Rice. Woah … this is really expensive and is perhaps the most expensive fried rice we ordered in recent memory. Believe it or not, it is $18.
It is called Fried Rice with Diced Seafood and Dried Scallop. While it is nice and well done with loose rice, I felt it is way too expensive for fried rice.
I think it is the dried scallop that makes this expensive. I can’t pick out the taste of the dried scallop.
For dessert, we had the Double Boiled Egg White and Milk Custard. It is light … in Suanne’s words, like cloud. There is a slight hint of ginger in this. Really nice … $4.50. You can almost never go wrong with dessert … any type of dessert.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience … interesting dishes and learned a bit about the protocol of drinking Chinese tea. For the tea leaves, they gave us way more than anyone would be able to finish. Having paid $3 each, we asked that they pack it to go … they even have containers ready for this! Think about it … that is $18 worth of tea for the six of us. Kind of expensive right?
The best part of this meal was meeting with a fan of chowtimes. We had a great time with Aaron and Charmaine wishing that they live here … we could have been great foodie partners. Aaron/Charmaine fought (and won) to pay for this meal. I think it came up to $80 before taxes and tips. Is that right, Aaron?
Anyway … Aaron, Suanne and I wanted to thank you for contacting us and meeting up. One of these days when we go to New York again (which I think we will), YOU show us what New York has to offer in terms of dim sum!