All I can tell you guys (again!) is that LotusRapper and Joe had been working real hard at the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner. Can’t help it too because they are both perfectionists. But they are getting close, real close. The general plans are there in place but they want to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.
A couple of weeks ago, a few of us met at the Red Star Seafood Restaurant. We met there not only because Red Star is one of the better Cantonese restaurant in Vancouver and is on the list of restos to check out for the 8GTCC project. I also wanted to go there to try their Barbeque Duck which won an award in the difficult-to-perfect duck category.
Believe it or not, I had never been to Red Star before even though we had posted about this restaurant twice before (the Granville location and the Richmond location). It was Suanne who visited the restaurant both times.
Suanne blogged about the Granville location of Red Star about 4 years ago. The strange thing is that she had dinner with a school mate of mine who I had not met ever since I left secondary school! Andy and I re-discovered each other quite by accident through Facebook. After so many years, I did not remember what he looked like but I remember his name. Andy had moved to Portland for further studies and we lost touch. We were supposed to meet over dinner but fate had it that I had to go to London for work at the last minute. So Suanne represented the family in the dinner and she doesn’t know Andy at all!
Red Star had been operating in the Granville Street location for many years and had just recently opened a location in Richmond.
Red Star is one of the well respected Chinese restaurants around town. It is a well managed place. No high glitz, tall crystal chandaliers like some of those super fancy place but it is still classy. The focus here is on good quality food and serving in real Cantonese style.
As expected the restaurant is very busy. It is full and had a long wait list at noon.
Being a restaurant who serves nothing but the best, they could be pricey. Two pieces of brocolli costs $118. It has a small piece of meat on the side. Yes, for that price they thrown in a bit of soya broth — for free.
BTW, did you notice in the picture above that the smaller the “meat” is, the more expensive it gets?
We were there for dim sum and so the above menu is for dim sum (clickable to enlarge).
I like their menu. It is on a pricey side. Red Star is not one of those $1.99 dim sum places. You get a few items at $3.75 (small) but mostly they are up to $6 for the more common dim sum.
It is the Specialty Dim Sums that I was really interested in (the image on the left above). They are pricier but for those of you who want more than siu mai, har gow and foong jau, this is the section you want to look at. If only I could have it ALL!
We got the order form. But they are all in Chinese! We struggled for a little while and decided to ask for an English version.
The waitress immediately knew what we wanted and told us that the numbers on the menu corresponded to the numbers on the order form. I don’t know about you but I thought it was good that it matches because most Chinese restaurants does not take the trouble at such minute detail to make sure they matched.
Seconds later, the waitress turned up with a picture menu for us. That is so insulting. LOL!
Doesn’t she know who we are? Don’t give us kiddie menu. So, without saying a word, we took a half second glance at it and chuck that aside. We continued to struggle to order the food through the wordy menu.
Sigh … actually, I often felt like second class citizens in Chinese restaurants. I will never be looked upon by these restaurants as a dim sum aficionado because I can’t read Chinese.
You know, I actually took Chinese as a subject in school before? Fine, it was only in the first three grades but I was top of the class [giving myself a pat on the back]. I got a few kiddie-level articles printed in the school year book too. But after 3 years, I dropped out of that class.
So I can’t read even simple words at all. I can only recognize the word “star” and “tea” above.
What does it say anyway? Does it tell the name of the tea in the teapot? If it does, I am mighty impressed that Red Star printed these for each type of tea they carry. I mean, it is totally unnecessary but it will show classiness.
I made sure that they serve the Barbeque Duck. This is what I want to taste.
Red Star won silver in the CRA (Chinese Restaurant Award) category of duck. We ordered half a duck which is $16. It is a bit pricier than getting it from siu mei (defined here) places for sure but seriously, … there is no comparison whatsoever.
Barbeque Duck is about taste and texture but this one also smells very good from the aromatic of five spices used.
It is served with plum sauce but with this, I totally did not need it. Look at the piece above … it is perfect isn’t it? And it is not just the choicest part that I like but almost the entire plate is like this.
Unlike many places where there are a lot of fat deposited under the skin this one has just enough to make it juicy. The skin is crispy and the meat plentiful. Even by itself without the skin, the meat is full of flavour.
Oh yeah. If anyone asks me what I think is the best BBQ duck, I will point to this one from Red Star.
Because of the bewildering choices, LotusRapper asked what everyone wanted. It’s a standard question when you are confused. As some of you may know, I immediately said I don’t mind anything but I don’t want normal dim sum stuff like siu mai and har gow. Joe immediately said that for him siu mai is a must. So we got that.
I must say I was pretty impressed with the simple siu mai ($4.50). It actually tasted good and different from those cheap frozen ones. It has the correct springy texture and the meat tasted fresh. I appreciate it being topped with the roes.
The Steamed Pork Ribs ($4.50) is another dish I would not have ordered myself because it is so common. But they do it a bit differently …
… they had Taro Noodle bundles underneath it. I mean, the taro noodle is nothing out of the ordinary but I like the thinking.
This is equally done very well and had a tinge of spiciness to it too. Tasty is how I would say it is.
The Three Mushrooms Rice Roll ($5.25) has lots of filling. Something for the vegetarians to enjoy. It is just that being a meatatarian, it is against my religion to say I love this.
The name Dolphin Shaped Pastry ($4.50) sounded interesting. We had to find out what it is because we can’t imagine anyone of us had tried it before.
LOL! It is what exactly it says it is … a pastry shaped like a dolphin. I don’t know where this came from as a Chinese dim sum item. You reckon that the chef just chanced on some dolphin molds and decided to make a new dish out of it?
It looked cute and may appeal to the kids.
It is filled with mung bean paste. The receipt says it is lotus seed paste but then maybe it is just that. It is mostly the skin which is chewy. The skin is quite thick too. I will definitely give this a pass the next time.
The Deep fired Mini Yam Balls looked particularly delightful. I thought that it is perfectly browned that makes me want to pick one up immediately. It is coated with sesame seeds and a bit of sweet syrup.
The Pea Shoots Wrapped in Bean Curd Sheet is a nice touch. I mean, having pea shoots in it is not particularly common.
Love it. The bean curd sheet is crispy and it is served with Worcestershire sauce.
The food here was better than average. I like Red Star. This is certainly a restaurant that is a very serious contender to host the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner but we cannot confirm for now.
Yeah, some of you have already been hearing rumours of the next 8GTCC Cantonese dinner. I am so surprised how some of details are known although it is not a secret. How on earth did some of you find out anyway? LOL!
I think I want to hold off announcing the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner a little longer. This is because we wanted to make 101% sure we are doing something that is gonna be good. LotusRapper and Joe are perfectionists and that is good for all of us! We are close but to tell the truth, there are a few more matters we need to close off on — basically it is down to the detailed ingredients of the menu and the pricing but unfortunately that it what it all boils down to. Personally, despite all the hard work, I would be willing to back off the plans and reset if we cannot get the best for the 8GTCC Cantonese event.
We did learn one thing though. Organizing a Cantonese dinner is more difficult than we thought. We thought it would be the easiest since there are so many Cantonese restos around. But we realize that because Cantonese cuisine is so familiar to everyone we had to make sure we address every conceivable doubts in the plans. You know what I am glad about? It is that LotusRapper and Joe is giving their all in putting together this really difficult cuisine.
For those of you waiting for the 8GTCC Canto dinner announcement, hang on a bit there for the moment.