Updated: 29th Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.
I think …
I think some of you follows chowtimes because it is educational. Today, I am going to demonstrate to you how to eat the head of a squab.
There is a procedure you have to follow to devour the trickiest anatomy of the squab. Lucky you … I am gonna show you the technique, step-by-step. This technique is known as the “JS Maneuver”, named after one of the low-key but definitely one of the most prolific foodie in Vancouver.
We went to Lucky Tao.
To tell the truth, we had not heard of Lucky Tao until Joe and LotusRapper put this restaurant in the shortlist for the 8GTCC Cantonese Homestyle Edition. I am not surprised because not many people can see the restaurant from the road, even though it is located along Richmond’s glutton street. It’s along the quietest side of Alexandra Road, at the western end of the road.
From the outside, it looked like Lucky Tao is an old restaurant … like one of those restaurants that were opened during the 1980s during the time when the wave of immigrants from Hong Kong came to escape the uncertainty of the handover to China.
The restaurant is large, like most Cantonese seafood restaurants are. However, it also looked very old school. It is like time stood still here since the 1980s.
Even the captains and waitresses are older (and more experienced) people. While they were neatly dressed in white shirts and tie, I can see that it is old, over-ironed and wrinkly. Like I said, everything here looked like time stood still.
Before we came, we read reviews about poor service in Lucky Tao. Well, it was pretty good actually. They were very efficient and even very personable. So our experience here is definitely very pleasant.
It is also a decidedly a Cantonese restaurant. They speak perfect Cantonese. Many of the customers that night are families with kids and grandparents. I can see why many of their tables are of the bigger sized ones.
We like menus like this. See the page above (click image to enlarge), particularly the bottom part. Those are the “Advance Order” items. They looked very good … and very pricey too.
And then there is three pages of Chef’s Specialties. All of then looked equally as good too. It seems like all the common Cantonese dishes are in the Chef’s Specialties. So you can imagine how long we took to look at the menu.
There are also the usual “Dinner for X People” specials. 4-person menu for $118 … 6-person menu for $178 … 8-person menu for $250.
Too bad we can’t read a word of what is in this.
The first thing they served on the table is a small saucer of salted fried peanuts. Wow, I had not come across this served as we sat down for a long time. Doing this was common years ago but these days, I don’t see much of this anymore.
I mean, the fried peanuts are pretty common. It is just that they served this along with the tea before they took our orders.
First order of business … the squab. I remember ET of Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken raved about the squab in Lucky Tao. So it is a good time to try this and practice the JS Maneuver here.
Like killing two birds with one stone. Except that we only ordered one squab. Squabs are not cheap despite it small size. Lucky Tao’s Braised Crispy Squab is $14 each. Moreover, the boys doesn’t like squab. They think we are weird eating cute little birds.
The squab was pretty good and quite fleshy. I like that it is not too salty. Some squabs I had tried are too salty for my liking.
I guess we will never quite understand what the big deal is with squabs. For the price, it is not worth it compared to say, deep fried crispy chicken.
So why do people like squab so much? Is it because of the texture?
Ta-da … the head of the squab! The object of the JS Maneuver.
Quite revolting, isn’t it?
I had ignored the head thinking that no one would eat this.
Apparently some people do.
Here is how you do it …
It takes an extreme courage … that’s what it takes.
The first step is the hardest. You got to bite the skull and crack it open.
The sound of it is quite sickening. You end up with a piece of the skull in the mouth. So what do you do?
Munch on it? Or spit it out?
Munch on it of course.
I felt barbaric eating this.
The second step is not much easier. Hear this …
The yummiest part of the head is apparently the brain. So, how do you get to it? Use a spoon? No!
You suck the brain out if you follow the JS Maneuver to the book.
OMG … it was not easy, believe me.
I thought the Filipino was worse with their baluts. LOL!
I had enough. I did not go through the third step in the JS Maneuver.
That is to eat the crispy and crunchy beak.
Not bad for the first attempt.
So, do I get the Squab Head badge on my foodie sash?
I like that they have several soup du jour in the restaurant. Most restaurants would only have one.
We asked for the Pork Stomach Soup. We did not like the soup very much, to tell the truth. It was milky white which was quite a turn off for us because we expect it to be the clear type. We also expected to see some whole peppercorn in the soup but the soup is like it’s made with fine powder pepper. It has a soy milk taste to it.
But the meat that came with the soup was interesting. Lots of stuff and lots in quantity too. And all this for $20 which we thought is a good deal.
It has ginkgo nut, carrot, water chestnut, bean curd sheet, pork and pork stomach. A big mound of it …
… and underneath is lots of bean curd sheet. I think what ruins this soup for us is that they put in too much ingredients in it. The ingredients we like but the soup we did not.
Ginkgo. Here is a little trivia for you.
Ginkgo came from a tree called the Ginkgo Bilboa which is the national tree of China. This is an ancient tree with some trees reportedly are over 1500 years old. The Ginkgo is the only species of the tree existing today … all other species are extinct and so there are no other trees that are related to the Ginkgo Bilboa today.
Ginkgo is believe to help in retaining memory. So if your kids are studying for exams, feed them ginkgo seed. I got all these interesting facts from wikipedia (where else?).
The Steamed Pork Patty with Salted Fish was $14. Immediately … we did not like it.
Firstly, the salted fish are in big pieces and quite a lot too, making this dish very salty if we mashed all of them up. The salted fish was also very boney. We had to spend time to carefully pick them out.
It is a large dish and it does smell nice. But that’s about it.
The dish became dry quickly as the pork absorbs all the “jup” up.
In memory of the Chiu Chow restaurant we went to recently and the many discussions around oyster omelettes, we decided to order this.
They call this the Pan Fried Oyster Omelette Chiu Chow Style and costs $14.
It was eggy. It was overcooked. It was like a pizza, served in wedges. It was dry.
It was food.
On the wall in the restaurant, they have a large picture poster of the dumpling with ingredients spread out. It looked like it’s their specialty. We decided to try that too.
They just call this the Special Dumpling (Jung) $6. They warned us that it will take 20 minutes to make. We said fine. We’ll wait.
It has dried scallop, pork, chestnut and salted egg yolk … which I like … a lot.
It also had mung bean … which I hate … a lot.
They do this well. Just that I hate the beans. I prefer the hum-yook-jung sans beans better. My mum used to make it at home and we all love her jungs.
We were about to leave and they said that the meal included free dessert. Suanne brightens up. The boys face darkened.
I like the fact that they gave TWO types of complimentary desserts. It is green bean sweet soup and Osmanthus Longan Goji Berry Jello. Very nice.
This is the only place we came across that serves 2 free desserts. First the fried peanuts and then two free desserts.
The talk on the table for the day was a nag from mum to the boys … how they MUST sleep earlier one week before the school starts again. They had been sleeping at 11PM at night everyday during the summer break. Mum went on and told them why they need to sleep earlier … focus better in class, that sort of things.
We talked about Sonic and lamenting why we don’t get it here in Canada. Then the discussion went to Sonic the Hedgehog which I know very little about. So it was educational for me.
Arkensen declared that he is going to buy the Blue Ray version of Lord of the Rings … and then went on to say “you never let me spend my own money!”. He he he … yeah … although they have money in their own bank account, they need our permission to use them. And then he declared that the moment he can spend his own money “next time”, he will buy a new LCD TV and put it in his room.
So we talked about buying expensive stuff verses cheap stuff. Like … is it better to spend more for better quality or just spend as little as possible as long as it does the job. Me? I believe in the saying “Good things not cheap; cheap things not good”. Suanne? She is cheap. OK, before I get into trouble … she is careful with money. That is why her pen (above) is so hard to write with, sometimes it doesn’t retract well … and god knows where she got it from. I am sure she did not buy it. She said “It works, OK?”
The meal was somewhat expensive as you can see. Maybe we will come back again … maybe not. If we do, it is just for nostalgia sake and when we wanted Cantonese homestyle food.