Updated 12th Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.
Complete Disclosure: This post is written based on dinner provided free by the Golden Great Wall Restaurant. For right or wrong, the request for this dinner was initiated entirely by me (Ben). This was perhaps founded on a flawed Win-Win-Win plan I formulated. Please review this post for full context of this dinner.
This is a controversial post. I know. I already got quite a bit of feedback about this hare-brained idea of mine already … about how wrong it was for me to think of doing such a thing. Despite the feedback, I went ahead with the Win-Win-Lose scheme. This was because I did not want to go back on my word and the plans were quite advanced already. I thought that at worst, it is I who would get the brunt from some of you. So I am ready and willing … lay it all on me one more time if you want.
For what it is worth, Suanne and I had stopped accepting invites and such. In our mind there is nothing wrong with that. So bloggers out there, please do not think chowtimes is trying to project a holier-than-thou or cleverer-than-thous kind of attitude. No, I am not in the habit of passing judgment on other people or bloggers. It is just our personal preference because we always find it hard to write about sponsored meals. I hope that over the years, you accept that Suanne and I do not find it easy to be judgmental. It is just the environment we grew up in. We treasure being giving, supportive and all things positive. I hope you understand.
I do feel that chowtimes is under closer scrutiny than any other food blog. It might be true, it might not … but it is how I feel. It is not a bad thing mind you. It is good. We look at it that people care for chowtimes and what it represents. It is worth mentioning again that Suanne spent countless hours about a year ago going through every of the 2000 past posts to identify all the reviews we had done that is sponsored. She marked every post with the red chili logo warning that you see above with a Complete Disclosure statement. We want to put it up front and clearly so that you noticed it before even a single word is read by you. We identify even if the restaurant gives us a small snack for us to sample/taste even though we pay for the rest of the meal.
So here is a warning for you again. Please click the link here to read on knowing fully well what this post is all about …
When I put up the suggestion for a restaurant to sponsor a table of ten for the lucky chowtimes readers, the Golden Great Wall Restaurant was the first to contact us. That post where I put forward the proposal drew 30 likes and 68 comments of support. I thought wow, game on.
Since this was limited to a table of ten, we had to make a draw for 4 pairs of seats going to the lucky chowtimes reader. That post on “Anyone Likes a Free Alaskan King Crab Dinner” garnered 187 comments. A total of 203 entries were recorded and the winners were announced on this post.
So we had the dinner. And it was a marvelous dinner. We enjoyed ourselves and the Golden Great Wall most certainly put their best foot forward for all of us who attended. To us it was a spectacular dinner and we were quite awed by some of the elements of the dinner. [Thanks a lot Golden Great Wall for doing this!]
Suanne and I were there earlier than the rest. The table setting was stunning to say the least. We marveled at the table’s centerpiece.
This centerpiece was carved by one of the Golden Great Wall’s chefs from China. Needless to say, we were all spending time taking pictures of each of the components. The entire thing is carved with carrots, daikons, suey choy and decorated with parsley and celery. This centerpiece can last five days if stored properly.
The Golden Great Wall Restaurant told us that the chef who carved this will be conducting some basic carving and cooking classes in future.
Here, I’ll let you gawk a bit on this centerpiece …
The details is simply amazing. We were particularly amazed with the bird carving and the size of it. We were told that for competitions, the bird is even larger and that the wings are longer and will curl more.
In comparison the table setting was simple. LOL!
Show time … the obligatory presentation of the Alaskan King Crab before it is brought to the kitchen. This was a 10 lb AKC.
We had seen bigger but this will be more than enough for a table of 10. Hehehe … of late I wanted to pose with the AKC before I eat it. You know what … I think that going forward, it should be protocol for the diners to pose for a picture with the AKC rather than just look at it. They make great photos to show off to your family and friends.
We had cold appetizers. The above is Shanghai Style Pickle Daikon. It was crunchy and sweetish, has a longan after taste. We were told this was marinated with sugar and vinegar for a few days. Very nice.
The sesame flavoured jelly fish also had a crunchy texture. This is quite a common appy dish.
But this next one is another stunner. This is called the Northern Style Pickle Cucumber. It is marinated with vinegar and fresh garlic. It looked kind of off sitting there …
… until they took one end and …
… raised it high above the head. This thing is amazingly long. The carving skill in transforming a 10 inch cucumber into a 3 feet long piece is quite a sight.
After the show, they cut it up and served as normal cucumber slices. It even tasted good.
You think it is machine cut? Or do you think it is cut by hands?
We also had Xiao Loong Bao which had a gingery taste.
Looks doughy? OK, truth is this is just OK. Not great.
So this is called Little Steamed Dumpling. Suanne and I had tried their giant soup dumpling before. The giant soup dumpling is like this except that it is much bigger and it fits into a mini steamer basket. You drink the soup with a straw and the dough is not to be eaten (it’s too thick).
The first course of Alaska King Crab is the Deep Fried Alaska King Crab knuckle stir fry with salt, pepper and onion. It’s aroma was inescapable when it was brought to the table.
It was good. As you can see, the batter is slightly thicker then the ones we had in Sun Sui Wah.
Talking about this style of AKC, we were thinking of the “Golden Sand” version. You know, the version where it is covered with salted egg yolk batter like what Lily was describing of her AKC dinner. The other alternative is the “Typhoon Shelter” as expounded by Buddha Girl. I had never tried both of the “Golden Sand” and “ Typhoon Shelter” version before but I sure plan on trying it some day … OK, I mean next year. LOL!
The deep fried version is not just that. It came accompanied with green vegetable consommé which had a mild flavour. This is meant to bring out the sweetness of the crab.
Maybe my taste buds are not that refined because I actually prefer it without the consommé. This was a great first course.
The second course is the commonest way to make the AKC. This is usually served as the first course. Sequence does not matter to us but it just stood out that this came after the deep fried version.
The Steamed Alaska King Crab with minced garlic and oil is what it is called. It has BOTH raw and fried garlic which I like a lot.
It was garnished with slivered green onions. Taste-wise it was very garlicky and Suanne and I like it better than Sun Sui Wah’s version. The reason is the fried garlic which provides a bit more sharpness to the taste.
The meat comes out in one piece unlike SSW’s which was flaky.
We had a third course of the Alaskan King Crab too. The Golden Great Wall tried to serve this westernized. This is French Inspired Plated Alaska King Crab, accompanied with garlic consommé and drizzled with garlic, onion and herb consommé.
It is plated with steamed Shanghai bok choy, corn and mushroom.
The garlic consommé was slightly vinegarish. A nice departure from the usual Chinese style. I thought that spreading a crab to three dish was spreading it too thin. If only this was another crab so that we could have nicer bigger juicier pieces. OK, am being greedy.
There is a fourth course of the AKC too. This course, actually served at the end of the dinner, is the AKC Fried Rice with meat from the AKC head and served in the shell.
The Golden Great Wall Restaurant does not specialize in Alaskan King Crab. They are not like the Chinese Seafood restaurants who has big tanks with many AKCs. They concentrate more on lobsters and crabs which is in more demand. If you want to eat the AKC here, you have to pre-order as they only have a small tank.
Out of curiosity, we asked Benny, the owner about the meat ratio of AKC. He told us it’s about 60% meat. So if you order a 10 pounder, you end up with about 6 lbs of meat. You reckon that is about right?
Benny was telling us that early in the seaon, the crab will have more water content. At about 6 to 7 weeks into the season, they will have more meat as the crab grows into the confines of the shell. I was not too sure about that. I was thinking of the video below which I posted once.
See the difference in color of the new shell vs the old shell? I don’t know but I reckon that the red color new shell have lower meat to shell ratio … and just prior to molting with the orangey color it has a higher meat to shell ratio because the meat is fuller. Is that theory sound? OK, I made that up … LOL! I want to learn more!
We also had Strawberry Coulis. Not that I know what Coulis is. It was refreshing. What I like was that it had grated coconut and coconut milk which cuts the sharpness of the strawberry.
The Fresh Shiitake Mushroom, Enoki Mushroom and Snow Peas quick stir fry was fresh. But simply overwhelmed by the earlier dishes. “Hi mushrooms. It is not that we don’t love you. It is just that we love the King Crab more. Nothing personal.”
The Chinese Parsley Stir Fry with Chicken was a simple dish but visually pleasing. We usually use parsley as garnishing but this stir fry is pretty good.
The next one is the Fern Pi or Starch Noodle Stir Fry. It was served warm and slightly spicy. It had cilantro and ‘jar choy’.
We usually have this served cold with a peanuty sauce. Not so for this one. A bit different.
That night was busy for them but needless to say we had great service. The dinner was well paced as we took out time having a course after another. It was great to be able to meet with chowtimes readers and chatting with them. I had a great night.
Oh … we still have more food.
The dessert was red & green pepper consomme, served on vanilla bean ice cream, and drizzled with white chocolate ganache sauce. We can really taste the pepper in the chocolate lace. So it was a pleasantly odd taste. Hehehe … I thought it would be great to throw in a few tongue numbing Sichuan peppercorns.
Look at that. Chocolate sculpture made by Doug for this chowtimes event. It was so precarious that I was worried it will topple over. It did not.
The chocolate sculpture was not as visually stunning as the earlier one that Doug made for us. The above is much nicer yeah?
The three chocolate piece that accompanied the dessert was the following:
- Fresh strawberry coated with dark and white chocolate
- Chocolate pyramid with dark chocolate shell, filled with white chocolate grand mariner ganache.
- Red bean truffle coated with white chocolate.
They were served on a warm plate so that the chocolate is tempered and tastes better; when cold, the chocolate is crystallized.
Look at the size of the strawberry.
Because of the centerpiece was so nice, I asked if they would be willing to have a demo for us on the food carving. They were more than willing to show us!
I took a video of that carving. The quality of the video is not good because of the lighting but I hope you get the idea. Actually, it is the quality caused by my Flip.
While we were there, a chowtimes reader (Ming) came by and said hi to us. I don’t think I remember him but it is good to be able to meet up with people. I invited Ming to join us but he was already done dinning with his family but he wanted to just say hi before he goes. [Please to meet you Ming].
Golden Great Wall told us that they will be inviting chefs from China to come over to make specialty dishes and dim sums. These chefs will come over in rotation so that they can showcase specialty dishes unlike we commonly see in Vancouver. These chefs will also be filmed by GlobalTV. So I am looking forward to these chefs.
Thanks a lot Golden Great Wall for being such a great host for this event. We enjoyed ourselves tremendously.
This Post Has 14 Comments
You gotta stop beating yourself up for it! You did an amazing thing for your readers! Giving them the opportunity to go to a great event and seeing what all the hype is about King Crab.
You are always thinking about your viewers that you do so much to share your passion for food with them.
Even though not everyone was able to go, your post was a great read! The restaurant clearly went all out to give you guys an awesome experience!
I have never seen cucumber prepared like that..so cool!
I can’t imagine someone making a sculpture for me for my blog name, it’s simply too long and therefore too much work.
impressive to say the least.
You shouldn’t beat yourself up too much over it, Ben. It’s nice to see, sometimes, an establishment’s in-house skill(s). Enjoyed your post – and the rest of your blog.
I think it was a win-win-win dinner, looked great! Good on you for making it happen.
Seemed like Golden Great Wall managed to pull it off: am glad for them. Sounds like a fantastic dinner, Ben.
Great Great Dinner Sigh,If I had only known 1 hour earlier.Ben stop beating yourself,It was a Wonderful Dinner and a Real Treat for the lucky readers.It was Win,Win and Win Ignore the Trolls
Kudos. This activity raised the bar for everyone Ben. Over the course of this series on AKC we have read how famous restaurants can fail to provide both service and quality despite advance planning and consultation.
Now we see the potential for innovation and for quality.
The message sent to readers and restaurants alike is one of education and awareness; something that the Vancouver food scene needs if the really good things happening here are to continue to prosper.
You recognised the risks with this activity, but I think you managed the risk very well.
Beautiful sculptures. A platform like, say, media attention from a popular blog does seem to give the restaurant an opportunity to showcase some of their chefs’ hidden talents that are probably not used every day. It looks like they were having fun welcoming your winners. The restaurants sculpting chef(s) clearly do some wonderful work. I hope that these talents are given the opportunity to shine at non-media events, too. 🙂
The dishes look great. Great Wall’s focus on the AKC was accomplished nicely. From what I saw, the AKC dishes look good. Do you know if the consommes are available for anyone since i’ve never seen this done before? Thanks for the post
Hi Buddha Boy: No I don’t think so but I’ll let Doug speak to this. I am saying because AKC does not seems to be a permanent thing that GGW makes given the size of their tanks and all. Someone asked me about the same sort of question too on the chowtimes facebook page. It was about the long cucumber. GGW does not have them on the menu but they can make it if asked. Doug did mention it is $8.99. Ben
The cucumber was cut by hand by the same carver who had cut the beautiful carved bird center piece, thus, not cut by machine or hand tools, only with a simple pairing knife! The consomme was for this event only because we we’re experimenting if it would taste nicely with AKC. Some consomme sauces we’re successful and other needed to be adjusted for future uses. The original idea for the chocolate sculpture was to have many flowers and vines attached to the colums but I needed more time… =/
Thanks for sharing with us your dining adventure….Im sorry that I didn’t win the invitation however I felt that I shared also in your meal. Im so glad you all enjoyed it. The food and the presentations were amazing. Thanks for sharing with us!!!! I love Chowtimes xoxo
Wow, what a spread! I thought at first the cucumber was supposed to resemble a snake; it sure looks like one. Thanks for sharing your experience!