Sunday, July 3, 2011

Morning Tea

Garden City Hot Pot
8788 McKim Way, RIchmond, British Colombia
It was a beautiful sunny morning in Vancouver, perfect for sleeping in and doing nothing. Unfortunately, I was woken up in the wee hours of the morning (9 am) so that we could go out for dim sum. Ridiculous!
We arrived at Garden City Hot Pot (新鏞記火鍋) sometime around 10:30 or something. Contrary to what the name of the restaurant suggest, Garden City Hot Pot does indeed serve dim sum in addition to hot pots. But what sets these guys apart from your typical dim sum places is the tea. While most places serve tea in a giant teapot at your table, pre-brewed and ready to be consumed, Garden City serves you tea leaves in a separate dish and a pot of hot water on an induction cooker attached to the table.

So basically, you add the amount of leaves you desire into your cup (more leaves for a stronger tea and less if that's not your thing). Pour a bit of water to wash them and dump the wash water (not the leaves) into a separate bowl. Next, fill your cup with more hot water. Steep the tea to your desire strength. Next is the tricky part, transferring the scalding hot tea from the steeping cup to the drinking cup without burning yourself. See how the pros do it in this video:

Person with the messiest area pays the bill!

Moving on. The first dim sum to arrive was the steamed beef balls. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of beef balls. In general... But they were actually decent at Garden City. It almost always have chenpi mashed into the meat but I couldn't really taste it here so that was definitely a surprise. It's served with a broth and kip zap on the side. Definitely not a fan of kip zap.

The induction cooker noted above is also used to keep the congee (rice porridge) and noodle soups piping hot. A plain congee is brought out with the ingredients laid out on a separate dish. We had the pork liver congee with Chinese oil stick (deep fried dough). The innards were chewy (good chewy because soggy innards is just plain gross) and the Chinese oil stick was crispy and fresh. So good.

The sticky rice was the next to arrive. Wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed, it is stuffed with minced meat, mushrooms, sticky rice and various asian garnishes. Cutting open the lotus leaves reveals the moist centre. We devoured it like a pack of hungry hyenas.

The steam shrimp dumplings arrived shortly after. I quickly snapped a picture before they were all gone.

Next up, we had the pan fried rice crepe in XO sauce. Probably my favorite dish. XO sauce is a spicy seafood sauce. It's so good. The rice crepe was super smooth and silky. This indicates that it is good sh*t. I'm pretty certain we ordered 4 plates of it. Because it was uber tasty and the portions were not large. Om nom nom nom.

My other favorite dim sum dish, the pork dumplings, finally arrived. Top with fish roe, the pork dumplings were so juicy.

We were pretty full at this point but the food kept arriving... Check out these sweet pictures of the Asian calamari, stuffed eggplant and tofu and spring rolls sitting on top of the kettle. They were pretty average. Nothing too special.

Atmosphere: 5 out 10. Average decor. There is no signal in the restaurant so you might want to put your phone in airplane mode so that it doesn't drain your battery.
Food: 6.5 out of 10. Good food. Steeping my own tea has it's ups and downs. Makes me feel like a connoisseur of sorts. But sometimes I just want a drink now. Not now. Right now!
Presentation: 5 out of 10. Average presentation.
Price: 7 out of 10. Prices are lower if you go early in the morning.
Services: 5 out of 10. Average service. Plates were generally cleared in a timely manner.
Overall: 6 out of 10. Pretty good overall. Points for the tea experience. It almost justifies the extra fee they charge.

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