Mr. Ho Wonton House

When it gets really cold I always crave a hot bowl of pho.  Last night was no exception.  But somehow we ended up at Mr. Ho Wonton House.  How did that happen??  Well blame me and my trait of easily distractedness.  As Hitman and I were going along Kingsway I got distracted by the neon signs of the local Korean restaurants, so I then suggested we do Korean instead.  Then I made a joke and suggested we could try On On’s Wonton House, to which Hitman in all seriousness suggested we try Mr. Ho’s, since it was voted best Chinese food in Burnaby.

I cringed my nose and suggested that the votes may not have been cast by Chinese people…  However, I am always in search of a good wonton house within reach, so I agreed.  Why not?  So off to Mr. Ho’s we went.

Upon entering my suspicions were somewhat confirmed: there weren’t any Asian patrons in the house, and there was sweet and sour pork and wonton soup everywhere.  However I found a bit (a little bit) of comfort in the fact that all the servers there were Cantonese, much like the servers at Hon’s Wun Ton House or other similar establishments in Richmond.

I felt like having a big plate of chow mein though.  “Comfort food”, I told Hitman.  So I ordered the Shredded Pork and Bean Sprouts Chow Mein ($8.95).  Hitman decided on the Pan fried Rice Noodle  with Beef and XO Sauce ($7.95) plus a personal order of Wonton Soup and Egg Roll (+$1.50 each).

Mr. Ho Wonton House: Egg roll & Wonton Soup

The small items came first obviously.  Which is actually different from other Asian establishments as usually they don’t seem to really put much effort in to making sure that appies come before the mains!  The egg roll was your standard fair.  Nicely crisp, fresh tasting, and the oil didn’t seem old (old overused oil would make the roll dark in color and you would definitely taste it).  I could even see some strands of meat in it.

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Dinner at Golden Sea City Restaurant: Snake Soup Starter!

Wendy’s parents recommended this restaurant for a recent family dinner since it’s one of her and Wendy’s favourite dim sum spots (see Wendy’s review here –sad to say that apparently they no longer have the food carts though).  I wasn’t planning on a review since it had already been done…until I saw an especially interesting menu item: snake!  I’m always up for trying new and exotic foods and this was both to me.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup

The snake comes in a soup, Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup ($18.80 or $6.80 per head) to be exact.  You can season the broth with white pepper but it had enough flavour on its own for my taste buds, including small amounts of preserved orange peel.  The fungus and bamboo shoots were present along with a few morsels of pork and little slivers of ginger for a bit of kick.  There was cilantro and some type of airy wonton crisps which immediately changed texture when added to the soup and were a welcome addition.  As for the snake meat, the white portions tasted like chicken and the darker pieces where you could see the spine indentation like the one top right reminded me of eel.  Overall a dense, satisfying soup that was nuanced in flavour and texture.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth

The Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth ($9.88) consisted of bok choy and mushroom along with the bean curd in a fish broth.  I always find these fish broths a bit bland but it did make the otherwise unappetizing bean curd taste pretty good when soaked in it, and it enhanced the flavour of the bok choy without smothering it.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot

The Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot ($12.80) was an interesting dish, and one that not everybody liked.  Had the bland, milky pork been served on its own I wouldn’t have had more than a bite, but when combined with the strong taste of the pickled veggie it worked to an extent.  For me it was hard getting past the texture of the soft bone, which was somewhere between a tendon and a bone in firmness.  I thought it was the actual rib bones at first since that’s exactly what it looked like, but turns out it’s just cartilage that joins the ribcage to the spine.  Either way…meh.

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Home-cooking Recipe: Stir fried Veggies with Mochi Fishcake; Steamed Egg Tofu

Stir fried Veggies with Mochi Fishcake and Steamed Egg Tofu

I actually cook more often than this blog would have you know.  I enjoy cooking, and I’m proud to say that more often than not, my creations are edible and actually yummy.  You see, I’m the type to just throw in whatever condiments/seasonings I have on hand in whatever amounts I think is right.  I think I got that from my parents, mostly my dad, who is a far better cook than my mom (sorry mom!)

Another reason why I cook so often is simply…I find my stuff is more tasty than Hitman’s!!!  I much prefer Chinese cooking than Caucasian, but we do have pasta quite often as it’s very easy.

I would like to share more of my cooking on here..it’s not easy as it’s difficult to take pictures while you’re busy stirring or chopping and your hands are all dirty.  But here’s a start.

Recipe: Stirfried Veggies with Mochi Fishcake and Steamed Egg Tofu

Stir fried Veggies with Mochi Fishcake

Stirfried Veggies with Mochi Fishcake

Note:  I got the Mochi Fishcake at T&T Supermarket, where you get the various hotpot fishballs and such.  I think this is their creation.  You can for sure substitute any other ‘meats’…this particular night this was the only easy-to-thaw ‘meat’ I had on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 Fishcakes, cut into 3
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 6-7 dried shrimps
  • 2 cups frozen veggies
  • approx 2 tbsp Somen Sauce (a type of sweetened soy sauce)
  • approx 2 tbsp Low-sodium soy sauce

(Again, I didn’t measure the condiments…I just splashed them on to taste).

Instructions:

  1. Soak the dried shrimps in a little water till tender and cut in half. Save the water.
  2. Spray pan with olive oil spray and heat on medium. Meanwhile, microwave frozen veggies according to directions (4 mins for me).
  3. When pan is hot, add onions and cook til tender.
  4. Add dried shrimps (without water) and heat till fragrant.
  5. Add fishcakes and stir till hot.
  6. Add microwaved veggies.  Stir till hot.
  7. Add the Somen sauce and low-sodium soy sauce and the shrimp water.  Cook until everything’s heated through.

Steamed Egg Tofu with Garlic Black Bean Sauce

Steamed Egg Tofu with Garlic Black Bean Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg egg tofu
  • 1/2 tsp garlic black bean sauce
  • 3/4 tbsp cold water
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp chopped green onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for steaming.
  2. While waiting, cut open package of egg tofu and slice into 3/4 inch rounds.  Assemble on a platter.
  3. Mix together garlic black bean sauce, cold water, and corn starch. Pour onto the egg tofu rounds.
  4. Sprinkle half of the green onion and half of the cilantro on top. Save the rest for afterwards.
  5. When the water is boiling, place the platter into the steamer and steam for 15 minutes.
  6. After 15 minutes, take the platter out and sprinkle the rest of the green onion and cilantro on top.

Bon appetit!

Victory Seafood (M’s) Restaurant Richmond and Excelsior

It’s that time of year, the most wonderful time of the year as Wendy calls/sings it: king crab season, and her and I got a chance to indulge, not once, but twice!  We decided to treat her parents one weekend, and they kindly returned the favour the next.  For our treat it was M’s Seafood in Richmond Public Market, a relatively modest Chinese banquet place, which is a sister location to the Victory Seafood in Crystal Mall.  Things can get a tad bit confusing here since the same owner runs a travel agency, which shares the same name as M’s in Chinese, which ALSO has locations in Crystal Mall and Richmond Public Market.  Phew!

We had some bewilderment with regards to reservations as well, since we were directed to the Kingsway location after calling the Chinese Restaurant Hotline.  Then we were given someone’s private line by the Kingsway location, but in the end it turned out we didn’t need reservations anyway since the place was completely empty when we first arrived.

I was pretty astonished at how quiet it was considering every time we’ve been out to eat on a weekend in Richmond everything seems to be jam-packed.  It’s only been open four or five months though so maybe that accounts for the lack of patrons, and things picked up with a fair sized birthday party later on in the evening.  On second thought maybe it’s the terrible reputation their Burnaby location has, but thankfully our visit to this new spot was pretty satisfying overall.  We picked the Alaskan king crab set menu for four ($188), and after a preliminary round of tea the first appetizers arrived.

Victory Seafood (M's) Restaurant Richmond: Battered seafood cakes

This was a pretty impressive looking first dish and set the tone for the evening nicely.  Battered seafood cakes drizzled with a sweet chili sauce alternated with cucumber spears and tiny cubes of marinated beef shank, artfully plated with a serving of sesame jellyfish in the middle.  I personally couldn’t get enough of the seafood cake’s perfect textures and the sauce was used sparingly enough to not overpower them. The beef was sweet and satisfying, and the jellyfish tasted better to me than usual.

Victory Seafood (M's) Restaurant Richmond: Fish maw and crab soup

We all got some fairly generous hunks of crab meat in the fish maw and crab soup course, not too much to say about it other than that it was decent.

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East Meets West and Gets an Elbow to the Head at Top Cantonese

Not to be outdone by my anniversary surprise, Wendy planned a veritable feast of Chinese delicacies I had been wanting to try for my birthday.  I should insert a disclaimer here that Wendy is originally from Hong Kong while I’m Caucasian.  You’ll see why in a moment…  Acting on a friend’s recommendation we chose Top Cantonese, a banquet-style restaurant on Kingsway.

Top Cantonese

After making the reservation we found out that a Chinese couple we know had celebrated the wife’s birthday there just days before so we took that as a good omen.  Upon arrival we got off to an awkwardly humorous start that was to set the tone for the evening; while standing in the entranceway waiting for the group ahead of us to be seated, I was leaning with my arm outstretched against the wall.  Just as I was lowering my arm a straggler from the group darted underneath and I wacked her full force on the head with my elbow.  My immediate reaction was to apologize profusely and pat her softly on the head where I had hit her, but this seemed to cause even more consternation.  I felt like I had broken some obscure ancient tradition ie “do not touch the head or you will steal the person’s soul”.  Oh well on to the food…

Top Cantonese: Honey badger vs. cobra vs. crab

Honey badger vs. cobra vs. crab

For the main we had picked dungeness crab, so our waiter brought a fair sized live one to the table for our appraisal.  Looked good to me but I had Wendy ask if I could hold it just to be sure 😛 The crab was clamping onto my wrist…for some reason this came as a shock to me but felt kinda cool like the crab was trying to cuddle up or something.

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