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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Bourbon St Grill

Bourbon St Grill

If you’ve been by the new Richmond Center food court, you’ve probably been accosted by the hawkers at Bourbon Street Grill.  Apparently it’s a franchise, and Coquitlam Center got theirs first, but for Wendy and I it was a new experience and based on their friendly staff and abundant samples we picked it as the first place to try in the food court.  But there are many other interesting choices for future visits, including a Korean BBQ joint with burgers too, and a really modern looking Japanese place that serves takoyaki and other street food as well as noodle and sushi dishes.   There’s too many interesting places to list here, so I’ll get to the review at hand:

Bourbon St Grill

The concept is based on Southern USA Cajun/Creole style cooking, so think comfort food.  The staff there are awesome, and don’t be shy to ask for samples of whatever catches your eye before you buy.

Bourbon St Grill

This is a sample of their meat dishes, including Cajun Chicken, Blackened Shrimp and Blackened Fish.

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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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Chop Steakhouse – New Year’s Eve Menu

Just a note before we start: one of Wendy’s coworkers made a comment along the lines of, “Wow, you guys really like surprises…!”, after hearing about our latest dinner out, so at the risk of sounding too overly cute here’s just one more.  Last one, we promise!!  …Well at least for a good long while anyway 😛

This time it was Wendy’s turn.  I feel pretty dumb that I didn’t clue in, but we had just planned a quiet New Year’s at home with a cheese platter since I haven’t done that for many, many years so I wasn’t expecting anything.  We had a bit of groceries to pick up but Wendy said she wanted to stop by and see a friend first, and suggested we get dressed up for “New Year’s pics” that night.  Okay, I’m game.  Her friend lives in Richmond so we hopped in Wendy’s car and off we went.  I made some comments about being all dressed up with nowhere to go and looking back Wendy said she was worried I had figured out her game plan, but I didn’t realize anything was amiss until we pulled into the parking lot of the Sandman Hotel (wrong lot by mistake).  As we circled the lot I briefly wondered why her friend was here at the hotel instead of at home, then my Spidey-senses finally started to tingle and I knew she had something fun planned 🙂  Once we found the right lot it turned out to be the very swanky looking Chop.

Chop Steakhouse

The photos above give some idea of the opulence; on the left is the corridor between restaurant and lounge and on the right is the chandelier-thing that hung above our table.  One of the best restrooms in the city I’d say as well, you could get lost in them they are so spacious!

Wendy had made reservations and we were seated at a table set for four; our hostess apologized and began removing the extra menus.  Wendy then attempted to give her the other two, which resulted in an awkward tug of war between the three of us, with the hostess assuring Wendy that “they are the same menus.”  The hostess didn’t take them back so Wendy asked to speak with the assistant manager whom she had booked the reservations through.  I realized Wendy’s plans were going awry and excused myself to the restroom so she could sort it out without spoiling anything further.

After an awkward moment the hostess came back and retrieved the menus from her and said, “Oh right, you’re not supposed to have these are you.”  I came back to find her obviously stewing with anger, but I hadn’t even glanced at the menu so for me nothing seemed ruined.  She wanted to do the same thing I had done for her at Chambar, and order in advance.  There was indeed a long list of notes next to our reservation but the hostess and waitress had neglected to read and follow them.  However the assistant manager was apologetic and waited on us personally for the rest of the night to ensure we had a memorable experience, which both of us appreciated immensely.

Chop Steakhouse: Seafood Trio - Smoked Salmon, Crab and Shrimp Cakes, Jumbo Prawn Cocktail

Seafood Trio – Smoked Salmon, Crab & Shrimp Cakes, Jumbo Prawn Cocktail

We started with a bread basket of their in-house fresh baked multigrain which was served up warm with a side of whipped butter.  Good stuff!  To start the rest of the night he came around and offered Wendy a glass of bubbly and I a ginger ale in a champagne glass.  Then came a couple of appetizers, one surf one turf.  On the surf side the Crab and Shrimp Cake stole the show.  It’s not something I normally order, but out of the admittedly smallish number of crab cakes I’ve had this one took the erm…cake.  The crust was done just right and was what appealed to me the most I think, contrasted nicely with the soft texture within.  It came with the same wasabi aioli and citrus salsa that the phyllo pastries below came with as far as I could tell.  The aioli was quite garlicky, as were several of the other selections, which I thought was a bit of an odd choice since it’s New Year’s Eve and couples will be looking forward to midnight kisses and all.  The prawns in the Jumbo Prawn Cocktail were juicy and again I’m not a huge fan of cocktail sauce, but as far as they go this is one of the better ones I’ve had.  It added a slight kick at the end, and the dill garnish gave it a nice bite as well.  The plate was rounded off with a roll of Smoked Salmon.

Chop Steakhouse: Steakhouse Trio - Steak Bites, Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio, Spicy Cashew Snap Peas

Steakhouse Trio – Steak Bites, Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio, Spicy Cashew Snap Peas

As for the Steakhouse Trio the Steak Bites were nothing to write home about and were served cold.  However the other two parts of the trio were the highlight of the night for me.  The Spicy Cashew Snap Peas were very fresh and sweet and the sauce was a Thai-style mix of red chili and cashew nuts.  The bread that came with the Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio was also flecked with chilis so Wendy made a good choice there since I love spicy!

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Coconama

Coconama

We’ve known of Coconama in Richmond for quite some time, and have had a few sample before, but never took the plunge to get anything. This time was different. I’m sure the fact that samples were tirelessly handed out helped a lot too. Among the flavors we sampled were Blueberry, Lemon Basil, Coffee, and Earl Grey. But most of all we were very intrigued by the pre-packaged cup ($5) that was aptly named “Coconama Salad”.

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