I haven’t been to dim sum for ages. I’m not quite sure why, but it could be that a lot of the people I’m around get up somewhat late, and prefer to have breakfast food around lunchtime instead of anything more exotic. For me, breakfast food can be anything Asian as well, and I actually prefer it that way.
So when I finally managed to arrange a lunch this week with my mother and brother and girlfriend, who also craves dim sum on a regular basis, I was in heaven. I also wanted to check out the downtown Vancouver location of Kirin Restaurant, as I knew they had just completed some extensive renovations around the middle of February, just in time for the Olympics – so much so that the new entrance way gives them a new street address. We actually had to ask a staff person to figure out where we had come in prior to their temporary closure.
There seem to be many new beautiful touches, including the large vases with flowers and stone in the entrance and the textured cream coloured wall paper throughout. There are also numerous new chandeliers and lights, including in the modern bathrooms. Yes, I took a picture, and yes, I hope that it does not cause a loss of appetite as I write about food below – I’ve never been one to have a sensitive stomach (well, at least not from this type of thing). 🙂
As per usual, it was extremely busy inside and appeared that you needed reservations to get in to dine. After waiting about ten minutes for our setting to be ready, we were led up the stairs and to our table, with newly seat-covered chairs (I found that a bit weird, as if I were at a wedding or something).
This is where I went nuts and ordered tons of dishes for our table. Note that there isn’t a complete online menu for Kirin, so I had to base my names on my memory of the long English titles the food had been given.
Since we ate so many dishes that day, and I only have so much time before I’m off to watch the Canada vs Russia men’s Olympic hockey game this afternoon, I will only have short descriptions in today’s post – feel free to ask in the comments though if you have any questions!
Pork and Shrimp Dumplings with Fish Roe (or sui mai) are a pretty staple dish for me whenever I go for dim sum. I used to buy these things in bulk from Asian grocery stores when I was in university, just so I could steam them at home and eat them with rice and whatever veggies I felt like throwing together quickly. I actually got sick of them after awhile, but am now back in full force with my enjoyment of them. These ones were nice and juicy tasting. Always a lovely treat.
As for the Spicy Beef Tendon, I prefaced my ordering of this one by saying, “Don’t worry, this is the only really weird dish and I’ve ordered so many other things that you don’t have to bother eating it – I just really want it!” I love tendon. If I order pho and it doesn’t come with it, I’ll always get it added in a side dish if available. Although I’ve had some really bad, thin and mushy-textured tendon in the past, the version at Kirin was not only nice and thick and cooked just right, but the spicy sauce that it served in made it extra delicious!
Another common favourite for me is Deep-fried Squid with Salt and Pepper. This counts whether it’s at a Chinese meal for lunch, or when it’s 3 AM and I’m rolling in to Tsui Hang on Granville for some after-drinks eats. I liked the little dried and fried pieces of garlic in this version, and love it when it’s nice and dry and salty like this. The only thing that didn’t work out too well was when my girlfriend’s 3.5 year-old daughter accidentally bit into a chili and took awhile to recuperate.
The Shrimp, Scallop, Squash and Cilantro Dumplings were a pleasant surprise to me – I loved the combination of all of the contents, especially the slight sweetness from the squash. And who doesn’t love cilantro (well, besides my mom’s partner)?
I found the Bok Choy and Chinese Mushroom Dumplings to be quite pretty. It was great to have a vegetarian option (there were about 3 dim sum options like this on the menu beyond just stir-friend vegetables and noodles and other larger dishes), and this mixture was quite good. The only thing a little off-putting about these were the dumplings themselves had a bit of a mushy texture compared to the others – not quite an enjoyable consistency.
The Kirin Chow Mein was our one carb-filled dish that we thought we’d order for the afternoon – it comes with a variety of seafood, including shrimp, squid and scallops, but also pork and a number of vegetables (mushrooms, bamboo shoots, yu choy, perhaps?). We asked for the crunchy noodle version of this, but I found that the heavy amount of sauce on the dish undid this texture quite quickly and so I didn’t eat a whole lot of it in the end. All the more room for dessert and trying of other things!
Always a risk is ordering Pork Dumpling with Consomme anywhere in Vancouver. It’s supposed to be filled with a broth within the dumpling that can sometimes burn your mouth if you’re not careful. However, in many cases, there is an extreme lack of this soupy-substance and I end up disappointed. Again in this case, they were quite dry and I had to be satisfied by dipping it into the vinegar sauce that it came with to provide the moisture it so needs. If anyone knows of any excellent places to get this dish made right in Vancouver, please let me know in the comments!
One last minute addition to the mix that I ordered right along with dessert was the Deep Fried Bean Curd with Pork and Scallions and Shrimp. I liked the crispness of the wrapping and enjoyed dipping this in the vinegar sauce it was served with yet again. The filling was nice and moist as well, but I think that I prefer bean curd when it is stir-friend instead of deep friend. Probably just a matter of preference though.
And finally on to dessert. We ordered two different ones, the first of which was the Green Tea Mochi and Mango Pudding. I’ve never actually seen this on the menu anywhere else before (although I also haven’t looked for it) and have never actually tried it. I really liked the two flavours together, and the mango pudding was absolutely delicious inside. A nice and refreshing treat for the summer!
And last of all, we got the Steamed Buns Filled with Egg Yolk. I love the creamy texturewhen these are served piping hot (don’t wait until they cool down or it’ll just be like eating a sweet hard-boiled egg!), and made sure to do so the other day to fully enjoy it. It has a bit of a unique texture inside, kind of tasting like there is a floury mixture within, with little granules of something within the egg filling.
I’ve been to Kirin quite a few times now (both the City Square and downtown locations), and have enjoyed it each and every time. It’s always quite busy and people will generally need a reservation (although I’ve managed to get in here and there without), and the service is very quick, although you often need to flag people down if you want anything as they are rushing around like mad during the lunch rush.
I like the new renovations of the downtown location, and think they’ve done a great job of giving the restaurant a more modern and high-end feel (although I still can’t get over the seat-covers).