Dinner Club – ChongQing edition
This 2012 February Edition of Dinner Club, selection by Ann, had us visiting ChongQing Szechuan in Burnaby. Since Anny is currently galivanting through the concrete and steel jungle of NYC I ended up with the task of putting out a review of our experience at Chong Qing. This Burnaby location is the third of the ChongQing restaurants and has been open for just over two months now. The location is smaller but could potentially still seat larger parties. But be aware there are only about eight parking spaces in the parking lot. Additional street parking is available on Kingsway.
The menu is divided into appetizer, dim sum/pastry, soup, seafood, chicken, duck, pork, beef, vegetable, egg, tofu, noodle soup, noodles and fried rice sections. Like most other Asian restaurants there was a large selection of items to pick from.
Our final menu item picks included, Moo Shu with Crepes (pork), hot and sour soup, fried green beans, Szechuan fried rice, Chong Qing beef and deep fried spicy tofu. The hot and sour soup came out first and each dish started coming out soon after at a fast and furious pace.
The hot and sour soup was fairly standard with the usual suspects of shrimp, tofu, bamboo shoots, wood ear and an unexpected group of button mushrooms. We all definitely agreed that the soup was spicy enough, but both Angela and I thought that there was a bitter taste to the soup that we just couldn’t appreciate. I’m guessing the bitterness came from the overcooked wood ear or it could have been the slightly tough bamboo shoots.
The Moo Shu pork with crepes was the most popular dish of the night. The crepes were nicely steamed and wrapped the Moo Shu pork nicely without breaking up. The only problem with the dish was the half order only came with four crepes, we added an extra crepe for $0.30 but even then there was probably enough Moo Shu filling left to fill two or three more crepes. The filling would also go well with plain rice but we thought the highlight of the dish was actually the crepe and to run out so soon was a little disappointing. Although, running out of wraps like this is fairly standard in Asian dishes. Eg. who wouldn’t wish they’d get more Peking Duck wraps?
The fried green beans Szechuan style were well cooked, the beans in this dish can be over cooked at times. Angela claimed this was her favourite dish of the bunch but she also thought that wasn’t saying much, believes she’s had better at S&W Pepper House.
The Chong Qing beef was served on a bed of flash fried greens (we think it was baby spinach). The flash fried greens were great (what isn’t great when it’s fried) when they were fresh but being as delicate as they were they became soggy fast, either a result of the beef being overly saucy or us not eating fast enough. It was a agreed that the beef was tender but I found the amount of sauce a bit over powering.
The deep fried spicy tofu probably the least talked about dish. Both Angela and Ann thought it lacked flavour. I will concur that it was definitely not spicy but didn’t think it was too bad overall. My only issue with the tofu was that it didn’t quite have that crispiness to the outer fried surface.
Last but not least was the Szechuan fried rice with chicken and shrimp. Personally it was my favourite dish of the night because of the Szechuan spice and “al dente” preparation as Morten described it. While Morten claimed that the rice was cooked properly, he also claimed that it was annoying to eat off the plate with a pair of chopsticks. Angela thought the rice wasn’t cooked enough and felt that it didn’t “clump” properly. There’s no way to please everyone in this Dinner Club sometimes.
While not all the dishes were perfect Chong Qing does offer another decent Szechuan choice in the Metrotown area. The dining room is bright and clean, the tea has an addictive hint of lychee to it and the service was very attentive. I’m hoping it was just an off night for the hot and sour soup.
Dinner Club Score: 4/5