Kirin Seafood Restaurant (Cambie location)

May 9th, 2008 · No Comments

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kirin.cambie 019Target 8: Kirin Seafood Restaurant (Cambie location)

Address: 2nd Floor, City Square, 555 West 12th Avenue (& Cambie Street)
Phone: (604) 879 8038

Dim Sum Menu: Page 1; Page 2; Page 3; Page 4; Page 5

Dim Sum prices: $3.50-$8.50 with most items in the $4-$5 range

Opening Hours:
Lunch: 11:00am (10:00am on Weekends & Holidays) – 2:30pm
Dinner: 5:00pm – 10:30pm

Visit date: May 4th, 2008
Visit time: 11:00 AM


Jason’s ratings –

Steamed dumplings: 75% or 26.25 of 35 possible points
Steamed other: 80% or 12/15
Fried & deep fried: 80% or 12/15
Baked & sweet: 75% or 11.25/15
Rice-noodle-veg: 70% or 7/10
Other factors (service, atmosphere, etc): 95% or 9.5/10

Jason’s total: 78/100 or 78%

Des’ ratings –

Steamed dumplings: 80% or 28/35
Steamed other: 80% or 12/15
Fried & deep fried: 85% or 12.75/15
Baked & sweet: 80% or 12/15
Rice-noodle-veg: 85% or 8.5/10
Other factors (service, atmosphere, etc): 90% or 9/10

Des’ total: 82.25/100 or 82.25%

Total Score (averaged across both raters, all variables) = 80.125/100 or 80.125%

Notes from Des:

The word ‘Kirin’ probably conjures up for many people a crisp Japanese beer. But in traditional Chinese lore, the qilin (Chinese equivalent of kirin) was a mythical deer-like beast with horns, scales all over, and the tail of an ox. It was believed to be a gentle, auspicious creature whose appearance signified blessed times. The EatVancouver dim sum team were certainly in for a treat at the Cambie location of this reputable group of Chinese restaurants.

I had once visited Kirin Mandarin (downtown on Alberni, the only location serving Northern rather than Cantonese cuisine) for a significant birthday dinner where people praised the excellent service as well as the fantastic food. At Cambie, the stellar service provided by patient, helpful, and jovial staff was matched by a comfortably stylish dining area fitted with elegant wood carvings and furniture. (The restaurant also happens to enjoy some nice views.) As a further indication of the classiness of the establishment, it is the only Chinese restaurant I have been to here where not only are there no carts, but the staff attentively check off the items ordered rather than you doing it yourself. While some complain that Kirin offers a narrower selection of dim sum compared with other restaurants – for instance they did not have the baked egg tarts or fried pork croquette ‘footballs’ some of us fancied – the very high quality and ample menu should more than make up for any gaps.

Starting with the classics, while the editor did not rate the Steamed Prawn Dumplings (har gao) at all, for me it was acceptable if nothing remarkable. We both agreed that Kirin’s version of the siu mai, Steamed Prawn & Pork Dumpling with Fish Roe, was a winner, packing a juicy combination of succulent pork and prawn with a top of fish roe that was no mere decoration.

For other steamed dim sum, the Sparerib Steamed with Squash in Black Bean Sauce and the Steamed Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce were both nicely done, though I would personally have preferred a bit more spice in both. The Steamed Assorted Vegetarian Seafood with Tofu, however, brought a perfect balance of fresh flavours and the prawns and bak choi both maintained the perfect crunch – sadly not always the case at dim sum. The Steamed Chicken and Wolfberry on Lotus Leaf caught our attention, and rightly so. The chicken was tender and flavourful (though one might note the small bones in the pieces) and the Chinese mushrooms were a perfect match, even if the wolfberries seemed to add more colour than flavour.

kirin.cambie 010We also ordered the Deep Fried Crispy Tofu which, I must admit, was not quite was I expected. I imagined it to be the spiced up deep fried triangles we’ve enjoyed at other restaurants. Though surprised, I was not disappointed because these delicately fried pockets, with their light crunch on the outside beautifully complemented by the gliding smoothness of the tofu within, were delicious. The Shredded Chicken and Cheese Spring Roll was less successful – just what kind of cheese was it? – but fun to try nonetheless.

At Kirin, there must be a master of rice rolls for all the ones we ordered, from the Pan Fried Rice Roll in Soy Sauce to the three kinds of steamed rice rolls we enjoyed were all top notch. The Deep Fried Minced Fish Bean Curd Roll and Enoki Mushroom in Steamed Rice Roll was probably my favourite item of the whole meal. It’s the first time I’ve seen such a combination – the tasty fish and enoki within two exquisite rolls were truly tasty. From a wide selection of noodles we chose the Assorted Seafood with Rice Noodle & Vermicelli, which could have been a bland noodle base smothered in a thick sauce of overcooked seafood – too often the case – but was actually a perfect bed of noodles, lightly flavoured to allow the prawns and scallops to work their wonders.

kirin.cambie 017A tempting selection of sweets rounded off the meal. The Baked Tapioca Pudding was well done, creamy and sweet to the right measure, as was the Fresh Mango Mochi. The Red Date and Walnut Pudding somehow brought coffee to mind (which the editor also confessed afterwards, his own taste buds looking for allies) but not disagreeable. Finally, we had to wait for the chefs to fry the Pan Fried Sweet Potato Soft Cake, but it was well worth the wait.

I left wondering why we hadn’t chosen Kirin as an earlier target. For this reviewer, this award-winning restaurant gets two thumbs up.

Kirin Seafood on Urbanspoon

Tags: Chinese · Dim Sum

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