The Slow and Savory
Then came the onslaught of offerings. Brandy and Bernais had been provided with helpful picture guided menus on their tables, but with over 60 options, it was hard to take everything in before servers began appearing with trays and carts full of beautiful little plates. Trying to keep up as numbers were rattled off (the servers would point at each dish and say something like, "I have #10, #16, #47, #48, and #49 here."), Brandy and Bersain selected round after round of extraordinary one or two bite delights.
Several things quickly jumped out as favorites among the bunch. First, there was the BBQ Pork Shou, a sort of baked hand pie, almost like what the English refer to as Cornish pasties, which had a transcendent, buttery, flakey crust, and a very sweet, almost dessert like filling of tender barbecued pork. Similarly, there was the BBQ Pork Bao, a steamed dumpling with a soft, bread like exterior. The Mango Shrimp Toast provided a lovely contrast in textures with its supple, melt away base of fried mango, and its topping of minced and spiced shrimp. The Edamame Dumpling, which was another steamed offering with a thin rice paper wrapper and a smooth bright green filling, made for a very nice sort of pallet cleansing interlude between richer bites. "It's so adorable!" Bernais squealed, referring to the edamame dumpling in her hand, "I just want to make a little face on it out of sesame seeds!" Brandy also really liked the Fried Tofu Skin, which had a more interesting crispness to it than the other fried options, with a clean and crisp mixed vegetable filling.
The dishes seemed to alternate between the extremely flavorful, and those that were a little more simple. The Crystal Dumplings and the Shrimp Dumplings, both of which were steamed bites in rice paper wrappings, were a little bland without much spice or seasoning to them, as were the Shrimp Balls, a fried dish, which at least had the benefit of being interesting texturally. The table had been provided with a small helping of both chili oil and plum sauce, which did help to jazz up some of the less exciting offerings, but Brandy soon wished for a few more sauces to experiment with. "A little spicey mustard or sweet and sour sauce might have helped to break things up a bit," she remarked. The Beef Short Rib also proved to be one of the least favorites, if only because the flavorful and tender meat got lost in a bowl of mostly broth, bones, and fat.
There were also several sweet options mixed in with the savory bites, which Brandy appreciated immensely. The Egg Tart, a simple custard in a neat little crust, was perhaps a little less sweet than imagined, reminding Brandy less of a creme brulee (as their server described it) and more of a particularly creamy quiche. The Sugar Cane Cake was a interesting experience in texture, as it had a very pleasing gelatinous and chewy mouthfeel, even if the flavor was just a very subtle sweetness. The absolute favorite for both Brandy and Bernais was the Coconut Bun, which almost resembled a pretzel, but was actually an unbelievably soft and pillowy steamed bread filled with the most luxurious coconut custard and topped with sesame seeds. "Oh my stars!" Bernais moaned after taking her first bite of the confection, "If there is anything to prove the existence of God, this might be it. I need to take a box of these to my Sunday school kids!"
The writers of this blog were invited by the restaurant to dine free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
The Short and Sweet Review