I’m not a fancy dim sum diner. Most of the places I go with friends or family are pretty casual, your typical semi-sketchy Chinese restaurant with questionable English descriptions, mysteriously stained carpets, and disgusting washrooms that haven’t been cleaned in eons as a restaurant attempt to save money. I’m joking…. maybe (not).
But hey, I’m Chinese myself and I was brought up in a family of said Chinese restaurant businesses and if you’re Chinese, you know it’s true. Don’t even deny it 😉 Nonetheless, the food served at these sub-par Chinese restaurants are always authentic and satisfy my dim sum craving. My family doesn’t believe in spending more money at a fancy Chinese restaurant, when you can spend less and have more food at a regular Chinese restaurant.
So it was quite a surprise as I found myself in such a fine dining Chinese restaurant one afternoon. This is what fancy dim sum looks like! Kirin has a few locations in Vancouver, we went to the one in downtown. The outside is deceiving since the restaurant looks smaller than it actually is.
First up, was the taro root puff. Basically, there is seasoned pork or other type of meat, depending on the restaurant, enveloped by taro. It is then slightly deep fried, so that only the outside layer is crunchy. I fell in love with the taro root puff at first bite. It was delicately crunchy, and tasted very fresh. The taro was a bit sweet and went well with the saltiness of the meat inside. I normally don’t order this dish at dim sum, but I think I’ll be trying it again at other places!
Up next, was the shui mai. Since there were only four pieces and six of us, I decided not to eat it so that the others could have it. It was one of my friend’s first time having dim sum, and she really enjoyed the shui mai.
The pan fried rice noodles came next. I am a big fan of rice noodles, and this plate was a lot better than most I’ve tried at other restaurants (what a difference fine Chinese dining makes, eh). I liked that some of the noodles were slightly crispy, which added some dimension to the dish. I’m paying more for this dish than at other restaurants, so I’m glad that it was made very well.
Afterwards, the deep fried tofu arrived! Just like the deep fried taro root, the deep fried tofu was very crispy but not overly fried or oily. The batter was quite thin, but just enough to be crispy. It was seasoned with garlic and salt, which went with the delicately soft tofu perfectly.
Up next, was our steamed shrimp dumplings! I wanted to dive in right away because I love my shrimp, but decided to wait until it cooled down =( Nothing special or bad in particular about this dish, it tasted average. The pan fried radish cake followed, I find that these are hit and miss at dim sum. At Kirins, it was a definite hit!
The radish cake was very moist and had a nice consistency, while the outside was lightly fried. There was some little dried shrimp pieces and pork (I believe, can’t really recall) as well.
Our last two dishes of the day! I really love my prawn and shrimp, and requested that we ordered the prawn spring roll. Give me anything with prawns or shrimp at dim sum, and I will be very happy. I’ve never seen prawn spring roll presented like this before, I thought that the batter looked a bit unusual. Turned out that it was actually wrapped in deep fried bean curd, cool! The bean curd was very flaky and crispy, which I loved. Since the batter wasn’t as thick, there was more prawn and garlic inside. For dessert, we ordered egg tarts. They were so delicious that we ended up ordering another plate, and I considered ordering one to go LOL. It was very warm, with a flaky crust and was a bit sweet. Overall, what a perfect egg tart should taste like.
Service wise, we were greatly taken care of and there were many staff walking around. However, I do think that the manager got mad at our table when we asked him to separate the bill. It’s not that common in Chinese places to ask for separate bills. It was definitely awkward. I’m not sure why he was so upset, it’s not like we weren’t paying and the restaurant wasn’t that busy when we paid. People do it all the time, he should get used to it even if it takes a bit longer to pay.
All the dishes at Kirin were executed very well, and demonstrated what delicious and ideal dim sum should taste like. My favourites were the deep fried bean curd spring roll and the deep fried tofu. For the price we paid, it was definitely worth it as the quality and preparation in each dish really showed.