Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shandong Family Restaurant 珍魯味

What was supposed to be dinner at Bacchus ended up here… because of the rain. Princess much? Yup, I hate the rain and rather go somewhere fast for dinner. After driving through Fraser Street, Main Street and all the way to Kingsway, the choice was Shandong Family Restaurant. I actually wanted a bowl of congee next door and to call it a night, however, BF wanted to try the new restaurant because he has never tried authentic Shandong cuisine in Vancouver. Shandong Family is the new replacement of the AYCE hot pot restaurant, Spicy Legend. The interior looks the same and sticks to a red and black scheme. 


PORK JELLY ($6.00).
When asked if the pork jelly is cut in cubes, the waitress responded yes and we were a bit disappointed that the jelly was sliced rather than cubed (not a big deal of course). The pork jelly tastes smooth with a clear jelly fatty taste and is topped with a bit of sauce consisting of black vinegar, garlic and chilli oil which provides a hint of spiciness. The topped cilantro also provides a nice refreshing taste. If anything, the pork jelly tastes more light compared to a heavier and tastier version.

Other than wine and soy chicken, I am a huge fan of dezhou braised chicken! Dezhou braised chicken has a crispy skin with tender tasting meat which falls right off the bone, when properly made. Also, the chicken has a unique flavourful five spice taste. However, unfortunately the chicken was microwaved hence the extremely hot plate and luke warm to cold meat. Although there is nothing wrong with restaurants microwaving chicken orders (some do), a cover should have been placed to ensure that the meat is served hot. The chicken has a marinaded salted and flavourful star anise taste but unfortunately the skin is soggy and the meat tastes dry. It is not very good neither does it look appealing.

The soup has a faint tangy taste and a nice mild spiciness from the red chilli pepper. Also, rather than the generic ingredients of bamboo shoot, ear wood fungus and tofu, Shandong Family's has squid, prawns and scallop, resulting in a slightly salty ocean seafood taste. Although the seafood ingredients do not taste overcooked and the squid tastes pretty tender, I prefer the generic hot and sour soup more.

PORK CABBAGE DUMPLING ($10.95). The housemade dumplings have a thick tasty skin and the pieces do not stick together (some do, depending on the skin). Also, the dumplings have a good meat to vegetable ratio and tastes juicy, as in the juice squirts out. The use of vegetable provides a moist filling in dumplings, however, when there is too much, it overwhelms the taste of the meat. If anything, the meat did not have much taste due to the use of lean ground pork, but was still enjoyable.

ONION PANCAKE ($5.95). The onion pancake is pre-steamed and pan fried to order, resulting in a fluffy as well as soft texture with a perfectly golden crisp exterior. The pancake has a good amount of green onion and does not taste oily, a perfect for carb fans (despite not Shandong at all).

Other than the dumplings, another Shandong cuisine dish is the braised sea cucumber with scallions. The sea cucumber tastes like it was poached in hot water, then sliced and pan fried, compared to actually being braised. By somewhat "short cutting" it, the slices of sea cucumber tastes undercooked, snappy and powders in the mouth, rather than when braised which results in a super soft jello texture. Despite the undercooked sea cucumber, there are a few butterflied prawns that taste slightly overcooked as well as chewy, but it is fine. And for the sauce, it has a light oyster sauce taste and does not taste salty or greasy.

The dish consists of a good amount of shredded pork, green onion as well as egg, and the noodles taste perfectly cooked - soft with a pleasant chewiness. The noodles have a light soy sauce taste and resembles pan fried rice noodle. Although I am not a big fan of noodles, the dish was quite enjoyable because of the soft tasting noodles and light stir fried taste. And by "quite enjoyable", I had a small bowl rather than the usual four to five strands.

- Approachable and friendly owners/staff
- Juicy dumplings

- Dishes can improve
- Below average to average eats

- More Cantonese than Shandong cuisine
- Menu has no photos which may make ordering hard for those unfamiliar with the dishes
- Wanted to order a crab but someone grabbed the last one for take out. Who gets crab to go? Sigh.. to be honest, that is so smart and I should probably start doing that too on rainy nights
- After leaving, I noticed that the pork jelly is currently only $2.00! Honest mistake though
- Although most of the food was not so great, the friendliness from the owner's son made the dinner a bit better. At the end of dinner, he asked how the food was and I mentioned the sea cucumber. I wish I also mentioned the chicken too so the kitchen can remember to cover the dish next time, I just felt bad saying more than one negative thing. The staff is very friendly and I hope the restaurant can improve, rather than thinking evilly "the restaurant won't survive"

Food: 2/5
Service: 3/5

Shandong Family Restaurant 珍魯味 on Urbanspoon

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