Friday, October 31, 2014

Chef Tony 頤東大酒樓


There are a couple of things that I am not embarrassed of to admit such as having an appetite of a man, and occasionally being cheap. You see, I used to go for dim sum frequently but am not really a "huge" fan. So when the bill comes to $80.00 for two people because BF always decides to order too much food, it eventually got me. Why are we spending so much on dim sum when neither of us find it special? And as a result, we agreed to only go for dim sum with our families or spend no more than $60.00 together.

The plan kind of backfired however because our schedules never matched with our families' and neither of us have had dim sum for literally a whole year! So eventually we started craving for dim sum which is rare, because usually one of us wants only a specific dish rather than an actual whole dim sum meal. Anyhow, Chef Tony was my choice of restaurant for dim sum.

From what I have heard, Chef Tony offers a fusion twist on dim sum and the prices are not cheap. I honestly did not have any expectations and expected average food. As for the interior, it can be considered a modern Chinese style. There are lighted pillars, plenty of chandeliers and a large screen which showcases the menu. Furthermore, there is a row of VIP rooms which looks very Asian. In Asia, most of the VIP rooms are laid out in a row but in Canada the layout might resemble a karaoke joint.

Also judging by the prices, Chef Tony may be considered one of the higher end Chinese restaurants. However, the atmosphere is not quite there. The seating arrangements are cramped and the dining room is very crowded, not fancy at all. Diners should feel comfortable. In addition, the decor does not look "high end".

SMALL $4.00 || MEDIUM $4.80 || LARGE $5.75 || SPECIAL $6.95.
TEA $2.00


TEA ($2.00).
There are a few comments that Chef Tony charges for tea, but every dim sum restaurant I know of does. Also, at least the restaurant provides a candle underneath to keep the tea warm!

BLACK TRUFFLE, PORK AND SHRIMP DUMPINGS ($5.75).
Rating: 3.5/5.
The shao mai has a soft springy bounce and tastes very juicy. The meat is neither mushy nor stiff and the flavour from the truffle actually works. In addition, the shrimp tastes bouncy as well. I really enjoy the texture of the shao mai and would probably enjoy it even without the addition of truffle. But for those who order this for the truffle, it is just generic canned (which is fine for me considering the low price point).

PORK SPARERIB AND TARO IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE ($4.80).
Rating: 3/5.
The spareribs taste tender, juicy and flavourful, but I wish the pieces are a touch smaller. As for the sauce, the preserved plum, light soy and tangerine peel flavours are there. BF really likes these because the sauce tastes similar to the one his father makes.

PAN-FRIED CHICKEN WING WITH GOOSE LIVER AND STICKY RICE STUFFING ($6.80).
Rating: 3.5/5.
This is most likely the most expensive chicken wing that I have ever ordered and fortunately it is well executed! The skin has a light crispiness and the meat tastes juicy! Furthermore, the sticky rice tastes very soft, fresh and perfectly cooked. I am very picky about sticky rice too because usually I find it too dry, moist or gummy.

STEAMED SWEET SALTY EGG YOLK BUN ($4.80).
Rating: 3.5/5.
Our original plan was to order dessert at the end of dim sum because usually it is the first to arrive, but we do not consider the egg yolk buns as dessert hehe. The buns have a fluffy and pillowy skin along with a touch of sweetness.

As for the main attraction, the duck yolk filling, the custard tastes very rich and the consistency is perfectly gooey. Chef Tony serves one of the better egg yolk buns and the custard is not too salty.

SHRIMP AND MATSUTAKE DUMPLINGS ($5.75).
Rating: 3/5.
I consider most of the shrimp dumplings in Vancouver either good, bad or average and there is never much to say. However, there is more to say about the shrimp dumplings at Chef Tony. The dumplings have a thin and very soft skin which does not stick together, along with plenty of pleats in the wrapper. The prawns also taste bouncy and the filling is not too stiff. The addition of truffle oil also provides that extra flavour and the shrimp dumplings are one of the better ones I have had. However, there is no matsutake for those who order it for that sake.

CHICKEN FEET IN SOY SAUCE ($4.80).
Rating: 3.5/5.
The chicken feet tastes very juicy, flavourful and tender, along with a hint of spiciness. These are definitely the best ones I have had in Vancouver, including other higher end Chinese restaurants'.

PRESERVED MEAT AND TARO ON RICE ($6.95).
Rating: -5/5.
All the dishes we ordered thus far were great, but I guess our lucky streak had to end. The clay pot includes Chinese sausage, smoked pork, taro and gailan. But, there is no flavour at all.

The clay pot does not even have the slightest hint of a smoked meat flavour or the aroma. The rice tastes bland and if it was not for the texture, one would believe it was not even cooked in the clay pot! Asides from the flavourless dish, the taro tastes very dry and powdery - resembling chalk. Shining Garden still seems to serve the best clay pot rice in Vancouver.

PAN FRIED RADISH CAKE ($4.80).
Rating: 2.5/5.
The rectangular cuts of radish cake have a light and even crust, along with a soft filling. The texture may be even too delicate, leaning more towards mushy. Regardless, there is  rich daikon flavour. I do consider the price too high for what it is though, unless the dish improves.

FRESH SCALLOP RICE NOODLES ($6.95).
Rating: 2.5/5.
Ending dim sum with the fresh scallop rice noodles, the rice noodles are indeed fresh. The rice noodle tastes very soft and the slices of scallop are just cooked. In addition, there are also a couple of lightly fried egg tofu.

TOTAL: $58.15 + TIP $11.85 = $70.00.

Chef Tony exceeded my expectations and I enjoyed the dim sum more than other higher end Chinese restaurants'. Sometimes I wish my stomach was truly bottomless because there are a few desserts I wanted to try, but I had to save space for a dessert shop that I have been eyeing for a while. Teaches me for trying to outsmart the dim sum system by ordering dessert last…

As for the service, only one of the waiters was attentive and friendly. Too bad we only saw him after we seated and when he picked up the bill. About the bill though, the restaurant had only three seated tables and the cashier decided to take her sweet time giving us back change. Why does it take fifteen minutes for her to print the bill and another fifteen to bring back change? When no other tables were waiting on the bill?! Regardless, I still want try more dim sum dishes and the dinner menu!

POSITIVES
- Above average food
- Good food expedite, not everything came at once

NEGATIVES
- Very slow cashier
- Horrible clay pot rice
- Parking lot is annoying
- Decor and service is not fine dining

LITTLE THINGS
- Reservations are recommended
- Parking at the upper level parkade is better than circling around for half an hour looking for a spot

Food: 3/5
Service: 2.5/5

Chef Tony 頤東大酒樓 on Urbanspoon

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