Saturday, November 8, 2014

Red Star 鴻星海鮮酒家 : Richmond Location

Being too fussy about where to have lunch, we crossed the Lions Gate Bridge to look for a restaurant Downtown. After circling around, I decided it was best to grab a snack at Mancakes to ease our stomachs while deliberating. I was leaning towards a non-Asian restaurant but it seemed like BF wanted dim sum. Turning down his suggestions and saying, "let's have pasta or steak instead for dinner" to every restaurant he suggested did not help either, whoops.

His original choice was Red Star in Marpole, but I honestly find their dim sum only average and suggested trying the location in Richmond! Ever since I had dim sum at Chef Tony, honest to truth I thought to myself, perhaps I actually like dim sum… but good dim sum. How is it possible that I could care less about the typical Kirin, Sun Sui Wah and Red Star?

We arrived on a weekday and shockingly, the restaurant was not busy! Going to any restaurant for dim sum regardless of the day of the week, will always be busy (with the exception of weekends when it is chaotic). Red Star in Richmond is located on the second floor of the Presidential Plaza, where I have torturous memories of. I remember having to frequently come her for hours as a child because my mother would always be looking at SOMETHING in this darn plaza, and my sister and I were always so bored. The mini arcade never helped either.

Walking in, the cashier/hostess was friendly and there were plenty of staff on the floor, perhaps around seven? The restaurant was very cold and we were not sure why the AC was cranked so high considering there was a miserable storm outside. We also waited around ten minutes for tea which is a bit odd because usually the staff are fairly prompt about that, plus it is a "fine dining" Chinese restaurant that was not busy.

As for the atmosphere, there are a few chandeliers, a high ceiling and comfortable padded chairs. The seating arrangements are not cramped too, but Red Star in Marpole looks more modern.

SMALL $3.95 || MEDIUM $4.75 || LARGE $5.75 || SPECIALS $6.95

Rating: 2/5.
The rice noodles lack that fresh taste and texture, and are not soft enough. There is a fair amount of dried scallop on the top portions though, but the bottom layer is just plain rice noodles.

Rating: 2/5.
So, the first couple of dishes were impatiently tossed at the very edge of the table. This is very rude and even at the crappiest dim sum restaurant, I am pretty sure this would not happen. It is not a guests' job to move the dishes towards the middle of an empty table. Should I invite the waitress to sit down and eat? And serve her?

The congee tastes very healthy and is not aggressively seasoned, but may taste bland to most. As for the ingredients, the pork does not taste fresh and is very dry as well as stiff. In addition, the dices of preserved egg taste a bit off but not rancid.

Rating: 2/5.
The pea tips taste tender and not overcooked, very average. However, the bean curd sheets have an unpleasant gooeyness because the sauce has too much starch. There is a light garlic sautéed flavour but not much of a dried scallop taste or a nice consommé broth.

Rating: 2.5/5.
The chicken feet tastes very simple and have a plain soy sauce base. There is not much flavour at all but the skin tastes tender.

Rating: 1.5/5.
The dumplings are very sticky, have a fairly thick skin, and a lack of filling. There are the typical chewy and snappy textures from the mushrooms, but the mushrooms are not even juicy.

Furthermore, what truffle? The dumplings taste very bland.

Rating: 2/5.
The spareribs are similar to the chicken feet and taste very basic, tasting of only soy sauce, sesame oil and salt. If comparing to Chef Tony's, there is less flavour and ingredients in the sauce but the salt compensates for that… sort of. Furthermore, the meat does not even taste tender and there are a few inedible fatty pieces.

Rating: -5/5.
I never knew how sharks' fins were obtained until about a year ago and have stopped ordering shark's fin soup since then, but I did feel like I wanted something "healthy" so decided to try the one that Red Star offers. The fin is very dry, crunchy and inedible. Furthermore, the soup includes wontons? Shark's fin soup dumplings are supposed to consist of one large dumpling filled with "treasures", not generic wontons. Even though I hate Tin Tin Seafood, the restaurant does make one of the better versions. Also, the broth tastes like a wonton soup! There is no taste but a heavy MSG flavour and I accept more from a restaurant like Red Star, and I do not even care about MSG unless it is noticeably heavier than usual.

We very rarely send back dishes unless it is inedible or rancid (FML we do not even send back sashimi that is not fresh!), but I guess blogging has made me learn to speak up. The manager was eventually okay with taking back the soup and suggested for the kitchen to prepare another order, "a nice one with soft shark's fin". We passed on the offer though because the "supreme" dumpling here is like a Chinese man trying to trick a non-Asian. From what we saw, the wontons included only pork, small shrimp and mushroom.

TOTAL: $48.05 + TIP $6.95 = $55.00.

The dim sum overall at Red Star is very disappointing. Why does the food taste like a $2.00 dim sum restaurant? Actually, a $2.00 dim sum restaurant may even serve better food. How can there be such inconsistencies between Red Star in Richmond and Vancouver? Is the Richmond location a lower end of Red Star? Like a discounted version? But with full prices? What pissed me off the most is that we LITERALLY drove past Red Star in Marpole and I was stupid enough to travel to Richmond just to try a different location. To top things off, we had to rush back to Vancouver to check up on something so passed the Marpole location again!

We also made sure to keep the menu on the table and to order less so we can save room for dessert. But wow, we did not even want to order dessert because of the poorly executed food. I mean, many people think it is weird visiting a restaurant that is empty or not busy because that usually means the food may not be good, but I never think like that. How the !@#$ is there a dim sum restaurant in Richmond that is not busy? There has to be a reason. I guess to be fair, the food may be catered toward guests staying at the Radisson hotel.

- Free parking
- Seating arrangements are not cramped

- Food is below average
- Overpriced for the quality
- There are better dim sum restaurants in Richmond general

- Cashier said bye, which is very rare

Food: 2/5
Service: 2.5/5

Red Star Seafood (Richmond) 鴻星海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

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