Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Suhang Restaurant 蘇杭人家 : Eight Treasure Duck 八寶鴨


For a whole week, I had huge cravings for Eight Treasure Duck (ba bao ya)! But my parents did not want to make it. Personally, I have never tried making an Eight Treasure Duck before, mainly because I do not want to do waste ingredients if I am not 100% ready since it is a tricky dish to properly execute. So, this brings me to Suhang in Richmond.

Suhang is located in Richmond and may be considered a "higher end" Shanghainese restaurant, due to their higher prices compared to majority of other the restaurants. Furthermore, there is a modern atmosphere and the restaurant is fairly clean. The seating arrangements are a bit cramped however. As for the service, the staff was only friendly towards larger parties of more than six. This was a bit weird because when we ordered the Eight Treasure Duck over the phone three hours prior to our visit, the gentleman was friendly but in person… not so much.

Another odd thing is... when we inquired about the price of lobster over the phone, we were quoted $48.80 for a 2 1/2lb which equals to a reasonable $19.20/lb. However, despite ordering the lobster at the restaurant, the waiter came back from the kitchen and mentioned the prices have changed and is now $60.00 for a 2lb lobster. $30.00/lb? In three hours? Wow, that is very expensive. For the same price, I can easily try Chef Tony's (which I have been wanting to!)! 


STEAMED BUNS WITH PORK AND SOUP ($7.50).
Rating: 1/5.
Oh man, I think I had xiao long bao like five times in a week and I was not stopping yet! But maybe I should have… The XLB has a medium thick skin, but the twirl does not taste too doughy. Due to the thickness however, the skin on the XLB dries up very fast. Think Taiwanese dumplings.

As for the pork filling, a couple of the XLBs were not thoroughly cooked. Even though the meat was not mushy, it was still unpleasant to discovered after taking a bite.

The not thoroughly cooked XLBs were not the only problem though because for the properly cooked ones, the meat tastes dry and gritty. Furthermore, the XLBs have a bit of soup but the broth tastes bland. Suhang has one of the worst XLBs I have ever had and these ain't cheap either.

CRISPY DUCK WITH STICKY RICE AND MEAT STUFFING ($52.80).
Rating: 2/5.
About that Eight Treasure Duck though, the whole duck is presented on the table before it is carved. An Eight Treasure Duck or Eight Jewel Duck, is a Shanghainese speciality that is essentially stuffing a whole deboned duck with eight ingredients along with sticky rice. The duck is then fried and followed by steaming, braising or roasting. Usually an Eight Treasure Duck is served at family gatherings, but it was only the two of us in our case.

Suhang's eight treasures include salted duck yolk, egg yolk, edamame, chestnut, Chinese mushroom, smoked meat, duck meat and lotus seed. The ingredients are very basic and the restaurant does not use dried scallop, dried shrimp or ginkgo nuts, which makes the Eight Treasure Duck slightly overpriced for the quality. As for the taste, there is a light crisp exterior but the duck unfortunately tastes very dry. More like unfortunately on my end because I had to pay $53.00 for this!

In addition, the duck was served warm but not hot. Once the duck is cut, I expect to see a lot of steam instead of a "little" and to taste a very hot dish. The duck however, is warm. Who eats a warm duck at a restaurant? The duck should be prepared in advance, but not fully cooked until we arrive to guarantee a fresh juicy duck. Furthermore, the duck is slightly overcooked and the meat tastes very dry, which... is a waste, especially considering that duck is such a juicy protein.

I am also not a huge fan of sticky rice but having had Chef Tony and Private Home's, turns out I only like sticky rice when it is properly prepared! In this case however, the rice is overcooked and tastes very mushy along with dry. Well executed sticky rice is not mushy, the rice tastes soft and you can taste every grain. Even the edamame beans taste dry. The Eight Treasure Duck overall along with the eight jewels, taste dry from being slightly overcooked and bland because there are no juices from the duck.

In general, Eight Treasure Duck is a very hard dish to perfect because it is tricky to reach perfection. Everything must be very precise and one wrong move can lead to a dry duck. When properly executed however, this is pretty damn good. All the juices from the duck fuses together with the rice and the juicy meat just tastes amazing.

DEEP FRIED PORK RIBS, TOFU AND PRAWNS WITH SPICY PEPPER SALT ($32.80).
Rating: 1.5/5.
Needing a third dish, BF decided to order an appetizer platter of sorts. The cheap side of me considered this one of those, "nothing special" dishes but when the plate arrived… I was more disappointed than before he ordered! The presentation looks sloppy and the food does not even look appealing.

Beginning with the pork ribs on the bottom right, the strips of meat taste dry and not flavourful. Majority of the pieces are strips of meat too and only a few have bones. This is more like a shredded or chopped pork chop, instead of "pork ribs". There is also a lack of seasoning and the meat tastes bland.

As for the tofu, not all the pieces are evenly deep fried and some look patchy. There is also no crisp exterior and the tofu tastes soft. Furthermore, despite the appearance of onion and jalapeño, the seasoning tastes bland.

Last up, the butterflied prawns fortunately taste bouncy but are not deveined. I find this very unappealing and unappetizing. There are countless restaurants overall that can prepare tasteful spicy and peppery salt dishes for only a third of this price, and I cannot believe Suhang charges $32.80 for this.

COMPLIMENTARY COCONUT PUDDING.
Rating: 2.5/5.
Unlike majority of the Shanghainese restaurants, Suhang serves a complimentary dessert. The pudding has a light coconut flavour and a soft texture.

TOTAL: $103.95 + $16.05 = $120.00.

The items we ordered at Suhang are very disappointing. But having said that, perhaps their specialty may be rice cakes, smoked duck, peking duck, dim sum dishes and possibly the beggar chicken.

POSITIVES
- Complimentary dessert
- Nicely deboned duck

NEGATIVES
- Expensive food
- Poor execution
- Staff is not attentive or inviting

LITTLE THINGS
- Eight Treasure Duck is a preorder item
- Would rather give Shanghai River another chance than here (their XLB is better too)

Food: 2/5
Service: 2.5/5

Suhang Restaurant 蘇杭人家 on Urbanspoon

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