Monday, December 22, 2014

Shining Garden 麥田餐廳 (5th/6th/7th/8th visits)

Sometimes I get embarrassed over posting about revisits and it is more embarrassing when I am practically the only one blogging about that restaurant! In this case, Shining Garden is the restaurant that I keep blogging about. But hey in my defence, I consider my blog as a diary and probably use it more than anyone else as a food guide. The restaurant is a family operated business and my go-to (obviously) Chinese restaurant, including higher end restaurants. The reason is because the food is always consistent and considering the picky person that I am, Shining Garden is one restaurant where I do not hesitant to try new dishes.

After quite a few visits, I finally told the owner that we really enjoy the food at Shining Garden. I further mentioned that we try a lot of Chinese restaurants and sometimes the first or second visits are good but when we go back, the third time is not as good! The owner's wife actually finished my sentence and I was thinking whoa, how did she know the third visit may not be good?

The daily soup is always a slow cooked soup, where the meat actually tastes tender. Not many people eat the meat in these types of soup because all the nutrients are in the broth and also because usually the protein has not been slow cooked long enough. As for the taste, there is a rich broth and tastes fairly healthy. The soup is not MSG laden (which I am not against) and neither salty nor bland.

Rating: 3.5/5.
We were recommended to try the soy chicken special by our waitress, so why not? At first, I thought the chicken looked dry and lacked that nice glossy silky skin. Despite the appearance however, the chicken tastes moist and tender. Including the white meat! Furthermore, the chicken tastes slightly sweet along with a light soy flavour. Usually I am hesitant on ordering soy chickens because I prefer the sweeter variation more than salty, and this is it. I still like Sam Po's more though because their soy chicken is noticeably sweeter.

Rating: 4/5.
Going for a different item instead of the usual egg tofu, we decided to go "crazy" and switch it up to fried bean curd. The bean curd skin is perfectly fried and exhibits a nice crisp exterior, while the broccoli is just cooked as always and has a nice crunch. The highlight here is definitely the sauce, which is always consistent and has a rich dried scallop flavour. We personally prefer egg tofu more than fried bean curd though.

Rating: 4/5.
We usually order the cream and butter sauce or supreme broth seafood, but decided to try one of their house specials. The waitress recommended this and mentioned it is a different take on the usual spicy salt and chilli. 
The seasoning includes black pepper, red chilli, garlic, onion, green onion and dried silver fish. The black pepper and red chilli provides a bit of spiciness, but the sautéed ingredients along with the dried baby shrimp brings out so much flavour. Furthermore, the crab is well cooked, tastes meaty, and the natural flavour is there. Not many restaurants add dried baby shrimp too because the ingredient is on the pricier side.

Rating: 4.5/5.
This is one of the better fried rices I have had, including at Kirin, Red Star or Sun Sui Wah. The fried rice exhibits a nice golden color and looks fluffy, where every single ingredient can be tasted. The ingredients are also well mixed and properly fused together. Moreover, the fried rice includes barbecue pork which tastes tender, egg, and green onion. In addition, there are three huge butterflied prawns which taste bouncy and just cooked, along with a nice addition of dried scallops in every bite. Talk about quality!

Rating: 3/5.
Deciding to try another different dish, we ended up ordering the sweet and sour pork. The pork has a light crisp exterior, tastes moist, and there are no inedible fatty pieces. The sauce is fairly light however and could have been more tangy as well as sour. The natural flavours from the pork are there though, but I personally love a really rich tangy sweet and sour sauce. The sauce only has a medium level of tang and tart.

1 1/2LB STEAMED TILAPIA ($11.99/LB).
Rating: 4.5/5.
The tilapia at Shining Garden has never been over cooked but on this visit, the fish is just cooked and literally not one second over or under. The fish tastes perfectly moist and delicious. Moreover, the sauce tastes great. There is also an even amount of light soy along with oil and not one flavour overwhelms the other.

Rating: 4/5.
The soup is usually served hot but was warmer this time, most likely because the restaurant was slow. But regardless, the dessert soup tastes slightly sweet and has a rich pumpkin flavour along with tapioca. This time around, there was an addition of fresh coconut flakes too (not dried).

TOTAL: $111.30 + TIP $19.30 = $130.00.

The highlights overall from this visit are the house special fried rice and the house special crab, both dishes are highly recommended!

On another visit, I kept telling us that we should stop being cheap and actually order one of the soups off the menu instead of always taking the daily soup! Lol. Next time…

Rating: 4/5.
Shining Garden is one of my favourite restaurants to order cream and butter sauce because the flavours are fairly rich and the restaurant adds an addition of house broth, which provides that extra flavour. Furthermore, the lobster is just cooked, tastes bouncy, and retains that natural sweetness.

Rating: 4/5.
I usually stay away from ordering cod, rock cod (excluding live) or halibut dishes at Chinese restaurants because most of the time it is not the aforementioned fish and is really only basa or sole filet. At Shining Garden however, there is no need for us to worry! This visit was actually a day after Poco Ocean and I was thinking if we paid $16.50 for a poorly prepared sole filet dish, we have to pay $12.80 for halibut! This was a great choice because I consider this a must order dish at Shining Garden now.
The halibut is lightly fried, does not taste oily and exhibits a crisp batter. Moreover, the ingredients from the house special crab is pretty much used with the halibut! Therefore, there is a rich and heavy black pepper, onion and garlic seasoning along with a bit of dried baby shrimp. The halibut tastes moist too and cannot be any more perfect. If anything, the skin tastes slightly chewy but neither of us eat the skin. Also if skin is removed prior to frying, the pieces would fall apart.

Rating: 3/5.
I thought we ordered the yang chow fried rice on the previous visit, but it was actually the house special which I prefer more. However, the yang chow fried rice is still pretty good. There are the basic ingredients of barbecue pork, prawns, green onion and egg. The ingredients are properly fused together and the rice has that "fried rice" taste. The rice is not as fluffy compared to the house special fried rice however. Furthermore, the prawns are also smaller despite being just cooked and bouncy, but there were more compared to the former visit.

Rating: 3.5/5.
The fresh green beans have a light crunch, taste tender, flavourful, and retain that natural flavour. These are also good quality green beans and exhibit a nice thickness. Furthermore, there is a rich pork broth, garlic and salt seasoning. This is actually really good and I am not a huge fan of green beans in general, but the vegetables are tasty due to the broth. As for the pork, the meats tender with that natural pleasant chewiness.

Rating: 4/5.
Asides from the soup being on the warmer side on the previous visit, the only other inconsistency at Shining Garden after many visits would be regarding the presentation of the egg tofu with enoki mushroom dish. Really? That is the only inconsistency? Well, the taste is pretty much consistent! The egg tofu is lightly fried and the interior tastes buttery soft. There are also plenty of broccoli underneath which retained a soft crunch and did not further cook due to the heat. Furthermore, the sauce tastes very rich and has a tasty dried scallop flavour like usual.

Rating: 4/5.
The dessert soup is served hot and tastes consistent with the former visit. There is a rich pumpkin flavour along with plenty of soft tasting pieces and tapioca. Shining Garden serves some of the best dessert soups and never a generic red bean or green bean one!

TOTAL: $93.70 + TIP $18.30 = $112.00.

This visit was a great dinner, where all the dishes tasted great and are items we would order again. Except for the fried rice because I like the house special variation more.

On this visit, I had the option of going to any Chinese restaurant and obviously chose Shining Garden. BF was sick of Shining Garden because we come here too much, but someone please tell me another Chinese restaurant that consistently serves great food!

Rating: 4/5.
Consistent to every visit thus far, the broccoli tastes fresh and exhibits a soft crunch. Furthermore, there are lightly fried egg tofu which tastes silky smooth on the inside. Pair the two great ingredients along with enoki mushroom, Chinese mushroom and carrot in a rich dry scallop sauce, results in a must order (and healthy!) dish at Shining Garden.

Rating: 4/5.
We always prefer a lobster dish with broth rather than one deep fried because the latter takes away too much of the natural flavours. However, we were craving for a deep fried lobster this time and have always agreed that our first recent try would be at Shining Garden because we can rely on the restaurant to not overcook the seafood. Moreover, we did not hesitate either that the lobster was 3lb despite that we prefer 2 1/2lb for a more tender one because again… it is Shining Garden.

Like expected, the lobster is just cooked and not one second over. The lobster has juicy, plump and bouncy meat along with a rich and tasty seasoning. There are plenty of tiny dried shrimp too! When we ordered the house special lobster at first, we were asked which one. Make sure to ask for the deep fried one or just say the one with small dried shrimp because I think the restaurant offers a curry house special too.

Rating: 4/5.
The dish consists of turnip, celery, pork toro and fungus in a light broth, rather than prepared as a generic stir fry. The turnip has that natural sweetness while retaining the usual soft crunch and the celery tastes fresh along with crisp. As for the pork, the particular cut tastes a bit chewy and lacks that pleasant chewiness. There are also a couple of cute carrot blossom garnishes, which is not too much to make the dish look cheap. We enjoyed the turnip the most and the both of us were fighting over it!

After we ordered the dish, our waitress came back and mentioned the vegetable was not available. This is worth mentioning because despite being the correct thing to do, many Chinese restaurants just replace the missing vegetable with something else without letting the customers know. Honestly, I do not even think we ordered this at all because it does not even look close to the menu description… but we love this dish!

Rating: 4.5/5.
Another must order at Shining Garden is their claypot! Shining Garden's is much better than One Spot Soup House's which is a restaurant that supposedly specializes in them too. The claypot consists of a variety of smoked meat including Chinese sausage, pork belly and duck, which tastes tender and actually edible. Moreover, the smoked meat actually tastes juicy! Asides from the meat, the highlight is supposed to be the rice. At Shining Garden, the rice always has a rich smoked meat flavour and tastes very tasty. Even the fresh gailan on top retains a soft crunch and has a smoke meat flavour.

Rating: 3/5.
The tilapia has moist meat like usual, but the sauce is a touch heavier on the oil than soy. With that being said, the fish is not too oily one bit. The oil is actually used to provide that slick glossy appearance too.

Rating: 4/5.
Chinese congee dessert soup is different than congee rice porridge, where the ingredients are usually mixed beans, dry logan and tapioca instead of rice. Congee dessert soup is also referred to ask black congee. As for the taste, there are plenty of ingredients along with a slight level of sweetness. Shining Garden really never serves a cheap dessert.

TOTAL: $108.50 + TIP $16.50 = $125.00.

Like the former visit, every item we ordered are dishes that I would order again in the visit. The house special lobster is fairly good too, but I think I would stick with the house special halibut instead unless I was craving a deep fried lobster. As for the vegetables, I really like the daikon! I will make sure to ask what the dish is actually called on the menu next time too.

On my most recent revisit, this will be a short one. The reason is because I have been trying to order the usual amount of food "for two" and am trying to cut back, but it is so hard! There are always so many dishes I want to try and if I am only going to have three dishes, I might as well cook at home.

Rating: 4/5.
We usually order the cream and butter sauce at many Chinese restaurants for live seafood, so I was craving for a supreme broth on this occasion. The lobster has a rich broth taste and a nice flavour from the ginger. The meat tastes juicy, bouncy, and easily slides off the shell.

Rating: 4/5.
We forgot the restaurant serves fried bean curd skin rather than braised, but will probably ask if we can get braised bean curd next time. This is just our personal preference of preferring softer bean curd rather than ones with a light crispiness though, despite that some people prefer the latter. Other than the bean curd, the highlight is the rich sauce full of dried scallops. Moreover, the broccoli tastes fresh as always and just cooked, exhibiting a soft crunch.

Rating: 3/5.
After having South Ocean's amazing beef rice noodles, I wanted to see how Shining Garden's compares. There is a plentiful amount of shredded beef which tastes tender and the rice noodles are a slightly thinner variation. The beef noodles also have plenty of bean sprouts which provide a nice crunch and the dish overall is not oily compared to many restaurants. However, there is no rich char from the wok heat compared to South Ocean's. But regardless, the restaurant offers one of the better beef rice noodles.

Rating: 4/5.
The tilapia is like usual, tastes moist and there is a good oil to soy ratio. The staff used to debone the fish for us but somewhere along the way, I guess they stopped. We do not mind though. Probably what happened was on few occasions, we said we can do it ourselves to save them the trouble.

Rating: 4/5.
Shining Garden overall is a very consistent Chinese restaurant. On countless visits, fine… eight visits, the seafood is always well executed and the dishes are above average. In addition, the restaurant never serves a "cheap" complimentary dessert! My favourite desserts for sure are the pumpkin or coconut and taro tapioca dessert soups. Moreover, Shining Garden is one restaurant where I am more than glad to introduce anyone to. The owner's wife is a very lucky woman because her husband handles the kitchen, who is one great chef.

With regards to the service, I only rated 3.5/5 because the staff "lets us be". There is no VIP treatment like at Pelican and we are fine with that because despite how busy the restaurant gets, we are never rushed out.

TOTAL: $97.50 + TIP $17.50 = $115.00.

- Very reasonable prices
- Friendly owners and staff
- Consistently good quality food

- Some dishes are only 3/5
- Limited parking lot if restaurant is packed

- Claypot Rice Sausage
- House Special Halibut
- House Special Fried Rice
- Egg Tofu With Enoki Mushroom and Dry Scallop
- Cream and Butter Sauce, Supreme Broth or House Special Deep Fried Seafood

- First post on Shining Garden [here]
- Second post on Shining Garden [here]
- Third post on Shining Garden [here]
- Sometime tell me a restaurant like Shining Garden and I will be more than happy to visit!

Food: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5

Shining Garden Restaurant 麥田餐廳 on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Miss Vancouver Piggy I am curious due to the knowledge you have, did you take like a food course in the past? some sort of chef kinda thing



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