Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Zhao's Soup House 趙記湯館 (2nd visit)


I was given the option to have dinner at three restaurants in Richmond which included Nu Shanghainese Bistro, Top Gun J&C or Zhao's Soup House. My first choice was Top Gun J&C but the restaurant is closed on Mondays! Following my first choice was Nu Shanghainese Bistro. However, I am saving the restaurant for an "emergency" early dinner between 4:00-5:00pm because most restaurants do not open until 5:30pm. So, I guess Zhao's Soup House it was. I was hesitant on revisiting Zhao's Soup House because from what I remember, only the peking duck tasted great. But considering the nice atmosphere along with a very friendly owner and an ongoing 15% promotion, I did not mind trying the restaurant again.

As we browsed through the menu, I forgot how pricey the dishes are. Even the live seafood is expensive, where lobster costs $28.80/lb and crab $19.00/lb which are fine dining prices. Moreover, the atmosphere is different. There are no more cloth napkins or hot towels provided upon seating and the restaurant does not offer candles with orders of tea/hot water anymore. I still like enjoy the cosmetics though.

Rating: 3/5.
Choosing a different soup because the Free Range Chicken on the previous visit tasted very average, we decided on the Papaya Fungus Chicken Soup. The soup has a rich chicken broth, a light sweetness from the papaya, and tastes pretty good. When we were in the middle of having our soup, the owner's wife came by and wanted us to finish the pot right away so she could pour the ingredients on a side plate and remove the pot. Usually for slow cooked soups, the ingredients are removed prior to serving the soup or removed at table side. But never the opposite, where a table is rushed so the ingredients can be served after having the soup.

Her eagerness came off as rushing and uncomfortable. It is not appealing when our bowls are already filled with more than half full of soup and someone is trying to top it off as we are sipping away. In addition, she tried to overflow BFs bowl before topping mine off and did not give us a choice or even ask. As for the ingredients, the restaurant uses free range chicken, papaya, and one fungus was included. By having the ingredients placed on the side, it is to show what was used in the soup rather than for eating because all the nutrients are in the broth.

FIRST COURSE, "Peking Duck skin with with green onion, cucumber and hoisin".
Rating: 2.5/5.
Zhao's Soup House serves one of the better crepes I have had. The crepes are very thin but fairly durable (only one ripped) and are not too elastic, making them easy to chew. As for the accompaniments, there is a generous portion of shredded green onion and cucumber. Since the crepes are very thin, I passed on having green onion with majority of crepes because it took to much flavour from the duck skin.

As for the duck skin, I was super excited! The skin is perfectly crispy and all the fat is removed. On the former visit, the slices had only just the skin which I really enjoyed. However this time, the restaurant included a bit of meat but professionally removed all the fat in-between which made me more excited than earlier. Or so I thought…

After finishing majority of the pieces, we discovered that some of the slices have a ton of fat attached. And not the well rendered and tender kind of fat too, it is the inedible and unappealing fat. Considering the restaurant was not busy and the owners were on site, I really do not understand why a cook can be so sloppy and lazy. This really turned me off and the peking duck ain't cheap.

Rating: 3/5.
The fried rice is fluffy, well cooked and all the ingredients are properly fused together. The restaurant uses large prawns too which taste bouncy and the barbecue pork tastes tender. There were a couple of white inedible pieces of fatty barbecue pork though.

SECOND COURSE, "Shredded Peking Duck meat with hoisin".
Rating: 2/5.
Twenty minutes after starting on the fried rice, the second course of peking duck arrived after we inquired about our order. We did not receive a response, but our order was given away to a larger party who ordered after us. When the duck meat arrived, I was very disappointed because it looks different compared to the first visit. The meat tastes dry and is not shredded like before. Furthermore, there is a mild spiciness from the chilli bean spiral sauce but no hint of hoisin whatsoever. This is more like a generic duck meat stir fry than the second course of peking duck. We waited a while for this dish but left after ten minutes because it does not even taste good.

Rating: 2/5.
The luke warm dessert soup has a mild red bean flavour and a stronger taste of wild rice. The consistency is fairly watery and the flavours are very one dimensional. As we were drinking the soup, the owner's wife came by and took my napkin away which annoyed me to be honest because I still needed it. To be fair though, she took the napkin away after checking if we paid for the bill (which we did not yet) and probably felt the need to clear something on the table to avoid an awkwardness.

TOTAL: $57.95 + $7.05 = $65.00.

We decided to only order three items this time (finally a normal amount of food for the two of us!) because the prices are on the higher end and majority of the dishes were below or only average on the former visit. But with that said, we did walk in knowing that and decided to revisit for the peking duck, friendly owners, and nice atmosphere. However, we did not know that things have changed. The atmosphere transformed from a warm and welcoming environment to a typical dime a dozen Chinese restaurant. The owners were not friendly and the husband from the first visit who made us want to return, ironically made us not want to come back. It may be easy to lure people in, but it is not easy getting repeat clientele.

- Nice cosmetics
- 15% off promotion
- Crispy peking duck skin
- A waiter was friendlier than the owners

- Pushy service
- Too many changes
- Food is inconsistent
- Sloppy Peking Duck
- Prices are on the higher scale

- First post on Zhao's Soup House [here]

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 2/5

Zhao's Soup House 趙記湯館 on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Yes We all know food is very important and food can save us from various disease if we eat in a proper manner and quality food.



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