I was meeting up with Sofina for lunch in Richmond Central, and I picked Kirin Richmond for dim sum since I had not been here for a while. Looking at their dim sum menu, I realised they’d had the same menu forever and found it a little boring. Then we set our eyes to the Set Lunch Menu for 2 ($52.80), which included the following dishes:
- Kirin Assorted Appetisers
- Snake and Fish Maw Soup
- Stewed E-Fu Noodle in Abalone Sauce
- Scallop and Prawn Sautéed with Snap Peas and Assorted Mushrooms
- Pea Tips Braised with Dried Scallop and Enoki Mushroom
- House Special Dessert
This is a 6-course meal and lot of food! But I think it had me at the Snake Soup! Although I had snake many times when I was a kid in Guangzhou, I only had snake soup once in Canada at Imperial Court Beijing Cuisine long time ago, which was a funny experience because the soup might have miraculously healed my friend Graham’s arthritis. To me, snake meat tastes like chicken but with a little bit of a seafood-y flavour.
And you probably notice that there is seafood in every single dish as well, which is the chef’s known speciality at Kirin.
We started with the Assorted Appetizers, a cold trio of smoked salmon, crunchy jelly fish salad and braised beef shank. The salmon was only slightly smoked and we could taste the freshness and the quality of the sockeye salmon. The jelly fish was crunchy, which I loved, and also the touch of sesame. The beef shank was braised, chilled for hours and thinly sliced. It was the staple cold cut on Cantonese dinner table like the salami or prosciutto for the Italians.
And we got a small bowl of the Snake Meat and Fish Maw Soup each. Man, it was good, It was the typical Cantonese style soup called geng, based on a flavorful savoury broth and thickened with starch. The snake meat tasted just like what I had in China – it was almost like shredded chicken meat but had a very subtle umami sweetness like seafood. And the fish maw was soft and delicate.
The Scallop and Prawn Sautéed with Snap Peas and Assorted Mushrooms featured really large pieces of fresh scallops. The combination of different textures on the plate was impeccable. The whole dish was simple, light and elegant, a great representation of a typical Cantonese dish.
The Pea Tips Braised with Dried Scallop and Enoki Mushroom was a favourite one which I tried to make a few times at home, although I only use dried scallop in my version. The key to the dish is to make the perfect sauce with the shredded dried scallop and mushrooms and have it all over the vegetable, which is in this case, the pea tips. The sauce is more like a gravy called heen, similar to the thickened broth in the snake soup but slightly thicker. This time the consistency of the sauce was perfect.
The abalone flavour in the Stewed E-Fu Noodle in Abalone Sauce was very subtle and whole dish could have used a little bit more seasoning. But they nailed the texture of the noodles, which was nicely enhanced by the thin slices of shiitake mushroom in the noodles.
By the time when we were feeling full, the soup was the only item that we had finished completely. We still had a lot of leftover from other dishes. Thank goodness the dessert was small and we were offered a couple small pieces of the Taro and Coconut Pudding, which were, like the popular Mango pudding at dim sum, more like agar jello than pudding.
For 2 people, the Kirin lunch set ($52.80) might be a little pricier than doing Dim Sum, but the overall quality and the portion make it worth every single penny. The snake soup was quite a bonus for me and it brought back the childhood memories, but if you are scared of this, you could just ask for a regular seafood soup. If you want to treat your date with an authentic Cantonese seafood meal for lunch, this lunch set makes an excellent choice. I grew up eating food like this as a Cantonese child and it definitely has the stamp of my approval!
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