I have Suzie and Emily, my dear Aussie and American friends, with me at last. I’m so excited to have them here that I keep having to tell my brain – now constantly spinning with places I want to take them and foods I want them to try – to calm down. Take it easy, Anderson. They don’t need to try every last one of your favourite pineapple cocktail buns in Richmond. THOUGH WE CAN TRY.
Emily arrived first, so we went for dim sum while we waited for Suzie to get in. Since it’s so close to the Canada Line, Gingeri Chinese Cuisine in Lansdowne Centre seemed like an easy option, so we strolled in around 10:30am and were seated right away.
The restaurant isn’t huge compared to places like Rainflower, nor as fancy. It has a pleasant, casual atmosphere to it, however, and there were plenty of families enjoying meals together.
The dim sum menu has pictures, so along with some recommendations from a friend, we easily decided on our order. We went with the soup dumplings (#1 on the menu, $4.95), taro pork pastry ($4.95), pan-fried noodles with soy and chives ($7.80), pan-fried sticky rice wrapped with egg ($5.20), deep-fried bean curd with salt ($6.80), watercress and shrimp dumplings ($4.95), and steamed honey sponge cake ($4.95).
The soup dumplings were huge, and came in a gingery broth with a few slices of lotus root and sliced pork. They were tasty, with tender wrappers, and a filling that was full of greens and crunchy bean sprouts.
The predominant flavour was of ginger, so you’ll certainly want to order this dish if you’re a fan of the spicy root.
The taro pork pastry was one of the dishes we were least excited about.
Pastry had been wrapped around layers of mashed taro mixed with bits of chopped preserved meat, but there wasn’t nearly enough salty meat to contrast with the sweetness of the taro, and the texture of the pastry was a little soft – too similar to the filling. I’d pass on this next time.
The pan-fried noodles with soy sauce and Chinese chives were interesting; the dry, thread-like noodles had been added straight to the pan and not sautéed long, so when they arrived at the table they were still a bit crunchy (the term ‘toothsome’ was invented for this dish). The flavours were oniony and savoury, and overall we both enjoyed it.
The pan-fried sticky rice wrapped in egg was a new-to-me iteration on steamed sticky rice in lotus leaves. The sticky rice had been shaped into a rectangle, and was filled with stew-like preserved meat.
Then, instead of being put into lotus leaves and steamed, it was wrapped with a thin egg omelette, fried, and topped with a heaping pile of crispy shallots.
I don’t know if the egg necessarily added much to the dish, but I’m a big fan of sticky rice and preserved meat, and this is exactly the kind of comfort food I’ve come to love this year.
The deep-fried bean curd was salty, crunchy, custardy, and awesome.
It came with a very sweet, clear sauce with bits of chili (and something very pink?!) in it.
We oooohed and aahhhhhed a great deal over the watercress and shrimp dumplings, which had paper-thin wrappers and frilly yellow tops.
They were wonderful – one of the best dumplings I’ve had so far – chock-full of fresh, bright green watercress.
For me, a surprise hit of the meal was dessert – the steamed honey cake (also known as Chinese brown sugar cake).
It arrived at the table looking like weird, wobbly squares cut from the earth; they were richly brown, made up of an endless array of holes and tunnels (like honeycomb), and were each topped with a little dab of gold leaf.
While they didn’t look like anything we’d ever tried before, they certainly smelled familiar, and after a few seconds we decided the scent was similar to Soreen Fruity Malt Loaf, a popular British snack that Emily and I consumed a great deal of while we were in England together.
If you want to try it, they sell them at Mary’s British Home! The malt extract in malt loaf adds a burnt-sugar, molasses-y flavour, which must be similar to the Chinese brown sugar used in the steamed cake. Chinese brown sugar comes in bricks, and is made from unrefined sugar with molasses; the darker the bricks are, the more molasses they contain.
After a few bites of the soft, sticky, ‘bouncy’ cake I was hooked, and we decided that with the addition of some caramel sauce, it might even taste like sticky toffee pudding. This is a must-try at Gingeri, and I have a feeling kids would probably find it pretty entertaining. It’s also made with rice flour, so take note gluten-frees!
After dim sum, we went and picked up Suzie. Since she had flown in through Toronto, she arrived in the domestic terminal, and the poor thing didn’t realize Emily and I would be able to surprise her at the luggage carousel. AND SURPRISE HER WE DID. I haven’t seen Suzie for two whole years, so there was a lot of hugging and high-pitched half-yelling and hugging again. It is so great to have the three of us together again, and it is also so great that Suzie is now a chocolatier and brought us a huge haul of chocolate. I am looking forward to eating all of this, and also hoping I can introduce her to the great folks at Coconama!
Welcome Suzie and Emily. It is time to put on your stretchy pants.
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available