One minute I was in awe that my 100th post had arrived, and the next I was planning my ‘100 days remaining’ post. No, I am not able to tell you where the time has gone, nor can I imagine how quickly the next 99 days will go. The countdown is on already?! How did we get here!
First, I’ll share the video I spent an obscene amount of time making the other day when I reached 265. Hope you enjoy!
Since it felt like the right time for a grand meal with plenty of laughter, I brought four of my favourite people to Shiang Garden: Marnie, Megan, Alejandro, and Garrett. It’s a big restaurant at the top of a building, with tall ceilings and dozens of chandeliers.
Being a Tuesday night, it was quiet, and we were only one of only three tables occupying the vast dining room.
Note number one: our service was incredible. Alice (“like Alice in Wonderland” she told us) had us all wrapped around her little finger by the end of the night. The thing I was most impressed by was her help with our dishes; we showed her an old Chinese Restaurant Awards menu from their restaurant last year, just to ask for some of their signature dishes, and she basically asked the kitchen to recreate the meal for us, and at the same steal of a price ($150). We didn’t even ask – she just did it! And because the kitchen was slow, those dishes came out quickly.
Note number two: the food was stellar. We started with chicken and crab soup, which was one of the best soups I’ve had in Richmond so far. That’s probably because I have a cold and it tasted like a thickened version of good old-fashioned chicken soup, with the addition of egg and shredded crab meat just to step it up. It felt good for my soul.
Next we had the fried lobster with green onions and Amoy sauce (a premium oyster sauce). Everyone loved this.
The stir-fried Alberta beef tenderloin cubes were peppery, tender as butter, and sautéed with mushrooms, peppers, and celery. Beef is not often the star of the show in Chinese restaurants (pork is such a fame hog…..zing!) but this dish showed it off the beef and then some.
The sautéed Chinese mushrooms with broccoli dish was an impressive plate full of thick stalks and earthy brown caps. Loving this dish or hating it ultimately comes down to textural preferences, since the mushrooms are dried and reconstituted, and therefore quite chewy. Our table was divided, but I quite liked them.
I don’t think the chicken dish was the ‘chicken baked in salt’ from the website menu, but it was wonderful nonetheless – marinated, tender, and rich in flavour.
Shiang Garden’s “Must Order” signature is the Dongpo-style Braised Pork, an iconic dish in Hangzhou cuisine. Legend has it that Su Dongpo – a Song Dynasty poet, artist, and calligrapher – accidentally left his Red-Cooked Pork Belly to simmer for longer than intended, and therefore discovered the magic of looooong-braised pork.
Traditionally, the cut of pork belly is very fatty, and should be braised for several hours, though Shiang Garden’s version was so tender, Alejandro suggested it might have been braising for several years. Alice brought the slab of Dongpo Pork out whole, then sliced it into squares at the table. It was surrounded by steamed bok choy, and sat in a reduction of the rich, brown braising liquid. She also passed around a plate of steamed buns, which we ate with the sauce and soft pieces of meat. I’m so glad Su Dongpo forgot about his Red-Cooked Pork Belly, because this accidental dish is a GREAT one.
Our last plate – fried rice with preserved olive leaves, minced pork, and green beans – was just the right addition. The minced pork was salty, the green beans were fresh, and it wasn’t greasy at all, which I often find fried rice to be. While I liked some more than others, there wasn’t a single dish on the table I wasn’t happy with.
Just to affirm our love of Alice, the desserts were small mango puddings set in heart-shaped moulds and covered with evaporated milk. They were a light, smooth, and refreshing way to end the meal. Our bill came to $168 with tax.
As we left (at closing time), all the staff and managers near the exit thanked us warmly for coming and and said the friendliest of goodbyes. We practically skipped back to the car we were so pleased. Thanks to Marn, Meg, Garrett, and Alejandro for being such fine company, and to Shiang Garden for feeding and treating us so well.
Thanks to everyone who’ve left suggestions for my remaining meals – they are much appreciated. Keep ’em coming!
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available (though we obviously had a very meat-heavy meal)