Another visit to a new Chinese restaurant as part of Chinese Bites to try more of the Signature Dishes that Western Lake has to offer. We started off with a traditional start of roasted peanuts and pickled veggies. These things are supposed to whet your appetite and these do the trick. The veggies were a bit mild, but I love super sour things, so they are probably just fine. Lots of crunch and just enough sourness to make you wrinkle your face just a touch.
We started off with a Melon Soup, a classic and one of my favourites. The melon is hollowed out, then the flesh is cubed and combined with mushrooms, and seafood such as crab meat and then slowly steamed/stewed for hours. The sweetness comes from the crab but I think the long cooking process compromises the texture of the crab meat just a bit. The melon chunks are piping hot, with a bite left in them. The presentation is quite impressive, I mean, where do you find a gold cauldron nowadays?!
The Egg and Seafood dish is pure comfort food, I love the combination of the soft texture of the shrimp and scallops, mixed with the velvety smoothness of the egg. The fish roe on top is a nice touch too. The dish is mild, to be sure, very subtle flavours and best served at the onset of the meal.
For our next dish, we had the Fried Dungeness Crab topped with a ton of fried garlic and onions. This dish had bold flavours and really picked up the pace of the meal. There were lots of meaty crab chunks, and the fried garlic made the dish really pop. For those of you who enjoy the innards found in the shell, there was plenty here! The shells were cracked for us, but we also got the nutcrackers so we could extract the meat even easier. And honestly, the fried garlic is something else.
Next? The Stir-Fried Beef with Fried Milk Balls. Despite being called Fried Milk Balls, the inside is more of a milk custard, giving it a slightly sweet taste. The coating was a touch thick, and the custard had cooled by the time I got to it, so it wasn’t the highlight of the night. However, to salvage the dish, I have to say that the beef had good heat from the wok, and stood well on its own without the Milk Balls.
Off to another fruit adorned dish, Deep Fried Prawns in a cream sauce. This dish was rich, with the battered shrimp coated in a thick tangy sauce. Although the crunch from the nuts was appreciated, you really do lose the deep-fried crunch when you slather sauce all over. Easy enough fix, but something the restaurant should watch for next time.
Fortunately, another version of Deep Fried Prawns was on the way. This was much more to my liking! See the difference in sauciness? This lighter application of the sauce actually lets you appreciate the cooking process of the prawns, and feel just how tender each piece is. The slightly tangy sauce served to bring out the sweetness of the prawns themselves.
If you’ve seen the previous Chinese Bites post at Ken’s Chinese Restaurant, you’ll recognize this Pork Belly dish. Here, though, it’s Make Your Own Pork Belly Sandwich time! These steamed buns arrived hot, and once you split it half, just add a chunk of the Braised Pork Belly complete with the fatty skin. It’s a little slider…be sure to scoop up some extra sauce for the bun to soak up. The pork belly is super tender and the fatty skin is loaded with flavour, and rich and creamy in texture.
Our final dish was their Fried Chicken. The chicken is lean with a very crispy skin. The bright colour comes from the signature marinade and give the dish a slightly sweet soy flavour.
To finish off the meal, we had a duo of desserts, a Chinese Water Chestnut Pudding and also a Red Bean Jello. The wolfberries in the Water Chestnut Pudding gave the pudding more texture, and although it wasn’t overly sweet, just a perfect bite to end the meal. The Red Bean Jello was quite creamy, and I much prefer this presentation of red bean to the usual red bean soup served at most places. This meal had a lot of seafood, some hits and misses, but overall, the Winter Melon Soup and the Fried Chicken were definitely the highlights.
Address: 4989 Victoria Drive, Vancouver, BC
Phone Number: (604) 321-6862
7 days a week: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner