“Myst” is a Taiwanese restaurant defining themselves as an Asian fusion eatery. Here they prescribed to the belief that more is more.
Their fullsome menu matches their large restaurant space, their longer hours; and their ability to cater to various appetites from 7:30am breakfasts to late night snacks at 1am. The only thing out of sync with this was their parking situation out front. They shared their lot with another fairly large restaurant and there just isn’t enough stalls to go around. Therefore the one way road easily becomes anything goes, in order to get a coveted spot (this blogger is speaking from experience). Although, given the right time of day, curb side spots are available as well.
The restaurant is all new and it shows with clean lines and simple symmetry. Wooden beams flowed parallel to the squared floor tiles, and all the tables and booth seats ran in between both. Frosted glass with linear criss cross etching created extra separation between seating arrangements. And an all window front gave the place all the day time lighting it needed. However, when the sun sets and night falls, they are able to attract the vision of hungry diners passing by, with their neon blue lights. The LEDS trim the ceiling and bathes the room in a mechanical blue.
Today I was one out of a handful of food bloggers and media influencers that was invited to taste and try some of their signature dishes, before their grand opening the day after (April 21, 2017). As a Chinesebites event. And judging by the steady of traffic of this Thursday evening, and the wait at the door for a table during this soft launch period, I believe they will do just fine. Especially given their offerings below.
As always when it pertains to a media event, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.
There was so much food at this event. Therefore, as a double edged sword, in order to be able to try it all, I wasn’t able to have much of many and therefore my review won’t be as thorough as it normally is. Similarly there are some dishes that I would have otherwise deemed good, but when compared to others that stood out so much more, I couldn’t help but rank them less by comparison. As a result, I strongly suggest taking what I have written in quick summary with a grain of salt. And simply visit yourself, and try anything that you read below that deemed interesting enough to do so.
Their fusion Asian cuisine was pretty much 80% Taiwanese, featuring Hakka style with nods to Japanese cooking. The dishes that follow are in order of which they came to us.
“Preserved cabbage with shredded pork fried rice cake”. I really enjoyed the chewy texture of the rice cakes sliced thin, however found that the strands of bitter pickled vegetable took away from it. Definitely an acquired flavour.
The “Myst delux marinated pork with rice” was listed under traditional rice combos. There was a little too much going on in this for me. Between the strong salty flavour of spicy sausage, the sweet fluffy texture of the pork floss, the briny flavour of the preserved vegetable, and even stronger tang of the yellow oshinko pickle. I would have liked the bowl more simple, or at least more rice to offer a better base. I would have ordered it just with the minced pork in gravy over rice, topped with the runny egg, and accompanied by the spongy shrimp roll.
By comparison, the “TaiNan style egg noodle soup” was a little bland. It has a nice fishy broth with sweet noodles and shrimp, to enjoy as a lighter meal.
There are several marinaded items, available for you to pick and choose, to construct your own cold appetizer plate. Selecting more than two out of the nine options earns you 5% off. Ordering three or more varieties gets you 10% off. You paid for each item, and each varied in price. They were seasoned fairly similarly so you are pretty much choosing each for its texture. Here it was the chewy cartilage of pork ear string, the thick gelatine-like chew of thick cut seaweed, and the squeaky crumble of dried tofu.
One of my favourites was the “Assorted deep fried basket” with salty peppery squid tentacles, crispy fish cake, and earthy rice cake. This was yet another dish enjoyable for its medley of textures. Thankfully of flavour on its own, as I can’t really think of a sauce that would go well with any of this.
The “Myst beef noodle soup” was disappointingly salty, a noticeable point even after the first slurp. And there wasn’t a good beef to noodle ratio. More of the latter when you wanted more than two pieces of stomach, two gelatine-like tendons, and two smaller chunks of stringy beef.
Another one I really liked was the “Shanghai steamed sticky rice dumplings”. Flavourful rice wrapped in a package of nice chewy dough. It equated to the perfect union of carbs wrapped in starch, a good way to be for me.
The “Taiwanese style fried rice vermicelli” was a stir fry of textures. Thin noodles meet julienned cuts of carrot and lettuce, and thin strips of beef. It was very similar to what my mother made for us growing up. Homestyle.
The “House special spicy lamb hot pot” delivered on its promise of heat. The pot arrived on its own pedestal, kept boiling by a crackling candle light. There was a lot of assorted meat and seafood along with the lamb; like imitation crab, sausage, and tofu. And to make it a full meal it came with some garnished rice, a dish of preserved salty vegetables and some seasoned meat and nuts for crunch. I found the red broth of the pot a little too hot personally, but Diana from Foodology was not shy to take the entire portion left behind home for meals to come.
The “Chives, shrimp, and pork dumplings” were nice. Flavourful without the sauce and better with. It was exactly as expected.
“Delicious sandwiches” were their name an not so much my description. They were your typical Taiwanese style sandwiches with meat, egg, and vegetables stacked between three toasted layers of white bread. What stood out was the sweet mayo used and how it was quick to liquidity with the condensation of the fresh tomato and cucumber. You would squeeze the triangle and pools of white fluid would run. I could have used less of this and a second layer of ham, or some spam (like how my mom use to prepare it) for an increased meaty presence.
The “Deep fried ginger flavour chicken whole wings” was another favourite of mine. Crispy skin, juicy dark meat, and plenty of flavour throughout. This is definitely one to go back for.
By comparison the “Fried chicken in chili pepper” wasn’t as dynamic. Less flavour and more chilli spice. There was also what seemed like more bone per chunk of chicken.
The “Pan fried beef pancake” is a Taiwanese classic. Beef flavoured by a sweet and tangy sauce, rolled up in a salty green onion pancake. It tasted as I expected it too, but I found it too salty to have more than one bite of.
The “Chive and shrimp spring roll” was pretty unspectacular as well. They were under stuffed and over fried. Too oily to the touch for my liking.
And the most memorable dish for me was the “Golden sand prawns with salted egg yolk sauce”. Having only had egg yolk over seafood once before in Malaysia, I vowed to find a representation of it in Vancouver; and here I have. I didn’t bother peeling back the shell of the prawn and ate it as is, sans the head and tail. After all that’s where all the seasoning was. It had the texture of melted sand, an enjoyable kind of graininess with that distinct rich yolky flavour. Truly one of a kind, and one I really recommend trying.
The “Myst Japanese style egg fried rice” was a nice rice dish. Airy with seafood and the distinct Japanese combo of sweet mayo, spicy seaweed, and toasted sesame seeds. It made a great base to enjoy along with a few of the other dishes.
For the skewers each order comes with a minimum of three. They had the traditional chicken, lamb, and pork available. But we were given a more exotic mix of fishcake, chicken gizzard, and pork intestine. They had a nice char to them, but a little on the dry side. A mild sauce to dip them into would have been nice. Especially with the after taste of the more gamier organ meats.
“Fried green beans with minced pork” is another Taiwanese classic that I gravitate towards. They were pan fried fresh and crisp, with a sweet and salty meat sauce. This was a way to get your vegetables in, between all the carbs and meat available.
And the “Japanese style takoyaki” was as expected in flavour and texture. More melty dough then squishy octopus. Though I could have done with less of the brown sauce, as it was fairly salty with it.
For dessert we were given a mix of traditional and modern Asian style desserts. For the former the “Myst jelly” was a unique offering. Apparently it is a winter melon jelly. But more like jello, accept a lot more firm. It tasted like molasses and cane syrup and was a lot too sweet for me. It would have been nice to have accented the flavour with some coffee, to balance out the sugar with some bitter. But that would no longer be tradition I guess.
And none of us were prepared for the “Hakka style sweet rice cake”. It is normally served looking more like a roll cake. Here it is a sweet dessert sticky rice in a bowl. The cut up dates embedded within overpowered with a sharp medicinal flavour that battled against the sesame seeds. Not one I would recommend, unless you have had it before and know what you are getting yourself into.
Everyone was much more receptive of the Myst taiyaki. This is an ice cream sundae served in an edible sugar cone bowl with matcha ice cream, red bean sauce, and sticky rice balls. And the taiyaki acts more like a side. A chewy sweet dough pastry hiding more gooey red bean. It would have been best enjoyed warm, instead of left to cool at room temperature and made to match the cold of the ice cream. Okay together, but better separate as two distinct desserts.
But what really got the cameras flashing was the smoke from the dry ice accenting their “snowflake ice” desserts. This was flavoured shaved ice available in mango, green tea and red bean, and cookies and cream. We received the pink strawberry one. The fruit was tart, but like the ice, sweetened by the scoop of artificial strawberry ice cream and the drizzle of condense milk. But it was a little too much strawberry on strawberry action for me, I would have liked the ice flavoured like condense milk or lychee instead, to balance things out.
All this food and I can see them being more popular for just their drinks. Their drink menu was just as extensive and as varied as their food one. From favourite bubble tea flavours, to all the trendy colour changing, cookie topping, towering creations available elsewhere.
I made claim to one of their flavoured slushes after confirming that this towering high creation would be indeed coming to me with marshmallow eyes. A few others placed their order for this too, however their slushes were either too watery, and its top half didn’t make it to the table, or dropped just as it landed. Mine was made last and at a much smaller scale, and therefore survived. I later added straw arms for novelty sake. This is the green apple and was accurate in flavour.
The following are what others at our table ordered.
The “Potted milk tea” was a milk tea topped with ground up Oreo cookie crumbs, and finished off with a real green leaf for ornamental sake. It gave the drink the illusion of a potted plant, hence the name.
The “Mousse green tea” similarly had a topping above its drink. This was a thick foam that you could stir in to sweetened the cup.
And they also offered the regular kind of milk tea with your choice of pearls, grass jelly, or other bubble tea toppings.
Uchikinoki ice cream smoothie
Calpis butterfly pea flower Tea and the Strawberry lemon butterfly pea flower tea.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They seem almost like a one stop Chinese food stop. Lots to try, something for everyone. Don’t deny your cravings.
#2 6400 Kingsway Burnaby BC, V5E 15C