Joyce of @monkeyeatsworld and Sherman of @shermansfoodadventures were invited to Afterparty Club Cafe, and seeing as it is in the restaurant’s title, they decided to invite a few of us along to make the occasion a more social one, (this was just before the latest restrictions came into effect). So Joyce of @vanfoodies, and @misselieensoo and I converged in Richmond to join them for a meal.
Located in a plaza behind two glass doors, if you aren’t looking for them, you wouldn’t know where to go. This is a shame, as they have put in plenty of effort decorating their entrance moment. Starting with the featured faux botanical wall framing the restaurant’s name and their logo. The latter of which looks eerily similar to the concept used for the Korean series: Squid Game.
Although this grandiose entrance moment is lost as you walk pass glass showcases of collectables and toys. Interesting to look at, but it doesn’t necessarily speak to the theme.
Beyond it is a living room scene that took me back into the moment, with its wall to wall library featuring shelves of Chinese board games and literature, all surrounding an 8ft tall Christmas tree and lounger. Another head swivelling spectacle that lost me again to the projection of Greco Roman statues crowding the ceiling. All unique ideas separately, but not cohesive as a whole.
The restaurateur could have simply kept it whimsical and fun with just toys and props, considering the availability of board games for play; and seeing as the menu too reflected the restaurant’s fun side. The menu is fully drawn out cartoon-style, designed and conceived by the owner herself. It was a stunning page turner, but truthfully it didn’t tell me much about what to order, especially seeing as the notes accompanying each colourful sketch was in Chinese. You only got the description of what it is. The following is majority of the menu, as chosen by us and offered up by the Afterparty Club as their favourite dishes to recommend.
The Dirty fries were surprisingly a favourite of the table. What we were going to by-pass as regular crispy fries came recommend by our server, and thankfully so. They were so fragrant and flavourful with a mix of zest and spicy seasonings that somewhat reminded me of the flavour pouches in instant noodle packets. It left you going back for stick after stick, even well after the fries were cooled and cold.
The APC salad was another dish that they wanted to feature. Their one and only house salad prepared with shredded lettuce, slices of hard boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, and shrimp; all lightly coated in a citrus based dressing. All pretty standard for what I would have considered a side salad, and not a main at $13.95.
The Fried frog legs were an unexpected menu item. The menu reads Chinese, so this came out of left field, and naturally I had to have it. Well deep fried and crispy, they ate like scrawny chicken wings, and had a similar crunch and seasoning as the fries we all liked above.
The Mentaiko potatoes were another dish we thought to skip, but glad that the restaurant wanted us to try it. It doesn’t look like much, but ate like a nice twisted take on mashed potatoes. The creaminess of the sweet mayo and the saltiness of the fish product added much flavour to the smooth dish. No complaints.
The Beijing smoked duck breast offered us a show with our dinner. It arrived cloched with the unveiling of and the wafting of smoke escaping, table side. Though sadly it read better than it ate. The meat was cold and lacked seasoning despite the drizzle of sauce. And the vegetables offered little more than a mat for both to lay on.
The menu labelled the black cod soup a winter special, it certainly helped to warm us up from the inside out. The cod was a little dry and over cooked, though I did like the way it was seasoned with the tang and sweetness of the tomato based broth, and the use of the larger mung beansprouts.
The truffle oil diced beef rice was a little disappointing. The rice had a nice chewy crisp to it, but it lacked the distinct flavour of truffle, and the beef was over cooked. It felt like it should have been a side to a main piece of protein; like for the pork belly below.
The Slow braised pork belly and abalone had so much promise and gold flakes. However the abalone was old, it ate with the tough chew of a rehydrated shiitake mushroom. The pork belly was on the lean side, it did not have the succulent fattiness you want to balance out the rubbery seafood.
The Champion pork hoc was another menu item that came with a presentation. It was carved table side on a push cart. The staff member tasked to do so was fearless in his chopping of meat from bone. There were a few close calls where he didn’t even flinch at the prospect of losing a finger to his unyielding clever. As for the meat, it was bland and dry. It could have used more salt, but the spicy ketchup dip helped in both the taste and texture.
I liked the Tea tankotaki, it and the rest of their boiled soup dishes were winning us over. It was chalked-full of flavour with every sip warming with the quality of a bone broth soup. The ingredients were a mixed bag of frozen seafood balls from T&T. Good enough, but it is something I often purchase for my instant noodle, so it left me wanting more from a restaurant that is trying to elevate its wares.
I was especially disappointed by the Salted duck yolk rice crackers. I like the flavour of salted egg yolk, so was excited to try it in this application. But there was no flavour. It didn’t taste like salted egg yolk, in fact it didn’t even taste seasoned. With enough salt or even the same mix for the fries and frog legs, it would have made for a great drinking snack. However, other than the crunch it was just an oily chew.
The Tomato braised chicken felt like a pasta marinade without noodles. It even reminded me of marinara in the herbs used, so I used the leftovers I took home as a sauce over penne.
The West coast curry was a creamy and spicy stew. Like the dish above, this too felt like it was missing a carb base. A solid curry with plenty of root vegetables and dry pieces of chicken. This became another leftover I took home to repurpose as curry udon.
In short, Afterparty is a unique spot to hang out with friends at. Eat, drink, or play games within. They have plenty of Chinese Board games and even a classroom themed room to play it within. But as for food, there are too many unbalanced wins and opportunities to recommend for a meal. Although, they are in the lounge business and seem to be marketing themselves as an after dinner hang out spot, you get what you expect. An interesting choice, but not one that needs repeating. However I would like to revisit when they open up their game selection to English only speakers, and maybe solidify their menu honing in on taste over presentation more.
After Party Club Cafe
#160-4351 No. 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2C3