On this night our family gathered in celebration of my brother finishing medical school, and earning his first job. So naturally the venue and menu had to match the level of grandeur that the occasion called for.
This ended up being an 8 course Chinese feast for 11 adults, and one child. The venue was chosen based on proximity to everyone’s home, and the eligibility of free parking in the underground parkade.
My father had the foresight to order ahead of time. This not only guaranteed us the restaurant’s specialities, that required 24 hour notice; but it meant avoiding the awkward delay in ordering, with everyone not wanting to be too forward in asking for what they wanted to eat.
As typical with many Chinese multi course meals, we started with a cold appetizer platter. The fatty pieces of pork had a nice chew. Jellyfish is always a popular one for its uniquely firm, cartilage-like chew. The sweet, honey glazed, smoked salmon was my least favourite for its dryer texture, being slightly on the chalkier side. By comparison, the equally sweet, mushroom and celery wrapped in tofu skin was a nicer morsel to maw through. And the deep fried fish balls were a table favourite for its shrimpy flavour and crispy coating.
Along with the platter above, we were also given two small servings of roasted and salted peanuts, plus beansprouts to tide us over.
Whereas most folks order soy sauce, hot sauce, and/or mustard to accompany their meal, my father made and bottled his own garlic chilli dip, to share with the table. I was pretty impressed.
Our next course was one of the special orders that you had to place in advance. A few of my family members, myself included, was feeling the effects of a nagging dry cough. And as such, my father ordered this soup as a remedy for it. To his testimony, it worked, and unexpectedly ended up being my favourite dish of the night.
This was a double boiled sea coconut and partridge soup with conch. It is presented in a large crockpot, and doled out into individual bowls for each person; with plenty of seconds and thirds for those who wanted it. I was thoroughly impressed by how flavourful and rich this soup was for a clear bone broth. It warms you to the core with a meaty pull and its subtle herbal notes. As I haven’t had anything else like it, it is hard to describe. I just know that I really liked it and insisted on taking leftovers home.
In the spirit of Chinese cuisine, and the need to prove to the customer that they are getting the whole of something: all the meat that was boiled for this soup was served in a separate platter to be picked though. We were able to gouge morsels of meat that was plenty tasty with a quick dip into soy sauce. The fowl was slow cooked tender, whereas the sea conch was on the tougher side. Unbeknownst to me, the coconut shards are not for eating. This isn’t your regular coconut: sea coconut flesh is tough, and despite it being carved up into thin slices, you aren’t physically able to bite through it. I know this to be true, based on first hand experience.
A fan favourite at any Chinese feast, meant to impress, is Peking duck; and our extended family had it served 3 ways. First was the duck wraps that you never get enough of. The whole roasted duck is presented by your table, and carved within spitting distance. This spectacle is to ensure, and almost prove that you have been given the skin from the entire duck.
The carved up slices are served atop of deep fried shrimp chips. The chips become a nice snack, whereas the duck skin is the featured ingredient in your self serve wrap assembly. Steamed wrap, hoisin sauce, duck skin, julienned cucumber, and leeks. As delicious as memory serves. One day I will be brazen enough to order the above, just for myself, to finish alone. However, because this was a group setting, everyone only got one wrap.
The whole skinless duck is then brought back into the kitchen where its meat is removed from bone. It is then diced up and wok fried with vegetables and crispy fried noodles, to be the filling to lettuce cups. This is another self serve course, where you scoop as much filling as you want into a fresh leaf of lettuce, and coat generously with more hoisin sauce. This is a tasty course, but I have always felt it a waste of the duck meat; as can recreate this dish with any protein. Why not serve the duck as is, to best enjoy the unique flavour of it, much like bbq duck?
Our third duck course utilized its bones to make a bone broth soup. Sadly, we all found this to be flat and bland. Our entire party could not help but to compare it with our features soup above, and in doing so this one just fell short. It lacked in the depth and flavour we all took note of above. It also barely read as duck. And as they did earlier, the contents of the soup is scooped into a separate bowl for rifling through.
Our family also ordered lobster, as another impressive dish. But before it was boiled, the 3.2lbs lobster, fresh out of the tank was brought table side in a plastic bin, so that the table could approve, and once again know that we were getting it fresh and whole.
The lobster is chopped up for easier picking. Therefore you aren’t given a nutcracker to pry meat from shell; but are presented with a hot towel to wipe your hands clean with, before and after majority of the course has been complete. The smaller chunks do make it easier to dig shellfish from shell with teeth and hands. Flavour wise the lobster was mild, as to allow the ginger flavour to came through. It was tasty, but still a challenge to eat. As for the noodles, it was over cooked and really didn’t add anything to this dish, besides offering a filling base. I prefer the cream lobster option.
For our vegetable course it was perfectly prepared, firm broccoli florets and tender scallops in a moisture heightening glaze. It tasted exactly as expected, and was a nice option for freshness.
The beef short rib with truffle had an impressive presentation. Although the meat was gingerly cut from the bone, it was still laid beside it. The beef ate succulent with a earthy mushroom nuance. Tender and chewy with plenty of gravy, I was just missing truffle.
And as per custom, our multi-course Chinese meal ends in a rice dish. This is to ensure that no one leaves hungry, and if there is anything left from the family share-style affair, it can be enjoyed over said rice. This is shrimp fried rice served in a lotus leaf. Bundled up and given a cover, its “lid” is removed upon its placement on the table. This was my second favourite dish of the night. The rice was very fragrant, delicious as is with a nice crispy texture. You were able to clearly make out the use of xo sauce along side the mushrooms, shrimp, and scallop.
Dessert was a warm purple rice soup made with coconut milk, red bean, and sago. “Sago” is an edible starch which is obtained from a palm. It formed into mini balls, with a chew similar to boba, but far less sticky. I am not a fan of red bean based soups as I find its grainy, sandy texture off potting.
Our second and third dessert was an almond cookie and a sesame ball each. As someone who isn’t a big fan of sweets, I approved of the not-so-sweet or rich dessert options. The cookie reminded me of the harder version of the topping found on pineapple buns. As for the sesame ball, it was greasy and hard, and not something I wanted to end on, or leave the restaurant with.
In closing this was a great destination for our celebration. The meal came with stand-outs, highlights, and everyone over eating. A successful Chinese multi course meal.
Dynasty Seafood Restaurant
108-777 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4J7