Just a couple weeks ago it was Moon Festival aka Mid Autumn Festival. To us, it’s an occasion for family gathering, so Mr. and I, along with our parents, went out for a big dinner at Parklane Chinese Restaurant.
Parklane serves Chiu Chow cuisine 潮州菜, which is quite different from most Chinese restaurants in Richmond as most of them serve Shanghainese or Cantonese style cuisine. Chiu Chow cuisine is seafood based and the preparation and flavours are quite unique. To make ordering easier, we decided to go for one of its special set menu. First of all, Chilled Crab. As suggested by the name, the crab was served cold — a chilled, previously steamed crab. Why chilled, you ask? Chiu Chow area residents used to be fishermen, so when they were out fishing, they could be at sea for days or even weeks and months. So to preserve the seafood that they caught, they would steam everything then chill them, thus maintaining the fresh seafood taste while prolonging their shelf life.
The Chilled Crab 凍蟹 was nice, firm and meaty. It came with a ginger dark vinegar dipping sauce, which brought out the fresh seafood taste. I like that they pre-cracked the claws so it’s easier to peel.
Next, a tummy warming Pepper Pig Stomach Soup 咸菜胡椒豬肚湯. The white pepper flavour was very prominent, giving the soup the depth of flavours and the heat that made it a perfect fall/winter soup. The pig stomach was treated properly so there wasn’t any unpleasant taste to it. And the use of preserved vegetables added some salt and a hint of sourness to the soup. Everyone around the table really enjoyed this.
Marinated Duck 滷水鴨 is also a signature Chiu Chow dish. The half a duck sat on top of some sliced marinated tofu. The duck breast part was deboned and sliced, but not the leg. I quite liked the flavour of the marinate but perhaps just a bit too salty for my liking.
The token vegetable dish Braised Pea Tips with Dried Scallop and Enoki Mushroom was actually really good. The pea tips were cooked nicely, in the vibrant green, leafy colour. There was also ample dried scallop and enoki mushroom in the braised sauce.
The BBQ Ribs with Plum Sauce 梅羔醬烤骨 was my favourite of the evening. In fact, we finished off that plate in no time! The ribs were still nice and crispy even though being tossed in the plum sauce; meat was tender and just on the edge of falling off the bone. It’s not the western style plum sauce; it’s the Chinese style sour plum sauce, which had a good balance of sweet and sourness.
Chiu Chow Fried Oyster Omelette 蠔烙 is another signature Chiu Chow dish (obviously!). Traditionally it uses small size oysters, but because they’re not available here, they chop up big oysters to make this omelette. This omelette had really good flavours from the combination of eggs, green onions and oysters. There was decent amount of ingredients so it wasn’t just the batter. It came with a fish sauce based dipping sauce, which also brought out the seafood flavours in the oysters. I thought the crispy rim wasn’t too pleasant looking, but otherwise, this was a solid dish.
We were worried that the menu set itself wasn’t enough, so we added an extra dish. The Pan Fried Gai Lan with Beef in Satay Sauce is more of a Cantonese style stir-fry, but it was still quite good. The beef was tender, and the gai lan still had a nice snap. The satay flavour was just right, although I found the dish slightly too oily.
The last savoury item on the menu set was the Fried Rice with Minced Pork and Pickled Olive Greens. Compared to other dishes, this was on the mediocre side. I had thought that the pickled olive greens would give it a salty, savoury note, but this tasted just like a regular minced pork fried rice. And it was definitely missing the flavour of some Chinese preserved veggies.
To finish the menu set, it came with the daily dessert, which was Green Mung Bean Soup. A standard affair, this was probably made in a big batch and being offered to every customer. So while it tasted fine, there’s nothing wow’ing about it.
It was the Friday before Moon Festival, so understandably, the place was packed! There were many big groups in the restaurant, yet they were able to pump out food rather quickly and service was decent. It’s a bit hectic at times, but overall I think they’re relatively prepared for this busy night.
We chose the menu that included a number of Chiu Chow signature items, and naturally those were the shining stars of the dinner. Overall the flavours were pretty good and I thought it was a good value for the money. I would’ve liked some tweaks to the fried rice and dessert, but I think it’s just a victim of big batch production.
Parklane Chinese Restaurant 百樂潮州酒家
200-7997 Westminster Highway, Richmond