Saturday, 21 September 2013

Parklane Chinese Restaurant 百樂潮州酒家: Chiu Chow Cuisine!

In celebration of my parents' wedding anniversary, we went out for dinner! Being the unadventurous people, they originally planned to just go to a local restaurant. But that kind of defeated the purpose of celebrating with something 'special', so slowly we brainstormed a little farther, and then a little more farther until we finally decided to ditch the idea of eating in the Tri-Cities and drove all the way to Richmond.

Our friends had recommended this new restaurant to us; they are chiu chow people themselves. Parklane Chinese Restaurant is located in the London Drugs plaza, and there is plenty of undercover parking. It is in the store spot where Empire Seafood Restaurant (帝苑皇宴海鮮酒家) once occupied, however that restaurant has moved across the plaza. I have visited Empire for a dinner a few years ago when it re-opened and it's pretty good! The interior is very bright and clean. Seeing that Parklane serves Chiu Chow cuisine, I was pretty excited to eat Chinese food that wasn't Cantonese or Northern.

Set Dinner Menus at Parklane Chinese Restaurant
Even without a reservation, we were seated immediately on a Friday night. There were several other tables of customers dotted around the L-shaped restaurant but it didn't really get busy and full until we were leaving at around 7pm. Once seated, we were given menus, condiments, and roasted peanuts to snack on. My parents were quick to make their decision and we ordered Set Dinner for Four Person (A); they said set menus are always a safe bet because not only does it usually include their signature items but many people order it on a daily basis, meaning fresh food and experienced chefs.

Minced Chicken & Fish Maw Thick Soup
For the soup, we chose the Minced Chicken & Fish Maw Thick Soup instead of the pig stomach one. My dad laughed at me saying how I minded pig stomach but not fish stomach. The soup is served in a massive dish and ladled into separate bowls at the table. The serving dish held at least 8 full bowls of soup; that's two bowls per person! The flavour of the soup was just right and I happily ate (not drank) two big bowls with a hefty addition of red vinegar and a sprinkle of white pepper. I have a relatively new appreciation for fish maw soup. To make this soup even better, I wish they had kept the fish maw in larger chunks. Other than that preference of mine, this was a solid start.

Gai Lan with Dried Sole
Our veggies, Gai Lan with Dried Sole, were next to arrive. They were chopped into manageable chunks, which although isn't the best presentation, is very welcomed because eating a tree of gai lan is rather messy and difficult. It was lightly seasoned (although I know there was a lot of oil used because of the glossy finish) and the fish jerky was very interesting. A bit tough but tasty. This 'clear tasting dish' is very necessary during a dinner with lots of strong and heavy flavours. The portion is very large too and even plentiful for a family with four vegetable monsters.

Chiu Chow Marinated Duck
Chiu Chow cuisine is known for their 'lo suey' foods. Literally translated that's 'old water' but actually means marinated. My mom was going on and on about how good Chiu Chow marinated foods are during our one hour drive to Richmond. One of the dishes on our set menu is half a marinated duck (or chicken) atop marinated tofu. It was beautifully presented with plenty of meaty pieces. The slices on top were uniformly cut and only had meat; my brother hogged most of those pieces. The little dish in the background is vinegar to dip the duck in. Not absolutely necessary but it's there if you like a little acidity. It was a very good marinated dish and did not disappoint. It's served cold (or room temperature) so if you know you'll have to pack leftovers home, I'd save this one to pack.

Fried Rice with Minced Pork & Olive

When the fried rice came, my whole family thought "how are we going to eat this much rice?" We did end up packing some home, which was much more enjoyable the next day when we weren't all stuffed. This fried rice doesn't have olives, but rather olive leaves. So the English description is misleading. It was a delicious fried rice and unlike any other one I've eaten. The olive leaves gives it this unique flavour, like a hint of olives. Simple dish made better with a twist, love it.

Chiu Chow Fried Oyster Omelette
This is the star of the show, and what we came for. The Chiu Chow Fried Oyster Omelette was the highlight of the night, even with all the other stars around it, and what our friends had recommended most. I was immediately reminded of the oyster omelette (or pancake) from Phnom Penh, which was very good as well. The two are differ slightly in their own ways, but neither is bad in any way. But if I had to pick a favourite, it'd be this one from Parklane; it's drier to the touch and more like an omelette. The puff in the centre is from all the oysters in this dish. The generous amount of oysters in this dish created a texture similar to dace fish paste. It is served with fish sauce. The omelette is so large that even two slices was more than enough for me. This oyster omelette was my favourite dish of the night, it is a definite must try.

Honey Garlic Pork Ribs
The Honey Garlic Pork Ribs came a bit later than everything else, but not a big problem since we were already gorging ourselves with food. I didn't expect to like this dish as much as I did. It was perfect. Like perrrrfect. Super crispy exterior, moist, and fall of the bone meaty chunks, and the sauce was sweet and savoury all at the same time. I usually don't take a particular liking towards pork or meat dishes like this, but this dish was exceptional. There were tons of pieces too. My family was so full at the end we had to play rock-paper-scissors to determine who ate the final pieces. I wouldn't pack this one home because it will loose its crispiness and the sauce will slide off if reheated. Eat this dish hot and fresh!

Chef's Daily Dessert: Shelled green bean and tapioca sweet soup
Dessert was a tapioca green bean sweet soup. It was a light and syrupy-sweet dessert made with shelled green beans. Although slightly sweeter than I'd like it, it was a very good dessert.

Complimentary Chiu Chow bitter tea
Four baby cups of bitter tea came with our bill. Think of it like Chinese shot glasses, but you're not supposed to down it in one gulp (which I did...and got scolded for doing.) It is supposed to be sipped bit by bit to enjoy the flavour. It wasn't as bitter as I had anticipated it to be, but I wouldn't say it was delicious. As the Chinese say, "if it doesn't heal you, it'll make your body healthier".

Parklane Chinese Restaurant had exceeded my initial expectations. I was more than content with my dinner here and am looking forward to the next chance I get to eat here. Every dish was of high quality, quantity, and taste. There was not a single major complaint I could make on any dish. The food is reasonably priced and affordable. Our waiter came by very often to change our dishes (although being a eco-friendly person, I would've preferred he come much less as I don't have the need to change my plate for every piece of food). Food was served at an acceptable pace. Our dinner here was perfect, and for a Chinese restaurant, that's an uncommon comment to receive. I would recommend Parklane Chinese Restaurant to anybody and everybody. Their Chiu Chow food is authentic and well executed, bravo!

Parklane Chinese Restaurant 百樂潮州酒家 on Urbanspoon

Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡

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