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Friday, August 12, 2011

[Richmond Hill] Chili Secrets

Location Review:
9021 Leslie Street
Richmond Hill, Ontario
(Major Intersection: Leslie St. and Hwy 7)

The other day I came here to have dim sum with the family and some family friends. Located just by Time Square, Chili secrets gets lots of traffic for both lunch and dinner service. It serves up a fusion of Cantonese, Szechuan and Shanghai cuisines. The great thing about this place is that they have lots of vegetarian options. Because we had a vegetarian with us that day, we had less meat dishes than usual.

Inside Chili Secrets
The restaurant is a decent size, but like most Chinese dim sum places, they don't offer too much space between tables. The decor is relatively clean and simple, but they definitely tried to add in some character with  the nicer chair covers, chandeliers, and faux coconut trees.

Tofu Noodes
Because tofu itself is often watery in nature, in order to make noodles out of it, it would have to be relatively dried. The texture ended up being a dry and spongey texture. I can't tell if I liked it or not, but it was definitely a different noodle experience.

Tofu Rice Noodle Roll
I'm sure if you've ever had dim sum then you'd be familiar with the rice noodle. The more prevalent type of rice noodle roll as far as I'm concerned is probably the shrimp rice noodle roll. But tofu? This is a first. Its probably not too hard to imagine how it would taste, but I liked it. The tofu was deep fried a bit so it had a slight crunch. .

Spinach Dumplings
Continuing on with the vegetarian options, the spinach dumplings were a nice twist on a commonly omivorous dish. These dumplings are filled with tofu curds, vegetables, glass noodles and other non-meat ingredients. I have to say I found it a bit salty, but that might be to compensate the fact that vegetables generally aren't as flavourful as meat. I also appreciated the green dumpling wrapper. It was a nice way to emphasize the vegetarian nature, despite not tasting "veggier" in any way.

Pumpkin Glutinous Dumpling
This is another interesting twist to a common dim sum dish. Instead of regular plain glutinous rice balls, the dough has pumpkin mixed into it, giving a bright orange colour and a sweet hint of pumpkin. It is filled with a red bean paste that did not overpower the rest of the dumpling. I can see that some people might find it not sweet enough, but it was just right for me. Combine that with the fact that they were served piping hot with a nice crispy exterior, it easily became my favourite dish of the meal!

Spicy Cow Tendon
This dish was not particularly memorable, but was in no way bad. It had a subtle spicy yet fragrant flavour, and was not all stuck together like it's prone to. But aside from that, nothing too special.

Beef Fried Noodle
Beef fried noodle to begin with is actually one of my favourites. As a kid I would always ask for it whenever I had the chance. Now that I'm all grown up and am more conscious of what I eat, I try not to order this dish too much because it's only good when it's stir fried with a super oiled up wok. This order of beef fried noodle didn't dissapoint--good quality beef and served oily and hot. It definitely filled the craving!

Pork Shui Mai
Pretty standard shui mai, but I did enjoy the sprinkling of the raw fish roe on top. I've had shui mai at many other places where the fish roe is placed on top before steaming and comes out cooked. I find when it's cooked, it loses a lot of the crunchy texture and taste that I like about fish roe. 

Red Bean Pancake (Wo Peng)
This is a relatively popular dessert in Shanghai. In a nutshell its a flaky glutinous pastry filled with red bean paste on the inside. I've had it better elsewhere, so if you're looking for a red bean dessert to finish off your meal I'd stick with the pumpkin dumpling.

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