Last week I attended the eighth ChineseBites Signature Dishes Tour at Cindys Palace. Cindys Palace is a Chinese restaurant located at Nanaimo and 2nd ave.
We started the meal off with a few dim sum items. The deep fried shrimp cakes were coated in a crisp, thin batter. The batter had a nice amount of crunch to it that contrasted with the springy texture of the shrimp inside. We were served two different sauces with these, which made them extra tasty.
The shrimp spring roll with wasabi was a good standard spring roll. The spring rolls were filled exclusively with shrimp and wrapped in a freshly deep fried crispy wrapper.
The pork dumplings were the biggest siu mai I’ve ever had. The meaty pork and shrimp mixture had a nice flavour and a juicy bouncy consistency.
The crispy tofu topped with vegetables in Thai sauce reminded me of a Japanese agedashi tofu. The tofu was coated in a crispy batter and topped with shredded cucumbers, carrots, and bean sprouts. The sweet chili sauce that covered the tofu made the dish for me.
The first entrée style dish we were served was the lamb and fish hot pot. One of the servers broke up the fish meat and served it up for us. A few people complained that their bowls were full of fish bones, but I lucked out and didn’t have any in mine. The broth of the soup was delicious and so full of flavour, that I couldn’t stop drinking it. The fish meat was fresh and tender, but I found the lamb to be a bit over cooked.
The steamed chicken with mushrooms on rice in lotus leaf was one of my favourite dishes of the night. There was plenty of tender pulled chicken meat on top of light fluffy rice. There were also mushrooms, onions, and some sort of dried fruit mixed in. I liked the combination of all these flavours.
The stir fried prawns with special tea leaves was an impressive looking dish. I’m lazy when it comes to eating, and I hate having to peel and crack shells, but once the dirty work was done the prawn meat inside was tasty. The tea leaves were milder than I expected.
The deep fried squid with salt and pepper was prepared well. The squid had a perfect texture, that was bouncy, but not tough. I love the salty and slightly spicy flavour of this dish.
The pork toro (pork cheek) with vegetables was served in a wonton wrapper bowl. The pork meat was flavourful and tender, however, this dish was mostly veggies and it didn’t actually have tons of pork in it.
The stewed spareribs were served inside of a whole pumpkin, which I thought was a neat presentation of the dish. Unfortunately, this dish looked better than it tasted. I found the spareribs to be a bit bland and boring, and the pieces of pumpkin were too starchy for my liking.
The steamed Chinese melon with vegetables was served in another cool edible bowl. I liked the Chinese melon. The watery mild flavour reminded me of a cucumber. The melon was filled with mushrooms, pea pods, water chestnuts, and corn.
I wasn’t crazy about the braised pork hock with special preserved plum sauce. I liked the preserved plum sauce, it tasted like a more sour and less artificial tasting version of a sweet and sour sauce. The pork hock, however, was too flabby for my liking.
The pan-fried vermicelli with beef in black pepper sauce was a bit different from I was expecting. The dish was covered in these crispy, dense, noodles that were like little slices of pizza. Inside of these crisp noodles was a beef and vegetable mixture on top of more noodles.
I’m not sure what was all in Cindy’s special fried rice, but I think it was mostly pork. This was good and simple fried rice. Unfortunately by the time we got this dish everyone was stuffed.
We had two items for dessert. The first were glutinous rice balls with sesame paste. The outside shell was very crunchy and covered in black and white sesame seeds. The filling inside was still warm and it had a sweet nutty flavour to it. The black sesame filling had a bit of a gritty texture to it, but I enjoyed the flavour of it.
The baked pumpkin pastries seemed a bit too greasy to be baked, so I have suspicions that they were deep fried at some point. The presentation of these pastries was adorable. Inside of these pastries was a red bean filling. I don’t really like red bean desserts, as I don’t like the pasty texture and it isn’t sweet enough to fulfill my dessert cravings.
The food from Cindys Palace was good, but not spectacular. The portion sizes were big and I enjoyed most of the dishes. This is a good neighbourhood restaurant. It’s not fancy or over the top, just simple, basic and satisfying.
Disclosure: I did not pay for my meal.
Yes, for Chinese food in East Vancouver.