On a wintery sunday evening, the family met for dinner at Ho Yuen Kee on Fraser Street (at East 46th Avenue).
It’s a busy little place, and we had to wait about 10 minutes for a table, even though we had reservations.
We started with one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. It’s lobster on sticky rice.
This is segmented fresh lobster, dredged in seasoned starch, and blanched in hot oil, then stir fried with onions, scallions and ginger, and served over “sticky” rice. I use the term “sticky” rice, because that’s how it’s described on the menu, but it’s not sticky rice. Its regular fried rice, rather than the glutinous rice that is typically called sticky rice.
That said, this is very good. The lobster was fresh out of the fish tank, and the meat was slightly sweet, firm and delicious. The rice absorbs some of the flavor of the lobster that’s resting on top of it, and it’s savory and slightly sweet from the addition of niblet corn.
Next came Crispy Skin Chicken
This is was a half chicken, air dried, and cooked with cascading hot oil. It’s portioned, and served with shrimp chips. The chicken was pretty good, with decent flavor and seasoning, good doneness, but the shrimp chips were a little chewy. I’m guessing the chips were cooked in a large batch hours before.
Next was Peashoots and Oyster-mushrooms.
This is blanched peashoots, topped with thin slices of sauteed Oyster-mushrooms (also known as abalone mushrooms) and a savory brown sauce. This was good. The peashoots were fresh and tender. The oyster-mushrooms were tender, well seasoned with meaty-mushroom flavor.
Peking Style Pork Chops (Jing Du Pork)
This is thin tenderized marinated pork chops dredged in seasoned flour and starch, quickly deep fried to a light crisp, and tossed with a sweet and sour sauce made from ketchup, black vinegar, and a little hoisin sauce. The flavor was quite good, and the pork was cooked to a proper “doneness”, but the pork was very lean, which meant that it was a little dry.
Dessert was Sweet bean soup
This is a warm sweet soup made from simmered green mung beans and rock sugar. This was a lumpy soup with a mildly sweet flavor. It’s not one of my favorites, and I only had a couple of spoonfuls.
The room is large and very bright, but very tight. They’re trying to squeeze as many tables in here as possible.
The service is, as most chinese restaurants, minimal. It’s efficient but otherwise indifferent. The fact that the restaurant was very busy only contributes to this.
Upon revisiting Ho Yuen Kee and sampling the lobster with sticky rice, I stand corrected. It is sticky rice, just not a variety that to which I’m accustomed. Most chinese varieties of sticky rice are a short grain rice which is very stick indeed. It appears HYK is using a long grain sticky rice (possibly a thai variety) that is a little less sticky.