Rainflower Restaurant – A “homestyle” Chinese dinner (Review 4)

Restaurant: Rainflower – Review 4
Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum/Seafood
Last visited: February 2, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 3600 #3 Rd
Price Range: $10-20 dim sum, $20-30+, $50+ (dinner)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Considered a higher end dim sum restaurant
  • Traditional and creative dim sum dishes
  • Very popular to Chinese locals
  • 20% off before 11am
  • Not very consistent
  • Some hit and miss dishes, most are hits
  • Ordering form service
  • Busy, but plenty of seating
  • Spacious, fancy set up
  • Private rooms/banquets available
  • Chef’s special dim sum items 10am-3pm
  • Dim Sum 9-3pm
  • Dinner I think 5pm? – late

**Recommendations: Pan Fried Prawn Basil at dim sum or dinner, as “typical” as it is they do a great job with fried noodles and chow mein. The Durian Rolls are famous here, but I think they’re only offered during dim sum. I didn’t particularly enjoy the items ordered at this dinner, but check out my dim sum post for them here.

Geez!! How many Chinese dinners can you have in a week? Try over TWO days! I still have 3 to go! It’s because of the Chinese New Year festivities that a lot of my posts have been about Chinese restaurants. Rainflower is one of my go to places for dim sum, but things are starting to change as I see that the dishes are becoming inconsistent. I haven’t come for dinner too often, but it’s not a rare dinner spot for special occasions either. It is a fine dining Chinese restaurant specializing in seafood, and it is a popular choice to Chinese locals in Richmond, BC. I warn you, the parking is free, but limited and pretty horrendous, however the restaurant is very spacious so getting seated is not an issue.

I think I could say I’m pretty “spoiled” by Chinese banquet style dinners. I’ve probably had more Chinese banquet style dinners than I’ve had regular Chinese dinners at restaurants. Asian food is just hard to eat with few people so I rarely go for casual dining. On this occasion it was for Chinese New Year’s Eve, but we didn’t order from the Chinese New Year banquet menu because a few of us were just getting too much of this menu in such a short time frame. Every restaurant does vary, but it is more or less the same menu with symbolic foods special to the New Year. I still have 3 more to go… and one of them is at Rainflower… again! So you’ll eventually see the Rainflower Chinese New Year banquet dinner menu anyways.

I wasn’t in charge of ordering and the items on the table were very catered to Chinese tastes. They are much different from yesterday’s post on Jade Seafood Restaurant, but both are still fine dining Chinese Cantonese restaurants. This one was a casual meal with “homestyle” and traditional dishes not significant to the New Year.

I have no idea what the readership looks like for Follow Me Foodie, but I’m assuming that 50% of you will be turned off by this post and 50% will love it… ? I don’t think I actually realize how “Westernized” my taste buds are or have gotten. Sure, I appreciate all types of Asian food, but I reach a level when the dishes are “too traditional” and “too Chinesey” even for me. Therefore this post won’t really be about how good the food was, but more of a deconstruction of what it actually was.

I’m not too familiar with everything served, but at least I’ve explained what perspective I’m coming from. Nonetheless I hope it inspires you to try new things or tell you what to avoid… oh and they have a couple menus with crappy photos of all the food, so that might help in your decision making. On the other hand, Asian food never looks all that appetizing so it’s not a cuisine where you want to judge a book by its cover.

On the table:

Complimentary Peanuts

  • Instead of bread and butter, Chinese people offer peanuts. You wouldn’t believe how uncommon peanut allergies are in China.
  • They offer these freshly roasted and salted peanuts and they also offer boiled in soy sauce soft peanuts, which I don’t really like.
  • Peanuts also symbolize the birth of children and I think health and long life as well. So don’t eat them if you don’t want a baby.

Daily Special Soup – 3.5/6

  • $15.80
  • This was a Chinese mushroom and tea soup. The daily soups are usually something light and something similar to what Asian people would make at home.
  • The soup wasn’t bad, but it tastes like an herbal mushroom consomme with a slight tea flavour. It’s clear and brown, and I forgot to take a picture.
  • It’s savoury and not as sweet as one may expect, but it wasn’t watered down and still full of flavour. It’s very aromatic and light.
  • Compared to a Western mushroom consomme it would taste watered down, but also more complex in flavour. It has some Shiitakes and it’s a very nutty soup because they brew Chinese almonds into it. It’s very apparent too.

These are the ingredients that are used in the soup. It’s served on a separate plate if people want to eat, or gnaw on any of them. Most of the things are dried ingredients and just used for flavour so they can be a bit woody and herbal tasting. I see some Chinese dates, Chinese almonds, dried Chinese mushrooms (the long strands), and dried Orange peels.

**Pan Fried Tiger Prawns with Basil – 6/6

  • $18.80
  • This is my favourite dish at Rainflower (out of what I’ve tried) and also one of my favourite dishes in general. I had it on my 2009 Top 10 favourite foods list (see here) and I would have included it on my 2010 list if there was room.
  • Totally not Ocean Wise, but still very delicious, I’m very guilty but can’t give up Tiger Prawns just yet.
  • The prawns are massive and they’re butterflied and sauteed with black pepper, sweet soy sauce, green onions, shallots, and Thai basil leaves. They’re absolutely fantastic!
  • They’re incredibly aromatic and sweet from what could be honey, or just sweetened soy sauce. It’s also savoury and slightly spicy from freshly cracked black pepper, but not chili.
  • I only wish they removed the basil leaves from the stem before sauteing everything together. Even the basil leaves, onions and shallots don’t go to waste in this dish, because they’re delicious with or without the prawns.
  • The prawn shells are nice and crispy and the prawn meat is tender, crunchy and flavourful. You can’t really eat the shells, but you can sure eat the legs! Sounds “odd”, but very yummy!
  • See my post when ordering them for dim sum at Rainflower here.

Fish Head with Green Onions Hot Pot – 4/6

  • $16.80
  • Sounds freaky, but Asian cuisines aren’t the only cuisines that eat the fish head. Check out my Italian fish head experience at Nove Italiano in Las Vegas here.
  • Nothing goes to waste in Asian cuisine. Food is valued.
  • However the only part of the fish head I eat are the cheeks, and this clay pot was filled with them! It’s an Asian delicacy and they’re firm and meaty and full of flavour. It’s the best part and I’ll fight someone for them.
  • This was mainly halibut cheek and they were lightly battered with flour before being pan fried so they had a nice crispiness to them.
  • The sauce was a gelatinous soy sauce gravy with shallot, onions, garlic and ginger, which is no surprise in terms of flavour or ingredients.
  • It was a bit oily and I wish the skin of the fish (only on some pieces) was more crispy because it was gelatinous for me, but overall for what it is, the dish was made well.

Aged Duck with Taro Hot Pot- 2.5/6

  • $16.80
  • I love taro root, but I’ve had better taro root hot pot dishes than this. It was okay, but for what it was it could have been much better as well.
  • It’s supposed to look and taste like what it did, although I found the sauce a bit thin.
  • My mom makes a wicked version but instead of cured duck she uses wine chicken as well as chestnuts. Her version would blow this one out of the water, but if I don’t compare them… this one was still okay tasting, but considered pretty good for what it is.
  • Taro root almost tastes like a starchier more fiberous richer potato. In this dish it’s fork tender, which is great and it’s also stewed in a coconut cream sauce that is nice and sweet.
  • There’s some ginger and onions in it as well, but the flavour doesn’t come through the sauce unless you bite into them, in which case it adds a nice aroma to the salty and sweet coconut gravy.
  • The savoury flavour comes from the salt cured duck, or “aged duck”, which is used only for flavour because the pieces are so tough it’s impossible to eat.
  • There were some sweet Shiitake mushrooms in the pot, but its flavour wasn’t used in the sauce.
  • The sauce looks bland and watery and it’s definitely not as rich as Western cream sauces, but it was actually quite tasty. It was sweet and aromatic and the cured duck flavour was pretty well infused throughout.

Pan Fried Dried Fish with Kai Lan Vegetable – 3/6

  • $14.80
  • It was fresh, tender with a nice crunch, not too greasy and sauteed with shallots, garlic and ginger.
  • I was expecting the dried fish to be like jerky like and actually edible, but they weren’t. They were rock hard chips so I feel like they could have been used for just their flavour again. I don’t think they used enough though because I couldn’t taste any fish or seafood aroma, which is the point.

Steamed Free Range Chicken in Chinese Wine – 3/6

  • $16.80
  • Since the chicken is a free range chicken the meat may come across as a bit drier, but it’s still full of flavour.
  • It’s served in a very rich and indulgent chicken stock made with natural chicken oils, chicken au jus, Chiense cooking wine, and some sweet gogi berries and ginger.
  • The sauce is a bit gelatinous in texture, but intense and aromatic in flavour. It almost tastes like a sweet plum sauce with savoury chicken jus and cooking wine. The wine is cooked out so it’s not bitter, but sweet and similar to Japanese Mirin.
  • I personally really disliked the pieces of boney chicken meat and it was very “traditional” in the execution. At the same time I’ve had similar versions of this dish before where the presentation is much cleaner and the pieces of chicken have more meat. See my posts for the Drunken Chicken from Shanghai House, and the House Marinated Chicken from Fisherman’s Terrace.

Braised Phoenix Claw Hot Pot in Abalone Sauce – n/a

  • $16.80
  • Ick. I’m sorry. I can’t. You know, or you don’t, but I HATE feet. Any feet… even my own. I always compare them to baby hands and these ones looked like mini granny hands with extra wrinkles…
  • I can’t comment, but the people that eat them liked them.

**Fried Noodles with Shredded Pork – 4.5/6

  • Or was it BBQ Pork Noodle with Sprouts? I’m not sure, but if I’m already having trouble with the understandings, I can’t image how non-Asian people feel. $11.80
  • I know chow mein is just chow mein, but I’ve always found that Rainflower does a really good job with their fried rice and fried noodle dishes for dim sum or dinner.
  • The chow mein is particularly good here and the noodles are extremely crispy. I LOVE extremely crispy chow mein and they do a great job.
  • I mean you could imagine the flavour of a thick onion sauce, bean sprouts, sweet mushrooms, carrots and some tender strips of BBQ pork so there are no surprises, but it’s just well prepared and very good.

Red Bean Soup – 1/6

  • Complimentary. This should almost always be complimentary, but you just have to ask. Say “free red bean soup please” and they’ll hesitate, and you repeat “FREE red bean soup please”, and they’ll cave. You just have to learn to roll with the culture.
  • I don’t even like it, so I never request it even if it’s free. I almost want to get paid to have to eat it.
  • This version was extremely disappointing and not even because I don’t like it.
  • It was completely watered down and you can even tell in my photo. It was awful.
  • It was coming near the end of the night so I think they intentionally added water to make sure they had enough to serve. Horrible move – even if it’s free. It was just way too obvious that it was watered down so it ended up upsetting customers.

Laughing Sesame Ball Cookies – 2.5/6

  • Deep fried sesame crusted cookies. It’s supposed to symbolize a laughing head… eat them and you’ll start to giggle!
  • These were complimentary as well and traditional for Chinese New Year.
  • They’re a bit oily and they’re not that sweet as always. They’re made with shortening so I’m not a fan of their “lardy” flavour. It’s crunchy, light and nutty and what you would imagine a deep fried ball of cookie dough made with lard would taste like.
  • It’s not buttery or like shortbread, but crunchy and in between sweet and savoury with a crumbly dry centre.
  • I’ve had better versions of them and actually prefer the ones from Saint Germain Bakery.

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15 Comments

  • KimHo says:

    I don’t think I actually realize how “Westernized” my taste buds are or have gotten.

    *cough*

    I literally choked when I read this. Believe me, Mijune, despite you have had bugs and other things that will make some westerners squeamish, the fact that you don’t eat simple(r?) staples (chicken feet, red bean soup, et al) says a lot! And, yes, I have mentioned this to you previously… 😛 Oh, BTW, when the shrimp/prawn shells are crispy enough, I just eat them!

  • Mijune says:

    @KimHo – I eat shrimp/prawn shells when they’re crispy enough as well… but these one’s weren’t. Also I’ve tried red bean soup, I just don’t like it… therefore I do not eat it. The chicken feet… yes I haven’t tried it and I don’t really want to. I’ll let you ding me for that one. =p

    I just want to point out that I don’t have to like EVERYTHING in a single cuisine to prove that my taste buds are authentic…

  • Jayda Home says:

    Hey, my family is is Scottish as can be but there’s no way I’m ever eating Haggis.

  • Mijune says:

    @Jayda Home – LOLLL thank you!!! and that DOESN’T make you any “less” Scottish! Yeah i’ve tried Haggis before and I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was so gamey and they were hacking away at it and all the stuffing was flying everywhere 🙁

  • Bow says:

    Don’t like the look of that fish head hot pot, too much sauce and too brown…I would cook it with more green onion and ginger; but since it was mainly halibut cheek instead of a salmon head it would look like that. I think the next time you eat a steamed fish try the eyeballs…delicious and gelatinous. The taro looks undercooked ; it would have more flavour if mushier. Nice yin and yang, cheap chicken’s feet matched with expensive abalone! Your meal looks lighter than most. I find banquet menus are a specialized cooking style and I prefer to order dishes I choose rather than the chef’s choices. Your poor taste buds…time for Perrier, a twist of lime and some warm flaky pastry BBQ pork buns.

  • Mijune says:

    @Bow – Alright bow! I’ll eat the fish eyeballs before I’ll try chicken feet! 🙂 The taro was actually tender, but everyone questioned it just like you! It doesn’t look like it I know. Oh and yes this actually wasn’t a banquet menu and we did order a la carte… but that’s what I meant my very homestyle ordering they did. LOL re: Perrier + pastry pork buns!

  • Nathan Chan says:

    The cold marinated chicken feet are much better, IMO. They have more snap and texture than the kind you get at dim sum which seem to be left in the steam baskets until they are about ready to disintegrate (I feel the same way about tendon-based dishes. I like my tendon with a lot of chew).

    You’re not missing much with the chicken feet though. It’s mostly just skin and cartilage. You should give fried chicken knees a try though!

  • Mijune says:

    @Nathan Chan – ahhhh!!! sorry but that “have more snap and texture”…. re: feet… makes me feel sick lol…. i’m so immature when it comes to chicken feet and I can’t help it 🙁

    Oh and yes! I like chicken knees! Those are fine… if they’re made well.. deepfried…chili… salt & pepper 🙂

  • Nathan Chan says:

    Eh, you’re not missing that much, It’s mostly skin and tendon anyway. It’s just an odd one to not eat. I’m personally not too keen on large pig intestine, but that has more to do with all the fat and the shall we say… musk. But I’m a big fan of stinky tofu. Go figure, eh?

  • Joy says:

    I’ve never been to this resto, given that there are so many to choose from in Richmond. I usually just sit back and let my Chinese friends pick the place and food! Hah.

    I’m so with you on the chicken feet, but I’m trying to overcome my fear. The ones with sauces I can bear, but the plain white one is just downright wrong. :p

  • Mijune says:

    @Joy – I can’t even get myself to try ONE! It’s so mentally disturbing.. although I’ve eaten bugs before.. which wasn’t easy. The feet just look do gelatinous and boney…. and ahhh the white ones are soo soo sooo much worse!!! I can’t! 🙁 I love how someone else agrees… my behaviour sounds so immature… but I can’t help it! lol

  • Mijune says:

    @Nathan Chan – missed your comment! Sorry! I like stinky tofu too 🙂

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