The Jade Seafood Restaurant – Formal Chinese New Year Dinner & Symbolism

**Update! The dim sum chef is now at Empire as of September 2012.

Restaurant: The Jade Seafood Restaurant
Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum/Seafood
Last visited: February 3, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 8511 Alexandra Rd
Price Range: $10-20 (dim sum) $ 30-50, $50+ (dinner)

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

Food: 4
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 5 (based on multiple visits combined)
Additional comments:

  • Authentic Cantonese cuisine
  • Fine dining Chinese
  • Popular for fresh seafood
  • Local favourite/Busy
  • “Chinese Chef of the Year” Tony Luk
  • Voted “Best Dim Sum”
  • Award winning Chinese restaurant
  • Some modern Chinese dishes
  • “Customized Cuisine” available
  • Banquets/events
  • Reservations recommended
  • 15% off Take Out Menu before 6:30pm
  • 9-11am 20% off
  • Dim Sum/Lunch: Mon-Sun 9am-3pm
  • Dinner: Mon-Dun 5pm-10pm
  • Free parking

**Recommendations: For their dim sum menu recommendations see my post here. For their dinner menu: The Jade Smoked Grandpa Chicken, Baked and Grilled Whole Piece of Beef Brisket, Seafood, and I’m very curious to try their Sauteed Pumpkin & Prawn with Salted Egg and Fresh Crab Meat Sauteed with Egg White & Soy Milk.

What? Again! Mijune, you just posted on this yesterday! I know I did!! But that was for DIM SUM and this is for DINNER! And yes if you notice the dates… it was all in one night. I came for Chinese New Year brunch as well as Chinese New Year dinner… the same restaurant, twice in one night. I can’t say I do that all too often, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I have before. I admit, I’m a bit tired of Chinese food posts myself, but it’s time appropriate and apparently you guys aren’t tired of reading them yet… ?

The dim sum excursion was under personal circumstances so therefore I’m rating the service based on that occasion. The reason for coming again is because I was invited by Richmond Tourism to a Chinese New Year dinner, and it just happened to be at Jade Seafood Restaurant. Jade is an award winning Chinese restaurant and recently won “best dim sum” at the Chinese Restaurant Awards (voted by diners) – see my post here.

It’s very popular to Chinese locals and tourists and is considered a fine dining Chinese restaurant, but there are other options in Metro Vancouver. I encourage you to do your personal research or check my posts for Chinese New Year dinner at Kirin here, or Shun Feng here, or Fisherman’s Terrace here, just for an idea. I can’t say that Jade Seafood is “the best”, but I haven’t had a bad experience yet, and I do dine here on occasion.

Dinner was for three and the intention was to experience an authentic and traditional Chinese New Year dinner. However Chinese, or any Asian food for that matter, is all about sharing, so it’s hard to get the full experience when dining with a group of less than 8. Most of the items at this time of the year will be set menus specially made for the Chinese New Year. The items may vary slightly from restaurant to restaurant, but there are some staple dishes that should be on the table.

Chinese New Year is more about the proteins and vegetables more so than the rice and noodles, and it’s also very seafood and mushroom oriented. Mushrooms are symbolic for longevity so it’s a common ingredient in many of the Chinese New Year dishes. The menus will also contain lots of seafood and expensive ingredients which represent wealth, prosperity, and so on, so prices for each set menu will vary accordingly.

Since it was only three of us I decided to order a la carte, a few items from the set menu special to Chinese New Year, and a few award winning dishes signature to Jade Seafood Restaurant. The Chinese New Year items are quite traditional and definitely favour Chinese taste buds, so best to go in a large group if you just want to sample… or just read my blog and get the idea 😉

On the table:

Pumpkin Seafood Soup 3.5/6

  • Small $4.99 Large $18.99
  • I vetoed their “Shark’s Fin” soup that was almost on all of their set menus. I won’t use the blog for intense protesting, but people – it has NO nutritional value, a pure delicacy.
  • I’ve never had this pumpkin soup before, but I was quite infatuated by the cute serving style and presentation.
  • All the ingredients were rather natural and it’s not a traditional Chinese soup so it was made to cater to more Western tastes.

  • The pumpkin broth itself was rather light and not thickened with any cream or dairy products.
  • It had a naturally sweet pumpkin flavour and texture, but it wasn’t as rich or as sweet as Western cultures would approach a pumpkin soup.
  • It was decently filled with chunks of pumpkin, fresh cod and shrimp as well as some celery, but the broth didn’t have much of a seafood flavour so I think the fish and prawns were cooked and added separately.
  • They also serve it with a metal spoon so you can scrape the edges of the tender pumpkin.
Braised Whole Fresh Australian Abalone (Medium)5/6 (for quality)
  • $34.99 each
  • You’re definitely paying for the ingredients here. There’s no real value and it’s not necessarily a very tasty thing, but it sure was great quality and flavour if you can appreciate it for what it is.
  • The abalone is a Chinese delicacy and very popular and symbolic to have during Chinese New Year. It symbolizes good fortune, wealth and prosperity… although your wallet will hurt after eating it.
  • The abalone is a large sea snail, but the flavour is very similar to a scallop or clam, but much firmer, meatier and chewier, like a medium cooked steak.
  • The firmer it is, usually means the better the quality is. People want to have bite, chew, and resistance to the abalone, but it’s not supposed to be tough and overly chewy either. Abalone like this holds a lot of prestige in Chinese culture. It’s always eaten with a knife and fork if it’s a high quality abalone, which this one was.
  • The texture and flavour is consistent throughout so there’s no mushy or pasty part, like you would experience from clams, mussels, or oysters.
  • The flavour and texture can be acquired since it’s rather rubbery and heavy with seafood flavour.
  • The one here was prepared very simple as to not overpower the natural flavour of the expensive abalone.
  • The sauce was a simple scallop or chicken stock with a touch of oyster sauce I think.
  • It’s served with a side of pea shoots, which isn’t always the case, but was nice to have as a bonus.
**The Jade Smoked Grandpa Chicken 6/6 (See updated post for it here)
  • $14.99 half
  • I don’t know if they left the head out intentionally to not freak out the “Westerners”, but it should have been the whole bird, head to tail, to symbolize coming together of families… on the other hand dinner was “business-oriented” so I guess it wasn’t necessary. =p
  • This is one of Jade Seafood Restaurant’s award winning dishes and most famous items on the menu.
  • It’s not my first time trying it, but I love it.
  • It’s a chilled chicken and incredibly well infused chicken and full of flavour. It’s not heavy or greasy, but the flavours will keep your taste buds excited and guessing.
  • There is a very light sauce, but the flavour is literally in every thread of the chicken meat, down to the bone. The sauce is still fantastic though!
  • It was sweet and savoury and you could taste the smokiness infused in the chicken meat as well as the sauce. I just wonder if they use liquid smoke because there’s no grilling or barbequing going on here.
  • It’s a free range chicken so the meat is naturally firmer and more flavourful with a drier texture, but it’s certainly not a dry chicken.
  • The sauce has some sweet Chinese cooking wine that’s similar to Japanese mirin, and it’s combined with the natural flavours of the chicken oil. This is what gives it the savoury and sweet balance.
  • It’s infatuating to not see a heavy sauce or any visible spices and rubs and to still achieve such intense flavour throughout. A real talent I give Chef Luk credit for.

Ginger & Green Onion Oil – A delicious condiment. Not required with the chicken, but always still good.

**Live Rock Cod 5/6

  • $38.84 (Market price)
  • The whole fish is very symbolic for prosperity and abundance.
  • They serve it the authentic way, from their in house live seafood tanks and they bring it flapping for air in a tub to show you how big it is before killing it in the back 🙁
  • It’s so sad, but it sure is tasty! It’s a cultural thing so that’s always hard to argue, so I won’t.
  • This was a beautiful fish and obviously very fresh! For what it was, it was excellent.
  • It was tender, juicy, cooked perfectly and the sauce was perfect. It wasn’t too salty and yet sweet, and the fresh green onions give it an aromatic flavour.
  • I love freshly prepared Asian fish, it let’s the flavour of the fish come through in the best way possible.
  • Don’t forget to eat the cheeks! I was lucky to get both… I still don’t and won’t eat the eyeballs.

**Baked & Grilled Whole Piece of Beef Brisket 5/6

  • $20.88
  • The server kept recommending it and I had my doubts, but in the end I just agreed. Thank goodness I did!
  • I wasn’t expecting this to come out and the presentation needs work because it looked pretty gross.
  • Yes, this was a modern Chinese dish, but it was excellent!
  • It was 2 strips of incredibly tender melt in your mouth beef brisket and it was all very lean with little fat. The fat that it did have just melted away and there was minimal chewing action. There wasn’t a spice rub or crust and it seemed more baked and braised than it was grilled, but I was very impressed.

  • It’s not comparable to Western styles of grilled beef brisket in terms of flavour, but the fall apart texture was something hard to achieve without it being dry.
  • It was topped with a mushroom beef gravy that looks a bit gelatinous, but it’s just how Asian people make gravies and it probably had some corn starch in it rather than cream to help it thicken.
  • The beans were tender and crunchy, but pretty bland.
  • I’ve never really seen beef served during Chinese New Year, especially like this, but I hope it becomes a tradition. I like!

Braised Sliced Abalone with Mushroom 3/6

  • $16.99
  • For what it was, it’s considered good, but for whether it tasted good in the realm of “food tasting good”, than no… it doesn’t really taste good.
  • It’s one of those “try it once, but probably wouldn’t order again” if you’re new to it. It’s acquired to Chinese tastes.
  • A variation of this dish is a staple to any Chinese New Year menu. This is the “lower end” or more affordable variation. If I have to have it, then I actually prefer the version with pork, black moss, fried oysters etc. See here for “Dried Oyster and Fat Choy”.
  • The dried oyster is a delicacy and they range in quality. They also represent good fortune as do the mushrooms.

  • This was a half slice of Shiitake mushroom and one piece of dried oyster wrapped in a bundle with dried bean curd.
  • I admit, it doesn’t taste great, but I’m familiar with the flavours so I’ll still eat it and can appreciate it.
  • When eaten together it’s quite slimy and slippery with the mushroom and bean curd and then you’re hit with this dried oyster.
  • The dried oyster is pungent and pasty and it tastes like the gutsy part of a mussel or oyster, but even stronger. It’s firm, but bitty and mushy in the middle. I like oysters raw 99% of the time, so it’s hard for me to swallow these ones as well. I can eat them without cringing, but I don’t really want to either… but I want good luck too!

Mixed Mushroom Chow Mein – 5/6 (See updated post for it here)

  • $14.99
  • I didn’t know about this dish, but was recommended it by one of my fellow diners, who was non-Asian. It’s also offered during dim sum.
  • This is an original Jade creation and again there are the use of mushrooms.
  • The noodles represent long life, but they’re not necessarily on every New Year menu. They are staple to any other banquet or special occasion Chinese menu throughout the year though. When they are on the menu they will likely be the “Yee Mein” which are softer thin noodles – see here.
  • These were not the crispy chow mein, but the soy sauce wok tossed chow mein.
  • It’s tossed with Shiitake mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms, bean sprouts, green onions, carrots and drizzled with truffle oil. YES! TRUFFLE OIL. Never in my life have I heard of an Asian restaurant using truffle oil! I was excited!
  • I could definitely smell the truffle oil as soon as it hit the table, but I couldn’t really taste it in my noodles, which was disappointing.
  • It was crunchy, with juicy bits of sweet mushrooms, but overall I wanted more flavour and I needed either more truffle oil, more soy or just an added sauce. I just wanted it to be more mushroom heavy for “Mixed Mushroom Chow Mein”. It wasn’t dry, but it lacked something, although it was also quite standard for a soy sauce chow mien.
  • The other non-Asian diner I was with recommended eating it with the ginger and onion oil… smart gwai lo he was. That worked! Kind of embarrassing I didn’t think of it first…

Sauteed Pumpkin & Prawn with Salted Egg n/a

  • $22.99
  • I haven’t tried this here, but I’ve had versions of it, but not with pumpkin or added edamame. I really want to try this and already love all the ingredients used.
  • I can imagine its goodness, but I can’t write much more about it. Oh and it’s good luck and the use of the bright golden egg yolk represents fortune and fertility.

Fresh Crab Meat Sauteed with Egg White & Soy Milk n/a

  • $15.99
  • This photo is actually from another night I had dinner here and it was on a random diner’s table. It looked amazing so I had to take a photo.
  • I have my eyes on this dish for next time! I can just imagine the silkiness and lightness of this dish and I hope it’s as good as I’m imagining.

Dessert

The portion of Chinese dinners I love to ate. I love dessert in almost any type of cuisine except for Asian and Indian. The prior is usually not sweet enough, or just not good for me, and the later is usually too sweet for me. Nonetheless I’ll always take a bite (of most) hoping my taste buds might change one day and I’ll learn to appreciate these ethnic desserts.

Red Bean Soup n/a

  • Complimentary (It usually should be if you just ask for it.)
  • Beans in burrito, not in dessert. I don’t like it, so I don’t eat it.
  • Although the quality of this one looked good. I can tell by the consistency and there were added lotus seeds in it. The lotus seeds represent bearing of children… so avoid if you don’t want a baby.

Hot Almond Soup4/6

  • Complimentary (I think usually they would charge for this since it’s a bit more special.)
  • This is one of their house specialties. Many Chinese restaurants will offer it, but Jade restaurant claims it’s particularly known for being delicious here… and why wouldn’t they?
  • I admit, it was done very well here! 4/6… but overall was it good for desserts? I’d say 2.5/6.
  • It’s warm and boiled with Chinese almonds which are milkier than regular almonds.
  • This was a milky creamy dessert, but not thick. It’s lightly sweetened and very silky especially with the clumps of poached egg whites. I know it sounds unusual, but it works and egg white are so neutral in flavour that it comes off tasting like tofu.
  • It was almost like a sweet tofu soup with a milky almond base soup that was like liquefied marzipan, but more aromatic and less sweet and rich.
  • My non-Asian diner said it was like a very loose version of warm rice pudding… I could see that, but there’s no rice… and I’d prefer rice pudding if I could choose.

Mango Pudding 3/6

  • $3.75 (It’s only $3.68 at dim sum though)
  • I did like it and it was lightly sweetened but also a bit dense and I would have liked a bit creamier with less gelatin.
  • There were fresh pieces of mango, but it was cut very close to the seed so the pieces were fiberous and a bit hairy.
  • They serve it on a bed of evaporated milk which gives it a slight moistness, sweetness and creaminess.

Chinese New Year Cookies & Pastry

  • Complimentary. These were an added bonus.
  • New Year Cake Rolls (In the front) 5/6
    • These were like coconut crusted mochis. They were soft, gummy and squishy and very aromatic.
    • It was caramelized brown sugar, sweetened soft sticky rice cake, rolled with a layer of sweetened condensed milk mixed with salted egg yolk. It didn’t taste salty, but creamy, caramelized and aromatic with coconut. The flavour is not hard to like, but the texture could be.

    • Shortbread Cookie stuffed with Salted Egg Yolk 1/6

      • The egg yolk symbolized birth of children and the golden colour is for prosperity.
      • I wasn’t a fan of this cookie at all. It was served warm, but incredibly dry and the egg yolk was almost rock hard.
      • Naturally it would take on dry characteristics, but I still didn’t find it very good in terms of flavour or texture.

[geotag]

The Jade Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

22 Comments

  • Sara says:

    Hi Mijune! Lovely post once more!
    Is it standard for Chinese restaurants to charge that much for fresh fish!? Maybe it’s just Vancouver or the restaurant cause in Montreal they don’t charge that much…

    On another note the beef briskets look so moist and tender! Yum! And I have to agree with ALL the comments you always make about asian desserts! They’re usually not so great! But you’re lucky to get so many complimentary desserts besides the red bean “soup”. The almond one looks amazing, one of my favorite. Here in Montreal, a lot of the major Chinese restaurant are downgrading from the red bean soup to some random desserts ranging from bananas with warmed up Nutella to oranges or a few fortune cookies!

    Anyways, keep up the posting! Would love to be you and eat this type of food year round lol!

  • David says:

    Sara, fish is usually charged per pound so the bigger the fish, the greater the price. Also, if the seafood is not in season, the price is usually higher.

  • Lia says:

    I’m sorry but the red bean soup looks amazing! I’m the lucky one in the family, most of my fam doesn’t drink it so I usually drink at least 3 bowls! 🙂

    The dishes look pretty delicious, there’s definitely some really unique stuff that I’ve never seen before. This is going on my “to check out” list!

  • Mijune says:

    @Sarah – thanks so much for your informative comment!! it’s nice to know what Chinese food is like in other areas… it makes me appreciate our Chinese food even more than I already do. Yikes… Nutella and oranges are not Chinese, but at least it’s tastier than red bean soup lol. I love the baked tapioca pudding and I would have ordered that here but you had to preorder it… I’ll remember for next time! Thank so much for reading and supporting this blog!! Means a lot.

    @David – thank you for that!! 🙂

    @Lia – lol hey food is personal so if you love it… that’s great!!! Don’t need to apologize at all. I just personally can’t stand it… but if you like then you’ll probably really like the one here! It looked like they did a good job! Keep me posted on what you think when you go check it out!!

  • Leah says:

    By Matthew Hoekstra – Richmond Review
    Published: July 12, 2012 4:00 PM
    Updated: July 13, 2012 5:00 PM
    A possible shark fin ban in Richmond has the stomachs of some local restaurant owners churning.

    David Chung, owner of The Jade Seafood Restaurant on Alexandra Road, vows to put up a fight if city council follows Toronto’s lead of banning the sale and consumption of the Chinese delicacy used in soup.

    “Shark fin soup is a tradition that we don’t want to break. It’s something we treasure,” said Chung in an interview with The Richmond Review.

    The Jade offers four types of shark fin soup on its dinner menu, ranging from $24 to $63, and it’s a popular choice on banquet menus. But elected officials are now mulling a ban on shark fins, following an activist’s plea at city hall Monday.

    The B.C. Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association, which represents nearly 100 restaurants in Richmond, Vancouver and Burnaby, met Wednesday and agreed a ban on shark fins wouldn’t hurt their bottom line, but would infringe on their rights, said Chung, who is the association’s president.

    “Nobody likes the idea of banning this eating of shark fin because it’s our right to eat things like this.”

    Proponents of a ban say shark finning is inhumane, with poachers catching their prey, cutting off the fins and throwing the sharks overboard. They also say the demand for fins is threatening many shark species with extinction.

    But Chung believes only a small portion of harvesters treat the animals as activists claim, adding government shouldn’t focus on such a “little” issue.

    “The reason for it is so minor and these activists make such a big deal out of it. It’s just totally unfair,” he said. “If the federal government decided we can import shark fin, we should be able to eat it.”

    Chung said shark finning provides jobs for people in developing countries and balances the food system. As a top predator, if sharks are left unchecked, they’ll consume more and more fish, he said.

    “If they’re not being hunted or they’re not being killed, a lot of things would change too. The way I see it, the Chinese people have become part of the food chain that keeps things in check.”

    Toronto’s ban, on the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin products, goes into effect Sept. 1, imposing fines of $5,000 for a first offence, $25,000 for a second conviction and $100,000 for subsequent ones. Six other Ontario cities have also agreed to bans.

    In Metro Vancouver, Coquitlam, Port Moody and the City of North Vancouver have also banned possession and use of shark fins.

    Activist Anthony Marr presented his case for a ban to Richmond council Monday. He hopes to also convince Burnaby and Vancouver to adopt a ban.

    “It’s cruel. The analogy is if some aliens abducted you, cut off your four limbs and dumped you back onto the road. That’s what we do to the sharks, by cutting off their fins and dumping them back into the water,” Marr told The Review.

    According to ocean conservation group Oceana, 50 of the 307 shark species in the world are vulnerable or endangered, and Marr said it’s impossible for shark fin consumers to know what poached products they’re buying.

    Richmond council has asked staff to research the issue and deliver a report by year’s end.

  • Mijune says:

    @Leah – Personally I’m not for shark’s fin, although I wouldn’t not go to a restaurant that was serving it. I just wouldn’t order it or eat it. Thanks for sharing the article!

  • Leah says:

    I will not patronize any restaurant that serves shark fin or foie gras.

  • Mijune says:

    @Leah – foie gras is a misguided ban in my opinion. There are many sustainable duck farms out there and the whole animal is eaten, it is not killed just for the liver. If you research into chicken farms they are way worse than many duck farms. Again there is always good and evil. If you have a minute to check out my article it might help you see the farmers that survive on raising ducks in the most ethical ways. Thank you for starting a discussion Leah. http://www.followmefoodie.com/2011/12/quebec-city-quebec-au-gout-dautrefois-best-duck-restaurant/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *