Rhino’s Kitchen 新犀牛屋

Restaurant: Rhino’s Kitchen 新犀牛屋
Cuisine: Chinese/Noodles
Last visited: December 19, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 5300 #3 Rd
Train: Lansdowne Station Northbound
Price Range: $10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!

Food: 1.5-2
Service: 2
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 2
Additional comments:

  • Hong Kong style cafe
  • Extensive menu
  • Soup noodle bowls
  • Cheap lunch combos
  • Casual/quick
  • Family friendly
  • Budget friendly/cheap eats
  • Cash only
  • Lunch/Dinner
  • Mon-Sun 11am – 11pm

**Recommendations: n/a

“It was dead long ago
But it’s all coming back to me
It’s so hard to resist
And it’s all coming back to me
I can barely recall
But it’s all coming back to me now”
It’s All Coming Back To Me Now – by Celine Dion

Yes, it is all coming back to me now! I didn’t even put the puzzle together myself. Someone on Twitter had reminded me that this was the Top Gun restaurant that used to be in the bowling alley of the old Aberdeen Centre. I was definitely alive when it existed, but I was probably still playing with the 5 pins. Okay who am I kidding? I still bowl the 5 pins… okay no, kidding again! I don’t even bowl… the closest thing I get to bowling is an actual bowl.

Anyways, Rhino Kitchen was the place where Asian families used to host their kids’ birthdays since the bowling alley was conveniently located below. It was considered Chinese McDonald’s back in the day. I barely remember the old Rhino Kitchen, but this current interior brought me back to memories of the old Rainforest Cafe in Metrotown… but made in China. It could also pass as the waiting room at the doctor’s office… when I was 6. Okay so decor isn’t the thing here, but maybe the food is!

It’s a Hong Kong style cafe and the restaurant used to be California Cafe, which was basically the same deal. Hong Kong style cafes are more or less Chinese sit down cafeterias or fast food restaurants. They serve a lot of Chinese style Western food, but it’s not “Western Chinese food”. There’s a difference. It’s not “Wok and Roll” at the mall food court and the food is actually intended for Chinese (Cantonese) tastes. It’s Hong Kong style Western food and it’s meant to be cheap eats.

I actually do like these places and they satisfy late night cravings and cheap lunches, however Rhino’s Kitchen really didn’t do the food any justice. Personally I prefer Cafe Gloucester in Vancouver and in the context of Richmond I would go to Alleluia Cafe, but I haven’t been there in a while either. Rhino’s Kitchen is also following Deer Garden Signatures by offering fish based soup noodle bowls, but overall the food was very average to subpar and it does get easily better even for this style of dining.

The Top Gun Group also owns Richmond Sushi, Kingsway Sushi, Top Gun J&C, Top Gun Hot Pot, and Garden City Hot Pot. It’s like the Asian version of the Glowbal Group. Anyways I’ve had good experiences at some of their other restaurants and Top Gun J&C is where I frequent for dim sum, so I just know they are capable of better.

On the table:

Deep Fried Milk Pudding1.5/6 (Poor-Okay)

  • $5.25
  • I really love this dish when it’s done well.
  • If it’s your first time trying this and you try it here, you probably wouldn’t order it again and that’s a shame.
  • Traditionally it’s served with sugar for dipping.
  • These ones were made like spring rolls which is a shortcut method.
  • Authentically it should be deep fried balls of milk dipped in tempura-like batter, not wrapped in egg roll wrappers.
  • They were naturally a bit oily from being deep fried, but at least they were crispy and not soggy.

  • The inside is soft, creamy and fluffy, but it’s not salty or even really sweet.
  • The filling is neutral like the flavour of milk.
  • This one tasted like they added some coconut milk too, so it was a bit more aromatic and sweet.
  • The inside should be creamy, velvety and rich, but this one was creamy, doughy and almost like mochi instead of custard. It had too much flour or cornstarch.
  • The oil used to deep fry it was also a bit old and I could taste it.
  • The best one I had was in Hong Kong at Fung Shing Restaurant – see Deep Fried Milk. They also have it at Rainflower in Richmond, BC, but I haven’t tried that one yet.

Borsch-A La Russian - 2/6 (Okay)

  • The rice/spaghetti meals come with complimentary soup. ($4.95 a la carte)
  • It’s your choice of borsch or cream soup and this should be standard no matter what Hong Kong style cafe you go to. It’s always Borsch or some type of cream soup.
  • I love the fancy name, “Borsch-A La Russian”, it’s so multicultural.
  • Don’t compare it to real Borsch because it’s not meant to be authentic. It’s Chinese style and for Chinese tastes and it’s not unusual.
  • There are no beets because Chinese people don’t use beets, and most European cultures would call this “vegetable & beef soup”.
  • It had tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions and maybe a couple shreds of beef brisket which were quite dry.
  • There was no beef flavour in the broth and it just tasted like an acidic tomato base with a mild spice of pepper, but it’s not spicy.
  • There are better versions of Chinese style Borsch than this.

Baked Spaghetti with Cheese in Meat Sauce2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • Served with soup or salad or poached vegetables $8.25
  • This brings back childhood memories and it’s pretty much comfort food for any Asian kid.
  • It’s not comparable to spaghetti and meatballs for a Caucasian kid because this also settled the general desire for Western food as a whole. This was equivalent to getting McDonald’s for dinner.
  • All versions of “baked spaghetti” at Hong Kong style cafes are almost “cafeteria style spaghetti” and that makes it “authentic” for this type of cuisine.
  • I wish it had the baked on crispy cheese crust and this one didn’t actually taste that bad, but it just wasn’t a good version of it either.

  • It was very generously sauced with a creamy tomato sauce and minced beef. It’s almost like the Chinese version of Spaghetti Bolognese.
  • It had a lot of noodles which were pretty overcooked, but that’s normal and expected for Hong Kong style spaghetti.
  • It was saucy and cheesy, but even for what it was, it does get better. It could have even just used more beef.
  • Some other Hong Kong style cafes will include more beef, chopped tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions, but this one had nothing.

Cream of Mushroom Soup2/6 (Okay)

  • The rice/spaghetti meals come with complimentary soup. ($4.95 a la carte)
  • It’s your choice of borsch or cream soup and this should be standard no matter what Hong Kong style cafe you go to. It’s always Borsch or some type of cream soup.
  • It was edible, but it’s not something I would order.
  • It was creamy with little mushroom flavour and heavily rue based with flour, butter and of course cream.
  • There were actual mushrooms in it and they weren’t canned, so that’s the bright side.
  • Don’t compare this to Western styles of mushroom soup either.
  • It doesn’t taste “Chinese”, but it’s like going to Safeway and buying sushi, it probably won’t be that good… but nice try.

Baked Chicken with Rice in Portuguese Sauce2/6 (Okay)

  • Served with soup or salad or poached vegetables $8.25
  • This is another classic at a Hong Kong style cafe.
  • This dish actually exists in Hong Kong and in Portugal and I’ve tried it in both countries. Portuguese one for the win.
  • It had a layer of baked cheese on top which is normal for this dish.
  • The Portuguese sauce is basically a coconut milk based curry sauce, but it’s not the Thai kind. It’s the Chinese kind and similar to the one used to cook curry fishballs in.
  • The curry sauce was creamy and sweet and it will almost never be spicy. It was a bit bland and it had no spices or depth.
  • The chicken quality wasn’t great and it wasn’t that moist, and there was just no care in prepping it for the dish.
  • The dish also wasn’t hot enough and the only vegetable was carrots and usually there are some onions, peas or bell peppers too.
  • The fried rice underneath was dry and it just seemed like steamed rice tossed with scrambled eggs. It didn’t have any sign or flavour of “wok aroma” or being fried.

Baked Seafood on Rice1.5/6 (Poor-Okay)

  • Served with soup or salad or poached vegetables $8.25
  • This is another typical dish at a Hong Kong style cafe, but it does get better than this version.
  • The layer of melted cheese on top is standard, but this one didn’t have much.
  • The seafood was all frozen, but that’s pretty expected for these style of restaurants too. You don’t go to McDonald’s expecting fresh beef patties either.

  • It had one overcooked mussel, one very bland scallop, a piece of boneless and skinless mushy white fish fillet, an overcooked shrimp, and two artificial crab sticks. For $8.25 it’s more or less what I expect, but they didn’t have to be bland or overcooked.
  • The sauce was a flour, butter and cream (rue) based sauce that’s similar to a béchamel, but not quite as rich, creamy and good as béchamel.
  • The fried rice underneath was again very disappointing. It was dry with hardly any scrambled egg and the rice seemed steamed instead of fried and it had no “wok aroma”.
  • The dish also wasn’t hot enough and I feel like all these bowls are preassembled with rice rather than being fried upon order.

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Rhino's Kitchen 新犀牛屋 on Urbanspoon

12 Comments

  • Bow says:

    Too bad another so so place, well you can`t always find a winner. You might try these Hong Style cafes: the Golden Oscar and the Honolulu. I`m not really a fan because I prefer noodle and BBQ house(like the Sing Yee, which has the BEST BBQ duck and it makes a superior won ton noodle soup too).

  • John says:

    I never liked those soups they offer with the meals! Cream soups always feels like ur eating glue!
    All the food you tried looks like they are swimming in sauce.

    Like BOW, I prefer going to BBQ and noodle houses. Mmmmmmm BBQ DUCK!!!

  • LotusRapper says:

    I would agree too. I find HK-style cafes sort of straddle in a zone of dated fusion cuisine, neither offering the full range of Cantonese cuisine or swing the other way to being totally innovative with fusion dishes that’s not ubiquitous nor predictable.

    *Having* said that, we wander from time to time into a HK cafe (i-Cafe, Gloucester, Copa, Honolulu, The Boss, etc) cuz they have sandwiches, fries and other non-Chinese offerings that my kid wants/needs to break up the monotony. Also these places offer sufficient genuine dishes for my parents to like too. But if I have to look at another neighbouring table’s bowl of Spam & macaroni soup or mushy spaghetti topped with baked ox tongue in “Portuguese sauce” ……………….. [wink]

  • Mijune says:

    @Bow – I used to like Honolulu when it first opened in Richmond and then it got too dirty and downhill… I haven’t been to Vancouver one yet! Yes! You are definitely more BBQ house type!

    @John – yes cause they often use way too much cornstarch and flour in the cream soup lol. Mmmm now I want duck.

    @LR – hmmm “dated fusion cuisine”… interesting point. I can see that. Yes these places are super popular in HK still and they work really well for kids. I agree with all your points, but sometimes it still does the job. Like Gloucester…

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Mijune, my son’s ATF dish for restaurants/eating-out are:

    – baked fish & spinach on rice from Gloucester Cafe
    – “soupy buns” (XLB), various locations, but he really likes Long’s, The Place and Dinesty
    – hot dogs from IKEA
    – pesto, and regular pepperoni pizzas, from Nat’s Pizzeria

    So there, Gloucester definitely does the job for him, and us, when called upon ;-)

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Mijune: I find the Honolulu Cafe in Vancouver kinda meh. Dunno why. There is another on Kingsway just east of Joyce, in the same plaza where the London Drugs is:

    http://g.co/maps/5qgmh

    It’s more happening (“yeet niao”) there, maybe that’s why I prefer them.

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Mijune …… BBQ duck. Oh I pigged out this past Friday night when I went out to Richmond Centre Mall. Had to stop by at HK BBQ Master (hehe) for a plate of BBQ duck and roast pork on rice. Oh it was just lurvely :)

  • John says:

    @mijune – now you need to do a quest for the best BBQ duck! Unless u already have?
    I like BBQ master! Tasty, moist and did I say tasty? Lol

  • LotusRapper says:

    @ John (& Mijune) – Red Star in Marpole (and Richmond) is also known for v. good BBQ duck. Here’s a glance of them when I was there with Ben & Suanne:

    http://chowtimes.com/2010/08/07/cra-2010-signature-dish-barbeque-duck-%E7%87%92%E9%B4%A8-from-red-star-seafood-restaurant/

    Crispy skin, v. little fat underneath, plump and tender meat, all with notable spicing and seasoning. And their roast pig (whole, half, platter) is well worth it too.

  • Linda says:

    mm for an HK restaurant the first thing i noticed was how expensive it is! i’m really curious about the lobster soup though lol

    i usually get baked pork chop with rice and i usually get it at “the boss”… i expected better quality at this richmond establishment considering how much more competition they have.. but i have to say that after reading your review, i’d definitely make a pass at this place.. did you get a drink at least? or did you get soup instead?

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Linda: IMHO, I’m ok with the new-ish HK-style cafe called “BT Cafe” on Kingsway just east of Fraser St:

    http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/1550985/restaurant/Kensington/BT-Cafe-Vancouver

    Good value for the money, not pretentious, and honest food. Attentive service too (small space anyway).

  • Mijune says:

    @LR & John – BBQ Master is pretty much as good as it gets for BBQ pork… I don’t think there’s a point in researching further lol.

    @LR – I wrote on the Red Star Peking duck too!! It’s one of my favs! http://www.followmefoodie.com/2011/03/red-star-seafood-2/

    @Linda – omg baked pork chop rice is one of my favs too! And Honeymoon Fried Rice… I actually like the baked pork chop rice from Dai Ka Lok in Hong Kong… but that’s based on what I remember. I got the soup instead!

    @LR – thanks LR!

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