The Jade Seafood Restaurant – Chinese New Year Dim Sum

**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: January 23, 2012
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 8511 Alexandra Rd
Train: Lansdowne Station Northbound
Price Range: $10-20 (dim sum) $ 30-50, $50+ (dinner)

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

Food: 4
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4.5
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
  • See my Jade Dinner post here.

**Recommendations: For dim sum: Steamed Mushroom Dumpling, Deep Fried Shrimp Ball with Almond Chips, Baked BBQ Pork Bun, Steamed Beef Ball with Bean Curd, Baked Mushroom Pie, Steamed Vegetable with Preserved Vegetable, Mixed Mushroom Chow Mein, Jade Fried Rice, Preserved Egg & Pork Congee, Steamed Brown Sugar with Honey Cake, Blueberry Glutinous Ball (I’m curious about their Deep Fried Milk). For dinner recommendations see here. Any live seafood is a good bet.

Oh crap. I woke up late for dim sum. It was a Chinese New Year Eve dim sum and since I was going to be late, I told everyone to go ahead and order first. For most people you would feel guilty for showing up late, and I do, but as a foodie, it also sucks that you miss out on the ordering. Boo. That’s one of my favourite parts. Yes, that should also be in “Sh*t Foodies Say“. Therefore the items you see are not necessarily what I would order, but I did add a few items to the list.

It’s not even tradition, but my Chinese New Year Eve dim sum last year happened to also be at The Jade Seafood Restaurant – see here. It was with different groups of people, but it’s generally well liked by locals for upscale dim sum or Chinese fine dining. The prices have increased slightly since last year and most of the dim sum comes in 3 rather than 4.

I find the general issue with The Jade is that the items are a bit pricey for what they’re serving. While that is somewhat true, the ingredients and techniques are still good, and they do offer some specialties unique to the restaurant. Some dishes I can find better elsewhere, but it’s still never been “bad” from my experiences here, if anything just overpriced. They do have award winning credentials as the “best dim sum in Richmond” and the chef is Tony Luk, who was last year’s Chinese Chef of the Year, so all of the above sums up to higher prices and that’s somewhat expected.

What I like about The Jade is their willingness to challenge tradition by offering innovative dim sum and overall dishes. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it “fusion”, but they do add their own twists to authentic Chinese food without butchering it.

On this occasion I actually came to The Jade for dim sum on Chinese New Year Eve and then again for dinner for Chinese New Year with Tourism Richmond. I’ve come here on several occasions for dim sum and dinner without Tourism Richmond, and I’ve never had a bad experience although there are hit and miss dishes which I find is pretty normal. Whether it offers the “best dim sum” is debatable, but I feel comfortable to say it is one of the best in the context of Richmond from what I’ve tried, which is quite a bit. It’s not necessarily my favourite dim sum, but it’s still one I go to and like. I recommend it because they’re reliable, quite consistent, and offer dishes I can’t get anywhere else.

On the table:

**Steamed Shrimp Dumpling 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $4.88
  • Well I’ve never seen it served like that before.
  • I’m not sure if the prawn was special for the New Year, but it was an unexpected surprise. Deciding who got to eat it was the hard part, but out of respect, it’s usually the oldest person. Luckily I was at the kids table, so lucky me! 😉
  • The Shrimp Dumpling proves the skill of a chef and it’s usually the must try item at every dim sum restaurant.

  • The skin was thin, but it wasn’t as chewy as I had hoped and that’s an important part to a prawn dumpling.
  • The prawn meatball was juicy and crunchy with no bamboo shoots, but I do remember the skin being better previously.

Steamed Pork Dumpling3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $4.88
  • It was about 50% pork and 50% shrimp and for a high end restaurant like this I expected it to be at least 70% shrimp. Most high end dim sum restaurants will give more shrimp since it makes it more valuable.
  • They each had a little Shiitake mushroom and they were very juicy and tender with a nice crunch from the shrimp and sponge like texture from the pork.
  • Personally I prefer the Red Star Seafood Steamed Pork Shiu Mai Dumplings, but these were still good.

**Steamed Mushroom Dumpling6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • $4.88
  • This is one of their signature items and award winning dishes and I have to say it’s a must try if you come here. I always order it every time I come.
  • It’s very good and original, but at the same time it has few ingredients and the flavours are not necessarily complex, but simply enjoyed by all.
  • It is made for mushroom lovers and they’re rich, but not saucy dumplings that would suit the tastes of both Chinese and non-Chinese.
  • The dumpling skin was pretty perfect and it’s a different skin than the prawn dumpling skin. This one is a bit thicker, but it’s much chewier and has a great resistance to it.

  • The inside is generously filled with sweet Shiitake mushrooms, Enoki mushrooms and Oyster mushrooms.
  • The mushrooms give the dumpling a nice crunch and there’s a good balance of all three.
  • There is an accent of truffle oil, but the strength of it can be inconsistent. Sometimes it is weak, sometimes it is strong.
  • It’s the best when you get one stuffed with a bundle of Enoki mushrooms because it gives the dumpling an extra crunch to contrast all the soft and juicy textures.
  • The natural juices from the mushrooms are the sauce and it gives the dumpling a very slippery texture, although it can get a bit gummy at times if it’s over steamed.

Dried Oyster Seaweed Dumpling – 2/6 (Okay)

  • $4.68
  • This is a special dim sum dish only available for a limited of time during the New Year so I had to order it. It’s unique to Jade restaurant.
  • The ingredients used to make it are quite pricey, but also symbolic to the New Year.
  • The oysters and seaweed (actually dried black moss) translate to prosperity and good business.
  • The execution was quite interesting and it was almost like a purse with 2 compartments, one for the oyster and the other for the seaweed.
  • Underneath the two features was a roughly chopped mixture of prawns, dried oyster and seaweed. It’s not a creamy or saucy stuffing.
  • I would say this dumpling is acquired in taste and texture because it can be a little mushy and pungent due to the dried oyster.
  • There really wasn’t much dried oyster and it was all kind of crumbled into the mixture and I think it should have been one entire piece of dried oyster to show quality.
  • It has a strong seafood flavour, but the pieces of shrimp gave it a nice crunch so it’s not as mushy as it could have been.
  • Personally I would have loved more dried black moss because there was so little I couldn’t tell the quality.
  • I feel kind of bad because black moss is going extinct so it’s hard to get nowadays and that’s why it’s so valued and prized.
  • I’m familiar with all the ingredients and I would eat it again, but I wouldn’t order it again. I just expected more.

**Steamed Beef Ball with Bean Curd4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • $4.38
  • I’m actually not a huge fan of these, but I’ll still eat them and I actually really liked these one and so did everyone else.
  • I’m usually not keen on the orange peel flavour, which these ones still had, but I still liked them and the orange was quite obvious too.
  • They were super soft and tender meatballs wrapped in tofu skins and they were juicy, spongy and full of flavour without being too salty.
  • The meatball mixture had some chives, cilantro and minced water chestnuts for some texture and crunch and they almost melted in your mouth.

**Baked BBQ Pork Bun 5/6

  • About $4.18
  • These are one of my favourite dim sum items. The baked BBQ pork buns are so much better than the steamed ones to me.
  • These are rather new at Jade and not even on the menu yet, but I hope they eventually include them.
  • They’re basically melt in your mouth savoury “donuts” and my non-Asian friend calls them savoury Krispy Kremes.
  • My all time favourite baked BBQ Pork Bun is still at Top Gun J& C Restaurant, but these ones are definitely up there as one of my favourites.

  • The topping on this one was almost like a meringue and it was all crispy and buttery, but not as sugary and sweet as it usually is and that I usually prefer.
  • The crumbly topping forms a dome shaped crust, and this one was excellent, but I wouldn’t mind it a bit sweeter and more of it.
  • The BBQ pork meat was a little heavy on the dye, but it still tasted delicious and the meat wasn’t fatty or chewy, but also not dry.
  • The filling wasn’t too sweet and it was nice and saucy with some crunchy onions.
  • The onions were more apparent and usually there are less onions and almost all pork.
  • The bun was very soft and it’s a sweeter type of Asian bread and I just love these things!

Steamed Chicken Wrap with Fish Mawn/a

  • $4.98
  • Okay so I know it looks like dead crow, but keep an open mind.
  • The black chicken is Silkie Chicken and it offers lots of health benefits and is often used to create chicken stocks.
  • I rated it “n/a” not because I didn’t try it, but I just don’t really know how to eat the chicken.
  • Eating the Silkie Chicken just seems like sucking on skin and bones to me. I left it for the “older generation” to appreciate.
  • The part I liked is everything else.
  • Fish maw (gas bladder) is a Chinese delicacy. It’s a chewy, jelly-like spongy tube and it has a slight crunch. It’s a bit slimy and acquired, but I really like it. It doesn’t even really have a flavour and just absorbs the flavour of everything it’s cooked in.
  • The broth is one of the best parts of this dish and it’s meant to be enjoyed as soup, but the qualities of it make it like a rich sauce.
  • The broth was infused with a bit of ginseng which makes it naturally a bit bitter, but very healthy, and then some dried gogi berries are added which give it a sweetness.
  • The broth was thick and full of rich chicken flavour and a sweetness that was not from granulated sugar, but from natural sugars.
  • It almost tasted a bit caramelized, but this is considered a healthy and high end dim sum dish although acquired.

**Baked Mushroom Pie – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • $4.88
  • This is from my previous Jade dim sum post, but I still think it’s worth re-mentioning.
  • Chef likes mushrooms and I love mushrooms! Actually Chinese people really like mushrooms because they represent wealth and prosperity.
  • As “non-Chinese” as these were I still loved them! This was definitely modern dim sum and it is a signature dish that is very catered to Western tastes.
  • Compared to a Western baked mushroom pie it might not be comparable, but I still liked it a lot.
  • It’s almost like a quiche meets a mini mushroom pot pie, but made with Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms.
  • It had a generous layer of baked cheese over top which is not Chinese, but it was all still incredibly delicious!
  • Mushrooms + melted ooey gooey cheese in a tender buttery pie pastry shell… sign me up!
  • If you like this you might also like the Baked Seafood Pie with Portuguese Sauce at Top Gun J & C Restaurant.

**Preserved Egg, Dried Oyster & Pork Congee – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • Bowl $6.99 Casserole $14.99 (By “casserole’ they mean large bowl)
  • This is my favourite kind of congee and this was likely one of the best versions of it I’ve had.
  • I’ve never had huge chunks of pork in my congee like the ones they gave here, and I’m pretty sure it was their leftover roasted suckling pork. It was delicious!
  • The congee was incredibly creamy and well flavoured on its own too.
  • The pork was lean and slightly dry, but in the context of the congee, it was easily overlooked.
  • There was a good amount of egg and I can’t comment on the amount of dried oyster since I didn’t get any.

The congee comes with savoury Chinese donuts which were completely crunchy, light and airy. There are also green onions, and some pickled Chinese radish as accompaniments. The Chinese donut is basically a “Chinese churro”, but it’s not sweet. The photo was a late photo, but it came with more of them.

Wok Fried Sweet Rice with Chinese Sausage Bits3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $15.59
  • I’m not huge on this dish, but for what it was, it was very good.
  • The rice is called sweet rice, but it’s not actually sweet. It’s sweeter than regular rice and does have a sweetness and chewiness, but it’s not dessert.
  • It’s a bit like sticky rice and it was fried very well with a nice wok aroma and it wasn’t clumpy, wet, or dry.
  • The Chinese sausage added a sweetness and there was also lots of dried shrimp which gave it salty nutty bites and intense flavour.
  • For what it was, I actually liked it a lot, but it’s just not something I would order.

I came late and people had started on this so I tried reassembling the dish for the photo.

**The Jade Fried Rice5/6 (Excellent)

  • $16.99
  • Next to Red Star Seafood’s Dungeness Crab with Wild Rice Sea Conpoy & Chicken, this is possible my next favourite modern version of fried rice.
  • It had fresh chopped prawns, scrambled eggs, minced carrots, slices of Chinese broccoli stems, preserved Chinese olives, and dried pork floss (dried and shredded pork jerky) generously sprinkled over the top.
  • The Chinese olives and the dried pork floss was what made this fried rice different and I personally love those ingredients so it worked well for me.
  • The rice was well fried, separate and well flavoured with a wok aroma and it was so much more interesting than your basic fried rice.
  • There was crunchy texture from the vegetables and great savoury flavour from the pungent olives which were used sparingly because a little goes a long way.
  • I would have loved some dried scallops for even more flavour, but it was still great as is.

**Mixed Mushroom Chow Mein5/6 (Excellent)

  • $15.59
  • I came late and people had started on this, but I have a photo of a special order dinner sized version below.
  • It’s called “Mixed Mushroom and Truffle Chow Mein” on the dinner menu, but it should be the same thing.
  • See description below.

I came late and people had started on this so I tried reassembling the dish for the photo.

Fried Rice Noodle with Beef in Satay Sauce4/6 (Very good)

  • About $15.59
  • The noodles were soft and chewy and there were plenty of tender beef slices and even some Enoki mushrooms which was a modern twist.
  • The sauce was not heavy with the usual cornstarch so it wasn’t as gluey or gelatinous.
  • The savoury and aromatic satay sauce had a bit of heat and it was slightly gritty and very nutty with garlic.
  • It seemed heavier with Hoisin sauce and I don’t think there was peanut or sesame sauce since it was a Chinese version of satay sauce and not South East Asian version.

New Year Rice Cake Layered with Biscuit2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • $3.98
  • This is a special item new to the menu specifically for Chinese New Year. This is from my previous Jade dim sum post.
  • This was their own creation. It was a sweet sticky rice cake called “New Year Cake” and it was topped with a pineapple bun crust that has no actual pineapple, but it tastes like a short bread cookie.
  • I’m indifferent about New Year Cake, but it was pretty good here.
  • It’s served warm and it’s very chewy, sticky and gummy and it’s made with rice flour and brown sugar.
  • It’s not very sweet at all but has a caramel like flavour, but way less intense and sweet.
  • Eaten together I kind of felt like I was eating a Fig Newton or Nutri-Grain Bar, but instead of fruit puree it’s a chewier sticker rice cake.

Steamed Layer Cake with Egg – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • $3.98
  • This is from my previous Jade dim sum post.
  • I actually really liked this! It was made very well for what it was.
  • It’s a warm and layered sponge cake and there’s a bit of caramelized coconut custard and sweetened egg yolk layers in between.
  • It’s moist, soft, chewy and slightly sweetened. It’s quite mild in sweetness, but it’s very aromatic and enjoyable.
  • You can’t compare it to Western style cakes, but it’s unique and good in the Asian category of desserts.

Dinner at The Jade Seafood Restaurant

Complimentary Peanuts

  • This is a common complimentary appetizer in China.
  • It’s equivalent to complimentary bread and butter.
  • Unlike North America, peanut allergies are very rare in China and peanuts and peanut oil are used in a lot of Chinese cooking there.

**Steamed Mushroom Dumpling 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • $4.88 for 3 at dim sum.
  • I wrote about them above, but we special ordered these for dinner and they were just as good.

Seafood is the specialty at all Chinese restaurants and the sign of an in house live seafood tank is a sign of quality and freshness. The whole sustainable seafood thing is a whole other topic that includes culture, so I won’t get into that although your comments are welcome below.

Most if not all Chinese restaurants will bring out your seafood before they prepare it to show you size and freshness. At this point you can approve it before they start. They do this all over Asia and part of the reason is to reassure you that you’re not getting tricked.

**Sautéed B.C. Dungeness Crab & Mixed Mushrooms with Amoy Premium Soy6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • Seasonal and market price.
  • You can select your choice of seafood and style of preparation.
  • It may be apples and oranges, but personally I’ve always preferred the Asian methods of preparing seafood in Vancouver.
  • This was won the Critics’ Choice Signature Dish Gold Award in the seafood category at the Chinese Restaurant Awards 2012.
  • First off, it smelled delicious. The aromas were lifting off the plate.
  • It was crab sauteed with lots of green onions, onions, garlic, ginger and mushrooms.
  • The crab was no doubt fresh and cooked perfectly with flaky and juicy crab meat.
  • The flavours were aromatic and a bit nutty with sauteed shiitakes and oyster mushrooms in a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil. The mushrooms had a bit of chewiness and they were quite meaty.
  • The pieces of ginger were also sauteed to the point of almost being like jerky and I could eat them whole and they weren’t spicy or crunchy.
  • The head of the crab is always served and the tomalley (sperm, guts, brain) is highly prized and “fought” for. It’s basically seafood butter and although rich and high in cholesterol, it’s often known as the best part. “Real foodies” will fight for it.
  • Other Jade seafood dishes include: Braised Fresh Whole Australian Abalone, Sauteed Pumpkin & Prawn with Salted Egg, Fresh Crab Meat Sauteed with Egg White & Soy Milk and Live Rock Cod.

**The Jade Smoked Grandpa Chicken 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • $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 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 from the Chef.

The chicken is served with green onion and ginger oil, but it doesn’t even need it. It was made in house and nicely salted, but I prefer my onions a bit more minced. I love this condiment in general though and can eat it alone.

Pea Tips (Seasonal Vegetable) Sauteed with Garlic – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • Around $13.99
  • It’s just a simple vegetable dish and for what it was it was pricey, but expected and at least they did a good job with it.
  • The pea tips and garlic were fresh and the dish wasn’t greasy or overcooked, so that’s pretty much all you look for in a dish like this, hence the 5/6.

**Mixed Mushroom and Truffle Chow Mein 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • $15.59
  • There’s a slight increase in price since last year and it’s also offered during dim sum, but called “Mixed Mushroom Chow Mein”.
  • This is an original Jade creation and I would say it’s a must try here. It’s even better than the one I had last year and they even looked different.
  • 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.
  • 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 the same issue with the mushroom dumplings. Regardless, they’re both still delicious.
  • It had more mushroom flavour and mushrooms compared to last time and it was better seasoned overall.
  • There was nice crunchy texture from bean sprouts, green onions and carrots and the noodles had a great wok aroma and smokiness without being dry.
  • It’s actually a great dish for vegetarians.

**Blueberry Glutinous Ball (Cold) – 4/6 (Very good)

  • $4.28
  • Being that I’m not a fan of most Chinese desserts, I actually like this one because it’s a modern Chinese dessert catered towards Western tastes.
  • This is unique to Jade and it’s a Chinese-American style Japanese mochi.

  • It’s a chilled light and fluffy mochi, but it’s not frozen and the skins were very soft and not as chewy as the Japanese kind. They also weren’t starchy or doughy.
  • The inside is filled with fresh whipped cream that’s semi melted and some frozen blueberries that have thawed out so they’re a bit wrinkly.
  • The inside was a super creamy semi melted mixture of very lightly sweetened whipped cream with the blueberries folded in and I found them enjoyable.
  • At times in the past, some of them had harder bottoms which meant air got to them.

**Steamed Brown Sugar with Honey Cake 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • $4.38
  • This was delicious and so unique! It is common and traditional in Hong Kong, but I’ve never seen it in Vancouver.
  • It was a very light and airy warm cake, and it had a caramel-like molasses flavour, but as usual it still wasn’t that sweet like most Chinese desserts.
  • It looked like honeycomb, but it was completely soft and seemed like a bunch of compacted mini straws.
  • It was almost like a chewy very elasticky sponge cake and they used rice flour to make it.
  • There were very squishy with a nice bounce and spring to them and they’re almost water resistant, yet moist from being steamed.
  • It was the love child of a traditional Chinese sweet brown sugar rice cake and a traditional steamed Chinese almond cake (the almond cake is available at most dim sum places – see Steamed Sponge Cake).
  • I’ve really never had anything quite like this cake though and it was very peel-able like cheese string. Definitely a must try for uniqueness.

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