Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kirin Seafood Restaurant: A Restaurant Review

Kirin is a Chinese seafood restaurant that I actually eat at quite often with my husband's family - it is a favourite of their's for birthday celebrations and I even had my wedding reception here. There are a few different locations for this restaurant, but we usually frequent the one in New Westminster (where Starlight Casino is). Tonight's occasion is yet another birthday, which means a birthday banquet much like you would experience at a Chinese wedding celebration.

Every birthday banquet I've experienced at Kirin always starts off with Kirin's special platter. We usually have the same items on the platter but tonight's was a little different. On this platter there was: roast pig (yummy), BBQ pork (also yummy), duck (again yummy), some sort of Chinese-style beef cold cut (not so yummy), and of course, jellyfish (my least favourite).

Duck, roast pig, and BBQ pork. I believe the jellyfish is hiding underneath the parsley in the middle and the beef cold cuts are hiding in the back.
Next was the sauteed geoduck and scallops. For those who have never eaten geoduck, there isn't really a distinct taste to it, all I taste is the sauce they cook it in, but it does have a tougher texture to it. For this dish, I tend to just go for the scallops and the snap peas.

The geoduck are the more squiggly looking pieces with the scallops.
This is about the time the waiters start serving the crab or lobster or sometimes both. Depending on what sort of sauce/batter is used to cook the crustacean, this dish is usually one of the most tastiest courses served during the banquet, but also the one that is touched the least. Why? Because it's really messy to eat. The more saucy it is, the less we touch it. Tonight's crab was cooked in a wet sauce, so only a few "manned up" to fulfill their crab craving. (There's something about that last line that sounds slightly disturbing.)

Poor dude. On a brighter note, that carrot piece cut into a maple leaf is admirable.
Now this next course is my all-time favourite of every Kirin banquet: the Peking duck wrap. The skin is really crispy without it being burnt and there's just enough layer of fat attached to it for it to still be juicy. The handmade wrapper is always moist and thick enough to wrap all that goodness inside without it tearing apart. Combined with the Hoisin sauce and green onion, it's an absolute taste delight! I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Next time, I may try crumbling the "chip-chip" in my wrap.

This time there were less wrappers than duck skin pieces.

I always eat mine with the green onion; it adds a nice crunch and flavour as well.
When you have Peking duck wrap, you are really just eating the skin and little bit of the fat/meat. What happens to the rest of it? More often than not, we have just the Peking duck wrap, but on some occasions (like tonight's), we get the other half of the duck dish duo (I'm just full of alliteration for this posting): the lettuce wrap with minced duck meat. I personally quite enjoy this course as well, although for a lot of people in Calvin's family, they can do without it. Again, it has to do with the slight messiness of eating it, but I think it's worth it ;) Kirin does a really good job of cooking the duck meat so that it's still soft and succulent (more alliteration!).

Mmmm... duck meat.
Now comes the fish: steamed rock cod. I believe this is the only fish dish we've had at Kirin, although I'm sure they offer a lot more. The fish is always flaky, never over done, and the delicate flavour goes really well with the semi-sweet sauce (soy sauce based?).

Sorry about the picture. The fish was devoured before Calvin could take a decent shot!
We're winding down now to end of our culinary journey. If you've never eaten at a Chinese banquet before, you could be wondering where's the rice? Well at a Chinese banquet, the rice and noodles always come at the end. For tonight, it's the usual type of noodle: e-fu noodles stewed in an abalone sauce. Since it's cooked with an abalone sauce, this is supposed to be a more "special" noodle dish, but even if it wasn't cooked with an abalone sauce, we wouldn't be able to tell. There are other more tastier noodle dishes that Kirin serves. As for the rice, our norm is the sticky rice, but this time we had the fried rice with scallops (both fresh and dried) and egg whites. Not one of Calvin's top choices as this fried rice is a bit more bland compared to Kirin's sticky rice. At this point, after eating all those other dishes, I'm pretty stuffed and can only eat a few bites.

Too full to eat noodles.

The rice is so white it's glowing! Doesn't look like there's a lot of dried scallop.
But wait! There's more! What birthday celebration at Kirin would be complete without a dessert soup? Kirin offers several choices, but the most commonly served are the red bean soup (very traditional) and the black sesame soup. This time, we got the red bean soup. This is not one of my favourites so I avoid eating it. In most of their soups, they have these doughy rice balls with black sesame inside. When you bite into the rice ball, the black sesame oozes out like tar (nice description eh?). Also served (separately) with the soup are the steamed buns and fried buns with some sort of plum jam inside? I am not a fan of the dough used for siao pao, so I avoid these dessert buns as well. They look good though!

Red bean soup should have a slight sweetness to it, until you chew on the beans themselves :P

Good looking batch of buns, although there was a complaint about the fried ones being too oily.
That pretty much sums up the banquet. Now I can actually start talking about the service. On most nights, we receive excellent service from the Kirin staff. They are always friendly and attentive. Tonight was no exception. They even had a wedding celebration going on in the main restaurant area (we were dining in one of their private rooms) and we were still served our food in a timely manner. Food presentation is always important at Kirin as well and they did a good job with the garnishment of tonight's food.

Kirin Seafood restaurant is a formal Chinese restaurant, so if you are wanting a more up-scale eating experience when it comes to Chinese food, this is definitely the place to go. The New Westminster location is the newest location of the bunch and the decor is opulent and lush. The restaurant chain has received many awards including being named the best formal Chinese restaurant by Vancouver Magazine for three years in a row (2008, 2009, and 2010).

 I haven't even mentioned their dim sum... but that will have to wait for another review.

Overall rating: 9/10

Kirin Seafood Restaurant (New Westminster location)
350 Gifford Street
New Westminster, BC   V3M 7A3

Other locations: downtown Vancouver (just newly renovated), Vancouver West, Richmond, and Coquitlam

For more information (including pictures of the restaurant) please visit their website:

Until next time! :)

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