Gin's Kitchen & Cafe

August 14, 2011
The concept behind this restaurant is that it would constantly adapt to accommodate its customers, much like the game Restaurant City on Facebook. To be honest though, I didn't find it any different from a regular bubble tea place. The entrees and snacks were typical Taiwanese dishes and the drink menu consisted of a variety of bubble teas and slushes. The decor was interesting with dizzying swirls on the walls, small but fancy chandeliers, and clashing colours and lights all under cool fluorescent lighting.

We tried a few typical Taiwanese entrees like sweet and sour fish (糖醋魚塊) ($7.95), spicy braised fish (乾燒魚塊) ($8.95) and diced beef sirloin with pineapples (鳳梨炒牛柳粒) ($8.95). The fish was really tender, but we shouldn't have ordered 2 fish dishes because they were almost exactly the same apart from the sauce. Both dishes came with red and green peppers and onions, but the sweet and sour version had the extra ingredient of pineapple. I preferred the spicy version though because I didn't like the thick coat of starchy sweet and sour glaze covering the fish.

The beef also came with the same vegetable toppings as the other entrees, which seemed less than creative on their part. This was less enjoyable than the fish because the beef wasn't very good quality, and I was getting tired of onions and red and green peppers. And the fact that this dish had the same sweet and sour sauce as the fish didn't help either. I can tell this restaurant does not encourage sharing and expects everyone to order and eat his or her own dish.

The entrees didn't come with rice, so we had to order it on the side ($1/bowl).

We tried the marinated tofu (鹵水豆腐) ($4.50) which should be described as tofu with soy sauce instead. True marinated tofu should have the marinade soaked through so that the whole piece of tofu is filled with flavour, but the inside of this tofu was completely white and flavourless. It still tasted ok since you can't really go wrong with tofu, but I wouldn't order it again.

I got a hot pudding milk tea (布丁奶茶) ($3.75) and maybe I am getting too old to appreciate bubble tea, but I found this overly sweet and artificial. I remember having the same drink at a bubble tea place in Kerrisdale and there was actually pudding inside, but there was no pudding in this milk tea. I think they simply used pudding flavoured syrup which contributed to the overwhelming sweetness. The problem with most bubble teas is that I can't distinguish the flavour of tea or milk in them, probably because all of the ingredients are artificial such as milk powder, flavoured syrups and what disturbs me the most — tea flavoured powder.

This is just another bubble tea place among the plethora of similar establishments in Richmond. The food was not particularly good, but the service was not bad for a Chinese restaurant.

Gin's Kitchen & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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