Grand Dynasty 金殿皇朝

February 10, 2012
I first found out about Grand Dynasty through the annual Chinese Restaurant Awards. The restaurant took home the titles "Best New Restaurant" and "Best Dining Environment". I looked up a few reviews and the place looked promising, so I decided to give it a try. When I got there, I realized it's actually located in the Grand Villa Casino complex right beside G-Be Izakaya. And apparently it's part of the Tropika Group of Restaurants! Who would've thought? The entrance looked really elegant and classy.

I didn't take any pictures of the interior, but the ambiance was quite nice with beautiful chandeliers and lots of room between the tables. The dim sum sheet was printed on good quality paper with colourful pictures of sample dishes along the bottom. Prices for dim sum are as follows:
small - $4.25
medium - $4.95
large - $5.50
chef - $6.50
Those are pretty steep prices in my opinion, comparable to (or even more expensive than) Kirin and Rainflower.

Note: There's a 15% discount if you pay before 11:30 am on weekdays.

I noticed that quite a few items on the menu were innovative parodies of traditional dim sum (eg. green tea egg tart), but more on that later. We started off with a typical dim sum: the baked BBQ pork bun (皇朝貴妃飽) ($4.95). It tasted alright, but it was barely warm. It had probably been lying around on top of a kitchen counter for a bit. It's obvious from the picture of the inside that the bun had lost its springiness. It was still soft, but the limp texture left something to be desired.

The shrimp and cheese toast (芝士蝦多士) ($4.95) is a snack typically found in HK style cafes. Actually I haven't seen it at any HK style cafes in Vancouver. (If any of you have seen it around, let me know!) I've only come across it in HK, but even there it's slowly dying out. Anyway this was very tasty, but also super heavy and oily. If you're looking for the gooey richness of melted cheese, this would probably disappoint as there were minimal amounts of cheese in there. But if you're looking for a mound of crisp and crunchy shrimps, then you'll love this!

The steamed sticky rice roll in Chao Zhou style (潮式蒸糯米卷) ($4.95) was not bad. I liked the thickness of the bun wrapper; it was neither too thick nor too thin. The glutinous rice filling could have been just a tad more flavourful though.

The steamed wild mushroom dumpling (鮮野菌鳳眼餃) ($5.50) looked kind of messy, but it tasted pretty good. I agree that the presentation could have been better though. The filling was overflowing and it was difficult to eat the thing without a spoon to catch the bits that fell out. Appearances aside, I really enjoyed the mild seasoning and subtle sweetness of the mushrooms.

I thought the steamed rice roll with dried scallop (瑤柱蔥花腸粉) ($5.50) would be the most predictable dish, but I was wrong. It looked normal enough, but the texture was rather strange. The first piece I took tasted really limp and insubstantial. The second piece I took from the other side of the plate was slightly bouncier and closer to the texture I'm familiar with, but it was still a bit on the limp side. On closer inspection, I found out that the rice roll was made unevenly — one side was really thick and the other side was paper-thin. It didn't taste bad, but the flabby texture was a bit weird.

The baked red bean paste pastry (富貴牡丹酥) ($4.95) was one of the dishes featured on the dim sum sheet. The picture looked really appealing and I love red bean paste desserts, so I unhesitatingly chose this for dessert. It looked just as good as the picture and the flaky pastry was wonderful except... the filling was not red bean paste but lotus seed paste! I asked the manager and was told that it was a translation error. (Yep, blame the guy who made up the English name when the Chinese name is literally translated as "wealthy peony pastry".) I actually don't mind lotus seed paste, but it wasn't done very well. The texture was not smooth and the taste was a bit off. Luckily the manager let me pick another dessert to substitute for this dish.

I picked the baked durian pastry (芋香榴蓮酥) ($4.95) as my substitute. This is another case of bad translation. The Chinese name is actually "taro and durian pastry", so there was actually taro in there too. But even the Chinese name is not very accurate. These were definitely not pastries. I would call them fried taro balls with durian custard filling. They looked and tasted exactly like 芋角 (a traditional savoury dim sum: fried taro balls with savoury filling) apart from the filling. It tasted alright, but was not comparable to Kirin's durian mochi and Rainflower's durian rolls. Durian and taro don't really mix that well in my opinion. The combination didn't taste strange; it was more an issue of not being able to fully appreciate either flavour because they didn't bring out the best in each other.

Overall the dim sum was decent, but the fried foods were all really heavy and more oily than they need to be. Next time if I come again, I'll definitely try to order more steamed dishes.

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