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Jan 2, 2013 08:02 PM

Wow! Really Bad Asian food in Richmond Hill.

Several friends and their families usually gather on New Year's Day. Yesterday, 16 of us had dinner at Pengial Garden Restaurant at 280 West Beaver Creek in Richmond Hill. This place was picked because it serves Chinese and Korean food, because we were told the owner is Chinese, and the wife is Korean. The thick menu included a Korean section, and the Chinese food included Cantonese and Shantongese (Northeast China). Funny combination. We were greeted in Korean when we entered the restaurant. To add to the confusion, some servers spoke Korean, some spoke Mandarin, and some spoke Cantonese, most knew limited English. So, we had to ask in several ways before we decided what language to use to communicate.

We ordered mainly Chinese dishes, Hot and Sour Soup, Peiking Duck, Sweet and Sour Pork, Stir Fried Shrimps, Seafood in Meat Sauce, Korean Pork Bone Soup, Fried Rice and Fried Noodles. I think the cooks are so confused what kind of food they are supposed to cook. Most of the dishes came out in the same bright red Kim Chi color, even to my colour blind eyes; the soup, shrimp, and pork, etc. The red Hot and Sour soup can stump any food expert to figure what style this was. It wasn't bad, but weird tasting. The Seafood in Meat Sauce reminds me of the old Canadian/Chinese Shrimp in Lobster Sauce they use to serve at Li Chee Garden. Oh, the Pork Bone Soup was the only nice dish, perhaps they should stick to Korean. Overall the food tasted like something you buy from Holy Chow, not a nicely decorated restaurant in Richmond Hill. For dessert, each person gets a slice of orange and a fortune cookie!?!?! For the very mediocre dinner, we paid $35 each.

Final note, Charles Yu was invited to this dinner, but he decided to pass. Did he know something and didn't tell us?

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  1. Great start to 2013, Caneast!! Ha!
    Guess I missed out on a 'Great Show'!! (Phewwwww!!)
    Look at it this way, after this 'glorious' meal, chow-wise, you have no where to go, but UP!!
    BTW, was the fortune cookie in Korean, Chinese or English??!! To 'kick it up a notch' and add to the confusion, they should provide the fortune in 'French'!!!!

    7 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      inlaws went to this place and said it was just awful. charles, i recall you said Ambassador would not be missed? so looks like they closed a good chinese restaurant with very good dim sum, IMO, and replaced it with a asian mess...nice. looks like a net loss to the restaurant scene....and also Celestial Court is now closed I think...or was it this weekend was the last one. oh well. at least i will be at fook lam moon during a short transit via HKG next week.

      1. re: limitedtimeoffer

        Wow!! Dim Sum at FLM!! Guess you will be spoiled and avoiding Toronto's offering for a while when you return!!
        Enjoy and have a safe trip!!
        Will you be posting on the China board?!

        1. re: limitedtimeoffer

          What I've heard is that this moneyed Mainland group bought out Ambassador and Celestial Court (who had the same owners) to build their own majestic restos. I think the latter group had also bought out Akasaka recently, so I imagine they might be on the chopping block as well. Or not.

          1. re: Chester Eleganté

            hmm does that mean we can expect a new restaurant where Celestial Court is? won't hold my breath that it'll be good, if it's associated with Pengial's owners!

          2. re: limitedtimeoffer

            Funny. I remember reading an article last month where the new owner said he was going to show the TO Chinese food scene how fine dining and service should really be done. I am pretty sure this is the restaurant mentioned in the article.

            1. re: caitlink

              If that was indeed the case, then God help us lovers of Chinese Cuisine!!!

            2. re: limitedtimeoffer

              I recommend that you try this place .. Its a great fusion restaurant and not just chinese restaurant. I think its matterof getting used to a fusion restaurant .

          3. The (English) name of the restaurant is PengLai Fairyland Restaurant.

            Some background on the interesting name:

            1. Well this restaurant is a fusion asian restaurant that we are used to. Korean - chinese restaurant is well known in the asian culture . But i guess you are not used to the dishes .
              Its good to go to one place and get a taste of different culture.
              I'm a regular costumer there and i love there food . Excellent decorations and presentation of the dishes.
              You need know the dishes in order to appreciate the excellent dish .
              And just to let you know most of the restaurant , even if you paid 100 per person ... You have to buy the dessert . So orange or just a fortune cookie is more then you ask for .

              3 Replies
              1. re: Crystalrn

                What other secrets can you share with us? Any other favourites?

                1. re: Crystalrn

                  Regardless of the fancy "Fusion" label, we can tell the the difference between delicious or so-so food; good or confusing service. By the way, I have not been to a Chinese restaurant in Toronto where they charge for dessert. Have you had the 4 course, free, fancy and great tasting desserts at O Mei?

                  1. re: Crystalrn

                    Regarding the dessert, I bag to differ strongly!!!
                    In addition to 'Caneast's great O' Mei complimentary dessert ( 4 ways ) example, other Chinese restaurants that offer 'complimentary free' desserts with dinner ( in some cases more than one ) include: Yang's, The Emperor, Maple Yip, Casa Victoria and Imperial, Elegance, Spring Villa, Fung Lum Court, Fisherman Clubhouse, Legend, John's name a few!!
                    The desserts offer usually comes in a combination of Mango Pudding, Sweet Mung Bean Soup, Taro and Black Glutinous rice soup with coconut milk, Crystal jello with Goji berries and Osmanthus flower, Mini Sesame doughnut cookies...etc.
                    For a self proclaim 'high class' Asian restaurant that only give out fortune cookie and 'a' slice of orange is quite a 'cheap' move!!

                  2. I Disagree.

                    I had a banquet dinner here and the food was delicious, the Service was fantastic, and the I will definitely go back again.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: jaywong87

                      Well! Considering 'Chowhound' is pretty influential, may be the owners have heard our complaints and make changes??!!

                      Anyways, its not uncommon to hear opposite viewpoints on this thread! Susur Lee for one has generated reviews that were 180 deg., apart!!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Do you really think restaurant owners are influenced by this board? I would say the opposite from my experience working in the industry

                        1. re: Main334

                          Based on my own personal experiences, I know of a few establishments that had actually made changes and incorporate improvements based on our hound's comments and recommendations!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            @Charles Yu, I'm not sure why you are so adamant about beating down on this restaurant but here is my response (which i'm now writing for the second time because I accidentally clicked an ad instead of hitting reply *face palm*:

                            I did register my account with CH for the purposes of giving this restaurant a good review. They really did make my engagement dinner a success, all my guests were raving about the food and the service for a couple days. The Staff were extremely attentive and they served each course to each guest, and left the rest of the dish for everyone to help themselves to seconds. All spills were cleaned up immediately, two separate guests actually said this to me. they were extremely friendly and happy to accommodate.

                            The menu was as follows:

                            1) Peking Duck Wrap - The pieces were large, probably twice as thick as your standard peking duck. They did not have space in the room to carve the ducks at each table because we had filled the room to capacity, So they carved the ducks outside and served each person individually.

                            2) Peking Duck Lettuce Wrap - Standard portion, you cant really OVER fill the lettuce wrap because it will explode. very good not greasy.

                            3) Sea Cucumber Soup - I was pleasantly surprised with this dish. I like soup as much as the next guy, but i was very impressed with this for some reason. The soup wasn't fishy at all, there were little bits of meat and veggies in it. It was also not overly starchy, as it can often be. The soup was served in a large shallow bowl (as opposed to the standard chinese family style soup bowl) this was quite nice as far as presentation.

                            4) Abalone Slices with Mushroom in Oyster Sauce - The Abalone slices were quite large, probably about half the size of my palm (man hands) they were tender (not chewy) and the veggies were not over cooked. the oyster sauce was not overly salty, it was a nice balance of broth and oyster sauce.

                            5) Crispy Chicken With Shrimp Chips - this was supposed to be served with an egg drizzle or something on the chicken, we asked for shrimp chips instead and they were happy to accommodate. The chicken was very juicy, even the white meat, and the skin was thin and crispy. very nicely done, as this dish can often result in dry white meat, which was NOT the case in my experience.

                            6) Four Varieties of Greens in Supreme Broth - Veggies were Bok Choy, King Mushrooms, Pea Shoots, and something else (i cant remember) - I do remember it was very nice nothing was over cooked, veggies were still a little crispy. overall very good veggie dish.

                            7) Special Steamed Fish - Whole Steamed fish, broken down by the waitress/waiter they were very skilled. They did NOT break the fish into little bits and pieces, as is often the case when the server is unskilled or rush to serve the food. Whole chunks of fish were served to each person. it was not greasy at all, very nicely seasons, not too salty. Very nice balance of sweet and salty from the soy sauce. Also not fishy at all. my aunt actually explicitly said "the fish was perfectly cooked!".

                            8) Lobster Hong Kong Style - This was probably the highlight of the meal for me. The lobster was VERY lightly batter which made it a little crispy and nicely seasoned. You could even eat the leg pieces with the "honey comb" sections that you would normally have to pick at to get the meat out. It wasn't over cooked at all, and it wasn't greasy which is often the case with HK style lobster. Everyone called it the "popeye's chicken' of lobster because it was so crispy and juicy and garlicy. I will order this one again. They accommodated this for us because the original lobster was a typical onion and ginger, we asked for HK Style and they were happy to accommodate.

                            9) Yeung Chow Fried Rice & E- Fu Noodles - The noodles were supposed to include meat, but we asked them to make it the typical mushroom flavor because we had a few vegetarians in the party. The noodles were not over cooked at all, you were able to eat it with chop sticks and the noodles did not break into tiny pieces. Anyone who has had this dish often knows that its common to get over cooked e-fu noodles which break into pieces. This place took the time to cook it properly, and made sure not to over cook it (For 7 tables). The Rice was very tasty, not greasy at all. I think they may have even used a slightly sticky rice. It was much nicer than the typical dry greasy short grain rice. I was pleasantly surprised with this dish, as its usually pretty typical everywhere else.

                            10) Dessert - Red Bean soup - I missed this dish because I was walking around talking to my guests. I didn't hear anything bad about this dish, it looked pretty typical to me. I'm generally not a fan of red bean soup, so I skipped it.

                            Again, I registered for the purpose of giving this place a good review. I felt it was the least I could do for them, they really did make my engagement dinner a huge success. quite literally everyone was very impressed and extremely happy with the food and service. my mother in law probably told me about 3-4 times that evening that she was SO HAPPY and EVERYONE is VERY happy! Thank you!.
                            For such an important evening I felt it was the least I could do to give them a good review and tell others about how great an experience I had. Everyone from the hostess to the waiting staff were happy to help and were smiling the entire night, despite the madness of having almost 80 people in one room.

                            Honestly, All I can say is that in MY experience I had a fantastic time, I was extremely impressed with the service and quality of food that I received.

                            I cannot attest to the lunch menu, regular dinner menu, or korean dishes. But I can say that I will definitely be going back there and more than a few of my guests will also be going back to eat too. quite literally everyone I asked about the food were very very happy with it saying how "ching" (not greasy, well seasoned, fresh and naturally flavored) the food was.

                            The price was also extremely reasonable as far as banquet dinners go, the hook for us was the private dining room with big glass double doors right at the entrance. It was very presentable to say the least.

                            I hope that was specific enough for you lol

                            1. re: jaywong87

                              I don't see where Charles beat down on this restaurant other than his post against someone who obviously (imo) seemed affiliated with the restaurant. In response to your post, he admitted maybe the owners made changes and also mentioned how opinions sometimes vary widely.

                              I went here once a couple months ago for lunch and thought it was terrible. Rarely do I not give a place a second chance, but this is one I won't be going back to unless I see a LOT more positive feedback here.

                              1. re: jaywong87

                                @ jaywong87

                                See!! Sometimes critical exchanges are goooood and do produce results!!

                                If I and some other hounds weren't persistent, we would not have known from your experience and menu, that, according to the food you had, this restaurant has done a total 180 degree turn around in their Korean/Canto disaster fusion approach that most of us experienced months ago!!

                                Although the food you had was a very typical and common banquet style menu found in almost all the neighborhood restaurants from Golden Court and Dragon Boat to The Emperor and Yang's. Without your input, I would not have known their kitchen also execute some fairly traditional Cantonese fare?! New chefs, may be? However, 'HK style Lobster'?? This sounded very gimmicky!

                                May be our chowhounds' 'beating down' and exposure of the truth did have a positive impact on them? Otherwise, without our feedback and critique, based on their operation approach and food served months back, they could be easily out of business by now?!

                            2. re: Main334

                              I think this board probably does have some effect on various restaurants - but probably those that are engaged in social media - although they'd be loathe to admit it.

                              1. re: justxpete

                                It is also possible that since the banquet was (most probably) ordered in advance, they took the time and care to do it right. Could still be a different story for walk-in dinners. (There might even be different chefs involved.)

                          2. re: jaywong87

                            Banquet dinner?
                            Please kindly elaborate on the food!

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              see above for breakdown of banquet dinner.