The Oriental Gourmet, Scarborough - Fried 'Xenentodon', anyone??!!
I had dinner at 'The Oriental Gourmet' yesterday night, a restaurant which I have not visited for almost a year! This is one of about a handful of Chinese restaurants in town serving ' Chiu Chow ' style Chinese cuisine. What sets this restaurant apart is that, it is also the only Chinese restaurant in town that offers, for around $30 pp ( min 8 person ), a 'trust me' chef's tasting menu!
Hosted by my Uncle, who is an avid food lover and has a vast trove of Chinese food knowledge under his sleeves, I was glad to just sit back, relax and let him do all the ordering!
For our small party of five, we had the following dishes:
- 'Chiu Chow Seafood Appetizer Platter' consisting of Small Prawn Croquettes, Fried Cuttlefish and Octopus Patties, Stirred fry Scallops and Marinated Shredded Jelly Fish.
- 'Deep fried large size 'Xenentodon'' with a warm house special dipping sauce. ( Care to guess what this is?! Anyone? )
- 'Great Grand Father' Free-Range Chicken. ( advance order only)
- Stirred fry House-cured Salted Pork with Flowering Chives and Preserved Seasoned Dried Tofu Cubes.
- Poached Pea Shoot with Roasted Garlic in Chicken Broth.
- Chiu Chow style Rice Congee with Baby Oysters, Dried Flounder, Chinese Mushrooms and Cilantro.
First off, I was extremely surprised when the wait staff brought out the Fried Xenentodon ( OK! Its just a fancy word used by the restaurant to describe 'Silver Needlefish! ) and the Chicken dish! I was not aware these dishes actually existed here in the GTA.
The Fish - Fried to ultra crispiness, one could almost devour this crunchy creature from head to tail. ( except for the main center bone ). The crispy skin, crunchy fins together with the sweet flaky flesh provided so many different textural angles when eaten with the sweet soya sauce based dipping sauce! A winner!
My favorite, however, was the rare and labor intensive ' Great Grand Father Chicken '. Here, the chef took a whole free range chicken, marinated and poached it in a premium soya sauce marinade infused with different herbs and spices and then smoked the whole chicken in a smoker using a mixture of tea leaves, rice and sugar. The result! Absolutely amazing!! Its like taking your normal soya sauce chicken and kicking it up a few hundred notches. IMHO, one of the best, if not the best tasting Chinese Chicken dish in town!!
The rest of the dishes like the appetizer platter were also well executed and pretty delicious as well. Pity they were overshadowed by the two aforementioned stellar dishes!
All in all, a wonderful meal!
Hey Charles, is this place anything similar to Tan Chi Kee was in Richmond Hill? That was about the only Chiu Chow-like place that I tried in Toronto and kept going back to (before they closed up shop). Maybe my defn of Chiu Chow food isn't up to par. Also I was never really wowed by any of the Chiu Chow Boy locations either.
Tan Chi Kee is Cantonese with forte in 'wok-hay' stirred fry dishes.
Oriental Gourmet is Chiu Chow. A cuisine which uses a lot of 'herbal/spiced soya sauce' to marinate ingredients ranging from goose and duck to cuttle fish, eggs, tofus...etc. They also have their own form of 'Satay' sauces. Love to use Szechuan peppercorn for sauteing meats. And of course, the most famous of all Chui Chow dish is their 'Cold Crab'.
I too am not a fan of Chiu Chow Boy. IMO, OG is better in both quality, inventiveness as well as price!
I had the fried fish. We ordered it after seeing it at the neighboring table. I think it's on the regular menu for either $12 or 14. It was really good. Next time, we will ask for the soya sauce on the side since ours came cooked in the sauce. Prefer it dry so fish stays extra crispy.
We also ordered a large family size bowl of fish ball rice noodle. And the stir fried satay beef noodle. Everything was very tasty.
Seating however was very cramped since dinner rush was very busy.
Another place where we had the fried fish dish (smaller fish) was at the Dumpling place at the commerce valley drive plaza which also has an Asian Legend. The fish came on skewers and was very spicy. Ma po tofu at that restaurant really had the 'ma' taste and we devoured many bowls of rice.
Your dinner looks great. Think it's time to make another reservation at Oriental Gourmet.