From October 15th to the 30th, 2016 over thirty restaurants around Metro Vancouver will be featuring their unique dishes to customers during Chopstick Fest, the Chinese restaurant version of Dine Out Vancouver.
The festival allows participants to look beyond well-known favourites like Dim sum and Kung Pao Chicken; the organizers have made it their mission to include a variety of regional Chinese cuisines from the nine major culinary areas of Mainland China and Taiwan. Menu options are specifically crafted to showcase each region’s specialties along with the restaurant’s own signature dishes.
To get restaurants and the dining public warmed up to Chopstick Fest, the organizers of the festival have been inviting Instagram influencers and food bloggers to “tasting events” at some of the restaurants that are taking part in Chopstick Fest.
And that is how I ended up
feasting dining at the New Starlet Restaurant on Kingsway in Burnaby one evening last week.
Very quickly I noticed a couple of themes to what I was observing about the food. The first thing I noticed was the striking presentation of the dishes.
The other thing I noticed about the food was the very pleasing, and somewhat unusual to my palate, texture or “mouth feel” of many of the dinner items.
Speaking of unusual textures, the first dish we were served was Fish Maw with Crab Meat Thick Soup (?????).
The soup has a thick consistency; I would compare the consistency to hot and sour soup. I enjoyed it and I was amazed at the generous amount of crab meat in the soup.
After the Fish Maw Soup with Crab Meat they kicked the presentation up another gear by bringing a Baked Neptune Shell with Curry Sauce (?????) to the table for each diner.
The Baked Neptune was one of the most striking of the dishes. The shell was stuffed with a very finally diced escargot with a very mild curry flavour made the dish not only pretty to look at, but also very flavourful.
Getting back to the textures though; the escargot had a mouth feel like diced mushrooms. Different than what a western palate is familiar with, but very pleasing.
Another dish that I found to be very striking in presentation was the Deep Fried Code Fillet with Sweet and Sour Sauce (???(??)). Again, like the Neptune Shell, this was not a dish that needs to rely on good looks; it was another of my flavour favourites.
The next dish that really caught my attention was the plate of Pan Fried Prawns in Supreme Soy Sauce and Basil (??????). Nobody dared call these massive things “shrimp”. Although my picture doesn’t do them justice, they were massive prawns!
Pan Fried Tofu with Seafood and Spareribs in Special Sauce (???????). This was one of those dishes in which presentation and the texture/mouth-feel were important. Tofu can be quite bland and squishy when eating but not here.
The crisp layer of skin around the tofu gave it just the right crunch as I bit into it.
Of course no meals is complete without greens. However, eating sautéed pea leaves (????)is always a risk – if they are not premium quality and perfectly fresh, you have that horrible ball of fibres that develops as you munch through the greens.
Not the case at New Starlet Restaurant! Perfectly fresh and yes, premium quality! Wonderful flavours and no fibrous mess.
Other dishes we sampled:
The Smoked Tea Flavour Chicken (?????(??)). Very moist chicken.
Another dish with the “WOW” presentation factor was the Chef’s Special Fried Rice (????).
The Chef Special Fried Rice was very beautifully presented. As you can see in the image above, the fried rice is served with an incredibly thin cooked egg cover.
To serve the dish, the server took two spoons and cut across the top of the egg and split it open. Inside were many large pieces of fish, prawns, and lots of small vegetables. Truly a beautiful presentation.
Overall impressions – WOW. Quality food, beautifully presented, a nice looking room, and efficient service. I am already making plans to return to New Starlet Restaurant to try more of their menu items.
The New Starlet Restaurant is located in unit #150 at 5665 Kingsway in Burnaby.