Foodology Disclaimer: ChineseBites.com approached us to try a few signature dishes at Golden Swan. Although the meal was complimentary, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own.
Last week, I headed out to Victoria Street along with Sherman, Rick and Kevin to try a few signature dishes at the Golden Swan Restaurant. The first dish we tried was the Golden Swan Appetizer Platter (五福拼盤). A very common offering, this opening dish was quite well done. The prawns, bean curd wrapped mushrooms and meats were tasty and definitely whet the appetite for the subsequent dishes. Portion wise, this dish is good for 5-6 diners. For larger parties ie 8-10, you will probably want to order two. Great presentation and good base flavors, a very familiar and welcome start to dinner.
The second dish was the Soft Tofu in Japanese Style (千頁滑豆腐). First off, the name was a little confusing as we were not quite sure what the Japanese element was but that aside, a pleasant dish. The tofu was very soft and well complimented by the sauce and diced vegetables. I think this dish would go very well with a few bowls of white rice. Vegetarians will definitely want to consider this as a light entrée over the meat platter above.
The third dish was the Sauteed Geoduck and Scallops with Sweet Peas (帶子象拔蚌炒蜜磄). For those not familiar with Geoduck, this dish will definitely be an interesting experience. The geoduck was tender but a little rubbery. That said, the highlight of the plate was definitely the large scallops and fresh sweet peas. Again, with a bowl of white rice, the tofu dish above and this seafood offering could be a light dinner unto themselves. Even though I am not a huge fan of geoduck in general, the scallops and vegetables were prepared well.
The fourth dish was the Sauteed Beef Tenderloin with Chayote in Black Pepper Sauce (黑椒合掌瓜炒牛柳粒). I felt the pan tossed beef was decent though I would have liked to see the beef a little bit more tender. The black pepper sauce was good and definitely appreciated as the prominent flavor profile as chayote tends to be rather bland. Personally, I could have done without the pieces of strawberry as they were served somewhat mushy and the sweetness was not really complimentary to the overall dish.
The fifth dish was a deep ceramic pot of House Special Salty Chicken (秘製鹽焗雞). This turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of the evening. The chicken was salty, tender and very clean. There was absolutely no oil residue which left the skin very crisp and crackling. The serving size was quite large and easily accommodated the six of us at the table. With a bowl of noodles or rice, this chicken can very competently stand as a primary entrée.
The sixth dish was an Egg white custard w/Almond milk (天鵝杏汁炒奶). Unfortunately, this dish was by definitely a “miss” in terms of taste and presentation. The white custard was extremely bland and not very appetizing. Visually, the dish was not very engaging so I ended up only taking a small spoonful to try. Although technically it did not taste that bad, I personally would not order this again. I strongly feel a dominant ingredient needs to be added to give this dish some semblance of flavor and structure.
The seventh dish was Angel Hair with Tiger Prawn (天使干燒大売蝦). This dish was an interesting ‘fusion’ attempt, combining the very popular Italian pasta ‘Capelli d’angelo’ or Angel Hair pasta with a very popular sambal prawn component. Overall, this dish was simple but very appetizing. The excess sauce from the prawn went very well with the pasta and almost made for an Asian spaghetti of sorts. I would have liked to see the prawn sauce with a bit of heat but to be fair, it was quite good as it was.
The eight dish was a large bamboo steamer of Lobster, Scallops, Shrimp with Rice on Lotus Leaf (荷香珍珠海龍皇). This large seafood dish was very generous, packed full of lobster, scallops, shrink and rice. Flavor wise, it was pretty good though the rice was a slightly dry/hard for me. Overall, the seafood was prepared very well and the portion was quite dense. A good signature or showcase dish for those wanting a bit of everything.
The ninth dish was actually one of two desserts we received, a Baked Tapioca Pudding (西米焗布甸). Those familiar with Asian cuisine will definitely recognize this dessert dish as it is very common in any Chinese restaurant. Having eaten this baked pudding dish literally hundreds of times, I can say this is definitely one of the better offerings in Vancouver. The pudding inside is not overly sweet and the top crust being slightly thicker than normal, almost like an almond cookie. Although I was quite full from the meal, I actually reached for seconds of this great dessert. A very pleasant end to a good meal.
The tenth and final dish of the evening was a plate of Durian Rolls (飄香榴連酥). For anyone familiar with what durian is, I do not think I need to say that there are few ‘fruits’ in this world more polarizing. Honestly speaking, you either love it or you hate it. Due to the very strong smell and thick, almost meat like texture of the fruit, durian is not exactly a universally embraced dessert ingredient. That said, I personally love durian and found these rolls to be pretty great. The actual flavor of the durian is not overpowering but it is definitely present. The pastry is flaky and fresh and with the durian infusion, is a very unique pastry you have to try at least once.
To wrap up with a few final thoughts, I felt the evening was a fairly strong showing by Golden Swan. Although there were one or two misses, the majority of the signature dishes we tried were quite good. With good presentation and simple, traditional seafood dishes, eating at Golden Swan will definitely feel like a very familiar experience to those well versed in Chinese cuisine. For those just starting out and wanting to learn more, I think this restaurant is a pretty safe choice for a solid orientation. I didn’t find anything startlingly innovative or new but for the food they do make, they do it quite well.
Words of Wisdom:
- Anything with prawns, scallops etc. is a pretty safe bet
- For vegetarians, there are several rather tasty selections to be had
- Nothing ground breaking but traditional fare prepared well and at fair prices
We Rate Golden Swan Restaurant:
5380 Victoria Dr.
Vancouver, BC, Canada