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Sunday 20 January 2013

Ginger Beef Bistro Calgary, AB - good dim sum and great BBQ pork pineapple buns!

Service 7/10 (Its dims sum, you can't expect too much)
Food 8/10
Its a nippy wintery weekend, and if I have to get out of bed early, it better be for a darned good reason.  Hot tasty dim sum with family?  Ok, I'll scrape myself out of my nest of pillows and blankets for that :)  Trick is with dim sum, you always have to go early if you want to get a table without waiting for hours (after all, I'm not the only one that loves sleeping in!).  So after slipping and sliding a bit on the hilly roads, we enter a bustling restaurant with a glass walled off kitchen right before the lunch rush.  They only take reservations up to around 11am if you have a table of 6 or more.  There isn't enough space with all the crammed in tables and seating for the traditional dim sum carts to be trucked around and the dim sum ladies yelling out what they have in their carts -so while slightly less noisy, it's an integral part of dim sum that while some folks dislike, I missed it here as I find it adds to the atmosphere.

What you want for dim sum is ticked off of a list that you hand to your waitstaff, and food trickles out at a good pace.  You can watch the chefs make the dim sum through huge windows that showcase a nice clean kitchen while you catch up with friends, family and wait for the food to come out.  Though they have a smaller selection of speciality dim sum items than T Pot close by, the service is definitely more consistent here.

One of the first items that came out was the diakon cake.  These are normally pan friend in slabs, and I'm glad Ginger Beef takes this own spin on this dish by making them into fried diakon cake cubes.  They have a lightly crispy deep fried exterior, a soft and smooshy peppery diakon interior, with some dried shrimp throughout, and tossed in just the right amount of chili infused oil and green onions for each bite to warm you up to your toes. Nom!
Next up was Hai Gow - shrimp dumplings wrapped in a med-thick layer of rice wrapper.  I was hopping for a super thin wrapper (just like making perogies, it takes more skill!), but it was loaded up with a good large chunk of steamed savory shrimp inside.

This super buttery, flaky pastry disappeared fast at our table: BBQ pork pastry Multiple layers of delicate flaky pastry (you can totally taste the lard used to make this pastry!) is wrapped around a moist filling of diced up tender lean BBQ pork.  The lean BBQ pork was a bit of a surprise (its usually super fatty), and helped lessen the richness of this pastry a bit.  Just a wee bit!

Xiao Long Bao was up next, being my boyfriend and his uncle's fav.  It had a disk of carrot on its bottom to help the med-thin wrapper not burst I guess.  Again, like the BBQ pork, I was surprised the beef/pork filling and soup inside wasn't super fatty and rich, but on the lean side.  While good, I still prefer the thin-wrappered, rich savory ones made by Chef Wong at Shanghai 456 up in Edmonton.

Now I normally don't like pineapple buns, mainly as they're usually very artificial tasting and dry.  I'm happy to report Ginger Beef's version of pineapple BBQ pork bun which is stuffed with a mixture of lean BBQ pork is... really really good!  The bun is soft, tender melt in your mouth, and the savoury BBQ pork stuffing makes for a nice contrast of flavors to the slightly sweetened pineapple crumble topping. The topping had a nice fine crumble that was neither too moist, nor dry and probably was the first ever I've had that didn't taste like artificial flavoring with sugar sugar sugar.  Yum!

You can't get away with dim sum with some fried items, so we had the deep fried shrimp wontons.  Crispy and filled with a good amount of savory shrimp paste, and served with the usual side of miracle whip.

And just for fun, we also had green onion cakes which were a bit on the thick side, but had some dough layers visible - making for a bit more dense cake, but it had lots of green onions for flavor.

One of my boyfriend's Aunty's fav was the Chinese donut wrapped in rice noodle.  Its also a favorite of mine!  A crisp Chinese donut is wrapped quickly in a steamed thin rice noodle, cut up and served with sweetened soysauce, and diced green onions.  We ate it quick as we didn't want the donut to get too soggy (though the rice wrapper is supposed to prevent that).  Its the combination of differing textures: crispy and soft, salty, sweet and savory that make it one of my favs.  The rice noodle was a bit too thick, and the donut was cool instead of hot or warm, but it was a tasty dish none the less

Ooops, almost forgot, we also had some pan fried pork dumplings (wor-tip).  They were lightly seared on the outside (I like mine crispier!) and a small nugget of savory pork mixture inside.

And for dessert, we took some egg tarts to go... well, we tried one right away.  A nice buttery, super flaky layered Chinese puff pastry shell held a gently sweetened light and slightly creamy baked egg custard. One of the better ones I've had in a long time. Yum!

Overall, a good place for dim sum with strengths in their in house made pastries and buns.  Need to head back to try more of their dim sum dishes!

Ginger Beef Bistro
Address 400 388 Country Hills Blvd NE , Calgary, AB T3K5J6
Phone (403) 265-1616
Hours Mon-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri 10am-11pm, Sat 9:30am-11pm , Sun and holidays 9:30am-10pm
Ginger Beef Bistro House on Urbanspoon


Shipwrekkt said...

Is this place new? I was searching for excellent dim sum when I was in Calgary and never heard of this place. said...

Nope.. its been around for a while. In that particular section of the city, Ginger Beef Bistro and T Pot are currently major rivals for good dim-summing. Happy eats! :)

Elsie Hui said...

This place is spectacular. If I dare say... I love this place more than places I thought I loved in the city! :S It's my new favourite and I drool over the thought of having dim sum every weekend. Somehow, I talk myself into just a monthly treat! said...

Hey Elsie,
Gotta say that Calgary still has Edmonton beat for dimsum-ing choices :P You're lucky to live there.. its a good 3hr drive for me lol!

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