On Tuesday night, we had a big family dinner at Perfect Kitchen [3075 Ridgeway Drive, Mississauga, (905) 569-1488]. Everyone was there including a few people I have yet to mention, such as “The Most Patient Woman on Earth” (Bass Pro Bro’s Wife), “Cousin Angie”, “Kattler” and a variety of aunts, uncles, in-laws, etc. Perfect Kitchen has become our family’s staple Chinese restaurant and they continually over deliver on a consistent basis.
My “Parental Units” decided on the menu a few days before and it included a list of my favorite dishes. Over the years, we have compiled a list of Top-10 dishes and on this night we would sample most of them. This is so representative of the food culture I grew up in and I am proud to say that I’m a eater, my brother “Bass Pro Bro” is an eater, my “Parental Units” are eaters. This is how we roll and they are to blame for my extravagant love for food. We started the meal off with some fried squid tentacles. No batter, lightly fried and delicately seasoned. A very unusual way to start a dinner such as this, but it’s one of my “Female Parental Unit’s” faves. Next up, we had one of my favorite dishes. It’s a roasted duck, which has been boned out, stuffed with glutinous rice and roasted to perfection. This duck is unbelievable; crispy skin, juicy flesh with the luxury of no bones to deal with and the whole bird is stuffed with flavorful sticky rice, which has absorbed all the rendered duck fat and juices during the cooking process. Yes, it sounds rather decadent, but once in a while, it is such a necessary evil. I’ve bragged about this dish to the “Great Wall” on a few occasions and he texted me a few days prior, inquiring if I had “visited” with the duck yet. At this point, I can report back to him that I have eaten the duck, I’m bringing back photos with numerous camera angles of the bird and will debrief him in regards to the successful mission. After the duck, they brough out a platter of fried oysters. They were extremely plump, perfectly fresh, lightly battered and cooked to perfection. They were so crispy on the exterior, yet so juicy and so unctuous inside. Apart from eating oysters raw, this has to be my second favorite way of eating oysters. On the topic of oysters, I might have to recount a dining adventure which took place at Rodney’s Oyster Bar with “Godfather” and “Tugboat Annie” in the near future.
Dungeness crab was the next item up on our decadent pre-Christmas meal. The crab was fried with a mixture of dried shrimp, garlic, ground pork, black beans and chilies. It was delicious. We usually have lobsters cooked in this method, but this time around we had crab. About the same time, a stir fried beef tenderloin and chinese green vegetable dish arrived. Very good, very tasty, but rather uneventful. Right after that, a braised pork belly dish arrived which is my “Male Parental Unit’s” favorite. It’s pork belly which is braised in a sweet soy, star anise broth and finished with braised preserved Chinese vegetables. The belly was so tender and just melted in your mouth; against the pungency and saltyness of the preserved vegetable, it’s such a great balance.
After our seventh inning stretch, dinner continued with pork medallions fried and tossed in a garlic chili salt. Nothing terribly exciting about this dish, but a long time comfort food item of mine. Then came a platter of fried rice with shrimp and BBQ pork and a platter of two 5 pound plus lobsters, stir fried with ginger and scallions. My family is a big fan of big lobsters. People who tell you that small lobster are better, more tender and more sweet; they’re lying to you and going out and buying up big lobsters themselves. Ok, I might be exaggerating. Go figure, me, Alex Tung, exaggerate?!?! Large lobsters tend to be hard to source and more expensive, but if you get a chance to eat big lobsters, do yourself a favor and give it a try. In the past, at Perfect Kitchen, we’ve had a nine pound lobster, cooked in three courses and it was spectacular. Eat a big lobster and you’ll never look at pound and a half lobbies again. The texture of the meat is completely different and the flavor of the lobster is consistently sweet.
To round out the meal we finished with another trio of dishes. Abalone mushrooms sautéed with tender pea tendrils, a “bird’s nest” filled with sea scallops and brocoli and finally a fried crispy skinned chicken. The pea tendrils were delicious and one of my favorite veggies of all time. During the summer months, local Richmond farms grow lots of it and it’s available at the Steveston Farmer’s Market. “Crazy Glenda” brings me bags of pea tendrils every two weeks and we eat them for staff meal lightly sauteed with garlic. The scallops and brocoli in the potato nest were great, but the real star was the chicken. The chicken was outstanding, perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned. All the fat was rendered from the skin and the skin was golden brown, paper-thin and crispy. The leg meat and breast meat were both tender and juicy. This is a rather common dish in a Chinese banquet, but this bird was prepared exceptionally well.
For dessert, we were served a sweet red bean soup with little black sesame glutinous rice flour dumplings. Yes, this was good too. Even “Monk” liked it, considering she “hates” beans of all kinds. Believe it or not, after all this food, I was very satisfied, but definitely not stuffed and bursting out of my belt. The beauty of a Chinese banquet menu is you get to try many different things and without over indulging, you get to taste enough of each dish, so that you crave more as you savor your last bite. Issues and concerns; it’s located in an industrial park/strip mall, so chic would not be a word I would use to describe it. The decor is fine, recently updated, the lazy-susan had a nice chunk missing from it, the bathrooms were so-so, but overall the decor was fine. I wish that Chinese restaurants in general would be more ingredient driven and start using more local, sustainable and seasonal products. Apart from these concerns, the service was outstanding and on a Tuesday night, when the restaurant was full and they were clearly short on staff, the service did not skip a beat. The food was great and its was a real luxury to be able to dine with all of my Toronto relatives.
On my chef’s night out scale, Perfect Kitchen receives 3.5/5 SOB(slices of bacon).