Friday, June 22, 2012

XinYi Garden - Neighbourhood Chinese Takeaway

Seafood Chow Mein -XinYi Garden
There are a few things you need to find in any new neighbourhood you move in to, well, in my books anyway.  1) a neighbour you trust enough to tell that you are on vacation. 2) bike paths. 3) closest drug store/ late night market 4) now with lil dude, nearest clinic 5) staple takeaway joints: Chinese, Thai, Indian, and pizza. 

There are concessions D and I make about Takeaway for Chinese that we do not make for the other takeaway or sit down.  Bad Thai food is bad Thai food whether or not it comes in a foil container.  And bad pizza is easily replaced by freezer pizza.  But there is something about takeaway Chinese that we expect to have at home that we wouldn't really if we sat down in a nice Chinese restaurant.  Perhaps it's the nostalgia.  We grew up in the days that cultural diversity was just in its adolescence.  Thus, alot of 'ethnic' foods catered to western palettes and or had to make due with a dearth of authentic ingredients.  So perhaps it's not exactly good Chinese food we seek when we order from this lot but the Chinese takeaway from our youth.  Now, let me make it abundantly clear.  This ilk of Chinese is still MILES AND MILES above the type of Chinese food you would still find in most Malls.  Blech.  Puffy, doughnut battered chunks of Chicken glazed in some mysterious dayglo red sauce.  Awful.  Still, what rules do we break when we look for neighbourhood Chinese food? a) more Chinese people eating than western. b) no western or other ethnic foods on the menu i.e. pad thai or french fries. c) dusty plastic plants all over the dining room.  d) a cathode ray tube TV prominently perched on the counter.  Yeah, you wouldn't catch me looking for a night out there.  But here I am at home, exhausted and jonesing for a good chow mein, yeah, I'm picking up the phone. 

Kung Pao Shrimp - XinYi Garden
XinYi Garden is one of these places.   IT is actually, on the lower end of this range in some aspects because alot of these, though they may make concessions on the menu, still have wicked core Chinese.  Sadly, XinYi Garden did not have a wide variety of noodles or veggie dishes which I crave, particularly my preferred Ho Fun or Eggplant (w/o Pork).  Still, it had it's highlights.  The brightest of which is that it is a 2 minute walk from our new rental.  That means we could pick up if we wanted to stretch our legs and get a 10% discount or fully veg out and get it delivered in less than half an hour from hanging up the phone.  Come on!  Since the menu they keep dropping at our door included a coupon for Egg Fried Rice if I paid cash, I opted for the delivery since we had to order a minimum anyway.  In retrospect, it wasn't entirely worth it except to give dad a good dose of Chinese which mom NEVER orders EVER.  She's a purist as far as being a home cook. 

Szechuan Eggplant with Tofu - XinYi Garden

We ordered the Seafood Chow Mein, Szechuan Eggplant with Tofu and Peppers, Kung Pao Shrimp and Egg Fried Rice.  It was quite funny.  Mom and Dad were over to play with lil dud so Mom was trying to work out how much to tip since they were only coming from up the block.  We didn't have the right change and in the end, dude strategically brought enough change to round to the dollar where he knew we likely wouldn't have had the right amount to work out well and got himself a hefty tip.  HA! I'm picking up next time.  Especially since the Egg Fried Rice was a bit of a disappointment.  IT tasted alright as this type of Chinese does but it did not taste made to order.  IT also had that aspect of too much soy since every grain of rice was thoroughly tinged dark brown.  That aside, since as I said, it tasted alright, there was BARELY any Egg.  I guess you get what you don't pay for.  I'll do what I normally do and make my own steamed rice next time. 

The Noodle Dish was quite nice.  The noodles were the thin Egg Noodles which are not my favourite but they hit the spot.  The sauce was a generic Chinese sauce but there was a good amount of Seafood and Vegetable.  The Kung Pao Shrimp was just okay.  The Shrimp were large and tasty but not as plentiful as other places since there was a lot of 'filler' veg like Carrots and Celery.  Normally, when you order a Shrimp dish, unless specified, there are no veg, just a heaping serving of Shrimp.  Plus, there was no POW in the Kung Pao.  I think I'll have to specify next time.  The Eggplant dish was nice except for the scarcity of the actually Eggplant.  There were more Peppers and Onion than Eggplant.  My favourite Eggplant dish is this very Spicy, slightly sticky Eggplant dish that is nothing but searing hot Eggplant strips.  That was what I was hoping for.  Waah.  That, I'll have to keep looking for.   

All in all, it was decent.  Decent enough that I would try again but probably different dishes except I think I'd have that noodle dish again.  I mean really, I laugh at the other reviews on Urbanspoon.  You can't seriously order 6$ fried rice from this place and expect Susur Lee as the chef.  It is what it is and it's okay for what it is.

On the heat side, given the location in the Bloor West, wonder bread community, I'm not surprised that they've played it safe on authenticity on the sauces.  I say wonder bread because I'm quite a bit of an anomaly on my block.  Sometimes, out with lil dude in his wagon, I feel like I look like his imported nanny :^P.   Next to tackle will have to be good takeaway Thai.  Goodness help me, I will not order it from the XanYi.  No!  That's just wrong.

Cost: $$
Service:(delivery) prompt, have exact change or except to over tip
Xin Yi Garden
Bloor West Village
282 Jane Street
Toronto, ON M6S
(416) 762-7297
 Xin Yi Garden on Urbanspoon

for local Takeout

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