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Friday, 2 March 2012

Only 9 Dishes? (九道)

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What a ridiculous busy week! The Yummy crews are totally behind on eating! Nabs and I have been working like dogs and Ying has been “studying” for her exams (aka facebooking – just kidding). Today, after Taekwondo, I decided to try Nine Dishes located on Kingsway. Why this place? No particular reason really... The bright red sign looks appealing I suppose and it's relatively close to my class. They serve Szechuan and Northern China style fusion food. Interesting concept.
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This place is really quite interesting and not what I expected. The way some food items were served and the way you order your food are ... quite different (we’ll go over that later). First off, the ambience was quite good. It felt down to earth and cozy. Most importantly, it looked clean and well maintained unlike some other Chinese restaurants in this area.
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Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted and seated quickly. We were then handed a stack of menu… Yes, 5 food menus in total (there is no drink menu). There is one for each of the following: Chinese barbeque, noodle, hotpot, main course and appetizers. You might be wondering: Why is this place called Nine Dishes? Well, apparently, they have 9 dishes under each menu (sorta – some of the items have sub-selections).

We were also given an order sheet (see picture on the right) so you can write down what you want (you actually don’t have to write down the Chinese words but I thought I would practice my Chinese writing). Their noodle and barbeque menus are standard of many Chinese restaurants and are quite good value. The lamb kebab is only $0.99 a skewer! Their specialty dishes really caught my attention as they serve frog (top right picture) and boiled kidneys (o__O) These are certainly things you don’t see everywhere.

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Ying picked something spicy so I thought I better order a drink. When I asked the owner what drinks he serves, he quickly pointed to the shelves with drinks lined up neatly. I actually had to walk up to the shelf and eyeball the drinks. I saw Yan Jing beer ($1.99 a bottle…. what a deal) and a bunch of Chinese drinks I didn’t recognize. I reckoned that since the food will be spicy, I might as well get the biggest drink they have available. I quickly pointed at the Green Power Red Guava Juice ($5.00) and was amazed at how big the can was. As a comparison, I placed the can beside a bottle of vinegar of standard size (top right picture). Ying, however, thought that it was a total rip off…. Oh well, impulse buy :P

Another unique thing about this place is the all you can eat rice at no extra charge! You can see Ying diligently scooping up some rice for her man (top left picture).
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IMG_8008 copy Boy was I glad that I got a big can of juice. The very first appetizer dish, clear noodles in chili sauce (川北凉粉 – $3.99), arrived and totally set my tongue on fire. Clear noodles are actually jelly-like – gelatinous ground pea powder mixed with water? Or so Ying says… her mom actually makes this at home. This is a traditional Szechuan snack that is often sold along the side of the streets. It has a easily distinguishable Szechuan taste to it… I guess it’s because they use the same sauce and garnish as Szechuan’s famous appetizer dish  夫妻肺片 (Beef pieces in chili sauce). Although my tongue was suffering, I couldn’t help digging into this dish as it was delicious! The noodle was juicy and the mix of taste was just right! I especially liked the fried peanuts – so crispy! Writing about this got my saliva running again!
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The barbeque came next. The first picture of the skewers were (from left to right): chicken, lamb and bun. The second picture is the close up of these delicacy and the third picture is the eggplant. Each skewer was ONLY 99 cent! What a tasty steal :) The meat was moist and slightly burnt, garnished with cumin powder and pepper -  food of Gods! Ying quite enjoyed the eggplant brushed with barbeque sauce too. I would come back again and again just for these skewers (and of cause, get a bottle of beer to go with it). Ying even had some of the lamb and commented that the yucky lamb taste she didn’t like wasn’t present.
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IMG_8032 copy We were trying hard not to over order because it was getting late (sleeping with a full stomach gives me heartburn). So we only ordered one entrée. The above picture depicts the oh-so-familiar Braised Beef Noodle 红烧牛肉面($5.99). Ying and I have Beef noodle wherever we go and we know what a good bowl of beef noodle tastes like. This was not mind blowing but absolutely by no means disappointing. The beef was tender and not overly fat. The soup base was not too salty. The noodle was chewy and just right. There really isn’t anything I can pick on. However, there isn’t anything that makes it better than other beef noodles I tried. To sum it up, for $5.99, this is a nice, inexpensive and down to earth bowl of noodles with beef.
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Happy Chinese opera face bottle opener! I will definitely use one of these when I visit next. Nabs is driving me home I guess :)

The Yummies:
  • The food was actually quite yummy~
  • Inexpensive ($1.99 beer, $0.99 skewers – excellent as an hangout food)
  • Parking was easy to find
  • Opens late (until 11pm) – good for late night craving for meaty lamb kebabs
  • All you can eat rice at no extra charge

The Yuckies:
  • There was really no service… you get your own rice, tea… you write your own order
  • The Engrish on the menu was…. Engrish
  • I think the server wants you to write the order in Chinese… Though you would be excused if you don’t look Asian

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Nine Dishes 九道 on Urbanspoon


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