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Saturday, 10 March 2012

S&W Pepper House (建鑫园)

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Now, we haven’t been to S & W Pepper House for many many years. This particular location in Richmond used to be called Southwestern Wind – hence the S & W in its name. The original location is in Burnaby’s Crystal Mall. I didn’t even notice that they had recently changed names until I came across a voucher online. It is situated in the heart of Richmond right across from Richmond Center on No. 3 Road. There is ample parking at the back, but you have to enter from Park Road. IMG_8066 copy_thumb[1]
IMG_8071 copy_thumb[2] IMG_8064 copy_thumb[3] S & W Pepper House features cuisine from Yunnan (云南) and Guizhou (贵州), which can both be quite spicy, not unlike Szechuan cuisine. The deal voucher I purchased included three dishes: one fish, one meat and one veggie plus enough rice for 2-3 people. However, a couple of buddies from school phoned me up earlier and wanted to catch up, so I invited them to join our dining adventure with the Yummy Crew. :) We ended up ordering a few more items on top of deal voucher offerings. Do keep in mind that this place is cash only, much like many Richmond eateries.
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This restaurant has also undergone a renovation since my last visit. I especially liked the colourful murals depicting characters in traditional Yunnan costumes. Most of their seats are for parties of 3-4 people. We had to wait a bit for the only table for 6 for the five of us, which was right beside the front door.
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IMG_8091 copy_thumb[1] In anticipation of the spicy dishes to come, I decided to start us off with a nice and soothing bowl of cabbage and tofu soup (白菜豆腐汤). Unfortunately, it was a bit too bland for my liking and a bit on the salty side as well. Though to be fair, it’s pretty hard to make these two ingredients exciting. We got the small size, which was more than enough for the five of us to each have a small bowl.
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We also got an extra appetizer, what they called Cold Fine Noodles (川北凉粉), something that we had tried at Nine Dishes not too long ago. The sauce was quite spicy, with ample amounts of chili pepper and peppercorns sprinkled on top. The clear noodles were slippery as usual and caused havoc in our attempts to transfer it to our bowls. I missed the crispy peanuts that were abundant in the Nine Dishes version of this dish though. IMG_8078 copy_thumb[3]
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IMG_8084 copy_thumb[2] Next came the first of the three dishes included in the deal voucher: cabbage with dried red chilies (炝炒包菜). This is actually a dish that my parents make at home quite frequently as well. Although you can see quite a number of red chili peppers in the picture, it really isn’t that spicy. I liked how the cabbage was slightly crispy, but not over fried and not soggy either. It tasted quite refreshing, as it wasn’t very oily (unlike some of the other dishes).
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The second voucher dish we picked was the shredded pork with bamboo shoots. Unfortunately, this was a Nabs-unfriendly dish. :( Rich and I quite liked this dish, as it was flavourful and mildly spicy, going well with the rice. Note that there were still plenty of red chili peppers in this dish as well. Be careful not to bite into one of them! Sadly, it seemed like they put too much oil into this dish… IMG_8075 copy_thumb[1]
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The last voucher dish was the braised fresh fish in bean sauce (豆瓣鲜鱼). I believe the fish that they used was tilapia, as there were many small fish bones. My mom is pretty good at making this fish dish and I was eager to see how they measured up. I wasn’t particularly impressed with their offering as the fish did not taste very fresh. The sauce was pretty spicy though – as you can see by how red it is with all the chili peppers.
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It seemed like the boys were still hungry when all the dishes were almost finished, so we added an extra eggplant in garlic and chili sauce (鱼香茄子). We asked for them to leave the minced pork out so that Nabs can enjoy it as well. I have to say that this was my favorite dish of the night! (and also the spiciest hehe) This was made with fresh chili peppers, which gave the spiciness an extra kick. Unfortunately, it was also the oiliest dish… why does fat make everything taste so much better? :( I really liked how the eggplant was just lightly fried and not overly crispy.
The Yummies:
  • Ample parking at the back
  • Deal voucher made it a pretty good deal
  • Yummy eggplant dish – not so healthy though

The Yuckies:
  • Overuse of cooking oil in most of their dishes
  • Lackluster service – the waitresses had tunnel vision most of the time
  • Somewhat expensive

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