Have you ever noticed that in every small town, there is always one Chinese restaurant? Don’t believe me? Next time you drive by a town, look for one. It is like playing the game “Where’s Waldo?”.
These Chinese restaurants are usually open by immigrants or passed down by the ones that came over to build the railroads. They cannot be compared to the authentic restaurants found in high immigrant population cities like Toronto and Vancouver which are usually headed by a chef trained in Asia. These small town Chinese restaurants came about because there was a niche and someone filled it to make a living. Usually, that person has no formal culinary training, but can cook homestyle dishes. Furthermore, in order to appease the less diverse population, dishes are usually “westernized”. Dishes like deep fried chicken balls, General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, and even fortune cookies came from the western world. However, there is nothing wrong with these dishes. Personally, I think of the process as natural progression that is aligned with immigration and has been repeated throughout history.
For anyone interested and for those who enjoy a little humor, there are two webpages that offer commentary on this topic.
- 10 Chinese Dishes That Real Chinese People Don’t Eat
- 10 Chinese Dishes Real Chinese People Do Eat (And Where to Find Them)
My wife’s coworker advised her to try Wai’s Restaurant in downtown Red Deer. Apparently, her family enjoys dim sum there every weekend.
One Saturday my wife convinced me to head downtown to Wai’s to try dim sum. Dim sum is usually eaten during the brunch/lunch period and consists of small plates to share. Think tapas.
When we arrived, I noticed that downtown Red Deer is rather quiet during the weekends. This is probably due to the fact that most of the small businesses are closed. The restaurant front for Wai’s appeared to be 2 different restaurants as one side was in English and the other side in Chinese. Moreover, the layout and the signage were different. There must have been 2 separate business occupying the space in the past.
Upon entering the restaurant, I noticed how spacious the area was. In fact, it might have been a bit sparse. Still, I prefer this to the usual jam-packed Chinese restaurants.
The waitress, who identified herself as a family member of the owner, was very friendly and plopped down a large menu, a dim sum photo sheet, and a fill-your-own order sheet. The last item reminded me of those all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants. She offered tea and we gladly accepted it.
We skipped the menu and looked over the dim sum photo sheet. The photos were an excellent idea as those unfamiliar with the usual dim sum dishes can get a little more information off the photos. In fact, that idea is why I wanted to blog about Red Deer.
In Chinese restaurants, there is no logic to the progression of food. Dishes are simply dropped off as they come out.
The first dish out was the Beef Congee.
This was not typical restaurant style, but more homestyle. However, I liked it as it was similar to the ones that I had at home as a child. Congee is basically a salty, savory version of porridge. Rice is cooked down until it is broken and in this case, beef was added. Despite its plain nature, the beef congee brought back happy memories. Pickled vegetables were also present, but did not add to dish.
The next dish that came out was the Rice Crepe with Shrimp and Chives.
The rice crepe was soft while the shrimps were not overcooked. You cannot really screw this dish up unless you use inferior ingredients. The soy sauce was plenty and we happily used it up. Note that this was not plain soy sauce, but rather a combination of sugar, soy sauce and oil.
The quintessential dim sum dish finally arrived – Har Gow aka Steamed Shrimp Dumplings. No dim sum is ever complete with this on order.
The skin texture was soft and upon biting through, plump shrimp greeted me. There was a mixture of pork which is common in har gow. Not the best that I have ever had, but they were acceptable.
The Steamed BBQ Pork Bun arrived shortly after.
They were steamed to the right temperature and you can see that there were chunks of BBQ pork inside. Flavor-wise, they packed a punch.
The last dish was ordered by my wife – Steamed Chicken Feet in B. B. Sauce. In case you were wondering, B. B. stands for black bean.
I cannot comment on this dish as I did not touch it. My wife said the chicken feet were acceptable.
Overall, I think the quality of food served at Wai’s is reasonable for Red Deer. I look forward to trying their dinner menu.