Ho Do Szechuan

It's interesting how so many restaurants exist within a small little block near the Surrey Central skytrain station. Pho Tam, New Town, Pho Hoa Hong, Top King's, Cucina Manila and Ho Do Szechuan all reside in essentially the same complex. To top it all off, there are only around 15 parking spaces for all of them! It seems that I'm slowly working my way through. Little did I realize, Ho Do actually serves Dim Sum. Now, Dim Sum and Surrey go together like Jessica Simpson and a textbook. Yah, it usually isn't a pretty combination. There are 2 decent places along Scott Road in Yummy Wonton and Lotus; but they are technically in North Delta.

As I picked up Toolman for our Dim Sum lunch, he looked a bit nervous when I suggested my intentions. Dim Sum in Whalley? Well, we won't know the answer to that if we don't try right? I must give it to him, he was game. However, there was a slight concern on my part since Ho Do is a Szechuan restaurant. For those who are unfamiliar with different Chinese cuisine, the Dim Sum that is most popular in the GVRD is specifically Cantonese (however, Shanghainese Dim Sum is quite prevalent as well). Thus, a Szechuan joint serving Cantonese Dim Sum could be a recipe for disaster. Yet, Szechuan Chongquing on Broadway in Vancouver is an example that would suggest otherwise.

For a split second, I almost ditched the Dim Sum idea since the lunch specials start at the rock bottom price of $3.95. Alas, I reverted back to my original mission (testing out Dim Sum in Surrey). We started with the staples of Dim Sum - Haw Gow (shrimp dumpling) & Sui Mai (pork & shrimp dumpling). The shrimp dumplings were alright. The shrimp filling was a tad loose; yet the shrimp itself was crunchy and tasty. However, the dumpling skin was a bit chewy. As for the sui mai, I was not a big fan of them. Usually, we look for pork with a bit of "bite"; but in this case, it was just plain tough. Flavourwise, there wasn't enough seasoning which in turn led to the dumpling tasting too "porky".

On the flipside, the Fried Squid was quite good. I guess it was predictable that they'd do this dish right. With flavours that are more familiar with Szechuan cooking, the perfectly fried squid was laced with chilis, garlic and salt. The only thing that would've made this dish a home run would be a slightly lighter batter. For me, I don't really get to eat sticky rice very often. So, whenever I get the chance I order it. In this case, it was the Loh Mei Gai (sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves). Usually within the sticky rice, there is ground pork and shiitake mushrooms in a gelatinous sauce with lap cheun (Chinese sausage) and a piece of chicken (which "gai" represents). In this case, there was no chicken and the rice was subpar. It was dry and hard, even the filling couldn't save it. This was a real miss.

The next dish was totally my own fault. I decided to order a Shanghainese specialty during a Cantonese Dim Sum meal in a Szechuan restaurant. It's akin to ordering BBQ ribs during a Japanese meal in a Ukrainian restaurant. It will ultimately result in an epic fail. And guess what? Yup, these Xiao Long Baos were an epic fail on massive scale. First, the dumpling skin was as impenetrable as a kevlar vest. Second, the meat was stiffer than Ron Jeremy. Lastly and most importantly, these XLBs were bone dry. Not even a drop of juice. To add insult to injury, they were not even served with vinegar. Serves me right for ordering it.

At the very least, the Black Bean Spareribs were acceptable. I know, my expectations proceeded to move down a sliding scale by this point. There was a good amount of garlic and black bean which gave the ribs good flavour. However, the meaty pieces were on the chewier side and a bit difficult to eat. One dish that did not resemble its description in the menu was the Fish Maw & Chicken. I'm sure the Chinese description was right on the money; but the English version did not state the ingredients would be wrapped in bean curd sheets. Hey, I'm all for bean curd sheets, it was just a bit unexpected. I thought they had brought out the wrong order since it resembles another dish - Seen Jook Gune. In fact, this looked and ultimately tasted very similar to if except for the filling. Rather than pork, we got a small piece melted fish maw (fried fish air bladder) and overcooked chicken. I know, not a ringing endorsement.

Last but not least, we got the Char Sui Bao (BBQ pork bun) as ordered by Toolman (in his broken Cantonese). These were actually quite good. The bun itself was soft and fluffy. The BBQ pork filling was plentiful and flavourful without being too sweet. But honestly, the Dim Sum was not very good. I know we shouldn't expect too much considering the location and type of restaurant. In fact, I really should return and try what they specialize in, which is Szechuan cuisine. But for now, my hunt for decent Dim Sum in Surrey continues...

The Good:
- Inexpensive
- Quite a few lunch options
- Service was decent

The Bad:
- Dim Sum is subpar
- Once again, there limited parking here

Ho Do Szechuan Seafood House on Urbanspoon

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