Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dinesty

No, I did not spell the name wrong. As general rule of thumb when finding authentic ethnic restaurants, the less effort the restaurant makes to attract non-ethnic customers the better the food will be. Dinesty is an authentic Taiwanese restaurant that makes zero effort to attract non-Chinese customers, as demonstrated in the spelling of "Dinesty" and the poorly translated menu). In my opinion, this is the second best Taiwanese restaurant in the greater Vancouver region, and its dishes are only bested by Kelvin's restaurant near Burnaby, but Kelvins is so authentic that it is not as welcoming and user friendly to non-Chinese speaking customers. Dinesty is a lot more user friendly without sacrificing authenticity and quality.

If you don't speak Chinese, I recommend reading this entire post in detail before going.


Taiwanese Cuisine 101
  1. Any foodie worth their weight knows that MSG is present in all good Chinese food. In fact, MSG should be viewed as culturally appropriate and essential to Chinese cuisine in restaurants. I don't ever bother eating in Chinese restaurants that advertise "No MSG", because 100% of the time the food would not be authentic. You can request that they add less MSG though.
  2. Like teriyaki, sweet and sour pork and crispy chowmen are Western invention. Look for "Hakka" in menus for extra delicious dishes.
  3. The dishes are served á la carte and placed in the middle of the table to be communally shared. Don't be afraid to reach across the table to grab food you want. Ask for sharing utensils if you prefer not to share germs with your friends.
  4. The cuisine is tradition bounded. Same dishes with the same names are eaten for thousands of years, and what you look for in restaurants are the best and the most perfect execution of the traditional flavours.
  5. Don't tip too much. 10% is plenty.

Food: 4.5/5
The restaurant makes all buns and noodle products by hand and on site. I named my favorite dish "Little Dragon Buns" which was given the uninspiring name "Steamed Pork Dumplings" or "S01". There is actually a method with which you eat these:
  • Step 1: With your chopsticks, pick up the bun and dap it in their special blend of soy ginger sauce without breaking the skin.
  • Step 2: Put it in a soup spoon and gently break the skin either with your chopsticks or your mouth. Let the juice inside the bun flow into the spoon and cools down.
  • Step 3: Put the entire content in the spoon in your mouth and savour the flavor

Dennis named these "Little Crack Buns". Other restaurants serve the factory made, previously frozen version of these. The differences are phenomenal. You can't really go wrong with any of their their buns or noodle dishes, and you can also order other entrees with "starch skins" or "pancakes" and make your own wraps. Dennis's favorite is "Stir Fried Shredded Pork with Chili Pepper" wrapped in the dough skin. Like other Chinese restaurants, the really good stuffs are not on the menu. For example, ask for 蒜炒空心菜 light on the oil. If you become good friends with the waitresses, they might tell you the daily specials. They also have an amazing dessert list with both sweet and savory delicacies.

Otherwise, I find their seafood dishes somewhat disappointing, ducks too fat, and noodle soup to oily. I do not like their pot-stickers. If you don't know what to order, look around to see if other tables have any good looking dishes and ask for the same thing.


Service (0.5/5):
At peak hours, they have 5 waitress serving 225 people. Don't expect them to keep your reservation, if you are more than 10 minutes late. Don't expect them to come and take your order, serve your food, refill your tea in timely order. Be aggressive, wave them down, and pay at the cashier. Don't expect them to be friendly either. Would you be if you have to serve 45 people on your own? Check your plates and bowls for dirts and smudges. Bring cash, because they don't take cards. Be patient. I have started to bring my own water bottle. But the food is worth it.


Ambience (2/5):
I definitely appreciate the open kitchen, where you can see chefs working away making dough, buns, and big fires in their woks. Not often do you see how Chinese, made and it is rare to see a Chinese kitchen so clean. The restaurant is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows, giving it a clean, open, and spacious feeling.

Overall Experience: (4/5):
I used to have to go through worse conditions to get food this good before this restaurant opened. The food is worth it. It's also relatively cheap and you only have to tip 10%.

Total: 11/20
Don't go there for your first date or expecting to have a romantic evening. The only reason I go there is to eat their awesome food.

Edit: Dinesty doesn't have a website. The resturant is at 8111 Ackroyd Road. Half a block away from Landstowne skytrain station.
Dinesty Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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