Looking back on the six years I’ve lived in Vancouver, I most certainly have not had an Alaskan King Crab (AKC) dinner. I may have been invited to one with family and declined it not knowing what I was missing out! And I only realized what a big deal AKC is within the past couple years, what a delicacy it is and the narrow window during which to enjoy it.
So I could see all the reasons to go to a dinner organized by ChowTimes.com: my first AKC dinner, camera- and blogger-friendly companions, a reservation at Sun Sui Wah (SSW) which claims to have pioneered the AKC dinner and won the 2010 and 2011 Chinese Restaurant Award in the Alaska King Crab category, and having a bunch of fascinating dinner companions all new to me.
SSW was hopping busy on a prime Saturday evening but we were tucked in a private if warm room and escaped the Chinese restaurant din when we closed the door. We began with a show of two of the four 10-pound crabs we were getting. They are so funny looking.
First course was Peking duck. The last one I had was in Beijing, namesake of the dish, but it was horrible and sketchy and way too much meat. I snagged a nice big piece of roasted skin with a thin layer of meat. Yum yum yum. Next we were served with wintermelon seafood soup. Nice and light right after the oily duck and hoisin sauce flavour.
Our first crab course was the steamed version loaded with garlic. I marveled at the texture of the really meaty section I got and pondered about how sweet the meat is… oops, I didn’t pay that much attention as I chewed, but it wasn’t overly sweet in terms of meat.
I preferred the fried version but was a little frustrated with the chewy layer that formed from the glaze. The third crab course was curried rice in the shell of crab–it is a spectacular sight but I couldn’t discern crab flavour through the heavy Portuguese-style coconut cream curry.
Our second roasted duck course was the lettuce wrap. I had it plain, without hoisin sauce, and enjoyed the juicy lettuce with the relatively duck stir fry with what seemed to be preserved vegetables. I didn’t have any of the snap peas dish, it did not interest me much–okay, I hate snap peas. They are so crunch, yech.
So I made up for it with two “sandwiches”. The waiter described it as such, basically to instruct us to take with each serving tofu, mushroom, and ham. I didn’t like the seared ham but enjoyed the soft tofu very much. A guy at our table didn’t think the tofu was soft enough, which is exactly what true Chinese people say.
Dinner was rounded out with chicken chow mein and baked tapioca pudding. I dug out some of the crispy egg noodle and snagged a bowl of dessert that was not marred with red bean paste, both the way I like those dishes.
Originally I thought I might end up with a second AKC dinner within one week and I was looking forward to the potential for comparison but the timing was not meant to be. And then the window and opportunity pretty much closes for the year.
Update 1: NPY went to an AKC dinner with co-workers at Luda in east Vancouver or, as he calls it “LUU-DA” some rapper thing that is before my time (!!). He was telling me about his dishes and it made me want it all over again at Luda. They had the garlic steamed crab legs. They had a dried spicy version (he compared it to the salty-peppery rub, 盐椒), and one other style. They had two styles of rice, the one with Portuguese curry and one seafood fried rice. They had free-range (走地雞). And their tapioca dessert was the coconut milk kind which I prefer over the drier baked kind. Yum….
Update 2: Who would have thought I’d post before Chow Times about a dinner! But you know they are so busy trying everything under the Vancouver sun. They’ve posted about the dinner with far better photos. Thanks for the link!