It was my father’s birthday last week, which meant getting together for a birthday feast. Not wanting anything extravagant, and more over, not wanting to go out, it was decided that Chinese would fit the bill nicely. After discovering Tin Tin Restaurant during the ‘80s (at the recommendation of my father’s then coworker), I knew this family tradition would fit the bill nicely.
A brief conversation about what to order took place, as I knew my father would easily succumb to his favourite dishes, including, but not limited to such white classics as lemon chicken balls, ginger beef, and sweet & sour pork. With a bit of nudging though, I was able to grab the ordering reigns and headed over with a shortened list of mandatory eats. After all, it was his birthday, so I was more than happy to give him some say.
The restaurant was occupied by one large group of BMW driving young men when we arrived, which meant Sarah and I had ample time to look over the menu. The menu and ordering conversation took some time, as I pressed them to allow me to order from the dine-in menu. Even though they wouldn’t let me order a fixed meal, I was able to break it down into individual dishes and ended up with a similar creation. Why let me order the individual dishes but not from the fixed menu? Cost is the only thing I can think of.
Getting the must-have dishes out of the way, I started with Green Onion Cakes, Egg Rolls, Chicken Fried Rice and Peach & Prawn Salad (oh peachy prawns). After that, I decided on a half order of Crispy Chicken, Wok Fried Vegetables, and from the live container, Ginger Scallion Crab.
I can’t speak to the green onion cakes and the egg rolls, as I didn’t order enough for everyone, nor did I really want one. The green onion cakes looked pretty basic and went over well; although some were looking around for chili sauce. My father showed me the interior of his egg roll and it seemed to be packed tight. And yes it did create that mouth burning first bite, as the hot sprouts and vegetables free their steam.
The chicken fried rice was just average. There was a liberal amount of chicken pieces, but the taste was rather bland. After introducing the peachy prawns to my father, they have become a must have. They were meaty in size, and accompanied by the standard canned peaches. This was Sarah’s first foray into this dish, and like me, found the sauce too much.
The crispy chicken was good, with a fantastic skin that was exactly as advertised. The dark meat was noticeably moister than the white meat, which had passed into dry territory. Needing some greens, and knowing that I shouldn’t go outside the box, I opted for an order of wok fried vegetables. Pretty standard fare here, it did the job it was supposed to, but I wish it showed some signs of wok heat.
Finally the crab, coming in at 3lbs, this bad boy was a pleasure to eat. Trying to snap a picture before he was taken to the back was maybe the most difficult part of the night, as this was one active crab. We had two choices for preparation, salt & pepper (which would have been too hot for my father), and ginger & scallion (our choice). The crab offered a fairly good portion of meat, and the ginger/scallion base was super tasty; even if most of it slid to the bottom of the container. I was the only one to get in on the crab body, as no one wanted to suck the good stuff with me, so I was one happy camper.
I have to say this was one fun, and delicious meal. From the Christmas cardboard place settings (that made clean up virtually non-existent), to Sarah’s first experience with a live crab to plate meal, I have to think the look on my father’s face meant his birthday dinner was a success. And really, who doesn’t want to enter another year of their life on a tasty note!