Why are all the cool, environmentally-correct places gentrified?
The restaurants listed for Down to Earth Week feature ethical eats and sustainable practices. Wonder why the selection has no ‘ethnic’ restaurants or venues that draw mixed crowds – I’ll leave it up to you to define mixed, and it’s not necessarily a Benetton ad. It’s the same old dilemma; hipster places where pro-integrationists gather, are very homogeneous and far from being diverse. While the more colourful spots, though popular, aren’t even on the radar.
Warning: the following post contains offal language, reader discretion is advised
I was at the Cultural Centre Restaurant on Family Day and Oscar Sunday. Only six days apart and the dimsum was markedly different, and a favourite rice dish was taken off the menu.
The shrimp dumpling was much smaller, more refined like Hong Kong-sized portions. Or one could argue it reflects cost cutting. The mixed tripe dish was not the mixed tripe that I tasted only days ago; which is beef honeycomb tripe, spleen, lung and intestine cooked in soy brine with star anise. But rather it consisted of honeycomb tripe and some tendon cooked in a totally different manner, skipping the more expensive ingredients and labour-intensive process.
Something’s wrong. I enquired about the tripe dish to make sure there was no mix up with the order. The server actually anticipated my concerns, and before I could finish the question she offered to remove the dish. Well, the problem is not with the food itself but the misrepresentation. “It’s okay, let’s leave it,” I told her and asked whether there’s a new chef. While looking away, she confirmed with a slight nod and barely audible whisper.
That explains a lot. You see, the soy brine or marinade stock is often a closely guarded device for a Chinese chef. It is never thrown out but replenished with added ingredients so it is truly the result of years or decades of slow cooking. Such a prized asset literally goes with the chef. Hence the switcheroo with the tripe dish – not cool. Later on, a dimsum cart gal pushing the same dish also found it odd. Even though she is telling customers it is mixed tripe, she boldly commented it isn’t.
Another item I ordered was the lo bok radish pastry. It is typically a swirl of a pastry that blossoms with strings of lo bok at the first mouthful - a vision to behold. What I got looked like a fried golf ball with puréed lo bok.
Barely opened five months and the dimsum chef is gone, coupled with indifferent attitude from both the manager and host towards guests. Ambiguous ads in Chinese-language newspapers offering undated promotions; other patrons and I have found that management use this loophole to renege on ‘specials’, on the fly.
On one occasion, the host actually enquired about the tip when I used a credit card for payment and I had to point out that a cash tip was left on the table. So why are people flocking to the Cultural Centre Restaurant.
- One of the biggest centrally-located dimsum restaurants in Calgary.
- Offers a promotional discount on most dimsum dishes.
- Extensive dimsum selection.
- Pleasant wait staff.
However begrudgingly, I will likely return.