Another house made XO sauce. This one had the addition of Smithfield ham and seemed to me to be served more as an appetizer than as a condiment. Then again it's possible that the XO could have been used as a condiment but it just wouldn't have enhanced any of the dishes we ordered that evening.
These were some type of pickled greens that were dressed with a bit of sesame oil and sesame seeds. Sorry for lack of identification but I can tell you they were definitely an app and not a condiment and they were tasty.
The last time I could remember having shark's fin soup was around the age on nine. I couldn't remember how it had tasted then so this was an adventure in rediscovery. Served in a thickened superior stock, the shark's fin was delicious. However, I will say that the majority of the flavor came from the stock itself. To me, the shark's fin was much more of a textural element. Some might question why it's so sought after if there isn't much flavor and my best explanation is that in Chinese cuisine there is a great emphasis placed upon texture, balance of flavors and lore behind food.
Nearly all foods carry some significance and importance. I'm not sure the exact significance behind shark's fin but it is generally considered to be a dish served on special occasions such as banquets and weddings and is a symbol of wealth. Additionally I've heard it is considered to be an aphrodisiac. Whether or not that justifies the price tag as well as the controversial practice is tough to say.
The second course was the star of the show. A large abalone served in supreme stock with a hint of oyster sauce and accompanied by pea sprout leaves. The abalone had a texture like a firmer, meatier dried shitake mushroom. Flavor wise they were briny and delicious and somewhat similar to oysters although they really are something quite apart.
I'm usually not a big fan of sea cucumber but this one was done quite well. Sea cucumber can sometimes have an overwhelmingly strong sea flavor. Additionally the chewy/bouncy, resilient texture can be a bit off setting. This one managed to be not to much of either.
Last on the exotic foods list was fish maw braised in superior stock and served with baby choy sum and shredded Smithfield ham. The flavor of the fish maw wasn't very strong and to be honest I can't really remember it now. I think overall I prefer it in fish maw soup rather than braised as it was here.
Much less out of the ordinary but by no means less satisfying was the steamed rock cod. For me this dish is the epitome of a childhood comfort food. Steamed and topped with green onions, ginger and some shitake mushrooms that have been flashed with hot oil and then served with a seasoned soy sauce. A very easy dish to make at home that never fails to please. I could eat this every day and be satisfied.
I'm not sure of the exact style of this chicken as there are multiple preparations that yield similar results. Usually the chicken is boiled twice over the course of an hour, allowed to rest and dry and then seasoned. This one was served with dried ginger oil on the side and was quite tasty.
You can never go wrong with extra vegetables, especially if they were like these. Chinese mustard greens were simmered in superior stock and served with shredded Smithfield ham. It's like an Asian take on a southern classic. Pork and greens are always a winner in my book.
Dessert was a simple bowl of sweetened pumpkin soup. For me it didn't really stand out as something special but I think I generally feel that way about Chinese desserts. More often than not I would rather have another entree or appetizer in place of dessert.
Overall it was a great meal. My favorites of the evening were the abalone, the rock cod and the chicken. Maybe it's just me but I guess I'm not that crazy about the more wild side of Chinese cuisine. I would be much happier eating 10 orders of roast pork over rice than the one bowl of shark's fin soup at the same price. But if exotic is your thing then it's a good bet that Grand Honour Restaurant is your place.
Grand Honour Restaurant Ltd.
110-5701 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6M 4J7, Canada