Those of you that have stuck around long enough to read my blog from the beginning may remember a time when my family and I went to dine at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse, a new-ish restaurant that opened at the intersection of Silver Star Boulevard and Steeles earlier this year.
That first visit left a bland taste in our mouths. The seafood was fresh, no doubt, but the flavour was lacking in the large array of seafood dishes that we had ordered. We left quite disappointed. Read my review of my experience here.
However, for my uncle’s birthday this weekend, he wanted to celebrate with some seafood dishes and decided to attempt another visit at this popular Chinese seafood restaurant. The place was already bustling at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday night with half of the tables already filled and guests were in the middle of their meals.
One thing I noticed that was different in the restaurant this time was that all of the tables in the restaurant were placed SO close together so that the chairs and tables literally were back to back and side to side… much like how rush hour traffic has people standing shoulder to shoulder on the bus. In my mind, I know it’s just a tactic that Chinese restaurants like to use: get as many people in the room as possible to increase density = increase revenue. However, from a safety standard and fire regulations point of view, is this even legal? If someone is reading this and wants to look into it, feel free to. I’m pretty sure that a restaurant can’t just jam as many tables as they can into the establishment and call it a day. If, knock on wood, something drastic does happen, such as a fire, people literally can’t just run out; they will be stuck because all the tables and chairs are glued together and there’s no way to walk! *feels a little annoyed that Asian restaurant owners will do this to make an extra buck*
Anyway, we ordered the King Crab & Lobster Dinner combo. Although it is a dinner set meant for 4 people, when all of the food had arrived, we had more than enough food and even leftovers despite actually having 6 people at our table. We knew that the portions would be big and indeed they were.
This time, the mountain of lobster (that weighed 4 lbs) didn’t taste as bland as last time. It was ultra fresh which was fantastic in terms of quality-wise (they even brought the live crustacean to our table so that we could look at it to confirm its weight). Personally, I still think it could have been more intense in flavouring, but overall it was passable. It again came loaded with lots of fried fish and ginger which made up the bulk of the “lobster mountain”.
We specifically chose this dinner set since it included the King Crab. We’ve tried their lobster, eel, fish, and scallops before, so this time returning to the restaurant, we definitely wanted to try their King Crab as well. It didn’t disappoint except for one thing (which I’ll talk about in the next paragraph). First of all, it was very well-flavoured. I devoured several pieces relatively quickly since it was so tasty. It was prepared in three ways: steamed crab meat with egg white and salted egg, fried crab leg with dry garlic, and fried rice with dry scallop in shell. The steamed crab meat with egg white and salted egg tasted fresh; however, it wasn’t very flavourful. I’ve tasted the best steamed crab legs ever when I was in Hong Kong earlier this year. You can’t beat fresh seafood prepared in Hong Kong and this definitely didn’t top it. The fried crab leg version was the best part of this meal. It was full of flavour and presented so nicely as a stacked tower. The only minor thing is that it was difficult to get the meat out of some pieces because the crab meat stuck to the shells. Finally, the fried rice with dry scallop in shell wasn’t very good either: The rice was harder than most rice grains which made it hard to chew.
My family eats quite a lot of seafood and knows what parts of a king crab should be cooked and served. We felt ripped off that the King Crab was prepared in three styles yet the upper parts of the legs were completely missing from the plates! Where were they? We couldn’t recall eating any parts of the king crab that had the meaty upper shoulder parts. When we consulted the servers and manager about this, they were at first confused at well and thought they did not serve us the correct plate. However, they then came back to tell us that indeed, the king crab was all there and we had eaten it all. Psh, yeah right. We’ve all eaten king crab before and real king crab contains way more meat than what we had. Quite disappointing.
So, again, we left leaving unsatisfied. I thought this visit would have redeemed my first impression of this restaurant, but now it just reaffirms to me that this restaurant is not good at all. First, I’m not even sure if they meet the legal fire hazard standards. Second, they definitely cheap out on some aspects of the food (whether on flavour or actual seafood) even though they are made fresh and presentation is impressive. Again, go somewhere else for seafood if you’re a big fan of higher quality lobster and crab.