Although I’ve still been dining out for dim sum during the pandemic and have generally been satisfied with the social distancing and sanitation measures that restaurants have been implementing, it’s gotten a little less appealing lately as our numbers continue to rise. On this occasion I had a craving for dim sum and decided to give takeout a try!
The Neptune Restaurant Group has expanded rapidly throughout Vancouver these last few years. They now have locations across the Lower Mainland under various banners such as Neptune Seafood Restaurant, Neptune Wonton Noodle, Neptune Chinese Kitchen and Neptune Barbeque House.
I’ve been to several of their locations but often wonder if I’m the only one that can’t really tell the difference between the banners. It’s honestly pretty confusing when you open up Uber Eats or do a Google search and see 10+ results for Neptune under various names with similar menus that overlap quite a bit. Thankfully there’s only one location in Burnaby (for now…) so it was an easy choice.
The Take-Out Experience
The thought of dim sum conjures up images of freshly made dishes served literally piping hot in bamboo steamer baskets, amid the hustle and bustle of a packed restaurant. So takeout isn’t something that even occurred to me as a possibility. I chose Neptune Wonton Noodle since they’re one of the few dim sum restaurants who advertise takeout and seem to take it seriously by offering it on multiple platforms.
Upon pick-up I ran into the common issue where restaurants don’t mark the order as “ready” in Uber Eats, so once the ETA is passed, the timer goes up perpetually saying the order will be ready in the next minute, until you check with the restaurant and discover the food’s actually been sitting on the counter the whole time. If you’re wondering why I used the app instead of ordering directly, I’ll touch on this subject in a future post. Otherwise the service was efficient and the food was packaged tightly in tied-off plastic bags which makes it easy to handle.
The containers were all perfectly sized, which is nice and shows they put thought into the packaging. There’s nothing more unappetizing than food that rolls around in containers that are too large, or squished into containers that are too small.
This was surprisingly good and packed full of shrimp. Even when eaten fresh from restaurants, the skin of har gow often sticks to each other or the paper liner, causing a mess of broken dumplings. For takeout I expected the worse, but was thrilled when each dumpling effortlessly slid out intact.
Har gow isn’t the same without some chili sauce. I had to ask for this separately, but so happy they gave the real thing. Most takeout restaurants end up giving either “Wing’s Hot Chili Sauce” or the “Louisiana Style” hot sauce in packets which are pretty gross. Hong Kong style chili sauce is almost like a milder, sweeter and thicker version of Frank’s RedHot.
The shrimp filling was OK, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend the spring rolls for takeout. You can see from the condensation inside the container that they’ve been bathing in their own moisture. It resulted in a tough skin that lost all crispiness.
The chicken feet were just OK and weren’t very flavorful, I couldn’t really taste the black bean. It’s also kind of weird that they cut off the bone part and only included the tips of the feet. However they made up for it by giving a very decent portion size.
The bottom of the dish is lined with what looks and tastes like French fries. Most restaurants use taro or sliced mushrooms, but the “fries” are actually delicious here. They soak up all the sauce and taste even better than the chicken feet!
A pretty standard BBQ pork bun. It’s not as soft as it could’ve been when eaten fresh, but still hits the spot.
The sticky rice had a good texture and wasn’t too mushy. Since it’s wrapped in lotus leaf and steamed, being in the takeout container didn’t result in any degradation of quality. This type of dish is perfect for takeout.
The mango flavor was pretty mild, but works nicely with the coconut gelatin. It’s not too sweet or rich, and a nice way to end the meal after all that food.
I saw VAHDAM teas mentioned online, so decided to get an assorted sampler box from Amazon. This oolong was delicious and really fragrant. Tastes just like the loose leaf tea served at premium dim sum restaurants! These tea bags are quite expensive at almost $1 each though, so I’ll probably try their loose leaf version next time instead.
The green tea was pretty average. Definitely not worth the price compared to what you can find in supermarkets. Green tea probably isn’t the best choice to pair with dim sum anyways, due to the many textures and flavors involved. Maybe it’s just me, since I normally enjoy stronger teas.
If you’re craving dim sum and don’t feel like venturing out, Neptune Wonton Noodle will definitely hit the spot. The flavor and quality of the dim sum isn’t quite to the level of restaurants such as Kirin, Sun Sui Wah, Dynasty, etc., but in terms of price Neptune offers a slightly better value and more flexibility with takeout options. I look forward to trying other dim sum takeout restaurants in order to offer a truly apples-to-apples comparison in the future.
2nd Floor-4405 Central Blvd, Burnaby, BC
Price Range: $$ ($15-$30)
Rating: *** (3/5 – Average)