Back in August, when we were packing up the last of our belongings from the Toronto apartment, we decided to eat dinner somewhere nice before heading back. We were suggested the Yu Seafood restaurant in Richmond Hill by one of Kevin’s friends. There aren’t many high-end Chinese restaurants in Waterloo where we live, so both of us were eager to eat a fancy meal in Toronto.
Yu Seafood had recently opened back up for indoor dining, as part of Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening process. There were limited seats, so we reserved a table in advance. When we got there, I was quite impressed by their COVID precautions. Reminders to wear masks are posted on the entrance to the restaurant, and before going in, we had our temperatures taken via an infrared thermometer. Each table was sat with sufficient distance between each other, and with plexiglass barriers behind the seats.
Everything was clean and spotless and it definitely felt like a high-end restaurant. Also, I’m not one for dimly-lit restaurants going for that “romantic dinner” vibe; I like nice bright restaurants where I can fully see what I’m eating, so that’s another positive for Yu Seafood.
As for the food, we got a king crab dinner course. It was over $400 with tax and tip, so not a cheap meal at all. To be honest, I didn’t think it was worth it, and here’s why.
Soup of the Day
The soup starter course was great. No complaints. It was a super savoury broth of mainly chicken and pork, and also with a lot of conpoy. Even though I didn’t try any of the meat, Kevin said it was great too. The broth was already delicious on its own. We were off to a strong start.
The next course was a 15-piece plate of sashimi, which was delicious as well.
You have the classic tuna, sashimi, tako (octopus), but there was also a unique sashimi that had two distinct segments! I have no idea what it was, I think herring or mackerel? It was very… fishy… and I knew Kevin would have gagged, so that meant I got all of it! Basically, this sashimi consisted of two parts: a fish roe portion and a fish portion. The texture contrast was amazing, I’ve never eaten a piece of sushi like it. The fish roe was kind of crunchy while the fish was silky smooth.
Also, the sashimi was served on an interesting plate. It was full of dry ice underneath to create a fog effect as we ate.
Overall a very artistic dish with lots of “wow” factor both in presentation and taste!
Snow Pea Leaves
Next, there was a course of snow pea leaves, I quite enjoyed it although I thought it could’ve used a lot more salt. It felt so delicately cooked, so crisp and tender! Kevin, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy it quite so much. He prefers leaves that are cut smaller, but I personally liked the filling crunch of bigger pieces.
Btw, we had a lot of leftovers, which I took home. When I microwaved it the next day and added a whole lot more soy sauce, I felt that the taste improved a lot.
The star of this dinner was, of course, the 6 lb freshly cooked king crab. There is nothing wrong with the quality of the seafood. The live crab is brought to the table before being served and it’s definitely fresh. But we found the overall cooking to be a bit bland.
So to start off with, the body of the crab was cut into pieces and deep fried. You’d think anything fried is bound to taste good, and don’t get me wrong, it did taste good, but it felt like there was something missing. My first bite didn’t give me the savoury, umami, lip-smacking flavour I expected. It was also pretty annoying to constantly bite into what looked like a juicy piece of crab only to get cartilage stuck between my teeth.
The rest of the crab was steamed (or boiled?), sliced, and served with roe. First, I have to point out how crazy bright red the shell of the steamed crab was. You may think this photo here has been filtered to enhance its colour, but I actually toned down the red a little when editing.
Again, it was missing some flavour. The crab meat is so savoury and tender that it goes a long way on its own, but even as someone who likes to eat sashimi straight (without soy sauce or wasabi), it could have at least used some more salt.
Soupy Rice with Crab Paste
We were almost full at this point, so we didn’t eat much of this next dish. I’m beginning to think that Yu Seafood does soups really well. Both the soup served at the beginning of the meal and the soup stock in this one were delicious. Kevin and I pretty much drank the soup dry and left the rice alone. There was nothing special about the rice or the mix of veggies used, but oh man, the soup was wonderful, with a strong seafood taste but not overly fishy at all.
Red Bean Congee and Cookies Dessert
After we finished the last of our dishes, we waited. And waited. The dessert was a looong time coming, but it turned out to be because the cookies were freshly baked. They were still warm and emanating a rich buttery aroma when they found their way to our table.
As for the porridge, it was a sweet porridge with adzuki beans, similar to ba bao zhou (eight treasures soup) but without all the ingredients.
The third item of this dessert trio is the osmanthus jelly, one of my favourite dim sum desserts ever. Every osmanthus jelly I’ve ever eaten has looked and tasted the same to me, so not much to comment on this one.
Bonus: Maryland Crab Cakes
There was quite a bit of crab leftover, so two days after we took them home from the restaurant, I decided to turn them into crab cakes.
I specifically chose Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe because it was advertised as low filler—ie. minimal ingredients other than crab meat. Imagine my consternation when Kevin says he doesn’t care for them—because they had too much crab and not enough carb. Whatever, I happen to love crab cakes, so I ate both of our shares.
So even though this dinner cost over $400 and is advertised for two, with all the leftovers you take home, I’d say it can stretch to like four or five big meals.
Would I eat here again? No, I don’t think so, because the restaurant is known for seafood and, well, the main seafood dish of our night was a bit disappointing. In all other regards, from the very attentive service, to the look and feel of the restaurant, to the professional COVID response, Yu Seafood impressed. But after all, food is what is most important here and on that aspect they fell a little short.