Tried to pop in ChangAn restaurant in Alton Towers to get a quick bite to satisfy my northern Chinese food cravings but found it closed for lunch - so that was why we chanced upon the new Shan Dong style restaurant 孔府家宴 in the same plaza (just on the east side of the supermarket).
Ordered minced lamb/leek filled crepes, water fried pork buns, Dezhou chicken and an eggplant stirfry. Impressed! I am not big on garlic, chili or MSG so the chef really has to know his stuff to impress me :).
Lamb crepes 老妈肉饼 - greaseless crunchy skin w flavorful and juicy filling, it actually looked like a panini on the plate. Owner/Waiter explained they used a griddle? press to make the skin from batter, but then I still couldn't figure out how they put the filling in. A first in Toronto that I have seen.
Water fried buns 水煎包- similar to the shanghainese panfried buns but with thicker skin and more heft - which is what you usually expect going to a Northern restaurant. Skin is dry outside but as you bite into it the texture is slightly mushy. A bit weird for me but I have never had the original buns (famous in Yangzhou?) so maybe it is authentic. But I liked it that the dough is not sweet like the usual Cantonese version.
DeZhou chicken 德州扒鸡 - I have fond memories of this dish from my childhood being visited by relatives bearing a hot bundle of this as gifts. Usually it was made by local peddlers selling them at the DeZhou railway station - people would pay and get them passed through train windows still hot and steamy...Anyways this was very close to the way I remembered! It is usually marinated in herbs and spices (not spicy) and then smoked in a ?sealed package so it is falling-off-the-bone tender but yet smoky and dry. Very impressed.
This is a still very young restaurant since they just opened a month ago - some of the wait staff don't quite know the stuff but the young guy who waited on us is probably the owner. Lunch time was not busy, but there is a 20%off on all items. Looks very promising and I do hope they survive and keep up the standard. Don't get depressed by the slightly dingy decor...Thumbs up!