Armed with a number of recommendations from other foodie sources, a small group of Yelpers and Chowhounders braved some nasty Wintery weather to gather at Skyview Fusion for a 'Peking Duck' dinner.
House in a huge modern cavernous space and run by ex-staff of Dragon Boat, this relatively new fine dining Chinese restaurant was mentioned by a number of foodies to have 'potential'! Our small party of four was welcomed by a rather pushy floor manager who persistently tried to sell us their special of the day - fresh diver scallops in the shell.
Politely declining his offer, we proceeded to order the following:
- Peking Duck 2 ways ( Skin with crepe pancake and condiments; Lettuce wrap with sautéed minced duck meat and vegetables )
- Sesame coated garlic honey filet mignon cubes
- Cantonese BBQ pork
Arriving first was the duck. Visually, it looked pretty spectacular. The shiny lacquered red skin was smooth and gossamer thin. These were placed in the center of the plate surrounded partially with carved skin and meat pieces. The crepes pancake wrapper unfortunately was found to be slightly doughy, just barely warm and hard to peel apart. Overall, the composed wrap, comprising of crispy, crackling carapace with cucumber, scallions and Hoisin was acceptably good. If it wasn't for the sub-par pancake, I would even rate 'the whole package' to be even better than The Emperor's or Yang's version.
The second course of 'Sauteed minced duck meat and mixed minced vegetables' arrived next. The desirable 'wok-hay' smokiness was present but in my opinion not pronounced enough. Furthermore, we all noticed an excessive use of binding agent/starch on the meat before 'woking' thus resulting in some instances, rather unappealing big lumps of meat. Taste wise, the combo wrap of lettuce leaf, Hoisin, deep fried rice vermicelli and minced meat/ veggie was good but not great. Emperor's version has more desirable 'wok-hay' and more delicious.
From there on, our meal just took a rapid nose dive! Some of the food was plain un-appealing and BAD!
First to come under our scrutiny was the lack-of-visual-appeal, mono-chromatic looking beef dish. Each beef cube was housed in a crispy batter then coated with honey glaze and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Initial bite provided an interesting textural feel to the mouth. However the oily grease trapped between the meat and batter layer began to take over and became too overbearing. Bad as this may seem, it was nothing when compared to the overly tenderized beef morsels. A cut corner way for cooks to elevate lower quality cut of beef to melt-in-the-mouth 'Prime grade' status, the heavy handed use of baking soda transformed the beef to an un-natural mushy, slightly acrid tasting morsel of protein. If this 'false disguise' approach was found in some cheap hole-in-the wall places, it may be acceptable?! But for a fine dining establishment to adopt this un-scrupulous practice? IMO. it is totally inexcusable! TO make matter even worse, the whole dish became unpalatable after a few minutes since the batter had all became soggy!
Lastly, our party ordered the Cantonese BBQ pork based on recommendations from other food lovers. Well, according to our impression and taste of this mediocre Skyview product, those individuals who made the recommendation must be in the 'Ford party' and under the influence?!! Ha! None of us have tasted a Chinese BBQ pork rendition that was so void of seasoning, charred smokiness and taste! Where were the spices? How can a honey coated BBQ product be so void of caramelization and char? The supposedly tasty honey syrup was just 'one-dimensionally' sweet. Unlike John's BBQ award winning 'King of Char Siu', which was moist and composed of half lean, half fatty center cut meat, the Skyview version was all lean and dry. Even the side condiment of honey syrup braised beans were tasteless. An over-priced $15 disaster!
Overall, it was an extremely disappointing dining experience. Once again, we encountered un-explained inconsistency from a kitchen that, on one hand managed to churn out an excellent product, then suddenly, flip over to reveal a nasty incompetent side which resulted in some really lousy food?!!
During the past year, the GTA has seen the opening of at least four, supposedly note-worthy, fine dining Chinese establishments. They include, Dragon King, Paramount, Richlane Cuisine and Skyview. Unfortunately, none of them are good enough to leave behind a lasting and memorable impression! What a pity!!
I guess the only happy people in this scenario were the renovation contractors!!