I realize that Chinatown at Spadina/Dundas is not the best place in the city for Chinese food. However, myself and my dining partner needed to dine quickly and cheaply, and Chinatown definitely satisfies these requirements. So away we go to Gold Stone BBQ and Noodle House on Spadina, just south of Dundas.
We were seated, given menus, and served tea in under a minute. Perfect!
We mulled over the menu for a few moments, and ordered half a BBQ duck, shrimp and vegetable chow mein, and sauteed chinese broccoli with garlic.
The food all arrives, without fanfare (this is Chinatown, after all), within 5 or so minutes of us having placed the order. Great!
The shrimp and vegetable chow mein looked alright, with a modest amount of shrimps and vegetables and a ubiquitous sheen of heavily cornstarched sauce soaking the crispy fried noodles underneath. The chinese broccoli looked pretty good; no obvious old (and therefore tough) parts, and the cook was good enough to drain the excess oil before serving. The BBQ duck, for some reason, was served with a gooey sauce we could not immediately identify.
We were starving, so we dove right into the meal. We both realized mid-way through, that we were disgusted by the food. I know, delayed reaction. But I think that was due to the fact that we were both starving so we didn't start thinking about the quality of the food until we had eaten enough to stop the growling in our stomachs. Plus, the food had cooled down by that time, and the liberal use of cornstarch in the sauces caused everything to coagulate, which is what triggered our sudden realization of disgust.
I think what disagreed with us most was the duck. BBQ duck should have a crispy skin, firm flesh with a hint of gamey flavour. There should be no gooey sauce poured over top. NO SAUCE. The unidentified sauce on our duck was likely an attempt at 'au jus'. However, when the dish cooled, not only did the cornstarch coagulate, so did the grease. Ugh. The skin was really chewy, the flesh sort of squirted the sauce out when you bit into it. It was not appetizing at all.
We both held our stomachs to 'ease the quease', as we asked for the bill.
There was a lot of food left over, and despite the fact we were disgusted by the food, we decided to doggy bag it. Now, you must understand that I work dealing with issues of labour and poverty in developing countries, so it is very difficult for me to justify throwing food away. Given that, I think it says a lot that when I got home I threw away the leftovers because even the smell of the food in the car was making me nauseous.
Needless to say, my body is still punishing me for what I consumed more than 12 hours ago. Just writing about this experience has made me queasy again... need water...