There's a new resto called "E Pan" (in Chinese it means First Grade) that recently opened up. It's at 369 Spadina, a couple doors north of New Sky. Tried it with my parents and we found E Pan to be the better of the two.
We sat in the front booth, under the big ceiling lamp that bears their logo. It would have been so much nicer if the seat was padded, not just wood! Service was prompt, friendly and knowledgeable. The decor is a notch above other restos like New Sky and Lee Garden. Many entrees are at the $12 range.
We tried 2 dishes that we also had at New Sky recently so there can be a direct comparison. While the Stir fried Grouper used the same frozen fish, at E pan it had excellent "wok flavour", served on a bed of real greens - choy sum. The Oyster Hotpot had plenty of green onions, much to my mom's satisfaction, and flavouring was good though a touch too salty (so was New Sky's).
The third dish, Taro Duck, was also very good - a flaky taro layer and a tender (important!) and flavourful duck layer, deep fried to perfection and served with a light sauce that complements it very well. I was also impressed that the dish was garnished with ENGLISH cucumber slices, instead of the cheap tasteless waxed ones. The only minor complaint was that there was much more taro than duck.
Alas, the evening ended on a sour note. The complimentary dessert was Red Bean Soup which was extremely watered down and then thickened with cornstarch, and was lumpy besides. Could not stand more than a spoonful! But hey, it was free, I'm not complaining.
Also heard the waiter telling other customers that their lobsters are not fried in electric deepfryers ("just like MacDonald's") as other restos do - but are fried in a wok over a gas burner. We'll have to try it some other time to see what the diff is. Their Peking Duck at $32 is also enticing. We will definitely be going back!
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