Have you ever dissected a sheep kidney? I hadn’t until this week’s Dinner Club.
This month’s selection marked the conclusion of a second round of Dinner Club reviews, and Ang selected Nine Dishes on Kingsway after finding some great online restaurant reviews. I plan on setting the record straight on some of the statements made in those reviews and on the restaurant menu.
Falsehood #1: There are nine dishes
The restaurant is called “Nine Dishes” and it would be a reasonable assumption to think that there are only nine dishes offered. But no, there may be nine dishes offered on each menu but there are four different menus (ie 36 dishes).
Falsehood #2: Sausage is sausage
We ordered several skewers, including “pork sausage” skewers from one of the menus. We thought we were given the wrong dish when pork intestines arrived. Nope. Sausage = intestines here. It wasn’t the most accurate translation, but I can see how intestines can be considered sausage-like.
Falsehood #3: The picture and real life look alike
We also ordered a bunch of other dishes including deep friend lotus root stuffed with minced meat. A plate of round fried balls arrived and we all had to think about it before we realized it was the lotus root dish because it didn’t look like the picture on the menu. The dish was decent, but slightly inconvenient to eat because each piece had two thick lotus root slices. It tasted like fried dumplings sandwiched in steamed lotus root.
Falsehood #4: Lunch meat is not spam
Lunch meat skewers were also listed, and we were curious enough to order them. They were fried spam slices – not a huge surprise at this point.
Falsehood #5: It’s a typical Chinese restaurant
Normally at a Chinese restaurant, patrons are served tea and can order a small bucket of rice when telling the server what items they would like to order. At Nine Dishes, you write the items you want to order on a slip and walk up to the tea cup and rice station to get cups and rice. We asked a server for a pot of tea early on and waited well over a half hour before we finally walked up to the counter and picked up a pot at the kitchen for ourselves. The items we ordered had begun arriving at a decent pace with one after the other, but then everything was stalled and skewers began arriving sporadically at odd intervals. This is a self-serve joint.
Falsehood #6: Kidney is worth having on the menu
Why oh why do they have sheep kidney on the menu? It’s disgusting. It looks disgusting. It tastes disgusting. Thinking about its functions is disgusting! By this point, I’d just about given up on all the skewers because of the next falsehood…
Falsehood #7: Different menu items taste different
You’d think that different menu items have different tastes, right? I mean, chicken tastes like chicken, pork tastes like pork, kidney tastes like kidney… but no. The skewers here are all covered (and I mean COVERED) in cumin, salt and herbs that you would put in a dish when you’re first starting to cook and figure that experimenting by putting a little bit of every green spice in the cupboard will taste good. Just so you know, it doesn’t. The lamb skewers had arrived first and I was the only one who identified it as lamb, which prompted Phil to say “wow, you’re like the Shazam of meat”. It was so chewy that Kenny thought it was liver (we didn’t order liver). By the time the fourth set of skewers arrived, I was cumin’ed out and couldn’t take the salt anymore. Maybe they serve kidney as a sick joke because your own kidney has to work so hard at filtering out the sodium in your body from their dishes.
On the Upside
Now that I’ve gone through these falsehoods, I’ll say that not all of the dishes at Nine Dishes were bad. I would never recommend the chicken (it tasted really weird – almost like it was about to go bad or wasn’t cooked properly), or anything on the skewers menu. But, the cold noodles, garlic cucumber, and spareribs were decent. There’s nothing special about these dishes and I’ve had better versions of them at the Crystal Mall food court, but they weren’t bad and they’re decently priced. Kenny and Phil might come back to order beef noodles or dan-dan noodles, but the chewy lamb and grey-pink chicken have scared me off for good.
Overall Food Group Rating: 2 out of 5*
The Good: The House Special Spareribs was the best dish that we ordered, and probably the only one I’d recommend. The Cold Noodles with Chili Sauce and Shredded Chicken dish was decent, but they weren’t particularly chilled nor did I taste the chicken (maybe that was a good thing).
The Bad: Do not order sheep kidney or anything made of chicken or lamb here (unless you think an excessive amount of cumin, salt and herbs can make anything taste good). The kidney is disgusting. The chicken is questionable. The lamb is tough and they don’t distinguish between tendon and meat.
The Ugly: Sheep kidney. It’s got these large tunnels inside and looks like something that belongs in a biology lab, not on your plate.
*Ann couldn’t make it out to Dinner Club this month, but hopefully she’ll be able to join us next month!