Thursday, October 29, 2009

opm asian bistro and lounge - edmonton, ab

opm asian bistro and lounge
1820 99 St NW

After two trips to my local immunization center, and spending what seemed like an entire day in line, I was finally ready to take a H1N1 vaccination in the arm. After wards, with some in the group feeling a little worse off, we headed in search of food. A quick discussion took place before OPM was suggested and we soon jumped in our cars and headed south.

Situated, in the middle of South Edmonton Common, OPM falls between an Earls and Montana's. So while it has the Asian cuisine on lock-down among it's immediate neighbours, you can easily walk a few blocks and find everything from sushi (Mikado) to steaks (The Keg) to family (Ricky's) dinning. With an upscale interior, OPM definitely gives off a trendy Asian personality. This is not your parent's Chinese take-out joint, if that makes sense. The slogan, Fresh Dining From Ancient Places, along with the name, give you a clue to the cuisine, while the menu confirms the dishes come from China, Thailand, and Japan.

With only one person at the table drinking beer, OPM's house offering China White (dark wheat ale), it was a quick round of waters while we looked over the menu. Regarding the beer menu, I was really happy to see 3 local offerings. 2 from Amber's brewing and 1 from Alley Kat. With not a lot of local brews available, OPM gets a thumbs up for including these choices along side it's regulars like Kokanee and Keith's.

The dishes will arrive to your table when they are cooked, which means you may have some down time between plates. First to the table was Lemon Scallops & Prawns. Apparently wok fired with vegetables in a tangy citrus sauce, this dish tasted like lemon pie filling. That's right, a few bites of this and I found it over whelming sweet and lemony. All I needed was a dollop of meringue. Terrible dish.

The remaining two dishes arrived together (7 or 8 minutes after the first), OPM Spicy Chicken and Coconut Yellow Curry Prawns. First up the spicy chicken, which is billed as the hottest dish on the menu. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to the hype. Sure there was some heat trapped inside the red chilies, but the chicken itself seemed to have a sweet (brown sugar?) BBQ sauce flavour. The chicken was juicy and the mixed vegetables were solid, so the dish as a whole was decent enough.

The curry prawns came swimming in enough sauce to drown a gnome. The shrimp were cooked nicely and the dish worked well. Probably my favorite of the three, it didn't have any heat but was well balanced with 'Thai' flavours. Good thing a few bowls of plain rice were delivered to the table or we would have needed straws to fully utilize the sauce.

Based on one previous visit, and the above three dishes, I don't think I'll go out of my way to come back. Nothing jumped out at anyone of us in the group, yet talking with my father, who eats here regularly, it's the appetizers that shine. Oddly enough his favorite (yam fries and rock shrimp) were not on the menu. At least our hunger cravings were curbed after the long day in line, and we were able to relax and enjoy the company.


shokutsu said...

My only visit to this exact same location was way back in 2004. I can't really remember much aside from the fancy decor. It really is an Earls-like establishment, only offering safe (and some might say bastardized) takes on Asian cuisine, made safe for those not able to overcome their fears of finding the really good hole-in-the-wall places where you can get more authentic and cheaper representations of many of the items on the menu. That opening dish you had, does look terrible. Can see the gluey-ness of the sauce all over those prawns and can't help but think it such a waste of seafood...

Chris said...

Earls-like indeed. It started my thinking Shokutsu. About how you can have the right ingredients, but you still need proper execution. Does that makes sense? With an open kitchen it was easy to watch a group of 20* something guys mixing the food up in various wok's, but where did they learn the background. Proudly selling Thai, Chinese, and Japanese food is hard enough in a way as there are so many regional and cultural differences.

I agree with you as well; there are other places in town I would take people for cheaper, more authentic and tastier delights.

* note, I have nothing against young cooks, just the observation.

Teagan said...

"Swimming in enough sauce to drown a gnome" made me laugh mid-sip, and tea squirted out of my nose.

What an underwhelming restaurant experience!

How are you feeling post H1N1 vaccine?

shokutsu said...

You've hit the nail on the head there Chris. And ahead of being able to properly execute comes the knowledge and training. I wish I could bold those two words to emphasis how I feel.

I don't care if the cook or chef is not from that background (ethnicity-wise) or too young, because those factors aren't as important as the developed skills, understanding about what they are cooking and how it should be prepared, and why it came to be that way.

There's too many people out there that will accept what is put in front of them, saying that authenticity is not important as long as it tastes 'good'. Well frankly, I question their palate or understanding of real food if they are willing to accept something that is not as originaly developed and known to countless others as the 'real deal', and will take the fake and modified versions of some food. If this imposter dish is what they think tastes good and they say screw tradition, I wonder where their head is frankly. ..

Sherman said...

Looks very "PF Changish". But for me, if one was expecting that type of food, then it's a little less shocking and disappointing. I really can eat anything and be satisfied with it as long as it's not overpriced and I have tempered expectations. Unless it's name is Kawawa...

Anonymous said...

It's like an Earl's because it's owned by them. :)

Chris said...

Now things make a little more sense Brulee. Cheers!

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