Saturday, February 18, 2012
Magic Wok Restaurant 神燈 - Markham, ON, Canada
We arrived and the driveway to the back parking lot was jammed for about 5 minutes, leading me to believe Magic Wok was packed to the rafters and there were no parking spots. It was packed but it turned out the two way jam was caused by one lone car of inconsiderate people who parked 5 minutes too long in the driveway for passenger pickup.
Magic Wok's reputation is that it was a must eat destination but that it had lost its luster. The packed house was giving me hope that it was still a stellar place to eat and that the reputation was wrong.
We finally decided on the set dinner for 6 because it included the Bird Nest entree.
The price of this was a hefty $75 and to add to the pain was that rice was $1.80 per bow1.
The menu says the Soup of the Day is included to make it appear as if you are getting more but it is nothing more than the usual complimentary soup available at any other competitive Chinese restaurant.
A snapshot of the interior. It was packed when we arrived but by around 9 PM, it was down to 3/4 occupied.
I'm not sure how they could claim the Shrimp with Pepper and Eggplant as spicy because it only provided the mildest tingle. The shrimp was cooked to the proper level but they should have been split down the back more to infuse more flavor. It was a decent enough dish with only the slightest wok hay flavor.
We didn't think about it but we really should have ordered the Chicken Mango Bird Nest. When this dish arrived and was juxtaposed against the Shrimp Eggplant dish, I felt as if Magic Wok wasn't magical about creating magical set dinners. It appeared to be shrimp overdose. The Seafood Bird Nest presentation lack asthetic appeal, and the flavor was disappointingly bland.
If the first two entrees were disappointments, then the Chicken dish was medication that made the pain go away. This was an absolutely stellar preparation. The simple dishes showcase the chef's ability and this one did it in spades. The chicken was ultra velvety and smoother than any I've ever had before. The green onion and oil was a touch salty but it compensated for the bland Bird Nest.
Pork Loin with Special Sauce. This was a standard preparation competitive with other Chinese restaurants. The pork was slightly chewy and the sauce complimented the pork well but didn't make it special.
Beef Brisket Hot Pot. I don't recall it coming out sizzling. I always expect hot pots to have deep infused flavor but this dish was following the same theme of surface flavor. The brisket was on the dense and slightly tough side.
Garoupa Tail and Bean Curd. The tail was a 1 in. thick steak and batter fried. The garoupa was OK and like all the other entrees lacked that special zing.
Dessert was a sweet red bean soup.
Bathroom cleanliness: 7.0. Clients continue to miss the urinal.
I don't know how Magic Wok used to be but it seemed to uphold its current reputation of fallen from the elite of must eat. The theme was that that each prepared dish was average and missed that step that takes them to the special level the foodies expect for the asking price. The service wasn't terrible but the waiters spent little time servicing customers.
We won't be returning.
4331 14th Ave