In Richmond, it’s far too easy to judge books by their covers, but here’s a piece of advice: if the interior and/or exterior of a restaurant look like they haven’t been updated since 1987, that’s probably a good sign. Mui Garden is a shining example.
The restaurant is located at Minoru and Westminster Highway, tucked in at the back of the same mall as 4 Stones, Wheat House Pizza, Flo Tea Room, and Monterey Greek Taverna. My friend Stacey suggested we go, and I’m very glad I was with her. I’d walked past this restaurant a number of times before, but always got too overwhelmed by the enormous menu posted inside the front door; it’s an HK style menu with a southeast Asian twist, and the list of dishes goes on and on. Forever, I’m telling you. But Stacey had been there before and knew just what to get. Thank goodness for Stacey.
The interior is pretty outdated, but remember? That doesn’t matter at all! Loyal customers have been coming to this restaurant and their three other locations for years.
The Hainan Chicken is popular at Mui Garden, but since I’ve already had it a number of times we instead opted for Kuitkow ($8.50), a Malaysian rice noodle dish you’re unlikely to find on other HK-style menus. We also had the beef brisket curry with rice ($7.50 as part of a combo with tea), the luncheon meat + egg sandwich ($3.50), and one order of roti ($2.75).
When choosing our drinks, Stacey asked if I’d had a lemon coke yet. Negatory. It’s just a coke with lemon slices that you crush with the spoon provided, but here’s something very interesting: you can order it cold or hot.
When it’s heated up, it loses its carbonation and becomes kind of like a cough syrup, so people drink it as a remedy for colds or sore throats. I drink Coke about once a decade, but figured I might as well try an HK classic. I asked for it cold, though; hot Coke just does NOT appeal.
The Kuitkow was really tasty, though I thought the wide rice noodles were a little overcooked. It came with a small bowl of chili oil that we drizzled on top, and was full of sauteed prawns, strips of pork, egg, and bean sprouts. It was simple, filling, and satisfying.
The beef brisket in curry sauce was one the best bowls of curry I’ve had so far in Richmond. Tis true! It was very creamy, coconut-y, had lots of flavour, but not too much heat. The chunks of brisket were fork tender, and when all mashed together with the rice, it was pretty much my Ideal Bowl of Comfort Food. I have a very specific idea of what constitutes a perfect curry, and this was it. Of course, my ideal isn’t everyone’s, but if you really, really love coconut milk and prefer your curry to be mildly spiced rather than fiery hot, this will make you happy. So, so happy.
The roti was also phenomenal; flaky, buttery, and served with the same curry sauce the brisket came in. This is a must-order at Mui Garden.
Finally, you might be wondering why we’d get a “luncheon meat + egg sandwich.” The reason is that I’d never had Spam before, which I found out is referred to as ‘luncheon meat’ on the menus. Since it’s an HK classic, Stacey thought I should give it a try.
The sandwich turned out to be a minced Spam and egg omelette between two pieces of white, crustless bread (the same kind my mom always refused to buy and which I yearned for as a child). It tasted fine – very plain – but Stacey was disappointed with it because she’d wanted me to try Spam in its pure fried glory, not hidden inside an omelette. So, I guess this means we’ll be ordering more Spam for our next lunch together?
If you make it to Mui Garden, embrace its fake-plant and Christmas light-decor. It’s like a classic piece of literature hidden inside a poorly-designed 1980′s book cover, and with Stacey’s help, now we can all read it a little easier. Thanks for a Spam-tastic lunch!
Vegetarian options available