***"Starchiva Cuisine, Richmond Hill " - A new 'star' on the block where some wonderful food are being conceived from a talented kitchen! ( Long Review )***

In an attempt to salvage and recoup back some of the lost time caused by the pandemic restriction. My regular ‘eating group’ has been under going some serious, relentless eating splurges during the past few weeks. In doing so, we have exhausted most of our ‘Chinese cuisine venue’ ideas.

Thanks to the recommendation from a couple of foodie friends from another food-blog. Our group, comprising of 9 avid gourmands, descended on ’ Starchiva Cuisine, Richmond Hill ’ this evening for some earnest food tasting!

Located in an unassuming strip plaza just off the busy Highway #7 stretch, this relatively new, high end Cantonese Cuisine establishment, occupies the former space of the now defunct ’ Dragon Boat '. The once spacious interior had been revamped, with the new design incorporating a few modernistic and minimalist touches. Gone were those sticky old, grotesque looking carpets belonging to the former occupant! Now, replaced by glimmering, sleek looking hardwood flooring. Tables were fairly well spaced with round tables separated by some much welcomed partitions. Sadly, due to the low ceiling, high decibel noise level created by a fully occupied front of house, still cannot be avoided.

The intriguing and tempting menu, comprising of some authentic, traditional and hard-to-find Cantonese gems made our dish selection an interesting, fun and challenging process. In addition to a couple of house-specialties requiring advanced order, rest of our feast were impromptu a-la-carte picks. Our final choices include the following:

  • Signature Braised Whole ‘5 flavour profile marinade’ Duck.

  • Sauteed Yellow Fin Grouper Filet with Mixed Mushrooms and

Seasonal Greens

  • Baked West Coast Jumbo Oysters with Salted Duck Egg Yolk coating

  • Braised Goose Webs with Oyster Sauce, Shitake Mushrooms and

Sea Cucumber Hot-pot

  • Sauteed BC Dungeness Crab with Maggi, Rice Vermicelli Hot-pot

  • Steamed Minced Pork Pattie with Salted Sun-dried Fish

  • Sweet and Sour Pork with Fresh Pineapples

  • Braised Tofu with Mushroom Medleys and Vegetables

  • Sauteed Morning Glory with julienne ginger, chili and Fermented Bean Curd

Our culinary experience was both delectable and enjoyable. There were quite a few notable and well executed highlights worthy of serious mentioning. That was some cooking talents tucked away inside the wall of the concealed, well-oiled kitchen machine! Our food were all beautifully prepared, crafted and delivered to our table piping hot by some efficient staffers!

Note worthy, stand-out dishes include:

  • The lip-smacking signature duck. The complex and delicious taste profile indeed made it a ‘must eat’ as advertised. Pre-advanced order/reservation is a necessity since on a normal day, the chef usually prepares 10 birds, but easily sold-out eight of them during lunch hour alone!..totally understandable!

  • The baked oysters were another crowd favourite. Extremely well-made, with grease-less super crunchy and savoury exterior coating. Interior was chewy, spongy and moist.

  • Star of the evening undoubtedly belongs to the Dungeness crabs! Loaded with gorgeous, deep and complex, slightly sweet taste components. They were packed full with finger-licking umami yumminess!. Served in a sizzling hot cast iron pot, this dish was creatively designed to allow the juice and brains of the crab to mingle with the stirred fry rice-vermicelli, rendering the 'Chinese pasta ’ super tasty!

  • The well judged and sauced sweet and sour pork was delightfully crunchy and crisp. Very authentic in its ‘Cantonese’ execution using pickled Shallots and Haw flakes for the sweet and tangy components.

  • The sauteed Grouper fish filet were well dressed and cooked. The fresh filet slightly charred and caramelized, the result of great wok-hay technique. Texture was chewy and slightly firm to the bite. The interior, moist and juicy!

  • The steamed minced pork pattie with salted fish were well seasoned and executed. Not overly salty, texture was velvety smooth and not too stiff.

Sadly, amongst all the highly-enjoyable winners, there were a couple of slightly ‘off’ disappointments. These included the tender but way under-seasoned goose-web and sea cucumbers. Bland and one-dimensional. Also, the ho-hum stirred fry Morning Glory with sliced beef was forgettable. The vegetables, tough and overly chewy! The dish lacking any essential wok-hay.

Service was friendly and very attentive despite a packed front-of-house.

In addition to the ordinary dessert Red Bean soup ( very well-made ), offering of some, out-of-the ordinary, dessert cakes including Tiramisu, Macha sponge cake and a dark chocolate ice-cream cake was a pleasant and unexpected nice touch!! Thank you Manager Lee!

Pairing of this evening’s meal was with a super smooth and mature, Super-Tuscan - Ornellaia, from a great 1997 vinatge year and an off-dry 2019 ( another great year ) German Gewurztramminer Kabinett. The attempt was spot-on and a success. The wines managed to show off both the less heavy, non-red meat dishes and the slightly sweet and delicate seafood preparation extremely well.

For some of us Chinese food lovers who reside ‘Up-North’. First, to have a re-incarnation of an awesome gastronomic destination in ‘The ONE Fusion’, then, followed up by ‘Starchiva’, another equally impressive venue, offering exceptional cuisine…if not even more praise-worthy than the former! What a treat for us fortunate ‘Richmond Hillers’! For me, its great to have two top-notched ‘Culinary Temples’ within just a short drive from each other!

Lastly, a note of caution! Parking close to the restaurant entrance could be a pain and almost impossible, especially during the weekend. Utilizing parking spaces further down and around the complex where other ‘closed’ businesses are located is a viable alternative.