Fish Maw Soup at the All Happy Family Restaurant in Edmonton
I spied the All Happy Family Restaurant while on my way from the airport to my hotel in downtown Edmonton and I walked back later to check the place out. A few items weren’t bad, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the place on the whole, and their Fish Maw Soup was disappointing on a couple of levels.
The soup actually appeared on the menu as ‘Fish Belly Soup’, but the main ingredient was clearly what is more commonly known as ‘Fish Maw’. Incidentally, even ‘Fish Maw’ is something of a misnomer, as ‘Maw’ means ‘stomach’ or ‘gullet’, and the ‘maw’ in this culinary context actually refers to the dried swim bladder of certain species of fish. The product, which may be prepared in a number of different ways, has no real flavor of its own, but is rather enjoyed in Chinese cuisine, as are quite a few other specialties, for its texture.
The menu at All Happy Family also used Chinese character descriptions for each dish, and the characters for this dish clearly indicated ‘Crab Meat’, which is actually a common addition to Fish Maw Soup. When my bowl arrived, it was immediately apparent that there was no crab in it whatsoever, not even the imitation crab-stick variety. I queried the waiter about it and he said they were out of crab. He hesitated for a moment, then added that crab is expensive, then he finally said the menu was a misprint. In the end, I have no idea what the issue was, but I was still disappointed by the failure to deliver.
Anyway, the Fish Maw Soup at Happy Family was plain chicken stock thickened with starch and the bowl, though the smallest of the three sizes available, was much larger than I expected. It was tasty enough, with the fish maw being in quite large pieces, and there were shreds of egg white added too. Still, I have had Fish Maw soup in quite a few restaurants elsewhere, and made it myself a number of times, and while I have had worse, this was really only mediocre at best.