Squid Steamed at the Palais Imperial Restaurant in Ottawa
The Palais Imperial Restaurant in Ottawa’s Byward Market has been around for a very long time. It is a fairly upscale and formal Chinese Restaurant (White tablecloths and Uniformed staff) and they do both a-la-carte, as well as push-cart Dim Sum Service. I am not sure if I have managed to work all the way through their extensive Dim Sum menu as yet, but most dishes I have tried have been pretty decent. Their Steamed Squid offering, however, though I largely enjoyed it, didn’t quite manage to rise above the level of mediocre.
First, I have to apologize for the quality of my photography in the above picture. The used and dirty plate in the corner certainly doesn’t help with the composition and probably negatively affects one’s impression of the subject dish which, in all fairness, was pretty nicely presented.
The squid pieces were fairly thick and had been tossed with a little starch, which coats them slightly, but also helps thicken the juices thrown off during steaming. These were delightfully sweet and nicely enhanced by the fairly generous amount of very finely slivered ginger. There was a little scallion used, but mostly for visual appearance, I would say, as their flavor was not really apparent.
Often, when squid with thick mantles are used, the kitchen will score them, often in a diagonal, or diamond pattern, before steaming. This makes them a little easier to bite and chew and also looks quite attractive. Palais Imperial did not do that here and their squid could probably have used it. I actually like my steamed squid to be somewhat chewy, and I dislike it when they are overcooked (which these were not), but, in this case, the texture was just a bit too much.
As for freshness, these squid were just fine, but, overall, they did not have a great deal of flavor. It actually takes a really bad job for me to not enjoy a squid dish (and I did generally like these ones), but, in the end analysis, I can’t really say that the Squid Steamed at Palais Imperial especially filled me with awe.