Steamed Beef-Balls at May Garden in Bedford

Steamed Beef-Balls at May Garden in Bedford, Nova Scotia

I have mentioned elsewhere that the May Garden Restaurant in Bedford, Nova Scotia does a lovely Dim Sum service on weekends featuring some excellent dishes. Most notable of these was their Steamed Squid which, to date, is the best I have ever been served. Not all of their offerings are quite this good however, and, at the other end of the scale, their Steamed Beef-Balls, shown above, proved to be the worst example of this dish I have come across.

The Steamed Beef-Balls at May Garden turned out to be a bit of a disappointment as soon as they were delivered to the table as their appearance was not very impressive. They were described as being served on ‘Chinese Greens’, which certainly sounded a good deal more appetizing than the few strips of limp and pallid Cabbage leaf which had been used. Even the balls themselves were not all that attractive, having a pinkish hue suggesting they had been only partially cooked.

The balls were actually properly cooked, as it turned out, and the one good thing about them was the general texture. Ground Beef, or Pork, used for meatballs, or dumpling stuffing, gets rigorous treatment in traditional Chinese cookery. It is stirred repeatedly in the same direction to get the meat fibers to align so that, when cooked, the texture becomes ‘springy’ with a nice, elastic bite. They managed to achieve that with these balls to be sure, but, unfortunately, the good qualities ended there.

First, the full description in the table menu (as opposed to the on-line menu), rather gave the impression that vegetables were included in the meatball mixture but, even a casual inspection failed to reveal so much as a speck of anything rather than the homogenous ball of meat. Accordingly, not only did these balls lack additional flavor from that source, they were also robbed of any textural contrasts.

Lastly, aside from the lack of vegetables, there seemed to be no seasoning at all, not even salt or pepper, as far as I could tell. In a couple of bites, I fancied I could detect a very, very faint hint of orange peel, but there was no visible sign of this being included and it was so ephemeral that it may only have come from utensils that were used to manipulate the balls after having touched some other foodstuff that *did* contain orange peel. In any event, the flavor of the Steamed Beef-Balls at May Garden was as pallid, bland, and unappealing as the unfortunate cabbage leaves on which they rested.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!