Thursday, October 9, 2008

Castle Terrace Chinese Restaurant - Castle Hill

On a somewhat windy and dreary Public Holiday Monday evening, my family went out to dinner with some close family friends. Expecting a busy buzzy restaurant, I was surprised to see our table to be one of a handful (or less).

As Castle Terrace is a restaurant we frequent, I was not deterred by the lack of numbers. Also, the chirpy and friendly waiters put our minds at ease.

We ordered the banquet for 12 (~$468) plus, as the waiter recommended, a chicken dish (steamed chicken with vegetables), and large-sized oysters (deep fried - $4.80 each).

The deep fried oyster came out golden brown. It was fresh, hot and crispy on the outside, and oh so very oystery on the inside. Not a bad combination. But I guess that's because I do tend to like oysters! :) And so, I was very happy with this starter.

Deep-fried oyster - $4.80 each

The chicken was nice and smooth and tender (although somewhat oily). But when dipped in the ginger sauce (the small yellow plate of stuff in the top left-hand corner of my photo), it was quite a delicious feed.

Steamed chicken with vegetables.

Okay, back to the food included in the banquet.

First there was the steamed scallop with a vermicelli, shallots, mild XO (so very mild that even I could barely detect), and soy based sauce. The sauce complemented the scallop well. But - I found the vermecelli a bit dryer than what I'm used to (which I found perplexing since it was supposed to be drenched in the XO/soy based sauce.

Vermecelli XO/soy sauced scallop

Next was the Peking Duck Pancake (I forgot to open it up for you to look at! >.<). Although it looks like a brown glop of sauce in a thin flour pancake, the duck flavour shone through. The meat was tender and although I'm not the biggest fan of this dish (mainly because I used to eat it so much when I was young), I remember being rather pleased by the quality of this dish.
Peking Duck Pancake

The steamed little abalone. The abalone in my picture does not look great (but I admittedly had the worse-looking one out of the whole lot). The looks of this was not too appealing, and when I bit into it... then bit into it again... and again...(then figured that I should shove the whole thing in my mouth), it was, as I had expected, not very appealing to my taste buds. It was a bit dry and slightly tasteless.

Steamed Abalone

Providing a good contrast the the rather dry abalone was the seafood soup. (and yes again, I was lucky enough to get the worse looking bowl - one with very little seafood). Although not very picturesque, it was tasty. Not too salty but flavoursome nonetheless. I happily drank til the very last drop.

Seafood soup

Next on the menu was lobster. We got a huge huge HUGE lobster. (I couldn't do the largeness of this dish justice as the waiter was too eager to dish it out). But believe me, it was a mountain of e-fu noodles and lobster. The lobster was very - lobsterish. The meat wasn't chewy and wasn't mush - it was just right (ie. fresh from the tank). The noodles wasn't drenched in sauce (which is a good thing), but was a good complement for the lobster. The sauce didn't add much to the dish - but the fresh seafood taste that peaked through was enough to keep me satisfied.

Large plate of e-fu noodles and lobster

My portion of lobster (and there was plenty more for seconds)

Then there was fish. Or fishes. There were two of these for the table, much to the suprise of most people on the table (we were already full by now). The fish tasted fresh and was cooked just perfectly. The meat just flaked off the bone. Mixed with the sweet soy sauce, it was very yum.

Freshly steamed fish

There was also the a chicken and seafood hotpot. Very saucy - but everything was very tender. Sizzling hot, it incorporated a good mix of things I like - scallops, prawns, chicken, corn, tofu, mushroom, veges (on the bottom).

Then came the meats. There was pork chops in black pepper sauce. The little bit of meat that I ate (due to the limits of my stomach) was tender and tasty.

Pork chops in black pepper sauce.

And very similar to the pork chops is the beef in black pepper and honey sauce. Again, the meat was very nice, juicy, and tender (I admit that I had more than a little piece of this, despite my full stomach - I couldn't resist!). I love how Chinese restaurants can cook beef in a way that keeps it flavoursome (although tastes nothing like beef) but my partner (whose parents own a super super nice and delicious Chinese takeaway shop :P) informed me that the way they do this is by preparing the meat in a way which involves cooking it in a bowl of oil, before actually incoporating the meat in the dish. Oh well - which is more important? Healthy food or delicious food?

Beef in black pepper and honey sauce.

Our chicken and pinapple fried rice. A nice alternative to boring boiled white rice :). It is somewhat more oily than normal boiled rice...

Chicken and Pinapple fried rice

And duck stir-fry with mixed veges (alot of bean sprouts). Although this dish feels oily when you eat it, there is a strong duck flavour which really, isn't half bad. The amount of veges in it gives a false impression of healthiness :P

Duck and vegetable stir-fry

Then for dessert. The dessert norm is just oranges, but because we are regulars (and because we've constantly booked the restaurant for expensive dinners - such as birthdays, anniversaries, church functions), we get complimentary dessert.

Dessert number 1 - deep fried red bean pancake. Without even eating it, I know that its goldenly crunchy on the outside, and sweetly redbean pastey on the inside (yes, personally, I'm not a fan of this - but everyone else on the table enjoyed this thoroughly).

Deep fried red bean pancake

Dessert number 2 was more up my alley. Ground peanut sweet soup. Mmm... the nuttiness and sweetness of this... words cannot describe. Much much much better than the normal red-bean sweet soup that you get at most other Chinese restaurants. I very much appreciated this (even though it doesn't look impressive, it tastes heavenly).

Ground peanut sweet soup.

So, as this is almost our family restaurant, the service is great (naturally - because they know us so well). They are nice and friendly and chatty (almost too chatty). The ambiance - well... the restaurant was quite empty and most of the noise came from out table. We were so loud (like Chinese people are) - cracking jokes and talking random things the whole night, I appreciated that the bosses knew us well enough to not tell us off!

Not a bad Chinese restaurant in the Hills area. If you haven't been, I recommend it. I think there is live music (jazzy) on Friday and Saturday nights.

Food - 8/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 8/10
Overall - 31/40

Castle Terrace Chinese Restaurant
19-21 Terminus St
Castle Hill, NSW, 2154
Tel: (02) 9899 9938

1 comment:

bebi.j said...

wow~ im surprised this rated pretty high*

must b coz we havent been there in a while~~ lol

all the food looks gd~!!