Seafood overdose at the Fishermen

Fishermen Club House Restaurant
4911 Steeles Avenue East
Markham
Chinese, Seafood
 

I really don’t understand why this place is so popular besides the fact that other than Red Lobster there is no competition within the Scarborough/Markham borders for a restaurant specializing in seafood.

Usually when a restaurant, especially a Chinese one, is packed and people on a Monday night are still rolling in at 10:30PM – its a good sign. I’m starting to think the Fisherman Club House has paid extras to queue up at its door on a nightly basis!

We were a party of 11 and ordered the set menu for 10.  Unfortunately they had sold out of Sea Bass (which was supposed to be part of the set menu) and they gave us cheaper substitutes: Sweet & Sour Pork, and a Beef, Cashew, Green Beans and Mushroom Stir Fry.  I didn’t think that these dishes were of equal value to the sea bass and felt a bit ripped off.
Shark Fin Soup – Soup base was crap. Flavourless. The crab meat in it was bland. However they did not skimp out on the shark fin.  The soups come out in individual portions. We had to ask for the vinegar and pepper.  That’s like going to a burger joint and having to ask for ketchup and mustard.

Clams in Beer – This was probably my favourite dish because it was not drowned in oil or complicated condiments.  It allowed the natural juices of the clams to come through, and it was nice and light.
Lobster with Deep Fried Garlic – If I were ever to be hunted by vampires, I would run for shelter to Fishermen Club House.  The heaps of fried garlic that accompanied the lobster (also fried), was offensive.  If I were to go to the gas station to pick up a stick of gum, the cashier would probably take advantage of my desperate need for a chewing stick and jack up the prices 10 fold on the spot.
Dungeness Crab with Fried Sardines – Between the lobster and the crab, the crab definitely had more flavour to it.  It had what we Chinese call 鮮味, which alludes to the natural flavours of seafood.  The crab innards were extremely yummy and half of it was reserved for the fried rice.
Braised Eel with Scallions – When a non-deep-fried dish finally found its way to the table I was so excited.  However, I am not a big fan of eel and found it to have a bit of a bitter taste to it.  Again, I iterate I am not a big fan of eel.  In fact this was the first time I had tried it.

Fried Oyster with Salted Egg Yolk – At this point, I could already feel my own innards weighed down in oil from all the deep fried dishes that arrived at our table.  The oyster was an extremely heavy dish.  Upon biting into it, I swear a fountain of oil spurted out from my oyster.  I did however, like the application of the salted egg yolk as it served as a great flavour enhancer.

Crab Fried Rice – This was an extremely tasty fried rice, however, the portion size was definitely not enough for 10 individual servings.

Pea Shoots & King Mushroom Stir-Fry – A vegetable at last!  If you ignore the high sheen that came from the oil that slathered the dish, this was quite tasty and hey, it was a veg!
Neither the Sweet & Sour Pork nor the Beef, Cashew, Green Bean & Mushroom Stir Fry were worth mentioning.  The sauce for the pork was way too sweet – I felt like I was drinking syrup. Bleck!
The complimentary dessert was a Black Sesame Sweet Soup.  It was extremely sweet, and not thick enough in consistency.

Verdict:

I have always believed that seafood is best served either braised or steamed to really taste the natural flavours of the seafood.  I find that deep frying seafood actually destroys the natural flavours.  The lobster that we had was 9 pounds and the bigger the lobster, the older the lobster, which means, IMHO the less tasty the lobster meat.  I would definitely opt for smaller lobsters (e.g. no larger than 5 pounds each) instead of one big one.  The dishes that really stood out for me would be the Crab Fried Rice, the Dungeness Crab as well as the Deep Fried Oysters.

This place would be interesting to go to once just to gorge on seafood. However, if you want quality, I would go someplace else.  I was there for dinner last night, it is now the next morning.  My stomach is doing unpleasant things to me (probably as the result of filtering out all the oil I ingested).  This morning I didn’t even have breakfast because I still feel so full and bloated.  It is now 10:30AM and all I’ve had are 3 cups of water.  The sad part is, I’ve felt healthier eating a Big Mac.

From a service perspective, they are okay.  However, I think that one thing that was missing, which to me, was essential when you’re peeling crab and lobster with your hands is wet naps or at least a bowl of lemon water so that we can clean our hands.

When we inquired about wine, they indicated that they only had red wine available.  What?!  Since when did red wine replace white wine as pairing for seafood?

If you do decide to try this place out, make sure you have reservations as they are extremely busy and the restaurant itself is small. They have 2 different classes of lobster.  You obviously have to dole out extra if you want the better one.  We did just that, but still, because of the age of the lobster, the meat was not very succulent, and clung to the shell.  The bill came to about $55 per person including tax and tip ($605).

Parking is also an issue as the plaza is rather small and keeping in mind that parking is shared with the other tenants, you may be circling around for 5-10 minutes for a parking spot.

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