Amongst a neighbourhood that is filled with butcher shops and canton kitchens, 98 Aroma – a newly established restaurant in Chinatown that opened recently – delivers high quality food and service while preserving the authenticity of Northern Chinese tradition.
Their Summer Breeze signature vegetable salad ($9.99) is a tower of taro crisps served with a medley of sweet-potato noodles, julienned leeks, bell-peppers, red cabbage, radishes, onions, and carrots. Even with seemingly simple ingredients, this refreshing appetizer fully encompasses the dish’s name with its sweet and salty vinegar dressing.
Contrary to popular belief, rice is not central to particularly Northern Chinese cuisine, but is still available in the restaurant. To fulfill that starchy craving, however, 98 Aroma’s pan-fried pork buns ($9.99) are a remarkable appetizer; extremely juicy darker meat on the inside wrapped inside a perfectly crisp dough.
The steamed garlic shrimp was unveiled beautifully and plated with grated garlic and chilli oil.
Northern Chinese food is also known to have copious amounts of spices, since the weather is colder. Being at least twice in size and depth of the other dishes, the showstopper of the meal was the steamed tilapia ($29.99). Garnished with garlic and chopped bell chilli, the steamed fish had a brilliantly tender texture. Many visit the restaurant to order this popular dish. While you’re at it, throw in some e-fu noodles and you will not regret it.
The coconut milk and sweet rice ($4.99) dessert that the restaurant recommended was a chewy purple glutinous rice in a glass of silky coconut cream.
Aroma 98 is a restaurant I would recommend to fellow frugal fine diners. Their aspirations reflect what one looks for when choosing a restaurant: good-tasting meals at a reasonable price. Matched with elegant décor & tableware imported from China, comfortable private booths and a clean & calming ambiance, their value is worth the trip to Chinatown.
Photos by Janey Tso and Nick Lee