Last week I went with my friends to Oriental Palace. The restaurant is located in the Northwest neighbourhood of Parkdale. I’d known that this restaurant existed for some time but I never really had a desire to try it as I’ve always just assumed that they served Westernized Chinese food.
Recently a friend of mine has had to go on a gluten-free diet. Since most Chinese restaurants cook with soy sauce and gluten is a hidden ingredient in most soy sauces, she’s not be able to have most Chinese food. She then came across Oriental Palace which offers gluten-free Chinese food. The menu at Oriental Palace is actually very well-organized and the items which can be made gluten-free are marked with a star. I was pleasantly surprised at how many items could be made gluten-free.
We started off with an order of the Mixed Meat, Seafood, & Vegetable on Sizzling Rice ($10.95). We ordered the gluten-free version of this dish. It consisted of stir fried vegetables, seafood, and meat in a broth. The crispy rice was presented separately at the table. Our server then poured the hot broth into the bowl of crispy rice and served out individual portions to us. I’ve had this dish before at other places in the past and have usually requested to keep the soup separate from the crispy rice. We would mix it ourselves bowl by bowl when we are ready to eat it. That way the rice stays crispy and doesn’t get soggy from drowning in the soup for too long. Though having the broth poured on top of the crispy rice is the proper way of serving this dish, it didn’t take long for the rice to start getting slightly soggy. On future visits, I would prefer to have the soup separate kept from the crispy rice and mix it ourselves bowl by bowl when we are ready to eat it.
Next up was the Fried Sliced Duck with Mixed Vegetables ($12.25). Again, we requested for the gluten-free version of this dish. Overall, this dish was tasty and flavourful. I liked that the accompanying vegetables were fresh and crisp but I found the slices of duck meat to be a bit on the fatty side.
Our third dish was the Pineapple with Sweet & Sour Pork ($9.75). This was the only dish out of the lot that we ordered which couldn’t be made gluten-free. When the dish first arrived at our table still fresh and hot, my first piece of the sweet & sour pork was delicious as the batter was slightly crispy and had just the right amount of sauce coating it. However, once the dish got cold, I wasn’t a fan of it. I found the batter on the pork to be too hard and crunchy. Overall, this dish was just ok since it wasn’t particularly memorable.
For our fourth dish, we tried the Curried Meat Fried Rice ($7.50), which was also available gluten-free. The fried rice was gently seasoned with curry. I could taste the subtle flavour of curry but it wasn’t overwhelming. My dining companions and I enjoyed this dish and would probably order it again on our next visit.
Next was the Chicken Hot Pot ($10.95), which was also gluten-free. This actually turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening. The boneless chicken pieces were tender and flavourful and they were served still sizzling in the hot pot. Of all the dishes we tried, this had the closest resemblance to authentic Chinese food.
Last but not least, we had the Special Fried Rice Noodle ($10.25). This was also another of the gluten-free dishes. To me, this dish was just ok as the flavours were a bit on the mild side. It didn’t really have a wow factor and resembled much like something I could do up at home. But my friend enjoyed it immensely as she doesn’t get to eat it often because of her gluten-free diet.
Overall, we were pretty pleased with our experience at Oriental Palace. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily the most amazing Chinese food I’ve ever had but at the same time, I’d happily accompany my friend to eat the gluten-free options here as the food was tasty and fresh. With so many gluten-free friendly menu items to choose from, Oriental Palace fills that niche for gluten-free Chinese food well.
9 Parkdale Cres NW