Red Maple restaurant review

Dim sum lunch review

I would venture to say that anyone who has ever had good Chinese food finds that those wonderful, rich, complicated flavors and textures make an impression that can last a lifetime. That is certainly what happened to me the first time I went to Chinatown in San Francisco many years ago. I’d grown up eating fried rice and chow mein almost every Friday night here in Salt Lake, but the resemblance of that food to the stuff I got in San Francisco was minimal at best. Over the years, I’ve tried various Chinese restaurants here, but I’m very happy to report I’ve finally found a place that actually captures the flavors I’ve come to expect in that “real” Chinese food.

I’d had a few friends tell me about Red Maple Chinese Cuisine, and I finally got out there to try their dim sum last weekend. From almost the moment we sat down our table was covered with all sorts of dishes. I have to apologize here though. I took pictures of many of the items we tried, but we actually had quite a few more than I got shots of because everyone was starving when we arrived. I also have only a passing understanding of the names (or for that matter what was in many of the dishes) we ate, but I’ll try to describe each item that I took pictures of.

The first picture is of one of the best things we tried. I think they are called steamed siu mai, but really I only know there was pork in it. Whatever was in there, it was delicious. The next picture is of the steamed BBQ pork bun and I actually didn’t snag one of these fast enough to try it. I hear the exterior steamed bread was light and the BBQ very flavorful.

The next picture shows a vegetable dumpling at the top and then a crepe kind of item with who knows what in it. I really liked the veggie dumpling, but the sauce on the crepe thing was a bit too gelatinous for my taste. Fine flavor, but I didn’t love the texture. The next dish was some kind of chopped fried pork dish, I think. Good flavor, but watch out for the little bones in it.

The next are steamed custard buns, and I really liked these; very sweet and perfect for the end of the meal.
The next was also one of my favorite things, pork belly. Crunchy and soft at the same time the flavor here was really good and the hoisin sauce served with it was a great accompaniment. The next picture is of a lone sesame ball with sweet red bean paste inside. Yum!

The next item was my very favorite thing; hot out of the fryer fried shrimp dumplings. Not greasy at all, they were crunchy and the filling was stellar. Even the mild mustard sauce they were served with was delicious. The next plate is of fried squid. The tempura style batter was light and the squid was barely cooked, so the texture was perfect.

Next was a noodle dish that I think had chicken in it. Not your run of the mill chow mein by any means. I actually would love to have this on its own.

And finally, eww, chicken feet. I’m all for eating nose-to-tail, but all I’ve got to say is eww about these. Not my cup of tea in the slightest. I have to admit one of my friends ordered these on a whim and they did not get taken home.

On the weekends, Red Maple has a very efficient dim sum cart service (dim sum is also served during the rest of the week, just not with cart service), and we definitely got caught up in the fun of pulling random things off carts and accepting dishes from roving waiters. There were so many other dishes we never got to try too, including almost all of the dessert kind of stuff and several different kinds of soup.

After gorging ourselves, and realizing how many dishes we had tried, the five of us started trying to figure out just how much money we’d spent. Red Maple categorizes each dim sum item as an A, B, C, or D dish and at the beginning of the meal they had given us a little card that as we took things, the waiters could jot down what category the dishes were. With tea we’d ordered 19 separate things. We also realized we’d had more “chef’s specials” – the D category – than anything else. Standing at the cash register we all braced for the total, guessing we’d easily spent over $100.00.

We all guessed wrong. This amazing meal was about $66.00. What a bargain. A items are $2.60, Bs $3.00, Cs $3.50, and Ds, a whopping $4.95. Chinatown flavors and Chinatown prices, all in Salt Lake.

Red Maple Chinese Restaurant
3361 S Redwood Rd, West Valley, 84119
(801) 747-2888

Website: www.redmaplesaltlake.com

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the write-up. I’ll have to give it a try. Very little of the best Chinese in SF is to be found in Chinatown. Very little of SFO matches going to Honk Kong. In some respects it’s best to be able to try some of the more exotic dishes in the orient. Chicken feet are all about the skin and cartilage texture. When braised with sauces, they can be really nice, but it’s a bit of an acquired taste for Americans. We aren’t used to the emphasis on textures as much as Asians. Tasting it in it’s native home with locals really helps create a baseline when having those dishes in places like SLC.

  2. I had duck feet and sea cucumber at a Chinese New Year’s party. They were OK. Yes, it’s all about texture contrasts. Same thing with the jelly fish dishes. The jelly fish is like a loose but crunchy noodle.

    Red Maple is leading the pack for best local Chinese though. They have a good mix of the popular Chinese-American style dishes with authentic options too.

  3. I am new to salt lake area and was looking for the sites with restaurants and reviews. Being a food lover I love trying cuisine from different part of the world. This is really helpful site. I specially love the picture and the details. Thanks.

  4. I just visited the Red Maple and found the food to be very satisfactory. I must note that DIM SUM was not available during our visit. The entire staff seemed more interested in setting up for a large wedding party rather than serving the visiting customers. They crammed people ackwardly on the East side of the restaurant. There was a disconnect between the hostess and the one waitress available. Our order took 3 different tries through the hostess and the waitress before they got it right. Although the food was good the atmosphere and employees were less than satisfactory.

  5. I agree with the above poster. The service can be sometimes slow, but the food is amazing. I go probably once a month. Before eating here the last good Chines I had was in DC.

    This is in my personal SLC top five restaurants.

  6. Date of visit: 5/15/2011

    Disappointingly, the service level has gone downhill. Our server of the female gender, though looking Asian, doesn’t speak a word of Chinese; she had no idea what dishes we liked them to bring. Anyway, she proved to be clueless in neither English nor Chinese.

    After rounds and rounds of dim sum, there was no one in sight to clear the table stacked with empty plates and food carriers. When asked to bring some “bowls”, as in rice bowls, like one does, they looked at us in amazement and brought us some sauce bowls instead; all in all pretty appalling and inattentive service. And what is with those ugly stainless steel dim sum steaming utensils? What happened to the normal, usual, bamboo steam baskets?

    To top it all, one of our male guests returned from the loos warning everyone do not go near its vicinity, we were told it was filthy and horrid. We just paid up quickly and left, ask no more…

    The food quality was OK. The roast suckling pig was way too fatty, using cheap ingredients obviously.

    We don’t think we will return to Red Maple in the near future, and, we definitely do not recommend Red Maple to anyone.

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