I ticked another place off my 2012 list! I’ve got to say, I’m a bit disappointed with my progress so far, but hey, I’ve been busy.
I was not, however, disappointed with my first experience at Modern Orchid. Offering flavours of authentic southeast Asian cuisine (Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino dishes), Modern Orchid adds some much-needed diversity to Halifax’s Asian cuisine scene. And while I happen to think it’s great to be able to pick and choose between curries, chow meins and more, I do think they may be running the risk of being overly ambitious with the size and scope of their menu. I snagged one of their take-away menus when I left, and it’s lengthy. Like, overwhelmingly so. In the appetizer category, there are 19 different options (including french fries; WTF?). That’s just silly.
I couldn’t seem to find a website for the restaurant, which means my Googling skills were subpar, or they don’t have one (I’m pretty sure they just don’t have one). And on that note, an aside: Any new restaurant should seriously consider investing in a website. Sure, they can be expensive, but basic sites are actually pretty easy to build (or have built, if you aren’t technically inclined), and add a tremendous value to your business. Why? Well, there are lots of restaurants to choose from, especially in cities, and people like to have a peek at the menu before they trek out to your business, especially if your business is located all the way out in Dartmouth Crossing. Also, in Modern Orchid’s case, they seem to be pretty social media savvy (read: have a Twitter and FB page), so why no website?
Anyways, I seem to have veered off topic, so let’s get things back on track again, shall we?!
The space is clean and modern, much like the name: dark flooring, white walls, black leather chairs, and fake orchids adorn side tables. Sleek; I like it. Not so much a fan of fake flowers, but hey, I know how hard it is to keep orchids alive. There are four very large canvas close-ups of the same flower, hung at different angles. Pretty cool.
But after I’m seated, I’m a bit bummed to find that my table teeters precariously (wobbly tabletops are a big annoyance of mine; they are something that will consistently bother diners, and something wait staff should be paying attention to and adjusting as necessary). Oh well. I try and mentally block it out and flip through the menus.
The lunch menu’s Express Combo is straightforward and offers good variety without being overwhelming: a main dish, curry veg soup, green salad, spring roll, plus your choice of steamed rice or french fries (seriously, french fries need to be taken OFF of this menu. No joking) for $10.95. I choose the rice (obviously) and the spicy coconut beef.
My very friendly server (who shared a knowing look with me when I brought up to the topic of the aforementioned french fries) is very friendly and attentive. She brings over water before she takes my order (good move), and then brings the soup out shortly afterwards.
The soup is kind of *meh*: There’s a bit of warmth from the curry, but no real depth or substance. Still, a good way to warm up for a meal, and really, anything heavier would likely be too filling. The presentation is beautiful (big fan of the bowls).
My main arrives a few minutes after the server takes away my soup bowl:
Again, beautiful presentation! Neat, tidy, appetizing. But how does it taste?
Fabulous! The spring roll is perfection: obviously cooked in hot, fresh oil, the wrapper is thin and perfectly crisp, chock-full of vermicelli noodles, cabbage and other perfectly-seasoned veggies. I could have eaten a whole plate!
The salad, I’m sad to say, was an entirely different story. If you’re going to bother to do something, do it right. Chopping up some romaine lettuce and carrots and dumping some chili sauce on top as “dressing” is not very appetizing.
I did, however, save the best for last: the spicy coconut beef was divine. Chunks of tender beef and still-crunchy veggies swim in the sauce, a rich, creamy concoction with just a slight hint of heat (to be honest, I would ask for a bit more spice next time). I folded the accompanying rice in by the spoonful, and savoured every . single . bite. *swoon*
Sure, my experience at Modern Orchid wasn’t perfect, but this dish was more than enough to make me overlook the wobbly table, unwieldy menu and that sad, sad salad.