SILK ROAD (341 Danforth, at Hampton, 416-463-8660) Complete meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a beer. Average main $10. Open Tuesday to Friday 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 4 to 9:30 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Three years after its 30 minutes of fame on the Food Network's Restaurant Makeover show, Silk Road endures.
Margaret Hsien, whom you may remember from such kitchen scenes as "they took away half my counter" and "you're cutting the ginger wrong," now owns the restaurant and graces the front of the house with her pleasant and attentive presence.
The woody wallpaper and silk lanterns remain, unlike the reality-show chef's menu suggestions. Is anyone surprised that stir-fried quail in a napa wrap didn't fly at a neighbourhood Chinese restaurant on the Danforth? But the kitchen still has a number of potholes.
Silk Road occupies an all too crowded Chinese restaurant purgatory located somewhere between the satisfying culinary clichés of sweet and sour and the authenticity of Spadina or northern Scarborough.
The appetizer plate for two ($8.95) is Silk Road in nutshell (if nutshells were made out of rice paper). The pork dumplings and shrimp rolls are not without charm, but the vegetable dumplings and spring rolls are earth-bound.
The menu helpfully indicates that the Kowloon spicy noodle soup ($9.95) is chili-pepper hot; otherwise, we'd never have known. This big meal in a bowl has lots of tender chicken, al dente vegetables and noodles all drown-proofing in a brackish broth.
Also lacking chili fire is the Szechuan shrimp ($11.95). The vegetables and generous serving of shellfish don't coalesce in the dish's underwhelming sauce. While not exactly bursting with flavour, the Vegetable Moon stir-fry ($9.25) is a little more coherent, its Chinese fungus bringing some savoury presence.
Hey, how about a reality show where people try to be restaurant reviewers? You misrepresent yourself to really nice, hard-working people and then publicly trash the fruits of their well-intentioned but imperfect labours.
Nah, I can't imagine such a cynical idea appealing to the viewing public.