Sunday, 18 August 2013

Cameron Chinese Seafood Restaurant

19 Cameron Street South
Kitchener, Ontario

519-576-3030




In her opinion:
I will begin by stating that Chinese cuisine is not my favourite...actually it is nowhere near my favourite! Before my tastes developed (translation: before I considered myself a foodie) "Chinese food" was the food that I would order with my Portuguese parents or boyfriend when we wanted to eat something exotic.  I laugh at that now...my Portuguese boyfriend is now my husband (and he's now a foodie too) and both our tastes have developed beyond what is known as "Chinese food" in Canada. 

So why go to Cameron you're asking? Well, that is a simple one...Cameron Chinese Seafood Restaurant is considered by all my Asian friends to actually serve "real Chinese food". What is real Chinese food? Easy, it's not sweet and sour chicken balls, chicken/mushroom fried rice, almond soo guy chicken, lemon chicken or chop suey! I don't think I'm qualified to answer that question since my knowledge of Chinese food is based on a westernized version but I think I've gotten the closest to this cuisine here in Canada.

Cameron's is one of those places that you shouldn't judge by its exterior. It is a very nice restaurant once you walk into the place. We were seated quickly and a pot of complimentary green tea was brought over to our table for us to enjoy as we studied the menu.



I actually asked our server if there was a separate menu for Asian customers...he assured me that there wasn't a different menu for Asians and that there were quite a few authentic Asian food on the menu.

With that in mind, we picked out a variety of foods (*the comments in brackets reflect our servers opinion about whether they were authentic of not). We got mushroom fried rice (not authentic), spicy chicken and shrimp casserole (half authentic), calamari with pepper salt sauce (half authentic) and beef ginger and scallions (authentic).



I enjoyed the food very much. The rice was good...fresh tasting fried rice. The spicy chicken and shrimp casserole was also good...although the shrimp had a muddy taste to it. I think it was just the variety of shrimp used. The beef ginger and scallions was very good. I enjoyed the flavour very much. Finally, the calamari with the pepper salt sauce was probably my favourite. It had a lovely spice kick to it and the calamari was nicely deep fried with a crunchy coating. 

At the end of our meal, the waiter brought over a plate of orange wedges with our bill. That was a nice change from the tasteless fortune cookies offered at other places.



Overall, I would say that everything about our dinner was good. The service was friendly and prompt. The food delicious and abundant (we got plenty of leftovers to take home) and the ambiance was very nice. I would recommend Cameron Chinese Seafood Restaurant to anyone who enjoys Chinese food and wants a "more" authentic meal.

In his opinion:
Let's go out for Chinese...a phrase that gets thrown around daily as most people dive into a culture and food that seems quite exotic for them. Why aren't there ever any Chinese people in our so called "Chinese restaurants" you may ask? Why is it that we almost always leave full and later pay the price from dining at these restaurants?

The answer is simple..what you just ate is not real Chinese food. Fortune cookies were invented in California, people in China have only seen them in movies. No one in China has ever heard or eaten dishes like "Beijing Beef", "General Tao Chicken" or "Chop Suey" and there is no "Sweet and Sour Chicken" in China. Those were all invented in the West to cater to non-Chinese customers with limited palates or to lure those afraid of traditional Asian food.



This is where Cameron Restaurant comes in. They do have a wide variety of those "westernized Chinese dishes" but they also carry very traditional Chinese dishes on their menu. I have always heard from my Chinese friends that if I wanted to have real Chinese food, then go to Camerons. Trying to find what is real and what is non traditional on the menu is tricky because there are no visible separations, so ask your waiter or just study the categories of food to understand the "fake" ones.

We were greeted with some lovely green tea while we browsed the menu. We were torn between making our visit a true "real Chinese" event or giving in to some of our "western Chinese" dishes that Cameron makes so well. The result was a combination of both, getting some real dishes and also having some of our favourite westernized Chinese ones. The decor is simple, clean and very sophisticated for a traditional Chinese restaurant.

I will start with my favourite dish which was the "Beef Ginger and Scallions". This is an actual real Chinese dish and it was spectacular. The scallions we perfectly cooked, slightly crunchy with just the perfect amount of ginger flavour in them. The beef was tender, tasty and perfectly seasoned, again with the adequate amount of ginger taste in it. If someone made me have this dish everyday of my life, I probably wouldn't oppose it and I would enjoy it very much.



Next was the "Spicy Chicken and Shrimp Casserole". This dish has some traditional Chinese influence in it but it is not a combination you will find in China. The chicken wasn't as spicy as I expected until you bite into one of the spices used on their own. The shrimp was well cooked but exhibited a strange taste of "dirt" or something similar. Not enough from putting you off from eating them but it did change the flavour completely.

The "Calamari with the Pepper Salt Sauce" was a departure from the usual "dip the ring" style many of us experienced before but a welcome one. Although squid is widely eaten in many parts of China, the preparation here is more westernized. It was still a good dish with great flavour.

Lastly, the side dish of "Mushroom Fried Rice" is as authentic as fortune cookies. But it is well made at Cameron's, fresh, well seasoned and full of flavour. The food was plentiful, enough to fill us up and still take almost half of it home. The highlight comes from having that same take-out food 2 days later, reheated in the microwave and have it taste fresh and almost as good as it did at the restaurant. Now that is something you don't experience often with westernized Chinese food.


The Good: Great tasting food. Both the authentic and westernized dishes tasted great, were clearly made fresh and were almost as good two days later. Servers were very helpful and attentive.
The Bad: The menu should have some explanation of which dishes are not authentic or are authentic, as some are easily identified but others create doubt.
The Verdict: This restaurant provides you with one of the very few options for real Chinese food in the Region but more importantly serves great quality westernized Chinese food. It wins you over easily and refrains from making you pay two days later for the experience. A must for the adventurous palate as well as the lover of fresh ingredients.

I give it 3 1/2 Olives out of 5 as rating

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