Hey ET and Christina … we finally made it to Top Shanghai after all these months and it was exactly like you said it to be … the food was excellent but the service sucks!
So this one is dedicated to you guys.
When we first met up ET and Christina of doesnttaztelikechicken.com for lunch at Famous Hakka Restaurant, Christina raved about the Top Shanghai Cuisine Restaurant. However, ET vowed never to step into the restaurant again. *shrugs*
You guys know that Suanne and I are Chinese illiterate. So, Christina wrote down for us some of the must try dishes in Chinese and the English translations.
Top Shanghai is located at the strip mall on Akroyd and No #3 Road in Richmond. It is on the part of the strip mall where Boston Pizza is. We had always known of this place but had never been there before because these kind of places intimidates us frankly.
What intimidates us is our perception that the service is rude to non-Chinese speakers, the service rushed, and not knowing what to order. Our perception were mostly wrong. You’ll see why.
Top Shanghai is obviously very very popular. We made it a point to go early. Arriving at 11:30AM, the place was already bustling with customers. Obviously, it is like a typical popular restaurant where it is noisy and for those not used to it, could be somewhat stressful!
What helps us a lot was that they have lots of large delicious looking pictures of their popular dishes on one side of the wall (not shown above). Perusing the menu, we were quite surprised that the prices were quite reasonable … mostly at the $8 and $9 range.
It is so packed that they put tables and seats so close together that it’s hard to maneuver around. Why, they don’t even have a waiting area for customers. So the customers actually stands besides eating customers waiting for tables.
Service wise, they are quite horrible. Suanne and I tolerates these because we got used to these kind of places a lot. I guess to these people, impersonal service means professionalism. LOL! But the gripes ends here because we love their food.
Service is slow and so let me give you a tip here. When you get settled, first order their quick service items like Xiao Lung Bao and other kinds of appetizers. They make their Xiao Lung Baos on site and have a section where you can see the proof of that. I guess it is important that they show the customers — that’s why it is somewhat a vogue to do that in many Chinese restaurants here in Metro Vancouver.
We ordered the Pan Fry Buns. Six pieces costs $5.50. It is pretty much like Xiao Lung Bao except that they pan fry the bottom part of this. It was excellent … very juicy and one has to be careful with the hot broth inside the bun. Although I am not really a fan of Xiao Lung Baos, I actually like this a lot.
The above is the Chicken in Chinese Wine which Christina highly recommended. We see a lot of tables ordering this too. You can order a full chicken or half. We had the half one which is just $9.99.
Know that this is served cold as it is meant to be. It has a very strong Chinese wine taste, you can even smell it from across the table. It was all gone before we know it. I think the fact it is a cold dish helps preserve the wine better.
For once, I thought we try some bamboo shoots and ordered the dish called Fried Mushroom with Bamboo Shoots. The bamboo shoot by itself is actually quite tasteless but we like the crunchy texture of it. You know how long it took before this came to our table after the Wine Chicken? 30 minutes … you gotta have lots of patience here!
Yum-yum … this next one is heavenly … and coincidentally comes 15 minutes after the bamboo shoot! This is simply called the Pork in Soup with Beancurd Sheets. It is not really a soup in the sense that we expected broth. It is more like soupy gravy … heavenly tasting soupy gravy. We enjoyed this dish the best.
They uses pork belly. I am trying to get educated in Chinese here now … in Cantonese, pork belly is called “Mmmm-Far-Larm” which to me is translated as “five flower belly”. Is that correct?
The spinach too … is so good that Arkensen and Nanzaro gobbled this down.
Underneath the pork belly and the spinach is a very nice layer of bean curd sheet. It was not the common smooth or “melty” type we were used to. The bean curd sheets are coarser and has rougher texture. We like the way the folds holds the soup in it. $12 but it’s a steal really.
The bill came up to $50 for the four of us. Know that they accept only cash below $50.
I am sure for those who knows authentic Chinese food, this is not a common Chinese restaurant. No wonder they have so many customers despite their slow service.
Some of you will never step into a restaurant if the service is slow or poor. But I would like to recommend you to give them a try and set your expectation on the food only. I think you will not be disappointed. We’re going back again — with a sour face as a defense mechanism against the shabby service. LOL!