Just earlier this week, a friend asked me what my favourite Shanghainese restaurants are. What popped in my mind instantly are four, all in Richmond — Shanghai River, Chen’s, Top Shanghai and Shanghai Wonderful.
What about you? What if you are asked the same question? What would be YOUR answer?
This is a return visit to Shanghai Wonderful. Our first visit was almost two years ago. We had always been impressed with Shanghai Wonderful but what put me off is the lack of parking. It is almost impossible to find parking in the strip mall where it is located on Lansdowne and Cooney.
Some people do risk it parking across the street in the vast parking lots of the Lansdowne Mall. I don’t do that because I had seen people hiding in cars taking note of anyone who parks at the mall but not go into the mall. For me this time, I had to park all the way on Ackroyd.
It is best to make a reservation before you turn up. Shanghai Wonderful is always busy … and it is very noisy too. The acoustics is terrible and it is not a place to have a nice chat.
Which reminds me to ask this question: Are Chinese noisy diners? I mean, they do talk very loud at the table, don’t they?
Anyway, service is prompt although you could see the wait staff scurrying around non-stop. It was easy to get their attention to get what you need. Seems like the restaurant trains the staff well in efficiency. They even use wireless handheld devices to take your orders.
Shanghai Wonderful won the silver award under the Northern Dim Sum category with the Daikon Pastry. In Shanghai Wonderful’s menu, this is called Turnip Cake and costs $5.25.
I am confused with the name of this dish. Daikon and turnip are a world of difference but the waiter insisted that we are talking about the same thing. This name confusion is probably confined to the English name and is my pet peeve of the CRA award.
But despite the name confusion, … what do you think? It looked awesome doesn’t it?
The layered pastry is unbelievably flaky. The fillings were flavourful. It even had some BBQ pork in it which was unexpected. Oh, I don’t even know if the fillings are daikon or turnip but it does taste more like daikon to us.
Nanzaro likes this a lot for a person who doesnt like vegetable.
We also had the Soyed Beef with Five Spice ($7) as an appetizer. This is a cold dish. The meat was marbled and has a nice bite to it.
But I hate having the meat stuck between my teeth. It drives me mad. But I am prepared all the time. My dine-out kit included dental floss in it.
Know what is in my dine-out kit? I carry the bag around when we wanted to blog about the meal. The contents:
- The camera with a wide angle lens mounted. I used to carry the flash around but stopped for a long time already because it annoys the heck out of people.
- The Mini Flip Video
- Pen and notebook
- Spare cash and coins (for those times when we had to pay by cash)
- A mini, one bulb LED light (to illuminate in really dark places)
- A white balance card set (used only when the lighting is really confusing)
- Spare battery and compact flash card
- Chowtimes.com calling card (for times when we need to identify ourselves, like when confronted with “why are you taking pictures?”)
- A bunch of discount clippings, the CRA list, discount cards, etc
- Oh yeah … the dental floss.
I used to carry lens cleaning kit, mini tripod, another lens but it was too heavy to carry along all the time. Moreover I hardly use them anyway.
The Mushu Pork with 8 Crepes is $13.
It was OK, not too great. The mushu pork is basically vegetables stir fry. There are more vegetable than there are pork actually. Hoisin sauce is served on the side.
I don’t know. I always enjoy these type of assemble-it-yourself kind of food. I like the fact that the crepes were served warm. But the bamboo it is served with is not covered and it got cold quite fast. There is a difference between having it cold vs warm. When cold, the crepes is just not as nice and soft.
The filling was not as exciting. So …
… we added the ingredients from the other dishes we ordered (described further down this post). Now, that tasted wonderful.
When is an Shanghai restaurant, always order their Xiao Long Bao. This one is $5.25.
I wasn’t too excited seeing them. The skin is simply too thick.
Look at that. Urgh!
The XLB was not as hot as it should be when served. It should be scalding hot.
JS alerted us that Shanghai Wonderful served Tang Bao too. For XLB aficionados, you got to at least try these super-sized XLBs and see for yourself what this is all about. From what we know Shanghai Wonderful is the only restaurant in Metro Vancouver who has this on the menu … unless anyone of you know of another place, let us know.
Compare the size of the XLB with the soup filled Tang Bao.
They call it the Big Soup Bun and it is $5 each. You drink it with a regular straw.
Be forewarned. The soup is scalding hot. You will burn your mouth and tongue if you are not careful. They even have a sticker on the straw warning customers about it.
It was interesting drinking the soup because we did not know what it is. There are pieces of something in the soup as we draw it up the straw.
The skin of the bun is too thick which we don’t eat. It was too thick and too hard to enjoy it.
The soup was just so-so. Opening it up after the soup’s gone, we find fillings that included imitation shark fin, mushroom and pork. It was OK but still worth the try if you never had this before.
We also had the Shrimp with Green Tea ($16).
The shrimp is peeled and served simply.
While the shrimp tasted really fresh and springy, it was only the shrimp taste that is on this dish. Just that. We can’t detect the green tea flavour or anything else at all.
Of late, I like to order lamb. It is like the new beef to me. I keep on thinking of the Cumin Lamb with Rice from S&W Pepperhouse in the Crystal Mall and the Spicy Lamb Kebab from Nine Dishes and the Roujiamo from the Want Want stall in the Crystal Court Food Court. Damn! I think I need to go for lamb again for lunch today.
We had the Lamb Meat with Green Onion ($13). Oh, this is not too good. It had been sweetened somewhat by the onions making it look and tasted like a beef dish.
Shanghai Wonderful is a good popular restaurant. Some of the food we ordered was a miss but generally, they are good. I attribute it more to my personal taste (i.e. some people will appreciate the freshness of the shrimp but I like bolder flavours … and the lamb was not spicy which I like my lamb to be).