Top Shanghai Cuisine Restaurant on Akroyd in Richmond

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. (more…)

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Where Did Hai Jun Go?

I might as well just post about this little restaurant we like so much … even though it is now closed!

Every now and then Suanne and I get emails from chowtimes readers recommending a restaurant they like. We love recommendations like that because it takes the brainwork out of having to decide where to eat. Jacqueline recommended Hai Jun to which was located on the Asian mall called Pacific Plaza on McKim Way and Odlin.

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We visited Hai Jun in late September but when we went back again two weeks ago, we were surprised to find that in the location is now a Japanese fusion restaurant. It was such a bummer because we love the food in Hai Jun so much. So, I am posting this again in case someone out there knows what happened to Hai Jun. I hope that they had just moved somewhere else.

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It is a small eatery and have a very family feel to it. I said a family feel because they had their pre-teen daughter around the restaurant then. It was not awfully busy when we visited them but then we were there at 5PM — hardly a time many people would turn up for dinner.

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Their special was the $1.99 Dan Dan Noodle. I bet there are nowhere else that offers a bowl of Dan Dan Noodle at this price. And the bowl is not small too … it was quite large. The Dan Dan Noodle is served in a peanuty sauce. It was not particularly spicy as I expected but the noodles were springy and fresh. For that price, you just get the noodles and a piece of veggie … that’s it … no meat. (more…)

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The Place on Granville, Vancouver South

Update 07-Apr-2011: Please note that this review is from Jul-2008. We have a newer review of this same restaurant in Apr-2011. Here is the link to the newer blog post: http://chowtimes.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/the-place-on-granville-vancouver/

The other day, a foodie friend commented about this place called “The Place” where he claims that they have the best spicy beef noodle soup, we simply had to check it out for ourselves.

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The Place is located at about 63rd on Granville in the southern part of Vancouver. It is such a nondescript place that most people would not have noticed it let alone giving it a second glance. But I tell you … it’s a gem of a place.

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The Place is a no-frill smallish Chinese restaurant. I don’t know how to categorize it … maybe the best way to describe it is it’s Mainland Chinese restaurant. They serve both Shanghai and Sichuan dishes.

Service is excellent and I like the sweet and polite server which sometimes I find so wanting in many such restaurants. She was so helpful in helping us choose the dishes as we could not read Chinese. Although there were English translations on the menu, it does not do justice to the type of dishes they have.

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The Place have very unique dishes and does seem very authentic. The server recommended the Family Hot Pot (Chien Gar Fook in Cantonese). It was great. (more…)

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Da Hong Yun Shanghai Restaurant in Richmond

Update 6 June 09; this restaurant had been replaced by Shanghai JJ Restaurant.

Have any of you ever been to this Shanghainese restaurant right across No 3 Road from the Richmond Centre Mall? For some reason, they had been changing hands several times over the years. I am not sure why because they seem to do very well as evidenced by how packed it is all the time.

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It is now called Da Hong Yun but I remember they used to be called Shanghai Wind and at another time it was called Chen’s. We went there because we were enticed by the Live Crab banner that they put up outside.

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The restaurant is smallish with something like 10 tables at the max. It’s so cramped that it was hard to move around once all the tables were filled. Decor wise, there is nothing much to it (why they even have Chinese New Year decorations still hanging in the store even today).

This is a very traditional Chinese restaurant which means that they cater to mainly Chinese customers. It’s because there is only one waitress who could barely managed to communicate in English. So ordering here was quite difficult for us.

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Despite the language difficulty, we managed quite well ordering the Duck with Fried Gluten. (more…)

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Shanghai Wonderful Restaurant in Richmond

Hey … right off the bat … I am saying this … this is one Chinese restaurant that simply MUST check out. We had been passing by the Shanghai Wonder Restaurant many times before. Each time, we see that the waiting lines spill out of the restaurant. It was not until Craig blogged about this that we see what the fuss was. He liked it so much that he actually blogged about it TWICE!

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Knowing how busy this restaurant is, we decided to go extra early ahead of the dinner crowd — it was at about 5:30PM, I think. It was great because we had practically the whole place to ourselves, well, at least for 30 minutes. We got seated at the booth tables along the wall … which was great because those tables were on a raised platform. It give a better view of the entire restaurant … i.e. being able to have a clearer peek at the neighboring table’s dishes.

From the decor, this is definitely a more upscale restaurant. We like the cleanliness and brightness. And the service is great and the host patient which we appreciate. You see, Chinese restaurants need to be very patient with the Chinese-illiterate chowtimes! 🙂

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The first dish we ordered is the Cheery Pork with Brown Sauce on a bed of spinach. We find the name kind of odd. Cheery? Oh, I simply love this even though it is full of fats. The gravy/sauce too is simply marvelous. I think this is one of their signature dish. It came in a slab of pork neatly cut into cubes. This one costs $14.95.

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This is the cross section of the meat … it’s almost 1.5 inches thick with 1/3 of it fat. (more…)

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Chen’s Shanghai Restaurant in Richmond

We will always remember the Chen’s Shanghai restaurant when we first visited this small restaurant at the No 3 Road, oh, 7 years ago. At that time, they had the cheapest and most authentic Shanghainese food we know of — and most importantly, they had the hugest of portions. We know the faces of the people who worked there and they know us as we frequented the small restaurant quite often. After a couple of years, they just disappeared without an announcement.

We went to the Great One Supermarket for some Asian grocery shopping a few weeks ago. It is located at the small strip mall along Park Road in Richmond, which is just around the corner from where the old Chen’s was. To our surprise we see the familiar name and wondered if they are the same people making a comeback. We peeked in and indeed they were … the same lady who waited on us so many years back was there. And she recognized us too … wow!!

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Well, the new Chen’s is not longer the small restaurant we know. It had sort of grown up. Gone were the tacky furnitures and decorations. The place were more spacious and now the furnitures were a bit more upscale — not upscale upscale … just more upscale.

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Someone got to tell me about this thing we almost always come across in Shanghainese restaurants. What is this thingy about the vinegar dipping sauce that has a few julienne of ginger? They don’t taste any good to me. I am just guessing … that they are for xiao lung baos … that right?

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We wanted to order the crispy skin chicken dish — the boys love chicken done that way and especially prawn crackers that came with it. However, we were recommended the Smoked Chicken with Chinese Tea. OK, we agreed to try this out. It actually tasted just like crispy skin chicken. This is also crispy on the outside but the meat is more flavourful.

We expected better but I think the chicken was not thawed properly because the meat was not uniformly cooked. The insides is somewhat raw’er. Price? Half chicken costs $10.50 and a whole chicken costs $19. Price-wise, not too bad, right?

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Northern Delicacy in Aberdeen Centre

Updated: 12th Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed.

We hardly go to the Aberdeen Centre, not sure why even though we know there are quite a few nice bloggable restaurants there. Suanne and I had an afternoon by ourselves and decided to go to the Aberdeen Centre to check out the restaurants there.

The Aberdeen Centre s actually named after the Aberdeen Harbour in Hongkong. This centre is actually a new reincarnation of the old Aberdeen Center which was demolished and rebuilt again to compete with the other new Asian Mall around Richmond.

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The Aberdeen Centre caters primarily for Asian-Canadian shoppers — mainly Chinese, Hongkong Chinese. The primary tenant is Daiso where everything is sold for two dollars. Unlike other Asian Malls around the Vancouver area, this one is very clean, spacious, bright and uncluttered.

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Someone recommended the Northern Delicacy restaurant to us sometime back. I can’t be absolutely sure but I think it was Daniel and Clarina. The restaurant has a very wide entrance, untypical of chinese restaurants and you can’t miss the two Terracotta warriors by it’s entrance.

I know very little about Chinese cuisines, especially the little subtleties of cuisines around the various regions. So, I got a question for you readers … what exactly is termed as Northern Cuisine? My impression is that it consists of things like steamed buns (especially xiao lung bao) and noodles in soup. Somehow, I felt that Northern food are more “steamy” because of the cold weather in the northern region. Any expert who can enlighten us?

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Suanne told me that the Chinese name for this restaurant does not translate to Northern Delicacy but instead it should translate to something like “Full House Restaurant”. (more…)

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