Shanghai House Restaurant – Review 2

Restaurant: Shanghai House Restaurant
Cuisine: Shanghainese/Chinese/Dim Sum
Last visited: December 28, 2010
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 6340 #3 Rd
Price Range: $10-20, 20-30 (for dinner)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: 3.5
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • Shanghainese chefs
  • Traditional Shanghainese cuisine
  • Authentic dishes
  • Homemade pastries
  • Wide variety
  • Clean & Comfortable
  • A bit fancy, but well-priced
  • Busy for dinner
  • Good for groups
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Chinese/English menu
  • Dim Sum/Lunch/Dinner
  • Shanghai House Restaurant – Visit 1

**Recommendations: Steamed Shanghai Dumpling (Xiao Long Bao/Juicy Pork Dumplings), Braised Bean Curd with Chinese Mushroom, Turnip Cake, Moon Cake stuffed with Pork Meat, Pan Fried Dumpling, Minced Beef Pastry Cake, Drunken Chicken

I was very impressed with my fairly recent visit to Shanghai House Restaurant in mid-December (see my post here). Of course it did help having my Shanghainese friend do the ordering, which unfortunately I didn’t have this time around. She had recommended the restaurant as the most authentic Shanghainese restaurant that she had tried in Richmond thus far, but that was until she tried Suhang Restaurant and then decided that that was the most authentic… in my opinion it really depends on what you order.

On this occasion to Shanghai House Restaurant I went for dim sum again, but I was able to make a bigger dent in the menu. They had actually just changed their menus, but the prices stayed the same with everything I ordered. I don’t think much has changed except for editing a handful of spelling errors and also making a handful more of them. That’s how you can tell a Chinese place is authentic… perfect English is for white folk =p

I was still impressed with everything I ordered this time around, however I found some of our selections quite repetitive. I ordered some of their popular items and most of the dishes are the pork meatball they use for the staple steamed pork dumplings (XLB) wrapped in various forms of flour and starch. However this is the basis of a lot of Shanghainese restaurants so I’m not pinpointing Shanghai House Restaurant in particular. In fact, the execution of the starch and the labour that goes into making the dough is what makes one Shanghainese restaurant differ from the other.

Overall Shanghai House Restaurant is a solid choice offering fresh, authentic, made in house and upon order dim sum. It’s also at a reasonable price, and in a comfortable and relatively fancy atmosphere and I’m eager to try their dinner.

On the table:

**Steamed Shanghai Dumpling – 5/6

  • 6 pcs $4.50
  • A must try item when dining Shanghainese. They were just as good this time as the last time.
  • The soup was creamy and very flavourful with pork. The skin was thin, but still strong enough to hold the soup.
  • The meat was made with nicely ground pork which was tender and very soft and juicy in texture with a slight ginger taste.
  • My only issue is that they didn’t hold as much soup as the ones as Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen, which are my favourite – well, tied with Shanghai River, but Chen’s still have the most soup and they’re cheaper.

Wild Veg with Bean Curd and Celery – 3/6

  • $5.98
  • I really love this dish, but they do a better job with it at Suhang Restaurant. It’s more authentic and has more flavour there because everything is minced more finely so it can absorb more of the vinegar like sauce they marinade it with. It’s also because they use more ingredients and pieces of pickled Chinese radish that’s delicious! See here.
  • This one wasn’t marinated as well, but it was still good. The dish is salty and picklish in flavour and a nice and light appetizer.
  • It’s a crunchy minced salad and it’s quite refreshing with firm bean curd and Chinese celery, which is a very strong flavoured celery that tastes a bit like watercress as well.

Pan Fried Pork Buns – 4/6

  • 5 pcs $4.50
  • I really enjoyed these, but they’re filling and I actually enjoyed them more at Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen because they hold more soup.
  • They’re pretty much the XLB, but the bun version of them. Instead of a thin dumpling wrapper it’s a soft and fluffy mantou bun/bread with a pan fried crispy bottom.

  • The inside is made of the same meat and it also holds some juice as you can see. I don’t know how the juice doesn’t absorb into the bread, it’s pretty amazing.
  • I would rather have the XLB because it’s less starch and it doesn’t take up as much room, but for what these are supposed to be, they’re still good.
  • It’s still eaten with the vinegar as the dipping sauce, which absorbs very well into the bread.

**Pan Fried Dumplings – 5/6

  • 4 pcs $4.50
  • These were delicious as well. It’s pretty much the Shanghainese version of gyoza or pan fried Cantonese dumplings.
  • The skin is fresh and handmade in house and you can tell. It’s thicker than typical gyoza skin and it’s soft, tender, chewy and very doughy and almost sticks to your teeth. It has a great texture that is developed through the kneading and rolling of the dough.

  • The inside holds the same XLB meat and rich pork broth, and at this point it was getting a bit repetitive, but it was still good. It’s a nice way to try the same thing in 3 forms of starch.
  • It’s still juicy and has the cripsy pan fried bottom and I would rather have this than the pan-fried pork buns, although all are enjoyable. Again, less carbs means more room to try other things 😉

Steamed Vegetable Dumplings – 3/6

  • 5 pcs $4.98
  • I wasn’t a huge fan of the vegetarian version of the dumplings, which were also steamed instead of pan-fried.
  • They just didn’t have as much flavour and the inside was pretty much stuffed with the wild veg with bean curd and celery appetizer I ordered in the beginning.
  • I did like the crunchy vegetable texture with the handmade chewy, tender, and soft dumpling skin though.

  • The stuffing just needed needed more marinade and it needed more of the Chinese pickled radish to bring out the flavour of the other ingredients. It did have the addition of a few minced juicy and sweet Shiitake mushrooms which was enjoyable, but overall it was still on the bland side. I needed lots of vinegar for this.

**Minced Beef Pastry Cake – 5/6

  • $4.98
  • I didn’t really know what I was ordering until I ordered it, because it’s commonly known as the “beef pancake roll”.
  • I really enjoyed this here! It was a flaky thin pastry with tender slices of beef and sweet hoisin sauce with the crunch of fresh julienne raw cucumber.

  • It was a nice ratio of ingredients and I had a little bit of everything in each bite. It wasn’t overly sauced and the Hoisin didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the beef.
  • The beef is almost like soft slices of jerky and they’re very tender and not too gelatinous which I like. It’s wrapped in a thin crepe or pancake that wasn’t flaky or buttery but quite crispy. I liked this one better than Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen, and Chen’s is popular for them too.
  • I did wish they had some chives in it too though.
  • See a Taiwanese style beef pancake roll here from Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle.
  • See a modern Chinese style beef pancake roll here from Terracotta Modern Chinese Restaurant.

Grilled Green Onion Pan Cake – 3/6

  • $3.98
  • I’m pretty sure they meant to call it a fried green onion pancake, because it’s not grilled.
  • It’s actually quite oily and greasy and it’s usually pan-fried in quite a bit of oil, but here it almost seemed deep fried.
  • It a very crispy pancake and it’s actually quite thick. It’s not flaky, buttery or sweet, but it’s savoury and stuffed with minced green onions. I prefer more of an onion flavour though and this isn’t the best version of it I’ve had. I also like mind a bit flaky and chewy in the middle.
  • The best one I’ve had was actually at the busiest restaurant I’ve ever been to in my life in China – see the restaurant and the green onion pancake here.

Stuffed Salty Glutinous Rice Roll – 2/6

  • $3.98
  • I usually really like this, but they didn’t do a great job of it here. There wasn’t nearly enough of the pickled Chinese radish so it was missing that salty pickled bite. I also could have used way more savoury pork floss (dried pork fluff), which wasn’t in the description at all, so I didn’t know what to expect.
  • I did like the savoury fried Chinese donut, which is a classic addition to “chee fan”, but it wasn’t very crispy and rather soft, although still good. This donut can be ordered alone as well.
  • The rice wasn’t dry which was a bonus and it did have a nice chewy texture, but I just wanted more savoury stuffing otherwise it was just a bit bland and boring.
  • The Taiwanese version of “chee fan” is actually my favourite. I like the one they make upon order at the “food court” section of T&T Supermarket at Metrotown or Osaka Supermarket at Yaohan mall in Richmond.

Noodle in Soup with Peanuts (Tan Tan Noodle) – 4/6

  • Bowl $4.98
  • This usually comes with minced pork, but we ordered it vegetarian since I was dining with one.
  • I really love peanuts so I really enjoyed this. Adding the peanuts and using peanut sauce is actually a “Westernized” take on this authentic Szechuan noodle bowl. The Shanghainese have really claimed it though and it’s often associated with Shanghai cuisine now.
  • This tan tan noodle was especially heavy on the peanuts and it also didn’t have obvious chili oil in it. I’ve never seen a tan tan noodle with so much peanuts in the texture and flavour of the soup as much as this one. It even had clumps of crumbled peanuts on top which was delicious!
  • Sometimes restaurants will use  a combination of sesame sauce and peanuts, but this was taste like only creamy peanut sauce. It was quite rich and indulgent, but still very delicious. The heat was also quite apparent, but it was deceiving because you couldn’t see any chili sauce. It was quite spicy as you ate it though and not only afterward.
  • The noodles were very soft and buttery in texture and I have a feeling they could be made in house as well, which is a major bonus. I actually like the tan tan noodles at Shanghai River a lot too.

Cheng Kong Pork Noodle Soup – 2.5/6

  • Bowl $5.98
  • This seemed like the Shanghainese version of that Cantonese Shredded Pork and Preserved Vegetable noodle soup bowl. I don’t know which came first.

  • I can’t say I was a huge fan of this noodle bowl, and I prefer the Cantonese version much more.
  • The noodles are again very soft and they could be homemade, but I’m not sure. The starch from the noodles actually help create the thickness of the broth.
  • The broth is almost creamy from that and it’s slightly tangy as well from the preserved Chinese vegetable. There’s also some dried shrimp in the broth so it gives it a slighted fishy flavour, but it’s not that strong at all.
  • I liked the crunchy tangy vegetable with the soft noodles, but overall it was a bit underwhelming for me.

  • It comes with the pork served on a side plate. I think it was pork hock, but I passed on it.
  • This looked like head cheese and I’m really not a fan of these kind of meats. The chilled gelatinous fat and tendon like parts kind of turns me off. It was pretty fatty. If I eat the fat on meat it better be melt in my mouth tender or well marbelized. How not Asian of me huh?

**Drunken Chicken (Full order) 5/6

  • $10? (I’m not sure, but should be around there)
  • It’s either called “drunken chicken” or “wine chicken” or something along those lines.
  • This was excellent here. The chicken sits and boils in a sherry brine and it’s amazing. It was a sweet and savoury and it’s served chilled swimming in a pool of the brine and it’s own juices. The sherry cooks out, but is still very apparent and it absorbs incredibly well into the tender and moist chicken.
  • The sauce or brine is so flavourful that people drink it like soup at the end. It’s pretty much one of the most delicious sherry chicken stocks you’ll have.
  • Shanghai River does one too, but the wine doesn’t cook out as well and it’s a bit too boozy – see here.

Drunken Chicken (Half order)5/6

  • $5-6? (I’m not sure, but should be around there)
  • It’s common to order as an appetizer as well.

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