Restaurant: No. 1 Shanghai 滬上
Cuisine: Chinese/Shanghainese/Dim Sum
Last Visited: April 8, 2012
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: #120 – 4200 #3 Road
Transit: Aberdeen Station Southbound
Price Range: $10-20 dim sum, $20-30 dinner ($10-15 mains)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Shanghainese cuisine
- Shanghainese chefs
- Chinese staff
- English/Chinese menus
- Photos on menu
- Family friendly
- $1.99 dim sum specials
- Credit cards accepted
- Free parking
- Dim sum/lunch/dinner
- Mon-Sun 11am-1am
**Recommendations: Wild Vegetable with Diced Dried Bean Curd, Marinated Bamboo Shoots, Pan-Fried Live Crab with Egg Yellow Sauce, Country Side Chicken Soup
No. 1 Shanghai Cuisine. Ahh, I don’t know about that one. It wouldn’t be in my top 5 places to go for Shanghainese cuisine in Richmond, BC, but then again I only tried their dinner menu and perhaps their dim sum is better. Personally, my go-to spots in Richmond for Shanghainese cuisine are usually Shanghai Wonderful, Suhang, Shanghai House, Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen or Shanghai River and maybe now even Top Shanghai Cuisine. As I mentioned before, Richmond is the hub for Chinese cuisine in Metro Vancouver, so if I’m dining in this category I guess you can call it my go-to destination.
It’s located in a strip mall and although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, in fact I think it looks a bit shady, the inside was quite nice. It’s gone through a few changes in restaurants and ownership and I think the last time it was a karaoke place. It was spacious and perceivably clean, but there was a stale presence in the atmosphere and it might be due to the fact that it was near empty the entire dinner service.
I always have to point out the menu when I go for Shanghainese because it can be intimidating. If there’s no English or photos, I won’t know what the heck I’m doing. And if there’s a language barrier with the staff (there almost always is), then I’m pretty much left to a 20 minute session of Pictionary where I am likely not the winner. Anyways thank goodness the menu at No. 1 Shanghai had a lot of photos and decent English translations.
Personally, I really dislike ordering set menus and I find them quite “mass produced” in terms of quality. However when I asked for recommendations it was pretty much “set menu” as a response and I didn’t get much help beyond that. I didn’t have say on this occasion, but we did end up ordering a set menu and adding on top of that. To be honest, it was a very average dinner and it didn’t showcase anything I would come back for.
I’m not sure if they were just catering to a Cantonese crowd way too much, but the chefs are Shanghainese. I feel like there is potential on the dim sum menu, and that’s the only thing I’d be curious to come back and check out. Otherwise all the items I had I could satisfy elsewhere for better. I guess the value here is pretty good and I have heard good things about No. 1 Shanghai, but my experience on this occasion wasn’t enough to justify an eager revisit.
On the table:
- This is the Shanghainese staple also called “Malantou” that I always order as an appetizer.
- It’s almost like a chilled salad made of finely minced vegetables like Chinese Celery (strong flavoured celery with watercress qualities), firm tofu, dried bean curd skins and wild greens. I like it when it has the crunch of pickled radish too, but this one didn’t have any.
- The bonus was the pine nuts, which I’ve only experienced at 2 places before, but it’s not authentic for the dish although I like it better with them.
- It’s soft and crunchy and has a strong watercress and celery flavour.
- It’s usually marinated or served with vinegar, but this one was not as well marinated nor was it served with vinegar.
- They did a pretty good job with the dish, but it was slightly under seasoned and on the dry side.
- Naturally it does have a dry crumbly texture, but this one was drier than normal.
- Personally I prefer the one at Suhang – see their Marinated Bean Curd with Special Vegetables.
- 6 pieces $5.50
- This is the “tell all” item to order. The famous Shanghainese pork dumplings, xiao long bao or “XLB’s”.
- They were making them upon order and they were served hot, but the execution wasn’t great.
- Just looking at them the dough was on the thick side and it should be more transparent like the ones at Top Shanghai Cuisine.
- The skin was pretty thick and chewy with the nub (top part) a bit high and thick as well. Yes, the folds and nub are important factors in a Shanghainese dumpling.
- The pork had a hint of ginger flavour and it was not as creamy or as tender as it should be and usually it would melt in your mouth with very minimal chew.
- There was a decent amount of pork soup, but not as much as other places like Suhang or Top Shanghai.
- I liked that they served it with malted vinegar though (which should be standard), but the XLB did need it for flavour otherwise it was slightly bland.
- Part of set dinner for 6 $148 – about $8.50 a la carte and portion may be bigger a la carte
- It’s actually squab, not “pigeon”, but Chinese people call it pigeon all the time.
- The meat and skin were quite tender, but the pigeon wasn’t even braised in the sauce.
- The sauce was poured on top and it was very syrupy and much too sweet.
- Part of set dinner for 6 $148 – about $6.50 a la carte and portion may be bigger a la carte
- It was chilled and crunchy bamboo shoots braised in a sweetened soy sauce with sesame oil and dry sherry.
- The flavours absorbed well into the bamboo shoots and I actually really enjoyed this. I would order it a la carte and they did a good job.
- Part of set dinner for 6 $148 – about $6.50 a la carte and portion may be bigger a la carte
- I’m really not a fan of this and it’s basically Shanghainese head cheese. I’m not a fan of head cheese, but I’ll eat it on occasion.
- This one was very gelatinous with too much gel and the pork wasn’t that tender and it was almost crunchy.
- Even though I’m not a fan of this dish, I’ve had better versions of it.
- $24.50/half $8.50/bowl (Part of set dinner for 6 $148)
- This was probably the most impressive thing on the set menu and for dinner overall.
- I’m showing it early, but it actually didn’t come out until the end which is unusual. It tasted very fresh and was served piping hot.
- A good chicken soup should be simmering slowly all day which I really believe this was, but they finished it off before serving it with Napa cabbage.
- The chicken looked braised and it was literally falling apart and shredding into bits in the soup from being so tender.
- There was also some other ingredients like pork and I think ginseng roots, but it was by no means bitter.
- Traditionally, Chinese would actually fault the soup for not being bitter though because that bitterness is desired in ginseng for a great soup.
- The broth was almost milky and intense with chicken flavour and it wasn’t too oily or salty and it seemed very natural, home cooked, pure, simple and delicious.
- I can’t confirm, but it tasted free of MSG.
- Part of set dinner for 6 $148. About $28 a la carte (Portion may be bigger and includes shrimps if ordered a la carte)
- This was quite disappointing and maybe it was because it was served with the set menu, but even so I don’t think that’s really an excuse to lessen the quality so much.
- I’m not sure what the order looks like a la carte and it could potentially be better, but I wouldn’t want to order it based on having it from the set menu.
- The “Beche-de-Mer” is also known as sea cucumber which is a Chinese delicacy and pricey ingredient.
- The sea cucumber was supposed to be the highlight to this dish, but the quality of it was quite low and it was very crunchy and not tender yet.
- The dish was also swimming in a sweet soy based sauce with tons of onions, which I like, but it was to the point where it was used to fill room on the plate which I don’t like.
- $14.50 (Part of set dinner for 6 $148)
- This looked pretty good to me, but when it came out the hot plate wasn’t sizzling although the ribs were really hot.
- I think the sizzling plate was used for presentation factor and usually it should be used for functionality as well.
- The ribs were huge and generous, but the quality of them was poor compared to Western restaurants, but quite normal for most Asian restaurants.
- Asians tend to use fattier meats and this is what this one was.
- The ribs were deep fried and crispy and coated with the Chinese version of sweet and sour sauce.
- The orange one is the Western version of the sauce, but the Chinese do have their own version which is what this one was.
- It was a sweet and mildly sour barbeque sauce and the meat pulled away from the bone easily along with the membrane and at times it was a bit chewy and too fatty for me.
- They likely pre boiled the ribs first (which I actually don’t mind), but the membrane and meat pulled off in one long strip and it was only semi-tender.
- It was pretty good if I don’t relate it to American style BBQ ribs.
- It’s really apples and oranges, but I prefer the Dinosaur Bones Beef Ribs at Hog Shack Cook House.
- About $28.50. Served with Shanghai Rice Cakes a la carte. (Part of set dinner for 6 $148)
- This was probably my favourite dish of the evening even though crab takes so much effort to eat. I don’t really mind though and this one was worth the effort for me.
- The crab was fresh and they do have in house tanks.
- It helped that the sauce was one of my favourite sauces for live seafood at Chinese restaurants.
- The sauce is made with salted duck egg yolks and it’s very nutty, salty and a bit creamy and powdery in texture at the same time.
- This one was sauteed with sweet bell peppers which I liked to contrast the saltiness of the yolk.
- The sauce was almost less salty than normal and the colour comes from perhaps turmeric.
- The crab itself was juicy, flaky and tender so they did cook it well.
- The sauce wasn’t particularly better than other places offering this sauce, but it was still good here and I enjoyed it.
- Part of set dinner for 6 $148. Around $11 a la carte (Stir-fried Scallops with Asparagus $16.50 available a la carte)
- This was a basic vegetable dish and there was really nothing to it.
- The vegetables were fresh, tender and still crunchy.
- The flavour was pretty ordinary with no particular soy and it was what it was.
- The lily bulbs almost come across as starchier shallots and the flavour is very mild and delicate and almost like a bland shallot.
- $14.50 (Part of set dinner for 6 $148)
- This was quite disappointing due to the quality of ingredients used.
- The mushrooms were fresh button mushrooms, although few, Shiitakes, and canned straw mushrooms.
- Canned straw mushrooms aren’t unusual in Chinese cuisine, but when you call something “3 Kinds of Mushrooms” it’s not acceptable to have these 3 kinds showcased in my opinion.
- The abalone sauce also tasted canned which is supposed to be the valued part of the dish.
- The bok choy was tender, but regular, and overall the dish was quite uninspiring and I wouldn’t order it a la carte.
- $12.50 (Part of set dinner for 6 $148)
- I’m pretty sure they meant to call it Fried Rice with Garlic and Baby Shrimps.
- I have a feeling the rice was fresh and not day old. Day old is always ideal for fried rice.
- The wok could have been a bit hotter because I didn’t get that “wok aroma”, but the rice was moist and not too dry or wet.
- I think they mixed the sticky rice and the regular rice because the rice was chewy which I liked. Shanghainese fried rice should be chewy too.
- It was a very aromatic fried rice with lots of egg, a little bit of dried scallops and some fried shrimps to give it depth in nuttiness, saltiness and seafood flavour.
- The rice was pretty well seasoned, but it didn’t have that much dried shrimp and I could have used more.
- It was a bit plain for a fried rice and even though it tasted fine, it was under delivered in terms of ingredients even for a set menu.
- $6.50 (Part of set dinner for 6 $148)
- This is a very typical Shanghainese dessert and it’s a pancake, not cookies.
- I’m not a fan of red bean, but I’m starting to give it a chance and hope that it will change my mind.
- The pancake is like a deep fried crepe, but this one wasn’t crispy.
- It was filled with a good amount of creamy, thick and semi-sweet red bean and the quality of it was good even according to others.
- The pancake itself wasn’t great and as a dessert it’s not my thing, so I’m biased.
- Consider these the Shanghainese versions of donuts. It’s a donut meets a cream puff.
- They’re actually baseball sized deep fried egg white puffs stuffed with red bean paste and sprinkled with pink or white sugar.
- They’re not special to this restaurant and they do exist in Shanghai, but they are rarely offered at Shanghainese restaurants in Vancouver.
- It is usually considered a speciality if it is on the menu. Suhang is also popular for theirs, but I haven’t tried them yet.
- Apparently these are always good here, but on this occasion they were really disappointing so I hope it was just an off day.
- They should be light and airy and these ones were very dense and doughy and more along the lines of steamed bread.
- The egg white part was scented with a hint of ginger and it is mildly sweet and not savoury.
- It almost reminded me of the Chinese steamed egg white and ginger milk in terms of flavour.
- I could taste the faintness of egg white, but the texture was heavy which is unfortunate.
- The red bean was thick and smooth and good quality without being too sweet although I’m not a fan of red bean again.
- It really should be a lot fluffier and the outside wasn’t crispy either.
- Since the donut is not that sweet it is common to dip the puff in the excessive amount of sugar on the plate.