Sherman's Food Adventures: Shanghai Wonderful

Shanghai Wonderful

*Updated post as of 10/25/09*

Goose messaged me over MSN and indicated that he wanted to meet up for some Shanghainese Dim Sum. Of course the first thing that comes to mind is Shanghai River since it is arguably one of the best in town. However, we seem to go there quite often and something different was in order. I suggest Shanghai Wonderful since we hadn't been there for about a year. The last time was with Vandelay and Donna Chang. We had the dinner for 4 that cost $68.95. It was a magnificent value since it included a choice of appetizer: Smoked Fish and Jellyfish or Free-Range Chicken, Peking Duck (3 courses - skin/wrap, lettuce wrap and soup), Braised Pork Hock, Xiao Long Bao, a tofu bean dish and dessert. It could have easily served 6 people.

Located in the former Bread Garden across from Landsdowne Mall, Shanghai Wonderful is one of many Shanghainese restaurants in Richmond. Some others are Shanghai River, Top Shanghai, #1 Shanghai and Chen's Shanghai to name a few. There is parking in the plaza; but it doesn't seem adequate when it's busy. The restaurant itself is modern and clean; thanks to the remnants of the former Bread Garden. Similar to most Shanghainese restaurants these days, there is a fresh dumpling station where everything is made-to-order fresh. We arrived before the place opened and I must say that the drive to Richmond was quite relaxing and uneventful, other than following someone who drove excruciatingly slowly. I think the plan from now on is to visit Richmond before anyone wakes up. Less people on the road, safer for me!

We started off our meal with the Drunken Chicken, which is essentially free-range chicken bathed in a rice wine sauce. The sauce itself was quite strong with plenty of wine flavour with a hint of sweetness. The chicken itself was cooked nicely with gelatinous skin and a bit of gelatin hiding underneath. Arriving with a glisten shine, the Seafood Hot & Sour Soup exhibited a deep rich colour. We chose to get the chili oil on the side since some did not like it too spicy. Not only did the soup have good depth of flavour (a tad on the sour side according to Goose), there was plenty of seafood and the other ingredients. According to my cousin, the Xiao Long Bao here are some of the best. I would tend to agree with him. They were fresh and the outer wrapper was extremely thin. The buns themselves were very juicy, bursting with meaty flavour. However, the juice wasn't too fatty which was good. These are definitely comparable to the ones from Shanghai River. Some might even argue that these are better.

For the kiddies, we got the Shanghai Thick Noo
dle Soup. From the picture, you can't see the noodles; but take my word that they were good and not overcooked. The soup was not as rich as the one at Shanghai River; but was still quite good. There was plenty of pork and veggies atop the noodles. Originally, we weren't planning on ordering the Sticky Rice Roll; but we saw some other people eating it. Doesn't it always seem like the dishes at neighbouring tables look better and more enticing than the ones you ordered? The one thing we noticed was that the rolls were filled with plenty of salty fried donut, dried pork and pickled mustard greens. Furthermore, there was very little rice and it was "protected" from drying out by plastic wrap. The one thing that I didn't like was the donut itself. It was dense and quite difficult to chew.

I gotta say, it's great to have an authentic bowl of Tan Tan Noodles. The noodles were the star of this dish. They were cooked al dente exhibiting mouth-pleasing chewiness. It also held up well to the flavourful sauce. About that sauce... It was peanuty with a nice kick of saltiness and texture from the mini dried shrimp. There was a hint of background heat and nice aroma from the crushed peanuts on top. This puts impostor places such as Toko to shame. Another very well-received dish was the Shredded Chicken Cold Noodles. My word, for the price ($6.25), this dish was massive. Not only were there a lot of chicken and noodles, there was a mound of shrimp, BBQ pork and julienned veggies. This dish was an absolute home run. The al dente noodles were bathed in a delicious sesame dressing with a touch of seasame oil and soy. The julienned cucumbers and carrots along with bean sprouts provided a crunchy texture contrast.

We added 2 more dishes at the end, one being the Steamed Bun with Sweet Condensed Milk (Wun See Gewn). Usually, we like this fried, but the kiddies seem to like the steamed one better. Not much to say about this dish other than it was soft and when dipped into the condensed milk, it's quite sweet. I remember I used to spread this stuff on toast. Not sure if I'd do that now. The final dish took quite a long time to arrive; but it can be forgiven because the Pot Stickers are freshly made-to-order. When it finally did arrive, they were bursting with juice and the dumpling skin was not too thick. However, I did find them a bit on the stiffer side. I personally like them on the softer, moist side.

Compared to the dinner items, the Dim Sum was much more satisfying. Most of the dishes, if not all were very good, well portioned, fresh and inexpensive. This definitely gives the other Shanghainese restaurants in the area a run for their money. I'm still not convinced that I particularly like their dinner menu, even though it is an excellent value. Service is hurried and generally acceptable here. I find that the seating is a bit cramped; yet I didn't feel uncomfortable. Arrive early though because you'll have a hard time finding a parking spot or a table.

The Good:
- "Wonderful" Xiao Long Bao
- Food comes out very quickly

- Good value

The Bad:
- Seating is quite cramped
- Set dinner menu only in Chinese, not good for those who can't read it
- Limited parking

Shanghai Wonderful
110-8380 Lansdowne Road
Richmond, B.C.
604-278-8829

Shanghai Wonderful on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

lisal said...

The drunken chicken was so good that I wanted to eat the whole thing. I probably did. *blush*

Sherman said...

Yes, I agree, it is good and lots of sauce! I wanted to drink it!