ET and Christina (Doesn't TaZte Like Chicken) swore they would never return to Top Shanghai to eat ever again, despite the food being pretty good. They explained that the service is just plain horrible. Well, I can definitely relate. There are a few restaurants I have not set foot in again due to horrendous service, namely Po King and Yan's Garden. My point is, if I am spending my hard-earned money to dine out, why should I be subjected to abuse? However, as ET remarked, people are masochists and continue to dine at these places. Well, being a masochist for one night, I took the family to Top Shanghai to see what the fuss was all about.
So here I was in Richmond, AGAIN! This time, there were all sorts of near misses, slow drivers and people who wanted to cut me off. Phew! I thought something was amiss, since it was so pleasant the last few times. Everything is normal again! Upon entering the restaurant, we were quite shocked to see a table smack dab in front of the entrance. Seriously, the person sitting next to the door would be in harms way of wayward handbags, diaper bags and SLR cameras on shoulder straps. That was just a preview of how tightly packed the tables were. Literally, if you sat on the inside, you would not have a hope in the world in getting out to use the washroom. A comfortable restaurant this is not.
We had plenty of time to look over the menu because my parents were running a bit late in meeting us. I couldn't contain myself and burst out laughing at the menu. Yes, it was the case of the misspelled Chinese menu that seems to afflict ALL Chinese restaurants. The more notable errors were Fried Pork Bum, Homemade Bean Crud and Fried Prok. Spell check anyone? Imagine what an unsuspecting person would think whilst reading this menu? This reminds me of the time when I used to live in Coquitlam. There was this market that used to be near the London Drugs (now Michael's) and they sold live seafood. Advertised proudly and boldly in the front window was LIVE CRAP. Okay, I'm not sure if it was supposed to be live crab or live carp. Whatever it was, I went in and told someone that they were selling very fresh garbage.
Okay, we avoided ordering any bums or crud and settled on Chicken in Wine Sauce, Stewed Pork Belly, Szcheuan Tendon & Noodles in Soup, Hot & Sour Soup, Shanghai Noodles in Soup, Xiao Long Bao and Pan Fried Buns. The food actually came out in that order, making no sense whatsoever. I think we got the chicken first because it was a cold dish. No matter, it was pretty good. Since the chicken was free-range, the meat was lean and a bit chewy. I happen to like this texture and combined with the strong wine flavour, it was a winner. Next came one of Top Shanghai's signature dishes. I ordered this on the recommendation of Ho Yummy. In Chinese, it's called "Dong Bao Yeuk". Actually it's named after the person who created this dish, so there really isn't an English translation. What it is will scare some people. It's essentially a big side of pork belly that has been braised gently. What you get is a very tender piece of pork belly. It's extremely sinful; but so good! I guess Vandelay should've been here to eat it too, seeing how he loves pork fat!
The tendon noodles arrived next and it was not very good. First, the noodles were clumped together and a bit too al dente. Second, the soup was flavourless despite appearing to be quite rich in colour. Third, the tendon was not very tender. I'm not sure why we got our soup 4 dishes into our meal and after a noodle soup too?!?! Anyways, the soup was jam-packed with ingredients. However, it was neither very sour or hot. It was a good "lots-of-stuff' soup; rather than a hot & sour soup. Fortunately, the Shanghai noodles were quite good. The soup was flavourful without being salty and there was plenty of pork, cabbage and spinach on top of the noodles.
The juicy buns (xiao long bao) arrived nearly at the end of the meal (who was expediting these dishes???) and they were good. The large dumplings were full of broth and well-seasoned meat encased in a paper-thin wrapper. I liked how they placed each bun on a slice of turnip. This made removing the buns a much easier task. Last to arrive was the sang jeen bao (pan-fried buns). I give it high marks for a very crispy bottom and actually having juice inside. I give it really poor marks for being a bit too heavy on the dough.
I really didn't mind the service all that much. It's probably because I didn't experience much of it. It's basic and I guess we can't expect too much. I enjoyed my meal; but it was not as good as I would've hoped. It's probably because I came in with high expectations. One thing I really didn't enjoy was the proximity of the tables. It was bordering on ridiculous. Also, they really should get a spell checker for their menu. What would they do if someone insisted they get the bums and the crud???
- Reasonable prices
- Decent food, if not unspectacular
- Nice pictures of the food everywhere (and I mean everywhere)
- Minimal service
- Very tight seating arrangement
- Strange expedition of dishes
10:30am - 10:30pm (7 days a week)