Could this be a new fad or trend? Legit Xiao Long Bao in Downtown Vancouver??? If we even just look back a year ago, there was no such thing. A decent XLB in Downtown Vancouver was as rare as a sunny day in December. But that all changed with the opening of Shanghai Xiao Long Bao on Richards Street. Now, the restaurant that boasts one of the best in town has opened up shop on lower Robson. Ironically, Dinesty is not really a true Shanghainese joint. Rather, it is a Taiwanese restaurant with Shanghainese and Szechuan dishes. Yes, that cuisine-confusion could spell trouble, but they seem to pull it off. Well, that is true for the Richmond location. Therefore, Whipping Girl, Rich Guy and I set out to see if the Robson location stacks up.
Immediately, Rich Guy was scouring the menu for Garlic Pork. We did find their version being the Streaky Pork with Garlic Sauce. No, there was no pig nudity, rather, I think they were referring to the use of pork belly. Unfortunately, we found the slices to be too thick which negated the usual pork belly texture. However, the sauce was fantastic being really garlicky, vinegary and sweet. Next up was the Marinated Beef with Soy Sauce Wrapped in Pancake. These were not bad with a somewhat flaky pancake (it was a bit gummy. The sliced beef shank was easy to chew while there was a complimentary amount of cucumber and green onion.
And then it arrived - the one defining item - Xiao Long Bao. These were respectable as the dumpling skin was thin and exhibited an appealing soft elasticity. The meat was sufficiently moist with a touch of grittiness. There was ample soup which was sweet, yet a little weak with the ginger. For some reason or another, I prefer the ones from the Richmond location more. Paying homage to this "Din Tai Fung"-type of experience, we had the Shrimp Sui Mai (very similar to the one at DTF). However, unlike DTF, these had no soup whatsoever - only ground pork and green onion. We liked the mild sweet flavour with the brightness of the greens, but the lack of moisture made it a touch dry to eat.
Moving along, we had the Noodle Soup with Beef and Tendon. The soup base was light and only mildly flavourful. The noodles were nicely prepared retaining some chew. As for the meat, it was gelatinous and tender. Saving the best for last, we had the Tea-Smoked Duck served with steamed buns. This dish was friggin' fantastic. The duck was moist and smoky while the skin was crispy and nicely rendered. One of the better versions I've had as of late. Although not the perfect meal (and what is?), we were satisfied with our visit to Dinesty on Robson. It is nice to see legitimate Chinese eats in the Downtown core.
- Generally well-made food
- Decent service
- Surprisingly spacious dining space (wouldn't have guessed from the outside)
- Pretty busy, the servers are nice, but hard to get a hold of
- As with most restaurants, you need to pick the right dishes