Up until recently, I believed that Lin Chinese Cuisine had the best Shanghainese food on the Westside of Vancouver. Well, that is no longer true as my latest visit yielded less-than-impressive eats. And there was The Place and its wonderful Xiao Long Bao which has become less-than-wonderful. Okay, now what? Where can we get decent Shanghainese West of Main Street? Well, apparently Ramen House could be it. Ramen house? Japanese? Nope, Ramen (as in Lai Mein) in the Chinese sense of the word. We ended up traveling to the Westside from our hockey game in North Van to give it a shot.
The first item to hit the table was the Hot & Sour Soup. Although it was on the paler side, the flavour was there in the form of vinegar and spiciness predominantly from white pepper. I would've personally preferred chili oil and/or actually chili flakes, however, the soup was far from bland. Texturally, there was the usual wood ear mushroom and bamboo shoots along with cold-water shrimp and interesting imitation crab meat. Of note, there was a bit too much salt. Next up was the Xiao Long Bao which were freshly made prior to steaming. These featured a relatively thin dumpling skin all the way to the top swirl. This was both good and bad since it meant that it broke quite easily. Inside, the ground pork was soft and not gritty while there was plenty of soup. I didn't notice much in the way of ginger nor xiaoshing wine though, rather, the soup tasted quite meaty.
Onto our favourite dish, the Dan Dan Noodles (which are also made in house) were laced with an aesthetically-pleasing sauce. The noodles themselves were chewy, yet somewhat sticky. The combination of roasted peanuts, chili oil, a touch of soy, chili paste and an ever small dab of sesame paste was fantastic being flavourful with only a purposeful amount of spice. Next, we had the Shanghai Fried Rice Cake. At first, the appearance was unsettling as it was pale and looked like it lacked wok heat. It was partially true, but it was not devoid of flavour. However, I would've liked to see more dark soy. The rice cakes were soft while maintaining their hallmark chewiness. There was a good amount of Napa cabbage, but not much spinach. The slivers of pork were tender and not fatty.
We also tried the Wine Chicken which was a pretty large portion for $7.99. Although it was practically swimming in wine sauce, it was rather weak. There was a very mild xiaoshing wine hit and it really didn't penetrate the chicken meat very much. As for the chicken itself, it was pretty moist, including the white meat. I liked the chicken skin as it was gelatinous while exhibiting a layer of gelatin underneath. Lastly, we has the Eggplant with Chili Sauce. It was stir-fried with slivered pork, wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots. The eggplant was on the softer side while the other ingredients added crunch. There was a good spice level from the chili oil, yet there was a touch too much salt once again. Ultimately, despite its shortcomings, Ramen House does the trick in terms of Shanghainese food on the Westside.
- Decent, especially for the Westside
- XLB's are respectable and freshly made
- Good service
- A bit heavy with the grease and salt
- Some items are a little pricey