Sherman's Food Adventures: Yuan's Shanghai Serendipity Cuisine

Yuan's Shanghai Serendipity Cuisine

If you haven't already noticed, the cost of dining out at a Chinese restaurant has gone up considerably in the last decade.  What was once an affordable way to dine has now entered the "fine dining" level.  Even cheap neighbourhood dives are becoming a thing of the past as those generally exist out in the burbs.  When Yuan's Shanghai Serendipity Cuisine opened a few years ago, I heard that it was expensive and overpriced.  If we fast forward to the present, it doesn't look all that unreasonable anymore since many other spots in Richmond are in the same price point.  I've been to their sister restaurant (Z&Y) before, so it was about time I actually ate at their original location.

We gathered up the family including the grandparents for a nice Shanghainese Dim Sum lunch.  Starting things off, we got right down to business with the Xiao Long Bao.  We only went for one order since we had quite a few items on deck already.  Turns out that we should've ordered more despite this as they were pretty good.  At first glance, the skin didn't look very thin, but it ate well being al dente while still tender.  Bursting with soup, the meat filling was tender with a bounce.  It was meaty in flavour with a hint of ginger (but could've used more xiaoshing wine).  Naturally, the soup tasted similar with a pleasant sweetness where the salt level was conservative.  Sporting an equally bouncy meat filling, the Pan-Fried Pork Buns were somewhat juicy.  I enjoyed the relatively thin exterior bun since many other versions are too thick and doughy.  

Arriving in a beautiful dark reddish brown hue, the Hot & Sour Soup was fairly spicy.  It wasn't as if it was painful heat, but it definitely got more pronounced as I ate it.  There was more heat than tanginess while the base broth had depth and exhibited a certain savouriness.  There was an adequate amount of ingredients including the usual wood ear mushroom, carrots, tofu, julienned pork, shrimp and egg.  I would've liked to see a bit more shrimp though as not everyone got one in their bowl.  Looking rather spicy, but in reality it really wasn't, the Wontons in Garlic Chili Sauce were not bad.  As pictured, the tender and bouncy pork filling was encased in a super thin wonton wrapper.  They were delicate and almost juicy while bathed in plenty of chili oil.  Personally I could've used more savouriness and even more heat.

Although the Smoked Duck appeared to be dry and chewy, it was actually wasn't.  I found the skin fairly well-rendered and crispy with only a few fatty portions.  Both the dark and breast meat were moist.  There was definitely some smokiness, but it wasn't as strong as I would've liked.  On the other hand, the meat was salty enough that it was far from bland.  The accompanying buns were fairly soft and were natural compliments to the flavourful duck.  We considered the Wok-Fried Rice Cake to be a dish that was both good and bad.  Exhibiting plenty of wok heat, the flavours were caramelized and the rice cakes were nicely seared.  However, the veggies were completely obliterated.  They were beyond mushy and oil-logged.  It would've been better than they stir-fried them separately and combined them at the end of the wok-frying. 

We also go one of my parent's favourite dishes in the Shredded Chicken and Mung Bean Noodle Salad.  For the picture, there was a mini-noodle pull because it was completely covered by a generous helping of peanut sauce.  This was quite textbook with chewy noodles, tender chicken and crunchy julienned cucumber.  As mentioned, there was enough sweet and salty peanut sauce to coat everything (and I mean everything).  As for my son, he loves Chee Fan (Sticky Rice Wrap with dried pork floss) mostly because of the salty donut.  This featured a thin layer of sticky rice that was not dried out nor too soft.  There was a crispy, albeit dense, donut in the middle with dried pork floss and pickled mustard greens.  Not a complicated dish, but this was done right and they didn't skimp on the ingredients.

Our last dish was one of the best-tasting - Pork Ribs with Black Vinegar Sauce.  It sported a classic sweet tanginess with the depth of black vinegar.  It was well-balanced and highly addictive.  The ribs were tender enough with a meaty chewiness.  However, the batter on the outside was a bit too thick.  Despite this, it was still crunchy.  Overall, the food was more than acceptable at Yuan's and frankly, I do not understand all of the bad reviews.  Yes, it is on the pricier side, but it isn't any more than Shanghai River and the sort.  Also, please do not compare this to smaller spots like Chen's or Shanghai Morning since they are in a different class of restaurant.  It's like comparing Bishop's to White Spot (he did have a curry on the menu before though... LOL).

The Good:
- Fairly solid eats
- Nice dining space
- Decent service

The Bad:
- As mentioned, on the pricier side
- That parking lot sucks goat nads...

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