Sherman's Food Adventures: Shanghai River

Shanghai River

In the past 10 years, I have probably dined at Shanghai River like 20 odd times.  You see, my parents love the place and they like to stick with their favourites.  Hey, I like the place too as the food is solid including their XLBs.  However, I haven't posted about the place since 2013 I believe.  I guess it is as good of a time to do another one to see how their are currently.  We only went for morning Dim Sum this time around, but will go back for dinner one day (it is pretty good too).

We always seem to order the same dishes and that always starts with the  Chicken with Wine Sauce.  I find their version consistent and well-prepared.  The free-range chicken was firm (as it tends to be), but was still tender.  The skin was nicely gelatized while there was some gelatin underneath it.  The wine flavour was definitely there without being overwhelming.  It had penetrated the chicken, yet the excess amount on the plate added more aroma and extra kick.

One of our favourite dishes is the Shredded Chicken & Vermicelli (Mung Bean Noodles) with cucumber and sesame dressing.  The texture of the noodles were slippery and full of bite (in a pleasant rubbery way).  Lots of good mouth feel from the chew.  The shredded chicken was tender and moist while the crunchy cucumber added brightness.  As for the dressing, it was thick, slightly sweet and plenty nutty.  Very aromatic and tasty.

Something that we normally do not order is the Deep Fried Bean Curd Skin with Mushroom (Mock Goose).  I can never understand why this dish is so expensive but I guess it might be the labour put into making it.  This featured crispy bean curd skin sheets that were probably a bit too crispy.  I would've liked it to be more moist with some chew.  Inside, the tender shiitake were nicely seasoned being on the sweeter side.

So one of the must-order dishes is their Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai Soup Dumplings).  I would pit this against some of the best in town.  They are made-to-order (much like many XLB joints these days) and feature a relatively thin dumpling skin.  I wouldn't say it is Din Tai Fung thin, but it isn't as thick at say R&H in Lansdowne Mall.  Inside, the pork filling is tender and moist (while not falling apart either).  The soup is plentiful, sweet and meaty with a background Shaoxing wine hit.

A few under-the-radar items that are also quite good include the Homemade Sesame Cake (Shao Bing) and Chinese Donut.  They were also made-to-order where the donut was pretty much as good as it can get.  The exterior was crispy and light while not too greasy.  Inside, it was soft and airy (featuring air pockets) with a tender chew.  It was nicely salted where it stood on its own.  As for the shao bing, it was nicely baked with a nutty flavour.  It was crispy with discernible layers.  I do recommend you get the beef one as the plain is well, plain.

Now another favourite of ours is the Hot & Sour Soup.  I find that their broth does have some depth compared to other places.  Furthermore, the amount of ingredients is the right ratio to the amount of starch-thicken broth.  Julienned carrots and bamboo shoots as well as wood ear mushroom added crunch to the soup.  The shrimp are cooked just enough to retain a buttery snap.  We got the hot oil on the side so we could adjust the heat while the vinegariness was on point.

Moving onto the noodles, we always order the Szechuan Beef Noodles.  This is another solid dish where the slice beef shank is nearly melt-in-our-mouths tender without falling apart.  The broth is meaty with a medium spicy kick.  I personally could do with even more heat, but I guess we could add some chili oil.  There is more than enough white noodles underneath that are soft with just a touch of chew.

Even though we ordered the Dan Dan Noodles, it really isn't my favourite version.  Don't get me wrong, it is still fine, but I find it a bit soupy and too mild-tasting.  It is much more peanutty than anything else (has something to do with the fact it is the Shanghainese version).  Due to the nuttiness, it is aromatic and features a thick soup/sauce.  There is plenty of ground pork to give it body and texture.  The julienned cucumber adds a bright crunch.

Our kids love the Fried Shanghai-Style Rice Cakes and of course we ordered it.  This could've used a bit more colour, however, it was still pretty on point.  The rice cakes were soft and tender without being overly so.  They retained an appealing chewiness.  The dish wasn't too greasy and the seasoning was just right with enough dark soy.  Tender julienned pork and slightly wilted spinach finished the dish.

Another stealthily tasty dish is the Sticky Rice with Ribs (Pork Spareribs).  On top of the ample amount of soft sticky rice, the pieces of spareribs were tender with a good rebound texture.  They were fairly well-seasoned being salty with a touch of sweetness.  I would've like them to be even more aggressively seasoned because the rice was rather bland.  So in the end, this was another solid meal at Shanghai River.  Since food is subjective, some might consider other Shanghainese restaurants as being better (and I agree with this statement).  Yet, Shanghai River still sits up there near the top because it is consistent and delivers good food.

The Good:
- Consistently good
- Nice dining space
- Covered parking (and generally enough)

The Bad:
- It is good, but it can be argued that there are better



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