Sherman's Food Adventures: Top Shanghai

Top Shanghai

Boy, I haven't been back to Top Shanghai since I was doing the "best XLB in Richmond" blog post.  Seeing that was 2016, yah, I would say it has been awhile.  Upon entering the restaurant, it was nice to see they got rid of the table for 2 right at the door.  That must've been one of the most awkward tables in any restaurant I've ever seen.  Other than that, the tables still are rather close to each other, but now they sport plexiglass dividers.  Thank you Covid-19...

So the thing to get here is the Sang Jeen Bao or Pan-Fried Pork Buns.  These featured an aggressively fried bottom that was crunchy and nutty.  The actual bun was rather thin, which meant it wasn't heavy nor doughy.  Inside, there was a considerable amount of soup that was fatty and hence porky in flavour.  The meat was tender and sweet.  I enjoyed them, but I think the ones at Dong Tai Xiang to be better as well as the ones at Victoria Seafood Restaurant too (the dinner is meh, but the pan-fried buns are one of the best in town).  Also I do realize that these are all different versions (especially, the Cantonese version at Victoria), but I will still compare them.

Of course we had to order the Xiao Long Bao, but we decided on the crab version for something different.  Due to the amount of pork fat, the filling tasted much like the previous dumplings - porky.  Hey, more fat is necessary to create a tender filling, but that also means that is the dominant flavour.  Hence, the crab was rather lost in this other than the intermittent texture.  Dumpling wrapper was medium-thick in parts but mostly thin which was good.

So to get some veggies into the meal, we got the Dry-Fried Green Beans with pork.  This was pretty good with oil-blanched beans that were cooked-through while still maintaining a crunch.  Despite being flash-fried, the dish wasn't overly greasy.  Wok heat was good as the seasoning was completely caramelized to each green bean.  Often, it is hard to keep green beans flavourful as the seasoning slides off of them.  This wasn't the case here.

My favourite dish was the Braised Tofu with Crab Roe and I really wish there was a bowl of rice to eat it with.  However, with the amount of dishes ordered, rice was the last thing we needed (for 2 people).  The silky smooth cubes of tofu were completely intact while the starch-thickened sauce was so flavourful and full of umami.  It was sweet, briny and had that seafood aroma - yummy.  I was literally just scooping it like soup in my bowl.

Next dish was a mistake on my part (or was it?  I remembered ordering "seun hoy chow neen goh"), as I ordered the Rice Cake in Soup Shanghai Style.  What I wanted was stir-fried rice cake, but whatever, we made do with this one.  It wasn't bad though as the soup was comforting and it was a huge portion of soft rice cake (can't help it, when it is sitting in liquid), shredded pork, Napa cabbage and spinach.  

Another tasty dish was the Sauteed Chicken with spicy garlic sauce.  This was full of flavour with definite saltiness accented by spice.  There was good wok heat where the outside of the chicken was dry and caramelized with some smokiness.  However, the chicken was still quite tender (not juicy though).  Again, this would've went well with rice, but we didn't get any.  I merely had it with my rice cake soup...

Last dish was the Spicy Salt Deep Fried Chicken Wings.  This was not on the regular menu and took forever to arrive.  We were more than halfway though our meal by the time it hit the table.  They were not bad with lightly crispy wings with somewhat rendered skin.  The meat was juicy and nicely brined.  I thought the salt could've been more impactful.  In the end, the meal was fine.  I've never thought Top Shanghai as my first choice for Shanghainese cuisine in the Lower Mainland, yet at the same time, the food is respectable.  For me at least, I'd hit up Shanghai Wonderful or Shanghai River first.

The Good:
- Huge menu (could be a negative too)
- Decent eats
- Well-portioned

The Bad:
- There are better places to go though
- Service wasn't bad, but definitely sparse  


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