Why do I love dining in Richmond with my friends Stephanie and Jeff? Because a) I can call them Jeffanie, b) they brought their sweet rides to Richmond, and c) every time we go to a restaurant, Stephanie pops open the menu and says something like “We have to get something we haven’t tried yet…..the lungs! Let’s get the lungs!” So yes, last night I had two very willing people with whom I could try lung for the first time. And here’s what I have to say about it: it’s MUCH easier for me to eat than liver.
Yesterday Stephanie and Jeff met me at No. 1 Shanghai, which is located on No. 3 Road. It’s VERY easy to get to from the Aberdeen Skytrain station, so I’d recommend it if you’re on foot.
The restaurant is bright and spacious, and we had it all to ourselves when we arrived at 6pm. The menu had pictures (bonus), and though it was difficult to choose, we eventually settled on the sliced pork and beef lung ($6.50), braised gluten with Chinese mushrooms ($6.50), spare ribs in BBQ sauce ($14.50), wok-fried celery and lotus bulb ($12.50), half a pot of countryside chicken soup ($24.50), crab and pork xiao long bao (‘Shanghai buns’, $9.50), pan-fried pork bun ($5.50), and turnip cakes ($5.50). They have dim sum items on their dinner menu, which I LOVED. I always feel slightly panicked when I look at a menu and realize that past 5pm I can’t get small plates!
The first two dishes were some of our favourites. Jeff was especially enamoured with the sponge-like squares of gluten, which soaked up a sweet, savoury sauce and had a lighter, puffier texture than the other gluten I’ve tried in Richmond.
Some call it seitan, gluten-free fiends call it satan, and we call it awesome!
Jeff asked how it was made, so I looked it up. It’s the same process I once watched in Italy when an artisanal pasta producer showed my classmates and I how it’s possible to extract and test the gluten that’s in the flour they use.
He made a small ball of dough from flour and water, then ‘washed’ and kneaded it in water for a long time, until eventually all the starch was washed away, and only a small, gum-like ball of gluten remained. The process of making seitan is the same, just on a much larger scale.
All the videos I found of the process are a bit nap-inducing, but interesting nonetheless. Fast forward to 5:49 of this video, and you can watch as 7-8 cups of flour are transformed into one big ball of gluten. It’s takes a lot of arm work!
After we’d plowed through the braised gluten, it was onto the ‘lungs.’ Thinking ourselves to be very adventurous, we chomped away on the dark and light slices, commenting on how the dark ones seemed especially meaty. Turns out, that’s because they WERE meat! This dish is called “fuqi feipian,” and it’s comprised of thinly sliced beef and beef offal tossed in a spicy oil. There isn’t any lung in there at all. On this Wikipedia page you can read how the dish got its named of “Husband and Wife Lung Slices.” Thanks SO much for the clarification, fmed! I now feel the need to dedicate an entire post to the psychology of taste (Quick, someone hand me a slice of durian but tell me its mango! Maybe I’d come around).
Next up were meaty spare ribs smothered in a deep red BBQ sauce.
The ribs had been deep-fried first, meaning the meat was a little drier than I would have liked, but the flavour of the sauce was distinct (not too sweet) and perfect for dipping these little guys into!
The turnip cakes in flaky pastry were just the reason I like having access to a dim sum menu at dinner time. The filling of shredded turnip with carrot and green onions was good, and while I would have preferred it to be a bit saltier, these little pastry bombs were still very tasty, especially when dunked in the spare rib sauce.
Here’s a good tip – if your table has less than 8 people and you’re thinking of ordering the countryside chicken soup, ALWAYS order the half-bowl!
The 1/2 pot was still enormous, filled with bright yellow broth, at least half a chicken, and slices of Chinese (Napa) cabbage. If you come down with a cold, this is EXACTLY what you want to be eating.
No one deserves a cold at this time of year, however, so take care of yourselves, ok?
The wok-fried celery and lotus bulb was simple and tasty, but not particularly noteworthy. I think I would have rather spent a few more dollars and had the sautéed pea tips.
Finally, the highlight of any Shanghainese meal – dumplings and buns! The xiao long bao with pork and crab were just the right size (you could pop the whole thing in your mouth without sending broth everywhere), but they weren’t the best I’ve had.
The wrappers were a little thick, and the filling didn’t taste particularly ‘crabby,’ but we still finished them off easily. I much preferred the pan-fried buns, which had dough that was so fresh I could still taste the yeast. They were soft, a bit sweet, and had a good amount of pork. After they’d sat for awhile, some of the broth was absorbed into the dough, which made the inside almost creamy. It’s hard to describe, but trust me when I say it was a very good thing.
We really enjoyed our meal, and made plenty of jokes afterwards about having too many lungs in our bellies. That’s half the fun of offal, after all. Thanks for a great meal, Jeffanie!
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available