Yesterday, I felt a lot of pressure when it came to picking a Richmond restaurant for us to dine at. The pressure was placed on me, solely by me, and that’s because I wanted Suzie and Emily’s first dinner experience in Richmond to be stellar! Magnificent! Super-amazing-awesomesauce! Usually when you have guests in town, you take them to your favourite tried-and-true restaurants; one of the funny things about my job, however, is that going to my favourite Richmond restaurants would be an enormous waste of time. After we’d finished our meal I’d have to say “Ok, go take a walk around the block and build up the ol’ appetite again, please. Now we have to go to a place I can actually post about!” Fortunately, our choice last night to go to Shanghai House was a good one.
Shanghai House is located just south of Brighouse Station, and is therefore very easy to get to. When we arrived at 7pm the restaurant was filled with families, and it seemed to be a very kid-friendly place. Our friends Dana, Heidi, and Richard joined us last night, so our family spread out around a huge table at the back.
Within our group, the number one request was for xiao long bao, and we also chose the pan-fried pork buns with crab, eggplant with garlic sauce, Peking duck two ways, fried rice cakes with shredded pork and vegetables, and fried corn cake, and sautéed pea tips.
It was an excellent meal. Their xiao long bao wouldn’t win Best in Richmond, but they were still very satisfying – I was most impressed with the pork mixture inside, which was extremely tender. We agreed they could have each used a bit more ‘soup’ inside them.
The pan-fried pork buns with crab were also tasty, but a warning – those things retain heat like the sun!
The eggplant in garlic sauce was phenomenal. The soft, stew-like Japanese eggplant was mixed with sliced black fungus, carrot, pork, and a thick, garlicky sauce. This is a must-order dish at Shanghai House, though vegetarians need to specifically request it without pork (it hides in there and isn’t mentioned as an ingredient on the menu).
The Peking duck two ways was a big hit, and was served the same way as at Kirin. The first course was the crispy duck skin served with prawn crackers, warm crepes, slivered green onion, cucumber, and hoisin sauce.
This is how it works: diners assemble your own little duck skin taco (our server was so impressed we knew what to do!), eat them, then rave about them for the next five minutes. They’re that good. The crepes were wonderful, and the combination of the other sweet/crispy/salty fillings was addictive.
The second course was duck lettuce wraps, and the mixture was spooned on top of those crunchy little white ‘noodles’ (like shredded prawn crackers), topped with plenty of chopped green onion, and topped with a crunchy, bulbous head of iceberg.
This dish was also a hit, and triggered an extended conversation on the way home about the rise and fall of iceberg lettuce.
Food nerds packed into a car = super food nerd fun.
By far, the funniest dish on the table was the fried corn cake, which was basically a giant deep-fried fritter made from frozen vegetables and batter. Perhaps this is how mothers in the 1950’s could have gotten their kids to eat those tiny cubes of carrots, peas, and corn – JUST DEEP FRY THEM.
The whole thing was crunchy, sweet, and just kind of weird, though Emily and I found it oddly moreish. We all agreed it would have benefited from a drizzle of spicy mayo.
The pan-fried rice cakes with pork and vegetables were tasty. The rice cakes had been cooked just long enough, and everyone at the table declared their love for them (especially Richard, who is gluten-intolerant). I’m now curious about rice cakes, however, because Suzie had never seen them before, and she’s eaten all over Asia. Anyone happen to own An Encyclopedic History of the Rice Cake and be willing to share some info?
The sautéed pea tips were great – always my favourite green to order in a Chinese restaurant. In total, our bill came to $108, which is incredibly reasonable for a huge meal shared by six diners.
Shanghai House took all the pressure off. The service was friendly, the food was great, and we raved it about it all the way home (in between convos about iceberg lettuce, of course). Phewwwwww.
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available