Dumpling fans can let out a cheer as the long awaited new location of Shanghai Wonderful Restaurant has finally opened. Situated in the Best Western Plus Abercorn Inn (9260 Bridgeport Rd., Richmond), the space has the feel of a hotel ballroom. With flowers from well-wishers at the entrance and red seat covers, it felt almost as if we’d walked into someone’s wedding. Word has apparently already got out since the room rapidly filled with groups of hungry families during a recent lunch visit.
The restaurant is open daily, offering Shanghaiese dim sum items, as well as a wider selection of appetizers, soups, hot pots, noodles, and meat, seafood, and veggie dishes.
Of course, we had to order the xiao long bao ($5.95), which surprisingly, were not the highlight of the meal. The skin of the dumpling was thin as it should be, although the nub at the top could have been slightly less pronounced. The meat inside was finely textured and not overly marinated, so the natural pork flavour came though. The broth itself though was quite bland. Overall, a solid XLB, but not out of this world.
The turnip cake ($5.95) was a lovely item (I can see why it’s a favourite with regulars). It consisted of shredded radish mixed with chicken and dried pork, all wrapped in flaky pastry. The result was a delicious combination of flavours and textures: the richness of the pastry was complimented by the radish, which was still slightly crunchy and had some vinegary zing to it.
Another dim sum item we had were the pan-fried dumplings ($5.95), which I liked a lot. The wrapper was thicker, its underside pan-fried to a perfect golden colour. The inside was incredibly juicy (watch out for chin dribble), and the pork filling itself was tender and nicely seasoned.
From the appetizer portion of the main menu, we had the smoked fish ($7.95), a classic Shanghaiese dish involving frying marinated fish, and then coating it in a sweet and salty sauce. It’s a wonderful dish for nibbling on before moving onto more substantial eats.
The stir-fried rice cakes ($12.95) were a stand-out item, and came with spinach, chopped cabbage, and shredded pork. The rice cakes had good chew to them, and overall, this was a simple, well-executed dish.
Another winner was the deep-fried crispy rice ($16.95), accompanied by a bowl of savoury tomato sauce with shrimp, carrot slices, mushrooms and snow peas. We drizzled a bit of the sauce on top to avoid overwhelming the dish, and to keep the rice cakes enjoyably crunchy.
Judging by the full room when we left, I’d highly recommend making a reservation since the restaurant will only get busier as more and more people find out about its re-opening. I will definitely be returning for round two of the pan-fried dumplings.