July 1st, 2010. XLB, We Finally Meet!!!
Canada Day=National Holiday=Stat Holiday=No Work=Day Off=Opportunity to Eat!! Yes, yes, a day off for me means an opportunity to eat something that I otherwise would not be able to. Dim Sum is one of those things, Xiao Long Bao in Richmond is definitely one of those things.
I’d been telling Rachel for the longest time that I wanted to go to Shanghai River because I’d heard that they really do a good XLB. So I dragged Nabil out with me to meet up with Rachel in Richmond for a Dim Sum lunch!
I was impressed by the size of the place. It’s actually the nicest Chinese restaurant that I’ve ever been to! It had an elegant appeal with the well lit open space, big windows, nice linen and the good liquor and open kitchen. I was really getting pretty excited about the brunch! I was also surprised about the small menu but figured it meant that the smaller selection meant concentration on quality. I was ready to eat!
One thing you gotta love about Chinese Restaurants (or any restaurant where English is a secondary language) is the often mispelled or just outright wrong words used! And yes..sometimes the translations are a bit too literal and can make you ROFL 😉 In this case we have “Stick Rice w/ Favors”. Umm….what kinda favors are we talking about here..? I thought this was a respectable establishment!
After a LOT of heming and hawing and Nabil just wanting us to hurry up and order already we finally came to a few decisions. First up was the Fried Donut in Sticky Rice. I was actually thinking of something different…thought it would be more like Fried Donut in Steamed Rice Wrap. You know which one I mean, right? They didn’t have that particular one on the menu so I picked what I thought would be an alternative. Oh well. I wasn’t a fan of the dry filling and the rice was a bit crumbly..but the flavors were nice dipped in the vinegar-ish sauce they brought us. I didn’t dislike it, it just wasn’t what I expected.
And yes, I am adding an extra picture of the bun because I want you to see the inside, too. Although the slices of pork were generous I found these as well to be a bit on the dry side. It had good flavor to it, though, and the cucumbers gave a nice crisp and refreshing “bite” to the sandwiches 🙂 Still…it had me gulping down tea after every bite!
Next were the Green Onion Pancakes. Can you say massive? All of us had the same initial reaction: “Woah!!” I was thinking they’d be thinner..but man, these were thick! And the basket held 2! The green onions were nice and onion-y but I think the pancake in general had a lot of dough…either that or I was already starting to feel full! I appreciated that the exterior was nice and crispy, though and it came out hot, so I did enjoy it! Who doesn’t like crispy+piping hot?
Finally, finally!! The long awaited Xiao Long Bao!!!! I was so super excited! I had to fight really hard not to just grab one as soon as the basket came out! Fortunately good sense took over and I snapped some pictures first 😉 I hurriedly took a few shots and then me and Rache posed some more with the XLBs in our little spoons 🙂 In hindsight maybe I should have made a video of me & my first encounter with XLB!
I ordered the Crab & Pork XLB thinking the sweetness of the crab would cut the savory of the pork in a good way…but I think next time I’ll go for straight up pork XLBs. The first thing I noticed while trying to pick the sticky XLB out of the basket was that the skins were easy to break. I was sweating bullets trying to carefully extract one! It was totally worth it 😀 I put it in my spoon, gently poked a hole and took a contemplative sip of the soup before just dvouring the whole thing! Hot!!! But sooo so goooood~! Lovely little XLB, you did not disappoint 😉
This next I item I just had to order out of pure nostalgia! Deep Fried Crab Claws!! I mean how can you not love these…they come on a crab claw! Remember boxed lunches in Korea? These were probably one of the most popular side dishes in those! Except the ones here at Shanghai River are much bigger and better. Packed with filling, these were super hot when they were brought to the table. We all took a huge bite..and then were yelping! Well, I was bravely trying to pretend it’s not too hot for me while sneaking sips of water…hahaha!
The last item, Turnip Pastries, we ordered out of pure curiosity and really, it ended up just being a filler. I, for one, was way too full to even eat it with a sane mind! It was definitely interesting, if not my favorite. The turnips inside the pasty were mandolined and and seasoned, but it was still quite bland, and with the very dry pastry it was really difficult to swallow. Next time, I definitely wouldn’t order these again just on the fact that they seem sort of useless.
Final thoughts? The dim sum at Shanghai River is not the usual sort you find at other dim sum places. They are more like big appetizers. Some were a hit..some were a miss. But I’m gonna say that maybe it’s because of the items we chose to order. Most of them were fried or pastries, so perhaps if we had ordered a wider variety of types we would have been happier. Let’s leave on a high note: the XLB was great and super fun to eat! It put a smile on my face and my tummy and my heart was very~ happy! ♥