On Suhang Restaurant and Dumpling Mysteries.

Xiao Long Bao, you are apparently the ‘it-girl’ of Chinese cuisine in Richmond, and until now I didn’t even know you exist.  I’m genuinely sorry about that, and will try to make it up to you.

Here’s what I know about you so far: you’re a type of steamed ‘soup dumpling’ that arrives at the table in its bamboo steamer; you’re a specialty of Shanghai; your dough is made from flour, water, and oil; your history is far more complicated than I will ever be able to explain here; and finally, I will never attempt to make you at home, because there are far too many restaurants in Richmond that make you so well.  Suhang is one of them.

Quietly sitting in a strip mall on Ackroyd Road, Suhang Restaurant is not a place I would have thought to try.  Hence, the beauty of recommendations.

Today I was joined at Suhang by a group of friends for lunch.  Amy, one of the owners and also our server, could not have been a more gracious host.  She explained many of their dishes, helped us with our order, and away we flew to dim sum heaven (first class, because it’s my imagination and only there will I ever get to do such a thing).

In total we ordered seven dishes.  In no particular order, they were:

Marinated Bean Curd with Vegetables: This was a cold dish (and they don’t mess around when they say cold, the plate and food were chill-y) that consisted of finely chopped tofu and spinach.  It was healthy and flavourful.

Shrimp and Chive Dumplings: These were pan-fried and incredible.  I’ve tasted few (if any) homemade dumplings in a Chinese restaurant before, and the difference is remarkable.  They tasted fresh, crispy, and chewy – chewy because of the hand-developed gluten in the dough, and not because of freezer burn.  Eating them reminded me of the first time I tried homemade perogies after only having had them store-bought.  Incomparable, my friends, incomparable.

Turnip Cakes:  These were like savoury, sesame-covered turnip pot pies, and I want more now.  Right this instant.  Turnip cakes at Suhang – ORDER THEM.

Baked Sugar Cakes: Flaky pastry, just a hint of sweet syrup, and more sesame seeds.  Delightful.

Pan Fried Rice Cakes (Nian Gao) with Pickled Vegetables:  Rice cakes are little medallions made from glutinous rice that look like sliced water chestnuts.  They’re white, chewy, and until yesterday I was rather indifferent to them.  However, when stir-fried with flavourful pickled vegetables and edamame, I’m on board!

Chinese Fried Doughnuts: You had me at “doughnut.”  I marvel at nearly every culture’s ability to take dough, deep-fried it, and make it their own.  In this case, the final product is a long, skinny length of golden pastry.  They’re airy and light but not sugary at all, and we dipped them into warm, sweetened soy milk.  I’ve heard you can also eat these with congee – a starch on starch combination I’m curious to try.

Xia Long Bao:  Here you are again, darlings.  These little packages arrived hot, steaming, and filled with both ‘soup’ and ground pork.  They’re expertly wrapped so as not to allow any of the contents to spill out, and I was curious about how they do such a thing.  That led to recollections of my childhood inability to figure out how the makers of Caramilk get soft caramel inside hard chocolate.  My poor little noggin worked so hard but just couldn’t figure it out.

Fortunately, we now have the internet to find answers to our questions!  The secret to the broth in xiao long boa is aspic, which up until now I’d only associated with the French, Julia Child, and 1950’s housewives.  Here, the congealed aspic is mixed with the pork filling, and when steamed, melts into a hot and tasty broth.  Hence, never eat a cold xiao long bao.  The soup inside will no longer be soup.

It must take years to master these things.  The dough has to be thin enough not to overwhelm the fillings, but not so thin that it bombs all over your lap (which is is entirely possible when eating them for the first time, I assure you).

Our bill came to $44.13.  For FIVE people.  Crazy, right?  Less than $10 per person for incredible food, lovely service, and a refined atmosphere.  I would definitely take visitors back to Suhang, and am already looking forward to seeking out more xiao long bao (and doughnuts!) around the city…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

48 Comments

  1. Sunshine

    Great post! I love xiao nong bao and have never eaten there, actually. Keep up the great work, Lindsay!

    Reply
    • Kai

      I second that. Non Asians who feel intimated in an Asian restaurant and clueless as to what to order can now follow your lead and try these delicacies. Suhang is a great restuarant.

      Reply
      • Kai

        Sorry, I mean to write ‘intimidated’. I don’t want the ‘grammar police’ chewing me up.LOL.

        Reply
  2. Luke

    Thanks for you post! I like to enjoy Xiao Long Bao as well, although have not found in Vancouver as good as China!

    I forgot you website address so I go to google for typing in 365 dining richmond I put 365 d and find this website! http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/ Maybe you will like, you seems to like cooking and have similar website idea. Any way looking frontwards (forwards..??) to you next post. Cheer!

    Reply
  3. Mel

    Awesome post! Love Suhang. They have my 2nd favourite XLB aside from Dinesty. Suhang’s are so juicy and have so much filling. They are much larger than the ones from Dinesty. Suhang is one of the most consistent restaurants, in my opinion. Loved the details on the food and the photos. Now I know what to order next time!

    Reply
  4. Jewels

    I looooove xiao long baos. Probably going for some tonight.

    The first time I took my non-Asian boyfriend for xiao long bao, I asked him if he wanted help with transferring the lovely-yet-potentially-dangerous bundles of joy to his plate. I suppose he wanted to be impressive and manly, because he lifted his hand in confidence and gratitude and said, “No thanks, I got it”. He took his chopsticks, stuck them all the way through the xiao long bao and brought them to his mouth. This, of course, left a very visible trail of soup leading from the plate, over the tablecloth and all the way up his shirt. He had to make the “walk of shame” all through the restaurant to the bathroom to clean up. The worst part was we were in a tiny packed restaurant and were even sharing a table with strangers who witnessed the entire event.

    My boyfriend and I are still together and this memory always invokes laughter. He loves xiao long bao now and knows how to eat it!

    Now I beg a question from Lindsay and other readers: How do YOU eat your xiao long bao? Do you drain the soup first and eat a deconstructed xiao long bao, or do you bite off the top, add some vinegar and pop the entire thing in your mouth? Or are there some other methods?

    Reply
    • 52 Scoops

      I carefully pick up my XLB, dip it into vinegar, place it on my soup spoon, bite a tiny hole in the dumpling, suck out all the soupy goodness, then pop the whole XLB in my mouth. I absolutely love XLB. I think a trek out to Richmond to Suhang is in order!

      Reply
    • Lindsay365

      An EXCELLENT question, Jewels! I was using about the same technique as 52 Scoops, though if the xiao long bao were a little smaller (as I’ve heard they are at other places), I’d probably just pop the whole thing in my mouth!

      Reply
      • Wylie

        Excellent post Lindsay! Warning about popping the whole XLB in your mouth … you don’t want to burn yourself especially when they first come out!

        I love XLBs and usually can eat an order myself when I go with friends and family LOL. Need at least 2 orders for the table!

        I eat them like 52 Scoops says.

        Reply
  5. Lindsay365

    Thanks @Sunshine, @Kai, @Luke, and @Mel! I learned so much yesterday, and am glad it’s useful to others, too. Also, VERY glad to now have xiao long bao in my life.

    Reply
  6. JapaDog

    Now this is a food blog, hope you continue reviewing like this.

    Reply
  7. Mel

    Another note Lindsay, is that I truly think that the magic of this blog is learning with you. As you mentioned, you learned a lot yesterday… THAT is great.

    Looking forward to learning with you for the next 300+ days.

    Reply
  8. Daniel

    Gotta love this restaurant! My family and I always love going here for the delocious dimsum!

    Reply
  9. RS

    dimsum is cantonese cuisine lunch
    this is an excellent entry tho

    Reply
  10. Jen

    Very good choice to start the Shanghainese cuisine! The bar is set quite high though, as personally I think it’s the best Shanghainese place in Greater Vancouver…

    Reply
  11. KimHo

    I wonder if this post will (temporarily?) appease those who are demanding a post of a Chinese restaurant… Just saying! :)

    Have one question here: In the third picture, the one of the table spread, what is the soup dish between 11:00 and 12:00 o’clock? I do not believe it is any of the seven dishes listed in the post.

    I also have some opportunities for improvement/requests here:

    1) Is it possible you take pictures of the individual dishes? While I know how a shrimp and chive dumpling looks like, not everybody will, specially those not familiar with the cuisine.
    2) When I was blogging, this was something I was criticized with: Can you take the picture *prior* to biting into it and, if you want to show the inside/filling, use a knife or something similar (rather than a bite)? This might be difficult in a Chinese restaurant, considering knifes aren’t usually used at the table.

    Good thing you point out the note about those who do not speak the language. A people seem to be intimidated just because of that one factor. And, in the third picture, I noticed the picture include forks. While it is sort of a “requirement” for Chinese people to use chopsticks (in a traditional sense, it is part of your upbringing), if you can’t, don’t be afraid to ask for a fork. Just don’t poke the XLB with it! :)

    Reply
    • Lindsay365

      Hi Kimho, to answer your question about the soup, it was a type of fish soup that someone at the table ordered and I forgot to try! In the flurry of dim sum/photography/note-taking I completely missed it, so I left it out of the total bill. I believe the person who ordered it paid for it separately, anyways. But thanks, and good eye!

      Reply
  12. GP

    Good post!! First of all its a restaurant post. Secondly its Chinese food FTW!! Thanks so much for this post.

    I’d like to second KimHo’s suggestion on taking pictures first before allowing others to dig in. That’s the number one rule when eating with a food blogger. Number two would be Dont order the same dish twice. And try to make it neat. The picture of that turnip cake was taken on a dirty plate.

    Please don’t take these suggestions as criticism. We are not being nit picky here. We just want to make this blog the best that it can be. Good work though. We like your honesty and willingness to learn. Keep it up please.

    Reply
    • Robert

      There are times when a photo of the outside of a food item does not tell the story as well as one that shows both its interior and exterior. I hope Lindsay will continue to do her job the way she has been doing it.

      Reply
  13. GP

    I forgot to mention the other popular places for XLB’s are Shanghai River and also Dinesty as some readers have suggested. Next time you go for a XLB, why dont you take a video of yourself eating the XLB. It will demonstrate the proper way of eating it and will answer the questions of your readers.

    Reply
  14. J.

    PLEASE review Carmichaels at the Hilton Hotel next!

    Reply
  15. famishedfoodie

    Chowhound has a very definitive list for YVR’s best XLBs – for those curious, check out their recommendations! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829375

    Reply
  16. frecklebugs

    Omg I miss Su hang and those delicious soup dumplings. I work in Vancouver now and don’t get to slurp up those tastey lil packages as much as I’d like to. I think the ones at Su hang are the best…Shanghai river is a close #2 though :) yum yum and YUM

    Reply
  17. Biophilia

    Keep them coming Lindsey-such fun to follow your food adventures.
    Could you ask your webmaster to add a feature for emailing? I would love to share your blog with family and friends via email (for those folks who are not on Facebook and twitter or wish to subscribe)
    Keep on eating AND enjoying!

    Reply
  18. GS

    Lindsay
    I’m tired of you catering to the Asian immigrant restaurants.
    How about us Europeans, who build this Country.
    There are plenty of Old Country restaurants to review.
    You may want to try the Austrian Club at Westminster Hwy.
    Great Schnitzel, Sausages and Sauerkraut with an Octoberfest atmosphere.
    Prost

    ,

    Reply
    • GerryD

      Agreed!

      Reply
    • LC

      I agree with you that she should try not only Asian restaurants in Richmond. But I cannot agree with your statement “We Europeans who build the country”, Europeans were not the only people who helped build this country, everyone knows that. I’m sure your grandfather or great-grandfather was also an immigrant. This blog is to promote Richmond as a diverse city where they have all kinds of cuisine, please be open minded. This lady still have 300+ days to try more food, you really think she won’t be having ANY European food? Come on!

      Reply
  19. GS

    Anybody read the local Newspaper, about a Chinese Restaurant at Parker Place being shut down due to Cockroach infestation.

    Reply
  20. Doug

    GS – Patience !! It has been only 14 days !!

    Btw – Europeans didn’t build this country alone just like Asian money didn’t build Richmond alone.

    Love Xiao Long Bao … poke a hole to let the steam out – add some vinegar and then in one bite enjoy …

    Try Spicy Szechuan and/or Shanghai River.

    Please find a good schnitzel place – dying to have some ever since the place in Harbour Center food court has been closed for some time ..

    Reply
  21. Carol

    You can talk about surroundings too: taking pictures of their menu AND your bill, what time you get there, how many people around, and what are they having.
    When people say that you should have reviewed more Chinese restaurants and away from the Steveston area, I don’t fully agree with that. Many people do know where to go for Chinese food in Richmond. It’s always good for her to discover and share something new.
    Also, I do agree with previous posts that farmer’s market is not a restaurant.

    Reply
    • Carol

      Also, it’s good to have pictures for ALL dishes not some along with the prices. (So you really have to post your bill IN details). Say them if you like each of them or not.
      Even though you are only required to post one restaurant per day. Talk about what you had for the other ones (did you try out other restaurants (I know they don’t have to be in full details)? went grocery shopping and cook at home?)

      Reply
  22. Lee

    Lindsay

    Great stuff! I love your POV with regards to Chinese food. Curious, enthusiastic, and smart. The chopped veggie dish you had is ma-lan-tou. I love it too. In Shanghai – when it was hot, I remember lots of chilled dishes. Cold tofu with chopped pickled vegetables and thousand year old eggs as another favorite.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    Reply
    • Jewels

      If I may, just an extra note about the marinated bean curd with veggies dish or “ma lan tou”: in Shanghainese cuisine, it is made with a vegetable called Kalimeris Indica. Perhaps, at Suhang Restaurant they used spinach? I can certainly see spinach being used as a good alternative if you cannot find Kalimeris Indica in your local supermarket! We have found it frozen in Asian supermarkets around Richmond, just FYI.
      I also love “man lan tou”, super yummy stuff.

      Reply
      • Jewels

        “Ma lan tou”, not “man lan tou”. Sorry!

        Reply
      • Lindsay365

        Perhaps it was actually Kalimeris Indica and I mistook it for spinach? A total possibility. I will keep my eye out for it in supermarkets from now on.

        Reply
  23. Catherine

    Amazing! I think you’re doing a great job.Thank you!
    I love the pictures you taken, they always make me mouth waterring, hope to see more…

    Reply
  24. Allison

    Now all I want to eat is xiao nong bao… Thanks Lindsay :) Really though, these look delicious and just make me want to go eat them. Xiao nong bao/soup dumplings are my favourite. YUM!

    Reply
    • LotusRapper

      Hi Allison, it’s xiao “long” (with an “L”) bao, “long” meaning “basket”. But don’t pronounce it long as we would usually say it, it’s more like “lone” with a very subtle “g” at the end. Thanks :-)

      Reply
  25. LotusRapper

    Hi there Lindsay !! I just got tipped off about your site. First off, a big congratulations on winning the Richmond365 contest I’ve already bookmarked your site and will be coming back to it daily. Keep up the great reviewing, writing ….. and of course, EATING !

    Bon appetit,
    LR

    Reply
  26. Robert

    Thank you so much for calling my attention to this restaurant. We took two friends for lunch today and were blown away by how good everything was. Yes, we took Lindsay’s advice and ordered the turnip cakes, which we would not ordinarily have done. Thank you, Lindsay. They are to die for!

    Reply
  27. 3rdRock

    XLBs are yummy. However, take it easy on the Chinese donut stics “yutiao”. Poorly made “yutiao” leaks of too much Lye water.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtiao

    Reply
  28. Jean

    Lindsay, thank you so much for another wonderful post.  Your creative writing and photos makes the experience of dining come alive.  I love that your photos are more creative and artistic than what others sometimes use.  I have yet to miss a blog and look forward to reading them each day.  Moreover, I have visited and enjoyed many of the restaurants you have reviewed. Your Blog is success!  The only part of the blog I find disappointing is the over critical comments by those who feel their way is the only way to write a Blog. For the record there ARE NO RULES for a restaurant blog.  Just because Lindsay has a different style than you i.e. KimHo, doesn’t mean she is wrong, just different.  So many people absolutely love her blog the way it is!!!!  How boring blogs would be if they were all the same.  Moreover, I was insulted by your comment that non Asians are “Clueless” when ordering at an Asian restaurant.  I am sure you didn’t mean to come off mean spirited, however, with the frequency and heat of your negative comments you are coming off as someone with ulterior motives or that at the very least is quite bitter.  I hope I am wrong, but in my heart i know i am not.  My heart hurts to know that someone would bully another.  There is such a thing as constructive criticism, but it should come from a good place in your heart, and with a talented hand.  KimHo I think your energy would be better redirected in starting your own blog, then you wouldn’t feel such a need to criticize someone different than yourself. 

    Sent from my iPad

    Reply
  29. Jean

    My apology to KimHo, the Clueless comment was from another person who posted.

    Reply
  30. Acting Hard, Dumplings Easy « Gateway Theatre, Richmond BC

    [...] bao. (If you need a primer on the perfect bundle of joy that is xiao long bao, check out here or here.) We went to Din Tai Fung in Causeway Bay which has a reputation for having some of the best xiao [...]

    Reply

Leave a Reply