On Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen, and Cravings.

Yesterday’s mission: find this girl some fried rice cakes (chao nian gao).

It’s not just me who’s become taken with a number of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese dishes I’d never heard of before starting this job.  My friends have also started to crave certain things, and send me texts like this one, which I received from Dana:

“I would give ANYTHING for a plate of those fried rice cakes right now.”

Dana first tried chao nian gao at Top Shanghai, and while I thought those ones were a little overcooked, they were still divinely savoury.  Their chewy texture drew her in, and apparently she’s been thinking about them ever since.  Of course, we set about finding her some good ones.

Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen was just what we were looking for – easy to find, casual, inexpensive, and of course, Shanghainese.  This restaurant is a local favourite, and after we arrived last night at around 5:30pm, it quickly filled up.  Our server was really lovely, and put up with our indecisive ordering.  We were starving, and having a hard time thinking straight.

We first had to decide what rice cakes to order; there were rice cakes with pork, rice cakes with pork chops, and rice cakes with pork and snow cabbage.  We opted for the latter ($8.95).  We also got the steamed mini pork buns (xiao long bao, 6 pieces for $4.50), a rice roll ($3.75), a beef roll ($4.25), and a plate of sauteed seasonal Shanghai-style vegetables ($10.50) .  Then, terrifyingly, we nearly ate it all.  We were just so hungry.

Mercifully, the rice cakes arrived quickly.  This was the first time I’d had them sauteed with bean sprouts, and the strips of sauteed pork were nice and lean.  Overall, the dish wasn’t quite as salty as we both would have liked, but the chewy texture was there.  Ooooh, that texture.

The xiao long bao were phenomenal; without a doubt, these were the juiciest XLB I’ve had in Richmond so far.  So juicy, in fact, that when I bit into the first one, the broth didn’t flow neatly into my spoon as it usually does.  Instead, it overflowed onto the table and into my lap.  XLB: 1, Lindsay: 0.  I then took to eating them whole, which was less messy but prevented me from speaking for a good long while.  There’s just so much soup, pork, and bun to get through.

Don’t let the fear of soup spillage put you off, however, because these are some of the best (and cheapest) xiao long bao in town.  I’m pretty sure Dana and I could have easily eaten another half-dozen.

Because I loved the rice roll from Osaka Market so much, I ordered one for us last night.  It consisted of sticky rice wrapped around a Chinese donut and rousung, which is pork floss.  I know the term “pork floss” sounds rather unappetizing, but trust me when I say it’s DELICIOUS.  The rice roll was big, crunchy, sweet, and salty, just like my first one.  It didn’t have preserved vegetables in it, however, and I missed the vinegary hit of flavour they provide.

The beef roll was good, but would have been perfect if it had less hoisin sauce.  The hoisin was sweet and strong, and overpowered the dish.  The thinly-sliced beef and the crispy pancake were both excellent, though.

The seasonal vegetable dish included bok choy, broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas, cabbage, steamed tofu, fried tofu, and balls of puffed gluten.  It was saucy and tasty.

I especially liked the dark ripply mushrooms, stalks of broccoli, and fried tofu.  The balls of puffed gluten didn’t taste like much, but were incredibly textural.  Here’s a warning: if you are averse to soft and squishy sea creature-like textures, you should avoid these.  If you love soft and squishy sea creature-like textures, then order away.

Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen is the perfect hole-in-the-wall for Shanghai favourites; the food is good, and the food is cheap (Dana and I ate enough for about four people, and our bill was only $35 – Boom!)  I’m curious to see what Richmond dish will be the subject of her next “I’d give ANYTHING for a _____” text…..

 

Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen (sometimes also listed as “Zhang’s Shanghai Kitchen”)

8095 Park Road, Richmond BC

604-304-8288

Cash only

Vegetarian options available

 

12 Comments

  1. Andrea

    Ah, you discovered our favorite place for xiao long bao in Richmond! I’ve not had any to top these. Also worth trying is the version of these with a thicker skin, panfried like potstickers but still with broth inside (cannot think of Chinese name, sorry). A sensory overload!

    Reply
  2. Rosie

    You ordered most of my favourite items! Good work!!

    Reply
  3. John

    Awesome!!! I can’t wait to try the Shanghai food here now! :D Especially the XLB! Thank-you so much Lindsay for this review!

    Reply
  4. Isabella

    Hi, Lindsay, love your writing, I often find myself browsing here at lunch time to find inspiration. :)
    Just one suggestion, what city of Richmond is doing to promote your blog? I think a lot of people in Richmond doesn’t even know, considering it’s our tax money, no offense to you, the city should really take this opportunity to promote. Thanks !

    Reply
    • Wiener Schnitzel

      Isabella,
      I’m thinking the same.
      Lindsay has no support from Richmond City or Tourism Richmond.

      Reply
    • Lindsay365

      Hi Isabella,

      I’ve actually been hired by Tourism Richmond, which is independent from the City of Richmond. Tourism Richmond is funded by a hotel tax, so there’s no taxpayer money involved in its initiatives, including my salary. Tourism Richmond and the City of Richmond have a great relationship, however, and the city has been very helpful in letting me know what’s going on around Richmond! Thanks so much for your comment and interest in the blog.

      Cheers,
      Lindsay

      Reply
      • Isabella

        Thanks, Lindsay. Keep up the good work.

        Reply
        • Laurette

          As well one of Richmond’s local free papers often post articles from her blog & have her website to visit at bottom of the article.

          Reply
  5. Lee

    Holy cow. You can EAT.

    Reply
  6. Lindsay

    This meal looks amazing! I am craving chinese right now!

    Reply
  7. grayelf

    Nice to hear that Chen’s is holding up despite the change in ownership. It is the first place I ever had the rice cakes, and their XLB used to be pretty darn good as well. Deep fried salty tofu was always toothsome as well. We’ll have to go back.

    Reply

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