Many years ago, in the 1980s (*queue the wavy lines and the harp music*), almost all the chinese restaurants in and around Vancouver served cantonese cuisine.  There was one that did shanghainese cuisine on Kingsway called “Shanghai Paramount”.  It closed in the 1990s, but left a distinct impression, as it served some exceptional shanghainese cuisine.

For twenty some years since then, we’ve been looking for a restaurant that measures up to the standard set by Shanghai Paramount, which was tough because for ten years, there weren’t many shanghainese restaurants around.

Starting around 2000, this changed, and now there are dozens of such establishments, and we’ve been slowly sampling them.  We still haven’t found one that matches the standard we’re looking for, but this one comes pretty close

It’s a small place in a strip mall on Park road in Richmond (actually, isn’t Richmond nothing but strip-malls and residential?  But I digress….)

So on with the food, no visit to a shanghainese restaurant feels complete unless we sample the xiao long bao.

These are extremely good.  The wrappers are just the right thickness, the stuffing is tender, savoury and slightly sweet, with a taste of ginger, and a generous amount of soup.  Of all the places we’ve tried in the last 10 years, Chen’s XLBs are probably the “soup-iest”, which I like.

Next we had the shaobing.  The baked bread is light and nicely layered, served with a dish of savory minced pork with onions.  The filling was pretty good, but not remarkable.

Next we have the Jiǎozi

(or pot-stickers as they are often referenced in north america).  These are quite good, the skin is the right thickness, pan-fried just enough to give a little crunch on the bottom when you bite into it.  The filling was a season minced pork, with a nice texture (we’ve been to other places where it was overstuffed, or minced so fine, that it had a mealy texture).

Lastly, we ordered a some stir fried thick noodles.

Theirs is prepared “dry style” with pork, cabbage and spinach.  This was very well done, one of the best shanghai-style noodles I’ve had in quite some time.

Service here was in line with what I expect from chinese restaurants.  i.e. Efficient, but not especially friendly or warm.

The atmosphere is, well clean and presentable, but nothing that will dazzle or impress.  Functional, with a little attention to the aesthetic.

Chen's Shanghai Kitchen 白玉蘭餐館 on Urbanspoon

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