This particular restaurant space in Kerrisdale has been a bit of a revolving door in the past 10 years. It’s been host to about 5 different restaurants in that time. It’s latest iteration is Modern City Chinese Restaurant, which hosts a somewhat eclectic menu of Chinese cuisine, it’s forte appears to be Shanghainese.
We stopped in on a Friday evening (not quite a full house), and were seated immediately by the window.
Mom ordered a set menu for six dinners (which was probably a mistake, there turned out to be a lot more food than we could handle).
First course was
Shanghai style soup with bamboo shoots, bean curd, and salted pork. The broth here was mild, with saltiness front the cured pork. The bean curd is in a sheet format, rolled into knots. This provides an interesting presentation and texture. Overall, it was an okay soup.
The second course was a cold appetizer plate.
It consisted of braised gluten with mushrooms, sliced chicken cooked in wine sauce, and slices of smoked fish. I like the chicken, but didn’t care for the smoked fish or the gluten or mushrooms.
The second (and third) course was
peking duck. The duck skin was crisp (and meatless) served over a bed of crispy fried vermicelli noodles, along with a steamer basket full of mandarin pancakes and a side of hoisin sauce. The fried vermicelli noodles were a little chewy.
The pancakes were warm and soft and not too sticky, but unfortunately, we found some, small we say, unwelcome foreign debris in their midst. We alerted the server who immediate scooped up the steamer basket and took it away to replace it with fresh pancakes. I always like the pancakes with duck skin and hoisin sauce, but again, I prefer it when it’s sliced off with a little duck meat as well.
The second half of the peking duck is the duck meat, stir fried with vegetables and served over more fried vermicelli noodles along with a plate of crispy lettuce leaves.
The duck meat in this dish was served in unusually large chunks. Most of the time, it’s diced or minced in pea-sized pieces. They were stir fried with celery, onions, carrots, corn and peas. Also an unusual preparation (I typically see onions, celery, and water chestnuts). Once stuffed in a lettuce leaf and drizzled with more hoisin sauce, this I actually prefer over the duck skin wraps.
Next course was
Shanghai soup buns, or xiaolongbao. These steamed pork dumplings are one of my favorites. Here the skins are just the right thickness, and the pork filling was slightly sweet and salty and released a goodly amount of soup/juice. Enough to give a good squirt if eaten without care.
Next we had Shanghai style sweet and sour ribs. These were just okay. Most of the time, the ribs are deep-fried to a light crunch, quickly swirled in this sweetened black vinegar sauce (for the sour-ness), but here, the pork was not deep-fried, hence no crunch. The taste of the sauce was right though.
Next was crystal shrimp. These prawns have a light slightly salty sweet taste and a delicate texture. They also exhibit the curious slightly translucent quality that only chinese restaurants seem to be able to accomplish when preparing shrimp. This was good, but not a stand out.
Next we had sweet and sour deep-fried rock cod. At this point we were getting pretty full, and each subsequent dish was greeted with a “What? There’s more?” reaction. The rock cod was dusted with tapioca starch and seasons, and deep-fried to golden crunch, and then served with a generous amount of sweet and sour sauce (mostly made of pineapple juice, ketchup and vinegar) with a little blanched peppers onions and prawns. This was actually very good, but as already mentioned, we were all getting pretty full by now.
Next we had stir fried Shanghai style think noodles with pork and spinach. This was a very good noodle dish. The think noodles are “al dente”, stir fried with soy, slivers of marinated pork and spinach.
The next dish was stir fried vegetables (bakchoy), in a light sauce (I think it was made from chicken stock). At this point we were REALLY full, so this dish was barely touched.
There was still dessert after this, but I had no room for it, and the pictures didn’t turn out.
Modern City, overall, is a pretty good chinese (shanghainese) restaurant. Hopefully, they will make a better go of it in this space than the previous incarnations.