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Every time I come home to Vancouver and have a craving for Shanghai food, my parents always take me to Shanghai River. This restaurant, famous for their xiao long bao’s, is located in Richmond on Westminster Highway, across from Richmond Centre.

The interior

We’ve been coming here for years and the restaurant is always packed. While reservations are recommended, sometimes I don’t think they really help you at all. There are times where you’ll just end up waiting in line with all the other folks waiting to snag a table.

The space is quite large and clean. I’d say it has more of an upscale feel than other Shanghai restaurants I’ve been to. Along one side of the restaurant, you’ll find a glass window which gives you a look at the kitchen staff preparing their dumplings.

Making dumplings!

The first dish that we ordered was the Homemade Sesame Cake Stuffed with Beef ($7.95). It sounded delicious and the pictures in the menu sold me on it.

Homemade Sesame Cake Stuffed with Beef

However, the dish fell short. While the sesame cake, which I’d call a flatbread, was flakey and decent, the beef was dry and tough. It’s not something I’d order again.

Homemade Sesame Cake Stuffed with Beef

Up next was the Salted Vegetables & Cuttle Fish ($6.80), a dish meant to be served cold. I loved the chewy pieces of cuttle fish which tastes similar to squid. The combination of it with the salty veggies worked well and overall, we really enjoyed it. It’s a really great summer dish.

Salted Vegetables & Cuttle Fish

My mom likes to try new things at restaurants and ordered the Braised Duck with House Sauce ($7.95). I’m always a little hesitant when Asian restaurants say “House Sauce” or “Special Sauce” since I’m never quite sure what to expect.

At first glance, it didn’t look very appetizing given its brought red colour. But it turned out to be a stand-out dish! Like the cuttle fish, this dish was also served cold. I loved the sweet sauce that coated the moist pieces of duck. Whaddya know? Sometimes it pays to try something new!

Braised Duck with House Sauce

Like I said, Shanghai River is known for having some of the best xiao long bao’s in town so we had to order the Shanghai Dumplings with Minced Pork ($7.50) aka xiao long baos. One serving came with 8 soupy dumplings. If you’ve never had these dumplings before, you’ll quickly learn that you have to eat them slowly and carefully since they’re filled with hot soup inside.

The dumplings here have a delicate skin which still has a nice chew to it. The filling was well-seasoned and the broth was delicious. If you’re only going to order one thing here, it’s gotta be these.

Shanghai Dumplings with Minced Pork (aka xiao long baos)

Another cold dish we ordered was the Pork Jelly which reminded me of an Asian head cheese. The pork jelly had a good amount of meat in them and while they were decent, I’ve had better.

Pork Jelly

The last dish we had was the Deep Fried Shrimp & Crab Balls ($9.95). One order came with three large deep fried balls. The fried balls consisted of a shrimp mousse encased around a crab claw. They were fried well, with a nice crisp exterior without being greasy. I enjoyed it but felt the filling could’ve been a bit lighter and fluffier.

Deep Fried Shrimp & Crab Balls

We’ve been coming to Shanghai River for years and after another enjoyable meal, you can bet we’ll be back in the future.

At a glance:
• Known for having some of the best xiao long bao’s in the city
• Located in Richmond on Westminster Highway across from Richmond Centre
• Always packed – reservations are recommended (but they don’t always help)
• Service isn’t the greatest
• Best to come with larger parties in order to try a wider variety of dishes

Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 2 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars

Shanghai River 滬江海派料理 on Urbanspoon

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