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Apr 4, 2005 11:45 PM

Replacement for Shanghai Hot & Sour Soup

  • m

For many years I was a fan of the Hot & Sour soup at Shanghai (Spadina & College). With the closure of the restaurant and the subsequent loss of this precious substance, I have been going to greater and greater lengths to find ANYTHING that is even vaguely similar to Shanghai's concoction, but alas I have had no luck.

I have read the Hot & Sour soup threads here on Chowhound, and I have even taken some of the advice here on the boards. To date I have tried Swatow, Kom Jug Yuen and Happy Seven as some have recommended and found that not one is even close to what Shanghai offered. If you're a fan of one the above, thats great, its clear from the previous threads that everyone has an idea of what "great" hot and sour soup is.

What I am asking for here is a place that can offer a direct REPLACEMENT for Shanghai's H&S, suggested by people who actually liked the Shaghai product. Better yet, if you know where the proprietors (a Mr. Larry Yu I believe) have fled to with this life extending recipe, please please please let me know.


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  1. I wish I could help, Michael, but in my experience there is NOTHING in the city that compares. Shanghai was a scruffy little restaurant with surly servers and questionable cleanliness, but damn they made great H&S soup! I still crave it, years later...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jane

      Hi Jane

      As much as it pains me to type it, I am forced to agree with you. I have slogged through several litres of Hot and Sour soup (one small order at a time) in the last while looking for a replacement, but no luck.

      Without regular doses of the Shanghai Hot and Sour, I have once again begun aging and I am once again susceptible to diseases like the common cold...

      Damn you Larry Yu! You absconded with the secret to immortality and left the rest of us drowning in a sea of sub standard Hot & Sour.

      1. re: MichaelR

        Again, I say that Shanghai did not have Hot and Sour soup but Hot and Sweet Soup. Any Asians on here will probably back me up. Maybe see if someone somewhere knows where the hot and sweet soup can be bought.

        Even though it is not sweet, Spadina Garden remains my favourite.


        1. re: Jan

          I tried the hot and sour soup at Rol San about a month ago, and it was definately more sweet than sour...My mom added vinegar to her bowl to sour some more. It was the sweetest hot and sour soup I've ever had. Maybe you'd like their version.

      2. re: Jane

        The Hot & Sour at Swatow is rather sweet, and they have vinegar on the table to sour it up a bit. My personal favourite is Pearl Court's H&S, but it's more earthy than sweet, for sure.

      3. has a good list of restaurants

        Xam Yu
        The decor is Chinatown standard: big, round tables draped in white plastic and an impossibly long menu semi-legibly scrawled onto several yellow boards. Seafood and bean curd hotpot ($9.95) brings a flavourful hodgepodge of tofu, mushrooms, shrimp, scallops and squid. Addictive bite-sized shrimp toasts enhance a simple, fresh plate of perfectly steamed scallops, shrimp and snow peas ($11.95). Beyond the student budget, intriguing delicacies like geoduc ($28.95 a pound) are for when the parents come to town. For those weary of the sea, there is hearty, meaty hot and sour soup ($6.95, large $13.95). Patient, attentive servers keep teacups full.
        Address: 339 Spadina Ave., 416-340-8603

        Pearl Court
        The formula for this slightly downtrodden but beloved icon of Chinatown East is a winner, and management is not shy about the success. Inside, chef Kwok Nan Chan’s menu brags of dishes as “seen on TV,” and the food backs up the boasting. Brawny hot and sour soup ($3.95) jumbles a storm of tofu, barbecued pork, bamboo slivers, black tree fungus and miniature shrimp—the flavours intensify as the bowl cools. Freckled with fresh red chili, the slightly lemony, delicate breading on deep-fried soft-shell crab ($14.95) proves a great balance against heavier meat and noodle dishes, like pan-fried fresh rice noodles ($8.50), a thick, sticky mess. For dessert, banana spring roll ($3.95), the fruit swathed in rice paper and perfectly deep-fried, is chaperoned by vanilla ice cream. A good selection of beer.
        Address: 633 Gerrard St. E., 416-463-8778.
        Open on Sunday: Yes
        Neighbourhood: Danforth-Riverdale

        Asian Legend
        The smart, modern, minimalist look is so unexpected in this Chinatown—white paper lanterns and grey stone tiles, inset abstracts of magnified ceramic patterns scrawled with calligraphy. One climbs to the mezzanine where small and large tables line a narrow space. Young, efficient servers know the vast menu, which takes a stab at most Chinese regions, hitting the bull’s eye with Northern and Szechuan dishes. Soft, soup-filled meat dumplings ($4.95) outclass pork siu mai topped with chewy shrimp ($5.95). A house specialty, lean, tender Szechuan smoked duck ($9.95) is imbued with an aroma akin to Lapsang souchong tea. Whole braised bass ($16.95) keeps its moist identity under a smothering sauce that balances chili, garlic, black bean and vinegar. The familiar pleasure of honey-dressed deep-fried banana is lessened by leathery batter.
        Address: 418 Dundas St. W., 416-977-3909.

        Spadina Garden
        From General Tso prawns ($12.95) to crispy duck ($13.95), this Dundas eatery offers all the popular Szechuan mainstays—but with an Indian accent. The owners, Hakka Chinese from Calcutta, speak fluent Hindi, which makes this family-run eatery a perennial favourite with the Indian community. Over 200 menu items range from hot and sour soup ($2.50) to “sea treasures” ($13.95), a fine cache of shrimp, squid, scallop and snow peas. Spicy peanut chicken ($9.50) with water chestnuts is the signature dish, an addictive trinity glazed in a sweetly piquant reduction. Indian influence asserts itself in the curry-infused noodle dishes ($8.25). Paper lanterns and real tablecloths provide ambience. Friendly service; free delivery on orders over $25 (within delivery area).
        Address: 116 Dundas St. W., 416-977-3413

        Ding Tai Fung/Shanghai dim sum
        It’s the kind of place someone has to tell you about. Otherwise, it’s unlikely you’d chance upon this Shanghai dimsummery hidden along the back end of a supermall. A display case reveals little cold dishes, such as deliciously chewy jellyfish with shredded turnip. House pride rests on freshly made dumplings, particularly the soup- filled variety. Stir-fried bean leaves (a.k.a. snow pea shoots, $9.50) hit the spot, their earthiness providing nice counterpoint to a carb-heavy repast. Amazingly, not-too-sweet desserts beguile and satisfy.
        Address: First Markham Place, 3235 Hwy. 7 E. (near Woodbine), 905-943-9880.

        Chung King Garden
        Tiny compared with cavernous Hong Kong emporia, the restaurant emerges triumphant with near-impeccable Mandarin and Szechuan fare. The opening salvo from the fastidious kitchen is Szechuan won ton ($3.95), eight gossamer dumplings stuffed with tender, flavourful pork and drizzled with an exciting chili-peanut sauce. It’s a portent of pleasures to come. Green onion “biscuit” ($1.75), a crisp pancake, continues the winning streak. Among mains, lamb skewers (eight for $14.95) are dredged, deep-fried and plastered in spicy salt. The Mandarin signature is Beijing duck ($27.95), the burnished bird so perfect it resembles a surreal ceramic masterwork. Seamless English-speaking service.
        Address: Market Village, 4394 Steeles Ave. E., 905-513-8788

        Fang's Restaurant
        3225 Hwy 7

        Asian Legend
        5186 Yonge Street,
        North York, ON M2N 5P6

        Asian Legend
        418 Dundas Street West,
        Toronto, ON M5T 1G7

        Asian Legend Ltd
        505 Highway 7 East,
        Thornhill, ON L3T 7T1

        City Inn Chinese Cuisine
        4390 Steeles Avenue East/Kennedy


        1 Reply
        1. re: keane fan


          Thanks so much for the reply. I have actually eaten at a bunch of those reaturants.. specifically 2 of the Asian Legends, (downtown and hwy 7), Spadina Gardens and Chung King. While they all have good dishes in their own right, not one of them that has Hot and Sour that is in any way comparable to Shanghai's. I will continue to search for a replacement, but to date my search has been fruitless.

        2. I only went to Shanghai a few times so I am not an expert on their soup. Have you tried Lucky Dragon? I have seen people leave with buckets, cookie jars, bowls of their soup to bring back to their friends/office mates. The only problem is that it isn't very consistent. Some days it's really spicy, others not.

          1. Maybe you should try Tuyen in North York.
            from their website:

            all our soups are made to order using only fresh ingredients

            szechuan hot & sour soup
            black fungus, tofu, vegetable, bamboo shoot and egg drop in chili tomato broth


            1. "What I am asking for here is a place that can offer a direct REPLACEMENT for Shanghai's H&S, suggested by people who actually liked the Shaghai product. Better yet, if you know where the proprietors (a Mr. Larry Yu I believe) have fled to with this life extending recipe, please please please let me know."

              Maybe you can ask his restaurant neighbours if they know his whereabouts. Maybe he opened a new restaurant in the suburbs.

              New restaurant in Scarborough:
              Skyland De Shanghai Restaurant
              680 Silver Star Boulevard
              (in between Kennedy/Midland/near Steeles)