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'Shanghai Bund' - A great Shanghainese cuisine find!!

My gourmand brother-in-law has been raving about the newly opened 'Shanghai Bund' ( 1661 Denison Street, Markham - SW corner of Denison/Kennedy ) for the past few days. He told me the owner of the restaurant actually went out of his way in hiring five cooks/chefs directly from the famed restaurant in Hong Kong and Shanghai. I was very impressed and, today, decided to find out for myself first hand. Well fellow chowhound, all I'm going say is, after tonight, I won't be going anywhere else for authentic Northern/Shanghai cuisine! Period! 369, Asian Legend, High Shanghai....etc. 'Once the word is out, prepare to meet thy doom!!' Ha!

Since there were only the two of us, we only managed to order four dishes. Of the four, the 'Braised garoupa fillet in wine sauce' was simply amazing, rivalling some of the best Hong Kong/Shanghai restaurants could offer. Similarly, the 'Stirred fry shredded eel with yellowing chives' was the best I've tasted outside of China. The 'Sauteed prawns with 'dragon-well' tea leaves' was also spot on. We were tossing between ordering either the pot-stickers or the hand-pull noodles and decided on the latter. The smoked pomfret that goes with the noodles were very authentic. For our next visit, I think I am going to form a big contingent, so that we can try out more of their dishes. Yuuuuuuuuuum!!

Thank God! Some genuine Shanghainese food in Toronto finally!!

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  1. Is this at the same location as the previous Shanghainese restaurant that used to be there (Shanghai Royal Garden) ... right next to the large chinese grocery store?

    The last few times I went the owner was on the phone, sounding like he was trying to sell the place. Looks like the deal was done (all for the better). The food before wasn't half bad (as I had posted two reviews), but still it was always empty. Not sure if it's the location that did them in.

    Looks like I'll definitely have to give it a try. How's their prices compared to Hi Shanghai?

    1. Thanks for the review.

      I am very interested in trying it out too as I know they got some great chefs in there ! Got a copy of the menu and see that they have the Crispy aromatic duck, 香酥鴨. Hmm...It is actually a szechuan famous dish (note that not all chuan dishes are spicy !). Have not tried one that is good here, so I am interested in trying it out to see if they can make it great !

      Crispy aromatic duck is famous that Charlie Chaplin said "unforgettable amazing taste he has ever tried in his life !!" in the 1954 World Peace meeting he attended at Geneve when he met with the Premier of Republic of China Zhou En Lai at that time. He even requested one to bring back home !

      3 Replies
      1. re: skylineR33

        Hello Royaljelly and skylineR33. Home so early?! No saturday night out chowing?!
        Yes, the place is next to the huge Chinese supermarket. The revamped decoration is pretty elegant and the price is very reasonable, slightly on the high side but not overly excessive for that quality of food. I believe the Crispy aromatic duck ( I always like to call it 'Chinese duck confit'! Ha!) that skylineR33 eluded to cost around $9 for half a fowl. The braised garoupa fillet in wine sauce was $13 whilst the eel with yellowing chives was $16. I recall the crispy duck of the now defunct ' Shanghai one family' (direct Chinese translation), near Silver star Blvd, was.half decent. May be I'll use that as reference the next time I order the duck from Shanghai Bund. Hay folks! How about a Chinese Chow-meet at Shanghai Bund to give it a real chowhound scrutiny?! My wife, who happens to be a Shanghainese, commented that some of the dishes were very comparable in standard to those find in the Shanghai Social Club, Hong Kong central district. To be able to stand shoulder with shoulder next to HK's Shanghai food benchmark establishment says a lot about Shanghai Bund's food quality!

        1. re: Charles Yu

          Count me in! My wife is from Beijing, so she really like Northern food too. Plus she does all the ordering for me, since I can't read Chinese. Do you think the place is appropriate to bring a small child (under 2), or should I find a baby sitter? See my email in my profile if you need to message me.

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Hounds on many different boards have organized dinners and other gatherings and they're always a lot of fun--plus the reports after are great chow tips!

            We have a couple of guidelines we ask organizers to follow in order to keep the focus of the boards on chow talk and not on RSVPs and other organizational details. The main guideline is that posts to the boards should be announcements (and followup reports!) only--all discussion, scheduling and RSVPing should happen off the boards.

            The way most people handle this is by posting an initial announcement to their local board with an email address for people to contact if they're interested in getting together for a Chowhound dinner. If you use the 'report' link on that announcement, you can ask us to sticky it to the top of the appropriate board so it doesn't fall off the front page.

            They then use email (some cities even have established Google or Yahoo groups or listservs, etc, for scheduling dinners) to discuss the specifics of where and when to meet. Once the group has decided on a concrete plan, you can post a second announcement to the boards, with the specific details, again, including an email address so people can RSVP offline. If you 'report' that one, we'll sticky it in place of the original thread.

            Then, once your dinner has happened, start a new thread so people can report back on what they ate and whether it was delicious so other hounds can benefit from your experiences.

            Good luck with your event!

        2. Wow thanks for the review and heads up Charles! I visit Shanghai at least twice a year and can never wait to go back, this sounds like a great place to curb my craving! Thanks!

          1. I am Charles' brother in law, not a gourmand, just someone who loves to eat almost anything. After discovering the Shanghai Bund Friday afternoon, I went back Friday night for dinner. You have to try any of their clear soup (not hot and sour), and enjoy the very nice taste and fragrance of Chinese ham 金華火腿 that they mange to import. Their cold dish smoke fish 壎魚 was made from cod marinated just right, and simply delicious. I travel to China 4 times a year. Charles is right, I only expect to find such standard of Shanghainese food in Hong Kong or China. To top it off, the restaurant is nicely decorated, and they have a liquor license. Do not take credit cards yet. Introduce yourself to the owner, Victor Lau, and he has many stories to tell you about his restaurants and dishes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Caneast

              I took my wife and kid there today for lunch... the place was already packed! We ordered 5 dishes (yes, we're pigs). The cold dish marinated cold fish was a bit too sweet/saucy, the cold bamboo shoots (looks like rat tails) was nicely done. A tofu squares deep fried with a brown sauce was also a touch salty, but very flavourful and rich. Hollow veggie was very large serving and cooked perfectly. The soup noodle w/ mushrooms, bamboo and shrimp was a bit on the bland side. All ingredients were very fresh as well.

              Here's some scans of their take-out menu (I presume it's close to the in house menu?)

              Page 1 - http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/15...
              Page 2 - http://img518.imageshack.us/img518/39...
              Page 3 - http://img518.imageshack.us/img518/87...
              Page 4 - http://img63.imageshack.us/img63/7292...
              Page 5 - http://img111.imageshack.us/img111/12...
              Page 6 - http://img111.imageshack.us/img111/73...

              Can't wait to go with the Chow gang and try their dinner dishes.

            2. My family got take-out from Shanghai Bund about a week ago after a friend of a friend of a relative, who supposedly is a food writer from HK, resoundingly endorsed it. We ordered a Stuffed Duck with Glutinous Rice (Eight Treasure Duck) and some other dishes.

              It was slightly different from how we've gotten this dish before. Usually it's smothered with a sauce, but they serve it without so the skin remained crispy and a lovely medium golden-brown. The duck was completely deboned and stuffed generously with glutinous rice and assorted goodies. Very juicy and meaty with a thin layer of fat which made for great texture with the skin, fat, meat, and stuffing. Apparently, this is one of their specialties. Since we got it take-out, it wasn't as perfect as it could have been. My family plans to visit the restaurant and order their other specialties, including the "Fried Egg White Balls Stuffed With Sesame". I can't wait!

              2 Replies
              1. re: lsk

                So did you call in advanced to have the "Eight Treasure Duck" prepared since it is a take out ? Usually, this dish takes a longer time to make...

                I had a good "Eight Treasure Duck" before at Fangs' (now is replaced by QianLong) in First Markham place.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  Yes, we had to order this in advance. This, along with their Beggar's Chicken are the two "order in advance" items.

              2. this looks really good, I will have to check it out. Has anybody inquired as to what their specialities are? Besides the ones already mentioned, I assume the * selections are their specialities. How do their soup dumplings stack up. Afterall it is a Shanghainese restaurant and that is a good measuring stick.

                They should highlight their specialties in the set meals. The selections in them are rather pedestrian.

                1 Reply
                1. re: aser

                  We swung by tonight and tried:
                  Shanghai Bund Special Fried Rice
                  Dong Po Pork
                  Eel with yellow chives
                  Cabbage with ham and cream sauce

                  The eel was outstanding. Their brown sauce (not sure what it is called) has the right amount of saltiness and a touch of smokiness and just a slight hint of sugar to smooth out the flavour. I particularly enjoyed the minced garlic (not raw, seemed cooked but not browned) and green onions in oil. Repeat for sure.

                  The fried rice was very much to me a Fukienese style...saucy topping. The underlying fried rice had very good aroma (wok hai). The topping included sliced mushrooms, pork slices, bamboo shoot, bay shrimp, bean curd sheet, pork skin/cracking (not sure what to call it in english...chu pei?), bok choy and a couple other items...oh and topped with a fried sunnyside egg. Good but not a rice dish I would recommend to have with dinner dishes, Something more to be part of a rice and noodle dinner. Repeat for sure but not as a rice accompaniment to a dinner selection.

                  The Dong Po was pretty good. A much clearer sauce (caramel coloured) than I usually expect...rather than dark soy sauce. The flavour was strong on sweet and weaker on the aromatics I like. The meat could have used another 30-60 minutes of cooking I think. I like it when the cubes are soft enough to use the string to tie/cut...they were nice enough to remove the string though. The pork also included the rib bones in a couple pieces which I felt made the sauce better tasting. Worth repeating to try a second time.

                  Cabbage with cream sauce and ham. Ham was nice...very likely the imported Chinese stuff...Kum Wah Ham. The cabbage was long napa cooked in clear stock/broth (my guess) and then sauced and topped with the ham (between brunoise-shredded). We enjoyed it very much. The cream sauce was akin to a chinese white sauce but a nice thickness...spoon coating but not gloopy. Probably cream was an evap product rather than a whipping cream. Repeat again or try without the cream sauce.

                  A nice experience...we'll be trying the noodles and buns and such the next time around.

                2. Do they offer a braised pork shank? And if so, does anyone know if it's good? I've been trying to help my mother find something that'll reach her "gold standard" ever since the other place closed.

                  1. I tried phoning the number in the scanned take-out menu from Royaljelly but it didn't seem to work. Does anyone have their number?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: timc

                      Their phone number is 905-946-8886, ask for Victor Lau, the owner.

                    2. We tried out this place on Charles' recommendation recently, and were very glad we did. Now, I know NOTHING about this style of cuisine, but I was very excited to try. We had: marinated crispy duck, shanghai bund vegetarian delight, dan dan noodles, and shrimp with something I forget. We had ordered the dan po pork, but were told they were out, thus the shrimp.

                      I suspect we may have misordered a bit, but everything was good. The duck was crispy and flavourful, although I would have liked the fat rendered a bit more, the noodles were great (although our server indicated they were "very" spicy, when in fact they were very mild) and the vegetables were well prepared. The shrimp I didn't care for, but they were fresh and still juicy. I think perhaps I just didn't like the herb they were prepared with.

                      Service was very friendly, and we had a chance to talk to the owner. Will go back after a little more research! Thanks for the tip!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Minnow

                        How's the research ? The original Shanghai Bund, which is in HK, and their original famous establishment, One Pan Heung Restaurant, 一品香, both have a very famous dish (unique in HK) :

                        Smoked pig brain

                        If you are interested, may be you can try to call them to see if they can make it here.

                      2. One of my friend visiting Toronto from Shanghai, so I took him to this S.H with a couple of other friends. It is weekday night and it is around 80% full at the time. I found the food quite good !

                        Recommend :
                        - Smoked duck breast - smooth and tender with great smoke flavour, recommended !
                        - Fish fillet with wine (just like Charles's description ! Great !)

                        Stay away :
                        - Sweet and sour spare ribs, (one of my friend feel like eating this ... the meat is as hard as stone)

                        Overall, I am satisfy with the meal eventhough we think the taste is a bit mild. It is possible they adjust it to fit the taste of canadian people here. Will go back to try other dishes, hopefully I won't be disappointed next time like Charles' experience ! The restaurant is still new, wish they will get better.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: skylineR33

                          Hello skylineR33. I'm surprised you folks ordered the sweet and sour spare ribs! I recall reporting in my last posting that this dish was a big disappointment for us as well. In addition to being tough, ours was also too soggy and way too sweet.

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Oh I forgot ! I do not have a good feeling about that dish there, want to say no...but my friend has a craving for it .....

                        2. I finally got around to checking it out on the weekend. Had dinner w/ 10 others, ordered 10 dishes (2x of xiao lung bao). Most dishes were great, the few average ones were certainly decent too . The seasoning is definitely a bit milder than other Shanghai spots around the city. I found the light handed approach refreshing considering this weekend's heat.

                          I talked w/ the owner (Victor) and he told me about his past restaurant experience in Tsim Tsa Tsui (handwritten sign on door in Chinese also states this). He ran a spot for over 30 years in that area and only closed because of the downturn during SARS. Very nice guy.

                          here's what I had w/ the corresponding menu #'s.

                          114. smoked fish - a light handed approach to this traditional dish, very little bones, which is a plus.

                          303. braised meatballs w/ veg (aka lions head) - rather pedestrian, it didn't really stand out. A friend requested this.

                          414. stir fried eel strips - lathered in an extremely dark sauce, one of the heavier flavoured dishes of the lot, I enjoyed.

                          703. mapo tofu - a whitey friend request even though it's Szechuan. It had a little kick to it, nicely excecuted.

                          826. shanghai fried noodles - another whitey choice, serviceable but nothing special. Noodles were perfectly al dente.

                          1001. soup dumplings - 6 in a basket, we ordered 2. Skin had a nice thickness, the soup inside gets a thumbs up from me. The crab ones are listed on the menu but are yet to be available.

                          Our server listed a few new items that weren't yet on the menu and we took advantage. One was a 3 combo soup (literal translation from Chinese) w/ meatballs, shrimp, intestine and various veggies. It had an extremely "qing/clear" broth, perfect antidote to the humidity outside. Another was a simple pea shoots w/ mushrooms dish, highlight of the night for me.

                          The total for 10 was $136. We ended up tipping to $160, service was excellent all around. It avgs out to $16 per person, a bargain in my books.

                          I'll post some pics when I have more time.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: aser

                            Hello aser. Just cuious. Didn't you find '414 - stir fried eel strips' too starchy? When we had that dish a couple of weeks back, the overly thick and oily sauce literally smothered both the eel and the yellowing chives. When this dish was prepared traditionally and authentically in both Hong Kong and Shanghai, the eel were just 'glazed' with the densed sauce, thus allowing one to make out every pieces of eel individually. Also, was the dish not overly peppery? Rather than letting the customer apply the desired amount of white pepper onto the dish themselves. Here, the cook heavy handedly apply too much pepper to the dish in the kitchen. May be he's trying to cover up the fishiness of the frozen eel?!

                          2. Just got back from lunch and first I must say thank-you to Charles Yu and the other hounds for discovering this restaurant. We took our grandmother out to lunch for her 90th birthday, and the owner was very nice and very charming. He brought us a special desert in honor of my grandmother, and generally made her feel special.

                            We had:
                            - braised fish in wine sauce (excellent, just as the others stated)
                            - chicken corn soup (very good but not so different than other similar restos)'
                            - kung po chicken (just ok)
                            - fried Shanghai noodles (good but not so special)
                            - beed with green onions (very good)
                            - vegetable fried rice (excellent)

                            I travel to Shanghai frequently and I would not call this restaurant "authentic" according to my experience. That doesn't matter to me since I actually prefer the more Canadianized version of Chinese food.

                            In general I found the flavors to be slightly understated but very tasty. Service was good. The owner was very friendly. I'll be back.