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Feed back on " Shanghai Dim Sum "

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Will be heading out next week to try out the new Shanghainese Private Kitchen - ' Shanghai Dim Sum ' at Sheppard and Brimley. According to my foodie brother-in-law who frequently head out to the Orient on business trips, this place has the BEST Shanghainese food and Northern Dim Sum outside of HK, Taiwan and China!! The meal he just had, he awarded every dish at least a 90+!! As examples, the broth and fillings of their pot stickers/buns and Xiao Lung Bao was even better than Ding Tai Fung! No! not the Markham one but the Shanghai one!!! Menu is limited since they are still tweeking the dishes.

Just wondering whether any fellow chowhounders have pre-empted my move and tried them out already?! Is the food really that good?!

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  1. Organize an exploratory expedition?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Kagemusha

      Ummmm?! A chowmeet there?! Good idea!

      But first, I'll see how it goes during our reconnaissance meal there next week! Don't want to risk seeing a whole bunch of fellow chowhounders pointing their fingers at me if by chance the end result is not up to expectation! Ha!!

      1. re: Charles Yu

        Hey Charles, please do report back as soon as you try it! I have a friend from Manhattan visiting next week and I was planning on taking her to Northern Dumpling Kitchen for xiao long bao and potstickers. But if this place is better, then I'll take her here instead!

        -----
        Northern Dumpling Kitchen
        550 7 Hwy E, Richmond Hill, ON L4B3Z4, CA

        1. re: Charles Yu

          If its up to snuff Charles, I want to be at that chowmeet!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Don't worry, Charles, we'll make sure the bruises don't show if it's a bust.

            1. re: Kagemusha

              Yeah its all about the pressure points.

        2. How do I get into a private kitchen? I very much want to try this place right away! I've eaten at ding tai fung in shanghai many times, looking for some good shanghainese for a long time

          1. Hi charles,

            Would you be able to pass on details about this place? I would like to try this place sunday or monday.

            Thanks

            5 Replies
            1. re: szw

              The place is called 'Shanghai Dim Sum' ( Cantonese pronounciation is Sing Wong Mui Sil Heg ) - Shanghainese private kitchen.
              Address is : 4401 Sheppard Avenue East, Scarborough ( Sheppard/Brimley )
              Tel: 647-344-3630. Just east of the railway bridge.

              My suggestion SZW, is to try it on Monday since without making reservations a week in advance. trying to secure a place on the weekend would be virtually impossible. I was told they were so busy last weekend that they have to close shop for 2 hours in order to replenish raw materials!!

              Good luck!!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Thanks, I tried this place the next day after you posted the address. Actually when I read "Private kitchen"I assumed it was some non-licenced restaurant run out of someones house! (I have been to a malaysian food "restaurant"like that, where they had a few tables set up in a living room.

                Anyways, I did not like the food that much. It was decent but not worth the price and I would rate my chance of returning at about 50%.

                I tried the regular and the mini xiaolongbao and both were big disappointments. Nice place though, I like the decor. Teapots are cups are nice but not really useful since I think those chip very easily.

                1. re: szw

                  May I know where is this Malaysian Private Kitchen? And how's the food?

                  1. re: shir

                    Sorry I should have mentioned that this was about 4 years ago and the guy stopped doing it in less than a year from what I heard. The food was not bad but not better than gourmet garden or other restaurants. This has to be expected since they won't have the wok firepower a restaurant does, but curry dishes can still be done well.

                    It was certainly a unique experience though! I was introduced from a friend of a friend of a friend.

                    1. re: szw

                      I guess I have to stick with GG for now. Thanks anyway.

            2. Hi - can you note the address, I can't seem to find out where it is. Thanks.

              1. Was quite disappointed. The place was busy, service good but food tasteless. Had meat balls with sauce and vegetables, sauce no flavor and meatballs tasteless; also tried Shanghai steamed soup dumpling. Got eight of them, small, again taste not great. That does not mean other food is same but my experience not good. Also price about 50% higher than in other, similar places.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lynxguru

                  Welcome to chowhound, lynxguru,
                  Interesting to see your FIRST chowhound posting to be such a negative damning report on a new but ' very busy' restaurant.?! Curious?! If the food was indeed as lousy as you eluded to, then I wonder why the place is that busy then? So far, everything is 'words of mouth'! Also, when describing the dishes as tasteless, are you comparing them with the same dishes you had in other establishments in town? If so, which one? I think we fellow chowhounders would love to know more detail since a lot of us are planning to give it a try!
                  BTW, what is your 'foodie background'? Are you a local Torontonian? What are some of your favourite eateries in town?

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    I am a Canadian and very fond of Northern or Northwestern Chinese Food. I eat regularly at the Dumpling Village or House almost next to Shanghai Dim Sum open now one week I believe. I was there with my friend and also bought some take-out food to my NW Chinese girl friend. All 3 are of the same opinion as to the particular food we ate. It is a very small place, aboutt 12 tables. I guess it is busy because it is new and many like myself will try it out. You get 12 to 15 juicy and tasty dumplings at the Dumpling House , great taste especially the pork and fennel at $ 5 to 6 and here you get 8 small ones @ $7, just one example. Our other eating places are Northwestern China Restaurant Chang An @ 240 Alton Towers Circle, Chinese Beef and Lamb House , corner Birchmount and Sheppard, Thai Kitchen @ Sheppard and Brimley, Dumpling House @ Midland and Finch, Lao Cheng Restaurant @ 4271 Sheppard, Szechuan Restaurant corner Midland and Steeles, Perfect Restaurant, 4385 Sheppard, just to name a few - all i would rate overall better . There are a few others i would rate same or lower which i did not mention yet. Will try another time and try different dishes, food was very bland.

                    -----
                    Dumpling House Restaurant
                    328 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E7, CA

                    Dumpling Village
                    4385 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M1S1T9, CA

                    Thai Kitchen
                    2372 Barton St E, Hamilton, ON L8E2W7, CA

                    1. re: lynxguru

                      Thanks for the quick response, lynxguru! Will be having dinner there with another chowhounder couple next Tuesday. Have ordered a special Shanghainese dish or two in advance. Will report back and compare notes!!

                      BTW, the list of restaurants you captioned above are predominantly North Western, Cantonese and/or Szechuean cuisine. All of which tends to be either heavily seasoned or heavily spiced. Authentic ' Shanghainese Cuisine' on the other hand, tends to be more refined, mild and delicate. eg., Sauteed fresh filet of turbot/sole with wood mushroom and Chinese rice wine, Steamed Chinese ham with wine, honey and ginko nuts served with fluffy pancake, Sauteed shredded eels with yellowing chives and mun bean sprouts, Plain sauteed dishelled river prawns...etc. All these dishes rely solely on the inherent natural flavour of the ingredients with little or no help from other overcloying spices or seasoning! Even the Shanghainese dumplings and pot-stickers in question, use the more delicate 'Shanghai baby bok-choi' rather than the pungent shredded fennel in their pork filling!

                      Therefore, I don't think we are actually comparing apples with apples in this scenario?! (Its like trying to compare a heavily sauced tangy tomato base pasta dish with a more delicate olive oil and garlic base one?!) To each his own!!

                2. Just had a mini chowmeet there tonight. Unfortunately, the food was not as great as the company!!

                  Decor and table setting was very nice, service was pretty good and the place was packed!

                  Overall food quality was not as good as originally hoped for. ( may be we set our bar too high, using some top notch Shanghai and Hong Kong restaurants as reference? )

                  Cold appertizers of shredded chicken with transparent bean curd slices ( fun pei ) and peanut sauce as well as hot appertizer of seasame pancakes with minced pork and preserved vegetables stuffing were OK but nothing to shout about!

                  Some of the entree dishes like the stirred fry crystal prawns was quite good with the prawns crisp, crunchy and sweet. The white fish with wood mushroom and wine essence has the smell and taste of the real thing but unfortunately, instead of using sole or orange roughy, they use Talapia which has an unattractive 'muddy' taste. Instead of the normal pork Xiao Lun Bao, we decided to go with the 'crab and pork' version. Filling was indeed composed of both crab meat and roe plus minced pork. The broth was quite tasty but a tad on the salty side. However, the dumpling skin was not as thin as I hoped for. May be their 'special mini version' is more refined?! Braised/stewed pork belly with gluten flour bowtie 'pasta' in brown sauce was flavourful but again the dish was spoiled by insufficient cooking time resulting in slightly tough pork morsels. Lastly, our 'order in advance' -YIn Doak Sin soup ( old style Shanghainese soup with salted pork, pointed and winter bamboo shoot, bean curd knots ) was only 'ho-hum' definitely not special enough to be an order-in-advance item.

                  Overall dining experience was passable with a few tasty dishes reflecting the calibre of a skilled kitchen. However, I will give them a few more weeks to work out their kinks before giving them another try. BTW, mediocre as it seems, this new kid on the block is still way better than over-rated outfit like Asia Legend!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    i was really excited to try this place when i read the beginning of the thread. by now though, i'm guessing i'll skip it. the dishes you ordered are some of my favorites...but no point in going if they don't make it well.

                    xiao long bao that's too salty and with a thick dumpling skin defeats the whole point of eating xiao long bao. braised pork that's not cooked long enough defeats the whole point of that too.

                    do agree though, asia legend is garbage. it's just dressed up westernized chinese food.

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      SOunds like lynxguru's review was on the mark then.

                      1. re: grandgourmand

                        Not exactly!! His complain was that the food was tasteless. Howeever, IMO, the taste and seasoning was excellent, its just that some of the dishes missed their mark due to inconsistent cooking time. As for the slightly salty broth inside the XLB, I got a feeling its due to the presence of salt water inherent in the crabmeat?! As eluded to in my posting, I'll give it another try in a few weeks time, hopefully, they will be more consistent then?! Afterall I do trust the palette of my foodie brother-in-law who had spend the past 30+ years eating his way through China...etc

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          You being a expert in Shanghai food and having tried different dishes i can see you made a fair judgement. My girlfriend was talking to a Shanghai woman who went with a group of 9, some of them also from Shanghai. Their overall opinion similar to yours, quality of dishes varies, and they found their prices on the high side. Will go back some other time.

                          1. re: lynxguru

                            With the owner building the premise from the ground up and incorporating decor and table setting more upscale than most dumpling places, I guess the owner needs to recoup his cost from somewhere?! Guess its like comparing Daniel with Cafe Boulud of NYC.

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Hi everyone, we just drove by about an hour ago and was wondering about the food as well ... then my husband said, "better to check with chowhound first." We'll give it a try the next time. Good to hear mixed reviews and appreciate that everyone has different tastes and likes/dislikes.

                          2. re: Charles Yu

                            Yeah, Charles, nice write up ! Let's hope it gets better and more consistent. For now, my go-to place for shanghaiese food in Toronto area is still Ala Kitchen. I'll pass on Asian Legend too.

                      2. Went for lunch today, and had a slightly better experience than noted above, but did also find some of the same inconsistencies.

                        The Royal soup dumplings (king dumplings?) were outstanding, with a delicious brothiness and very balanced flavours - really Very good, despite a slightly less delicate skin on the dumpling than I would have hoped-for.

                        The SiuMai (shanghai-style, not HK) was also tasty, but the heavy skin combined with the large quantity of (overcooked?) rice required a good shot of red vinegar to really bring out the essence of it.

                        Overall, I'd give it a 7/10... definitely worth another visit once they have worked out all the opening jitters.

                        1. I've been there on 2 occations, the first time it was good!, the second time it was so so. I accidentally ordered a pastry filled with pork floss, it was totally delicious, however it was on the pricey side 3,99$ for 4 small pieces of flat breads. The xiaolong biao had it's ups and downs, the ups : love the meat juice, it's plenty and tasted fresh. The wrappings are skillfully wrapped, very uniformed and none of them broke. The downs, the wrapping is way too thick and it wasn't as good the second time I went. I ordered a shanghainese wonton in soup, the wonton suppose to have this shanghainese herb, I can't taste it and I can hardly see any in the wonton. I had that before in A La's kitchen, it was so much better there. I also ordered the Braised Beef noodle (in soup), it's only passable, I had better ones from this dingy food court shop on Midland/McNicol. That was really sad. Lastly, I ordered the pan fried pork buns there on both occations. The first time, it was fluffy, juicy and full of flavour. Forgot to mention, it wasn't over/under fried, just right. The second time, it came to our table suspiciously fast. It lack of juice, flavour and the bun was under fried (only slightly caramelized on the bottom, no flavour). Also, it was very greasy. My mom said the buns were only marginally better than this shanghai resto on Steeles/Silverstar, however Shanghai Dim Sum was almost 3 times more expensive. I figured given their small menu (there wasn't many choices, that gave me an impression that they specialize on their dim sums), they should be good at everything. But they're not and their quality failed over time. I guess I won't go back again.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Pieji_oh

                            Quality has gone way down hill! Suspect they have changed ownership?!!

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Hi Charles, for Shaghai food where do you go?

                              1. re: smfan

                                Sorry to say! But I've given up on Shanghainese food in Toronto! Too many money wasting disappointments! I will wait for my visit to Hong Kong next year to have some! However, if you do feel the urge, 'Ala Kitchen' in Markham behind First Markham Place is passable.
                                No matter what, stay away from the 'rough with an edge' clone concoction of 'Asian Legend'!! Its almost like trying to savour Chinese food in Mandarin Buffet!

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Was hoping you could bring some more hope to the Shanghainese food scene in Toronto. It may sound snobbish, but I agree that the AL chain reminds me of more of Mandarin Buffet.

                                  Does anyone remember Lao Jing Xing on Highway 7? That used to be my gold standard for Shanghainese in the GTA, until the owner returned to Hong Kong. That restaurant shone in many traditional dishes in that cuisine.

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    Every time I have been to the Asian Legend on Hwy 7, it is packed with Chinese clientele. It's not the best Chinese food in town by any means, but they do have enough dishes there they do well which keep me and many many others going back. I am beginning to think that you have some personal vendetta against them as you try to slam them every chance you get. Asian Legend is by far the busiest restaurant in that plaza and probably amongst the busiest along that stretch of Hwy 7. And as I said, the customers are 90% Asian, of all ages. Given the number of choices in the immediate vicinity, they must be doing something right.

                                    1. re: ManAbout

                                      Nothing against them! Just don't understand the rave about them when there are similar and better food elsewhere. One just need to be make aware of their existence, thats all!!
                                      BTW, busy with a majority of 'Asian' clientele does not always equate to great food!! Just take a look at all those AYCE sushi places around!!
                                      IMO, I just find their food ' too rough an edge'. Do a google search on how authentic 'Xiao lun Bao' and pot stickers look like and compare to the AL versions and you know what I mean!

                            2. It's hit or miss I think at this place. I went last month and ordered three items: the XLB, pan fried dumplings and braised beef noodles. The XLB were by far the best of the three dishes. The dumplings were ok...they were beautifully made but the skins were a bit thick. The worst was the braised beef noodle. It looked great when it arrived at the table, but the broth and meat were absolutely tasteless, shockingly so. It was as if it had been watered down. So, I would say go for the XLB!