Ningtu or not Ningtu, that is the question
And the answer, at least for me, is yes. We had a Chowdown at this venerable Shanghainese restaurant on Dec 29th attended by 15 Hounds. I had hoped to arrive a bit early to narrow down the dish choices but that was not to be so everyone pitched in to help. We had some topnotch dishes, a bunch of good ones and a miss in my estimation.
The fish with seaweed is stellar for me but some didn't like it as much, so it's all subjective. The hot and sour soup was great, and it was free as part of a combo. We also got the honey beef again which was as good as last time. The three cold apps were good (some thought great) though I liked the pork "head cheese" better at The One.
Beef rolls were just okay, not quite a miss but I wouldn't bother ordering them again. There was a pork belly dish (sliced pork with dried veg) that I thought was fine but not special. We also had the crab and rice cakes which is supposed to be a house specialty. It didn't seem to get a huge amount of love so probably not worth it for the price. Interesting to note that the rice cakes they use in that dish are different than the ones they put in the "regular" rice cake dishes, which we had as well and was good again (preserved veg and pork).
We ordered mantou which were very nice and they brought lots of extra condensed milk -- yum. The only major fail for me was the chicken dish (fried chicken with sauce) which was dry and flavourless. I quite liked the crispy rice though it's not really Shanghainese. There was also a hot pot with lions head meatballs that is very Shanghainese but not really my cup of tea. And then also sliced fish with wine sauce, also very Shanghainese but not my fave.
For dessert we had three different dishes all with red bean paste which I think is very nice here -- not so thick as usuallly encountered. Next time we will order the off menu dessert of deep fried bananas and apples in hot syrup that is then "shocked" in ice. I woulda had it but didn't suss it was available till after we ordered.
The service was so friendly and helpful even though they were beyond slammed on a holiday Wednesday night. Prices are also really good -- with the offered assistance of staff we were able to order two combos to get better deals (free soup and cold apps plus rice). It was $20 each tax and tip in which included a few beers, for a pretty major feast.
I just realized I clicked on some Ningtu pix from November, dang it. Will try that again
2130 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N2T5, CA
Three cold apps, beef rolls, pork belly, crispy rice (see pix above for rice cakes with preserved veg and pork, first row and honey beef, second row)
Crab with rice cakes (out of focus, oops), mantou that have already been attacked, fish with seaweed, chicken
fish with wine sauce, two of the three desserts (most people seemed to like the first once pictured the most, it has an eggy flavour)