Usually this restaurant is so busy that you have to wait for a seat but this time, we got a seat right away. Maybe it's a Sunday.
I ordered all the things that I liked at this restaurant. I ordered hot and sour soup, Xiao long Bao, Beijing Fenpai and Shanghai Chow Mein.
Their hot and sour soup （酸辣湯）is pretty good. Not the best hot and sour soup in my life but still good. The soup this time tastes ok but too much cornstarch. The flavour was not sour enough but I think it the texture that made it unenjoyable. It kinda tasted gloppy feeling.
I ordered Xiao long bao (小龍飽), sometimes translated as dumplings with soup or Shanghai soup dumplings. The literal translation is 'little dragon buns'. It's little pork dumplings that have soup inside. To be made properly, it should have a very thin skin and lots of soup inside. Apparently, the perfect dumpling should have 18 pleats.
This restaurant previously competed in making Xiao long bao but I can't remember if they won. Usually their dumplings are good but today, very disappointing. Okok it wasn't the worst but when you are expecting tasty food and don't get it, it's probably worse than eating bad tasting food.
The problem with the dumpling was the skin was soggy inside. What this means to me is that the dumplings was either overcooked and soup allowed to soak in the skin OR after it finished cooking, it was left waiting before serving to us. I think that it was left waiting because it wasn't very hot but just warm.
I ordered Beijing Fenpei (mung bean) salad (北京涼粉皮). This restaurant won an award as the best fenpei dish in the past and that's how I discovered this dish.
Fenpei is a noodle like sheets made from mung bean or green bean. Its suppose to be healthy and recently has become very popular in Chinese cuisine. I never grew up with it so I wonder if this recent popularity is from the influx of Mainland Chinese. Can anyone confirm this?
Fenpei has a chewy texture which I love. In the past, I really enjoy this salad. Like I said, I like the chewy texture but the flavour was good. The salad has a peanut sauce with chicken and vegetables.
Well this time, the texture was still good but I didn't like the taste. It tasted like there was lots of oil or something. I'm saying something because you can't see the oil but you can feel the oil as it enters your esophagus. Haha I know it sound strange but it's how it feels. I didn't like that feeling so didn't eat much. Plus there was way too much sauce and not enough fenpei, chicken and vegetables so that also made it not very good.
It looks interesting though, doesn't it??
I also order Shanghai Chow Mein (上海粗炒) or sometimes known as Shanghai Fried Noodle. It's a thick noodle (I think its wheat noodle) that is pan/wok fried with pork and cabbage. In this restaurant, they fried it with spinach.
It was too salty and sweet for my taste. I know it sounds strange but I'm sensitive to sweet taste in my savory food. Weird, eh? I didn't eat much of this.
I've always enjoyed my meal here but this time, I'm very disappointed. I know that my comments above seem like I'm petty or very picky with food. I am! I'm the type of person who can appreciate the food for what it's worth, so if I'm at a grungy greasy spoon place, I expect grease and salty food and can accept bad service, if it happens. If I'm at a high end restaurant, then I expect subtle highlights of the food (and amazing service).
I didn't talk about service because it was mixed service. There is 1 female server who has a sour looking face like she really hates this job and doesn't want to be here. She served exactly how she looked, cold and unfriendly. But there is a young male who was very polite, friendly and helpful. So both cancel it out, making the service neutral.
I don't have a recommendation or no recommendation for this place. It's ok to eat, especially it's near downtown. For myself though, I was disappointed in this restaurant because I've had the same food from them and it was better. It makes me wonder if they are less busy because they are not so good. Well, I'll try them one more time before I right them off.
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