Last week I attended the 9th ChineseBites Signature Dishes Tour at Shanghai Elan with my fellow Chinese Bites blogging crew (you can check out their reviews on ChineseBites.com). Shanghai Elan is a restaurant that specializes in Shanghainese style food and it is located in Crystal Mall around Metrotown.
The chicken with spicy sauce were pieces of chicken on the bone served cold. The flavour of this dish was decent, the sauce packed some heat, but I’m not crazy about cold meat dishes.
The wild vegetable with diced dried bean curd and pine nuts was one of our two vegetable dishes of the night. It wasn’t necessarily bad, it was just a bit bland and too dry for my liking.
The ham and duck soup with fried wonton had a strange mix of everything. It even had chunks of taro in it, which gave the broth a tinge of purple colour. The broth had a rich salty flavour, and it was pretty good. The items inside of the soup were just okay.
The Shanghai fried rice cake with shredded pork is something I’ve never tried, but I enjoyed. The rice cakes had a chewy, doughy, texture that reminded me of gnocchi or pierogies. The pieces of sliced vegetables added a bit of crunch to the dish and the pork slices were small, but tasty.
The Shanghai fried thick noodle with shredded pork and soy sauce was prepared almost the same as the rice cakes above. Shanghai noodles are my favourite style of noodles, so I loved this dish.
Another staple of Shanghainese food are the Shanghai style juicy pork buns. These had a meaty, juicy filling and I didn’t find the wrapper too thick or sticky. My only complaint is that there was a piece of bone in my bun, but aside from that these tasted good.
The marinated beef wrapped with pancake was another one of my favourite dishes of the night. The inside of this roll was filled with tender, thinly sliced rare beef, cucumbers, and a few other veggies. The pancake was deep-fried and very crisp and flakey. I would suggest ordering this dish if you come here.
The cucumber and jelly fish with sesame oil isn’t something I would normally be into, but I gave it a try anyway. Unfortunately the texture was tough, thick, and too chewy. The jellyfish itself didn’t really have any taste except that of the sauce that it soaked up.
I also wasn’t crazy about the Shanghai jelly pork. Other people at the table seemed to enjoy it, but I didn’t like the rubbery jelly texture or cold temperature.
The sweet and sour rock cod had an impressive presentation and everyone at the table was raving about it. There were also some shrimp mixed in with the pieces of battered and fried fish. Unfortunately by the time this dish got around to me there wasn’t any meaty pieces of the fish left, just deep-fried skin, so I never really got a taste of it. The sauce was pretty good though and I enjoyed the bits of shrimp.
The stir fried shrimps came out looking very plain with no sauce. These weren’t bad, they could have been good if they had some sauce and flavour, but they were boring. I wouldn’t bother ordering these.
My other favourite dish of the night was the pan-fried pork with bean sprouts in crepes. The pork was sliced into skinny pieces and covered in a tangy and slightly sweet sauce. It was served with thin crepes that you stuffed full with the pork and rolled up into little bite sized wraps. It was fun to wrap them up and these tasted great too.
I liked the braised potato with eggplant and sweet pepper more than I thought I would. The eggplant wasn’t bitter or mushy, and the chunks of potatoes were a nice surprise. The sauce everything was coated in was also tasty. This vegetable dish was much more satisfying than the first one.
We ended the night off with a dessert dish of rice balls with sesame seed paste soup. It was an interesting dessert, but it grew on me and I liked it. The broth had a mild sugary flavour. There were lots of pieces of mochi floating around in it that soaked up the sugary broth. The best part of the dessert was the big rice ball filled with black sesame paste. I love black sesame and I wish that I could have had a few more in the soup.
Overall, I thought Shanghai Elan served up a great meal. There were a few dishes I didn’t care for, but that was mostly personal preference, the rest of the dishes were delicious. It was also nice to try Shanghainese food that was different from the Cantonese style we have had the last few times.
Yes, for great Shanghainese style food.