On a recent shopping trip to the Richmond Ikea I was getting hungry and instead of eating a $1 hot dog or a serving of Swedish meatballs I was craving some Dim Sum, especially Xia Long Bao (XLB). Now the big question is what’s close by, is good and cheap and is a place I’ve not been to before. Thanks to my friend Sherman Chan I found the answer at Chen’s Shanghai Restaurant. A little hole in the wall place in a strip mall on Park Road serving up some pretty good Shanghainese from what I hear. It’s a bit of a drive from Ikea but if the XLB is as good as I’ve heard then it’s worth it.
Finding Chen’s Shanghai Restaurant at 8095 Park Road, Richmond is pretty easy by car or by transit. By car it is just off No 3 Road and by Transit all you have to do is take the Canada Line to the Richmond-Brighouse Station then walk about 4 mins. If you do drive the parking lot fills up fast so you may have to hunt around for a parking spot as there is no street meter parking on Park Road.
Chen’s Shanghai Restaurant is not a very big place, maybe 20 tables or so. Today we arrived towards the end of lunch at around 2:30pm. Like most Chinese Restaurants Chen’s is open from 10am to 3pm, then it closes and reopens at 5:30pm for dinner service. I’ve heard it can get pretty busy here on the weekends but lucky for us we had no problem getting a table.
We just sat down and then I saw it, the dreaded sign the reads “cash only”. My friend Henri quickly gets up to find the closest ATM, luckily it was only a short walk away, while I check out the menu. The lunch menu is nothing fancy, it is just a sheet of paper with all the dishes listed and beside each dish is a box where you check off how many orders you want. Three weeks ago I would have been daunted by this menu but after eating at over 17 Chinese restaurants in the past few weeks I can do this!
Henri texts me that he is on his way back with cash and I’ve picked out our lunch dishes, so with a wave of the menu this culinary adventure begins. The first dish to arrive is what I’ve been craving – XLB. These delicate soup dumplings are absolutely delicious and definitely rank in the top 5 of XLB I’ve had lately. If you’ve never had XLB before you have to try them. Check out my how to eat XLB tips in a previous post, it really is a skill you should master.
Lunch is off to a great start so far and continues with our second tasty dish to arrive, Dan Dan Noodle with Peanut Sauce. It looks like Spaghetti with Meat Sauce but it is actually noodles with minced pork and peanut sauce (spiced with Chilli oil & Sichuan Peppers). Topped off with scallions and chopped peanuts this dish is a crowd favourite and it’s easy to see why. It’s a huge portion and could have been lunch for 1 with no problem at all but Henri and I finished it off in no time. Be careful when you eat it because the sauce tends to splatter just like spaghetti sauce. When I got home I had to change my t-shirt.
For our third dish I ordered on a whim Wontons in Chilli Sauce. Who doesn’t love Wonton soup and the best part of it is of course the wontons! This dish took Henri and I both by surprise. It is our absolute favourite and a for sure must order on my next visit. The wontons are fantastic but it’s the Chilli sauce that won us over. It’s like a sweet soy sauce with a Chilli heat kick. Absolutely outstanding! We couldn’t get enough of this one. In fact I wish I had ordered two.
The last two dishes were a miss and a hit. Both are fried but only one will I order again. First up was the Pan Fried Chive Dumplings which I normally would be all over but for some reason these just didn’t appeal to me. The dumpling itself was fantastic but the filling left something to be desired for me. The last dish though of Pumpkin Cakes stuffed with Red Bean Paste were amazing. Careful because they are hot as they are made to order. Crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside and then the sweet red bean paste, winner winner Pumpkin Cakes!
All of that and lunch was just under $40, cash of course. All in all this was a great find and I can see myself coming back to Chen’s Shanghai Restaurant in the near future, especially for the XLB and the Wontons in Chilli Sauce. The décor and service are pretty standard for a Chinese restaurant but don’t let that get in the way of going there for the food. Two chopsticks up from me.
I've become obsessed with finding the best XLB in the Lower Mainland and Chen's Shanghai Restaurant in Richmond doesn't disappoint. My other favourite dish is the Wontons in Chilli Sauce, a must order. A reminder to bring cash as they don't take credit or debit.
$ for value8
Would I go Back?9