3250 Cambie Street, Vancouver
Price: for this set meal it was $35.50/person including tax
The first dinner of the 8GTCC, organized by Chowtimes and team, was at Alvin Garden for a taste of the Xiang Cuisine. That was a great meal with A LOT of dishes to try. What I didn't expect is that the this one was even bigger than the last, with a grand total of 64 people in attendance. This time, Dylan from the 8GTCC team took on task of researching for Jiangsu cuisine. After much hard work, Dylan has picked a total of 19 dishes that can best represent the area, without further ado, here they are...
The first thing we were served was soup cooked in clay pot. These soups are usually placed in huge clay cooking oven for hours. We had a choice between ranch chicken with tea tree mushroom or pork rib with lotus roots. I tried both soup, they were both very flavorful. I preferred the pork rib soup because I am amazed at how rich and sweet this soup is without being oily.Next up is the appetizer combo plate filled with five spice smoked fish, Qinhuai green bean jelly, frozen tofu with mushroom and marble preserved egg. The egg was very unique as it's a combination of salted duck egg and century egg in one shell. The smoked fish was very good, it had a slightly sweet soy flavor.
The next appetizer was the Nanjin salty duck. This was a excellent. The duck was juicy, moist, and loaded with flavor. It wasn't overly salty either, you can totally eat this without rice. Some of us were comparing this with the smoked duck we had at Alvin Garden, for me this wins because it retain more "duck" flavor (if that make sense) than the smoked duck dish.
The next dish was also another favorite: soy sauce braised spot prawn. These are some juicy and huge prawns cooked with a simple technique, but taste great. The shells were crispy but cooked, thus R ate everything, tails and head included.
The next dish is the deep fried lobster and crab with rice cake. The meat was fresh, and the taste was good. The rice cake on the bottom was good, but nothing special.When this dish came out, all the camera came out along with it. There must have been at least 20 people taking pictures of this dish: Beggar's Chicken. The story behind this is that a beggar invented this cooking technique during a depression in China, because he had no tools, he just wrapped the chicken in mud and baked it. To his surprise, it turned out very juicy and flavorful. Because mud is probably hard to acquire and not cost effective, thus they used a flour dough to wrap it. This chicken was indeed very moist and flavorful, because it's stuffed with shrimp, goji berry, date, and some other ingredients. I gotta say, if this is a beggar's chicken, then he is one rich beggar..LOL
Suantang Fish Noodle has won the Chinese Restaurant Awards Gold Medal for "Most Innovative Dish". The reason is behind this is the noodle, it's made with ground fish. The best way to described this dish would be fish ball in noodle shape with thin hot and sour soup.This is called Fantail shrimp. It's just stir fried shrimp with cashew arranged into a fan shape. The presentation was certainly nice, but the taste was average.When this dish came, we were all perplexed, why the randomly placed blob of egg white. Until one person said it looked like a dragon floating among the cloud. I am glad we had at least one imaginative person at our table, or else the art would be lost :P. Anyways this boneless sweet and sour cod was the most disappointing dish for me, because the sauce didn't taste special, it was just your typical sweet and sour sauce.
The Jinling Spareribs were great, the meat was super tender, it pulled of the bone easily. R loved this one along with everyone else. Although I did like it, but to me the sauce was just a tad too sweet.
Pea shoot with prawns looked great, but tasted rather bland. The prawns were fresh, but a bit overcooked. I preferred the pea shoot over the prawns. The Lion Head meatball had a rich and flavorful sauce, but the meat was a bit over cooked in my opinion. I wish the meat could be a little more tender
Next up is what every good Shanghai restaurant should have: Xiao Long Bao (soupy dumpling). Their XLB was excellent and filled with tons of soup. The skin was also the thinnest I have seen so far, it ripped easily, so you really got to be careful when picking it up.By the time the Yangzhou fried rice came, I was already totally stuffed. So I only had a minuscule bite of this. The fried rice was all right, nothing really to shout about, then again I was really full, so it could have affected my judgment.
After all that food, we finally arrived at the dessert. This would be their marble sticky rice ball filled with sesame sugar stuffing. The taste was typical, but the appearance was not. This was made to resemble the quartz stone (up right hand corner). It look really pretty and impressive, because it actually does look like the stone. I am guessing the sticky rice dough probably took a lot of work to make.
Another great meal in the 8GTCC series, I enjoyed the majority of the food. However it was way too much food, so the dishes that came later were probably judged harsher than the previous ones. The service was mostly good, they filled our tea pots often. Also one things I really like about this restaurant was that it cared about presentation, because all the plates/cups/bowls bare their name. The restaurant had nice decoration and was really clean, but they did just opened (less than half a year). Overall, I would definitely recommend Shanghai Village for anyone wanting to try Jiangsu cuisine