July 22, 2012
苏杭人家 – Suhang Restaurant, Richmond BC
香干马兰头 (Marinated Bean Curd with Special Vegetables)
上海两面黄 (Shrimps with Clear Sauce in Crispy Yellow Noodles)
上素蒸饺 (Steamed Vegetable Dumplings)
椰子糕 (Coconut Pudding)
After taking an extremely long time to decide where to go for lunch, we picked Suhang Restaurant because we thought two combos would have been too much from Kyung Bok Palace. I would have preferred Alleluia Café or some other Hong Kong-style café, but Mom is just not one for cheap eats or extremely casual dining. The restaurant was full when we arrived and we requested to be switched to a bigger table after they gave us one stuck in between two larger tables that did not even have enough room for the two people to be facing each other. It also took us a long time to decide what to order, since they had both dim sum and regular lunch options. Our server was slightly put up with us because we were so slow, but I think he could have been nicer about it and maybe made a few suggestions since we were clearly not being very decisive.
I was badly craving 香干马兰头 (Marinated Bean Curd with Special Vegetables) so we ordered that to begin. It is chopped Indian aster mixed with finely diced marinated bean curd. The vegetables were as fresh as you can get them in Vancouver and the bean curd bits had a nice, tender, yet firm texture. This dish was surprisingly sweet, more so than I have had. However, loving sweet dishes even when I am not eating desserts, it suited my palate perfectly. The texture was great and the cold vegetables and bean curd mix was satisfyingly refreshing.
Since we wanted something hot and stir-fried, we went with the traditional 上海两面黄 (Shrimps with Clear Sauce in Crispy Yellow Noodles). We have had this twice before and it was not good the second time because the noodles were not fried enough. This is basically vegetables, shrimp, and pork in a thick, light sauce poured over crispy pan-fried noodles. The noodles need to be crunchy for it to be good, otherwise it is just a lot of mushy noodles with a slightly bland sauce. This time, however, the noodles were extra crispy, much to our delight. Most of the noodles were crunchy and not yet soggy, since it was served piping hot. That just immediately made the dish delicious. The shrimp were succulent and tender. The pork strips did not taste very fresh, with just the slightest hint of sour meat. Perhaps it was just because it had been marinated. The vegetables consisted of carrots, bamboo, sliced button mushrooms, water chestnuts, black wood ear, and golden needle vegetable. My favourites were the chewy and succulent black wood ear, bamboo, and golden needle vegetable. Along with the crispy noodles, this very popular Shanghai dish was certainly well executed here.
Loving steamed buns and dumplings that do not have much meat or is too oily, I went with the 上素蒸饺 (Steamed Vegetable Dumplings). Five huge dumplings for $5.95 was not a bad deal. The dumpling wrappers were nice, just thick enough to be incredibly chewy. I loved that texture. The filling was a mix of diced bean curd and shredded bok choy. It was slightly sweet, similar to the taste of the Marinated Bean Curd with Special Vegetables. I loved that sweetness, as well as the blend of aromas and seasoning. It is definitely one of the best steamed dumplings I have ever had, simple yet delicious.
Finally, they offered us complimentary dessert, the 椰子糕 (Coconut Pudding). It was slightly sweet, with a strong taste of coconut milk. The texture was soft and tender, and also quite ‘bouncy’ for lack of a better word. Too much of it would not be good, as the taste gets quite monotone after a while, but the small square they offered was a nice finish to the meal.
Depending on the chef, this restaurant has been hit and miss in the past. Today, it was definitely a ‘hit.’ All three dishes were well made and the complimentary dessert added a refreshing ending. I would certainly recommend all three dishes to others. The price is not outrageous and the service is okay. The restaurant is not extremely loud, as some Chinese eateries can get, so the atmosphere is certainly decent as well.