I loved visiting authentic Shanghainese restaurant when I went to Vancouver since we did not have one in the Seattle area.
My friend mentioned a good place to go to recently in Richmond BC was Ningbo.
Situated at the corner of Parker Place, Ningbo’s space was not big.
The menu was interesting as it had many dishes that were not Shanghainese at all, including steamed fish and Peking duck.
I was very happy to find the soup that my Shanghai grandmother made at home – yellow fish soup.
I did not know whether the fish really called “yellow fish” in English — I had lots of trouble getting my fish names straight from English to Chinese or Chinese to English.
It was a fairly boney fish, and lots of labor was required to make this soup.
My grandmother steamed the fish, and removed all the fish bones; then cooked the fish meat with lots of spinach and eggs.
I loved this since I was young, and did not see that many places serving this at all.
The yellow fish soup at Ningbo was ok.
I was spoiled with grandma’s soup which was loaded with fish.
This had far fewer pieces of fish in the soup, as a result, the flavor was less rich and the soup was also less chunky.
Ningbo pulled it off by having the gist of the soup: fragrant spinach flavor and light clean fish sweetness.
For appetizers, we had pig’s ears and bean curd with this special vegetables.
The pig’s ears were thinly sliced, nicely flavored with soy, garlic, peppers and green onions.
It was delicious.
I loved the bean curd with special vegetables and pine nuts.
They wrung out the vegetables dry as it ought to be in a cold appetizer, and tossed with thinly sliced bean curd, pine nuts and sesame oil.
The vegetables had its unique flavor which tasted similar to spinach without the green grassy character, close to the deep greens flavor such as in kale but with tender green leaves.
It was tasty.
I had to have the quintessential stir-fried eel with bean sprouts.
This one was not so great.
It tasted a little bland, lack of the signature white pepper flavor, and too greasy unfortunately.
The next dish we had was a very typical Shanghainese dish which I only knew the name in Chinese unfortunately.
It was basically egg white stir-fried with crab meat.
Eggs were done perfectly with the crab sweetness coming through.
Very soft texture of the scrambled egg white along with some resistance from crab meat.
It was excellent and great with a bowl of rice!
Fried rice cake was another one of my favorite.
Unfortunately as most fried rice cake ate outside of the home, it contained very little vegetables and meat, and running on the greasy side as well.
The rice cakes were done perfectly, soft chewy and tender.
However, my rice cake might be better…
The sweet napa cabbage with salted pork was nicely flavored.
I was used to this dish made with cream and Chinese salted ham, this was made with broth and salted pork, which had different flavor.
It was ok — nothing to rave about.
We got both the steamed and fried “silver strand roll” (direct Chinese translation), and they were ok.
Lightly sweetened dough but honestly no one made them like they used to when I was a kid.
Back then, with massive amount of labor and artistry, I could literally pull narrow threads of dough out of the roll.
I loved the end part of the roll, and I would pull and eat the inside strand by strand, leaving behind just the dough pocket.
I would then stuffed the dough pocket with stir-fried eel.
Since we were with a large group and trying to accommodate everyone’s food preference, we had settled with some non Shanghainese food.
We went with duck 2-way.
First way was duck skin with wrappers and second, lettuce wrap fried duck meat.
The duck skin was excellent, crispy, thinly sliced with only skin (many places could not do that!); it was well marinated with its flavor and delicious with the house-made sweet flour wrappers.
Then, lettuce wrap minced duck meat.
The lettuce leaves were nicely trimmed and the minced duck meat was delicious with chopped vegetables.
My group also ordered the salt and pepper pork ribs which I heard was very delicious, crispy and tender.
Unfortunately, I was already very full by then.
Lastly, we had stir-fried wide mung bean noodles.
It had fun slippery texture; also a little greasy and bland.
I did enjoy the added spiciness to the dish.
Not sure if I would be back — I had mixed feeling with the dishes and nothing really wowed me.