I was born in Suzhou, a city about an hour west of Shanghai, and lived there before moving to Canada when I was 6. Every time I go home, I try to spend a day in Shanghai binging on xiaolongbao and street food. In the GTA, I’m always eager to try out Shanghainese restaurants in search of an authentic xiaolongbao.

Atmosphere: Shanghai Dim Sum in Scarborough is a casual family style restaurant located in a detached building with a limited dining area. The space seats under 30-40 guests at a time and there was a line waiting outside as we left. There were couples enjoying a quick dinner as well as larger groups having a family meal. All of the serving ware were undecorated white china, which really focused the attention on the food itself.

Service: The service was friendly, but unorganized. All the servers worked the entire dining area and it didn’t seem like they were assigned to specific tables. The hostess (and possibly owner?) was also helping take orders and made recommendations for chef specials. It took some time to get our bill and one of our dishes was sent to another table. We were quickly served a replacement plate though when the error was discovered.

Food: Each dish tasted authentic and all of the buns were freshly handmade. We started with a cold dish of drunken chicken, which is steamed chicken with a cooking wine based sauce. The meat was tender, moist and the sauce had a well balanced flavour.

Next up were two trays of pork xiao long bao and one tray of pork and crab. These are a must order. The wrapper was thin, perfectly steamed to the the right texture and full of savoury broth. The usual way to eat a xiao long bao is to dip in vinegar if desired, place it into a spoon, take a small bite from the side of just the wrapper, make sure to blow air in and cool the hot broth, slurp up the broth and then eat the rest. My favourite step is the broth slurping, so there should be a nice spoonful worth wrapped inside. The ones at Shanghai Dim Sum are the best ones I’ve had yet in the GTA. The crab flavour was subtle for me and I didn’t taste a huge difference between the two types.

We also tried the shengjian bao, which is a pan fried bun with a crispy bottom. I can devour these and would eat them daily for breakfast when I’m home in China. The ones here were a bit disappointing. The filling tasted right but the bread was too thick and should have been thinner and denser. They’re still good, just not what I expect from the dish.

Aside from buns, we had the lion’s head (giant meatballs), stewed duck, rice cakes and tang yuan soup for dessert. I liked the meatballs but they were hit or miss around the table due to the texture. The meat is loosely packed and falls apart with each bite. Everyone enjoyed the duck that was topped with a sweet soy sauce sauce. The rice cake dish was savoury and the cakes had a nice chewy texture and didn’t stick together. We capped the meal with a warm bowl of sweet tang yaun, small chewy balls made of glutinous rice flour.

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