Tan Da Ban
Pre-2020, I visited restaurants frequently, often dining out 3-4 times a week. Eating out or delivery though wasn’t my thing. Aside from sushi, I always preferred to cook a quick meal myself. What I loved about restaurants was the care and attention put into each dish, hot from the kitchen, people watching in the dining room and the ambiance of people enjoying good food and company. As much as Stephen and I have embraced takeout, there were still dishes we shied away from, worrying that they wouldn’t hold up in transit or be lacklustre when reheated. With the weather getting warmer, we’ve embraced the concept of car picnics. Alivia loves hanging out in our trunk and we get to enjoy a dish pretty immediately from the source! This opens up our takeout options so much more. First up, sheng jian bao (生煎包) from Tan Da Ban.

Ordering: Tan Da Ban is located in a food court at Shops on Yonge specializing in sheng jian bao, a pan-fried cousin of xiao long bao, that I personally like more. They are on UberEats but do not have their own website or ordering system. I would recommend calling ahead for pickup and to check availability, but not too far in advance. The first time we tried to pick up baos, we arrived just after they opened and someone had ordered an entire batch, meaning over an hour wait for any new orders. On our second successful visit, I was able to order by phone about 20 minutes before we arrived. They were kind enough to warm up our baos again on the pan, but this made the bottoms a bit oily.

Pickup: There is a limited number of above ground parking at Shops on Yonge and it can get busy. Underground parking is available. If you’re able to run in and out with someone waiting in the car, lots of people park in unmarked spots. Being inside a food court, pickup was straightforward and quick.

Food: For the three of us, we ordered 6 pork baos, 6 pork & shrimp baos and a bowl of Beef Soup with Glass Noodles. The bao skins had a great texture, thin and chewy with a perfect crispy bottom. Each bao was filled with a tablespoon of soup and the pork was well seasoned. With the pork & shrimp baos, a whole shrimp topped each meatball filling. Alivia devoured 3 meatballs and 2 crispy bottoms. I could have easily polished off another 6 baos myself. There are 7 different bao fillings on the menu including a vegetarian option. The 100% meat filling baos can be ordered in multiples of 4 or 6 and the chives, egg & shrimp, and veggie baos in multiples of 6 or 8.

The bowl of Beef Soup with Glass Noodles was a nice way to round out our meal but not a necessity. With tofu puffs, thin slices of beef, vermicelli noodles and a clear beef broth, the bowl was light and simple. It did come with a packet of chili oil that was delicious. Super spicy with tons of flavour. I would get the soup again for that chili sauce.

Overall, the sheng jian baos at Tan Da Ban were quite close to my memories of street stalls in Suzhou. If I lived in the condos above, I would be a regular customer.

Tan Da Ban
Tan Da BanTan Da Ban

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