For this Chinese New Year, my family opted to eat out, saving my mom some grief in the kitchen. My parents had tried Shanghai Grill a few months back with friends, and after a positive experience, wanted to take us there.
Mack and I met my family there on New Year’s Eve, but had to call my Dad to locate the restaurant. Tucked away in a warehouse/light industrial strip just off 111 Avenue, Shanghai Grill is easy to miss. However, the immediate benefit of such a building is high, lofty ceilings, which provided the eatery with a semblance of grandness, or at least the impression of breathing room between tables. Though I liked the furnishings (particularly the coated tabletops – a sleeker alternative to glass-topped tables), the wooden beams and columns were out of place for a non-steakhouse.
The menu at Shanghai Grill includes several Western favourites, but for the most part, skewed more traditional (on a related note, I had to laugh at the take-out menu, which featured only mainstream Western dishes). We were happy to let my parents take care of the ordering, particularly because they are usually able to strike a balance between interesting dishes and dishes that will placate my sisters (who, granted, are both less picky now than in their younger years).
Service was good, and our food arrived, rapid-fire, as tends to happen at Chinese, family-style restaurants. Though our table wasn’t quite as large as some of the others, a lazy Susan would have definitely been beneficial. My favourite of the dishes was the seafood sizzling rice ($13.95) served with puffed-rice squares, the warm gravy softening the textured rice to a satisfyingly chewy quality. The xiaolong bao ($7.95), filled with a hot soup, were also pretty good, but unfortunately, the soup ended up escaping before ending up in my bowl.
Seafood Sizzling Rice
The sweet and sour pork ($11.95) was cloyingly sweet, and we assured my Mum that hers was indeed better (their use of canned pineapple didn’t help matters either). The Shanghai combination soup, filled with bok choy, pork and bean curd, was filling, but we probably could have done without it – there was nothing memorable about it. The sweet and sour fish filet ($13.95) looked promising, and though I liked the silky filets of fish, the too-subtle flavour resulted in a just okay dish. Mack’s favourite dish was the Szechuan fried noodles ($10.95), with flecks of spicy red chillies throughout.
Sweet and Sour Pork
Shanghai Soup Combination
Sweet and Sour Fish Filet
Szechuan Fried Noodles
In recognition of Chinese New Year, we were offered small bites of nian gao (glutinous rice cake), a nice treat to end the meal. The strawberries (freeze-dried, perhaps?) provided an interesting spin on a traditional offering.
As a whole, I had no complaints about the dinner. And with a clean and fresh environment with mostly solid offerings, I wouldn’t hesitate to come back.
16336 111 Avenue