One of my favorite things to eat is dim sum! Growing up, my (Vietnamese) parents always ordered the same things: shu mai (pork dumpling) and ha cao (shrimp dumpling). And that’s it. That is it folks! I grew up not knowing what other dim sum items tasted like until I went with friends that knew their way around those moving carts. It came to the point that my mom wouldn’t even bother to go to dim sum. She would just call and order to go. What kind of dim sum is that?!
When I discovered xiao long bao (soup dumplings) in Vancouver, I thought I had hit the jackpot of dim sum. A special Shanghai dumpling filled with delicious, hot soup! To my angst, my friends told me I could get it here in Edmonton too. It’s as if I had been searching for something all my life and it was right in front of me the entire time. From what I know, there are two main Shanghai cuisine restaurants in Edmonton (correct me if I’m wrong please!): Shanghai 456 near Kingsway Garden Mall and Shanghai Grill near the Mayfield Inn. I’ve tried both restaurants and for sake of geographical convenience, I’ve continued to go to Shanghai 456 ever since. I’ll have to do a trip to Shanghai Grill in the next few months to compare. Anyways… on to the food!
For those of you trying to find the place, I highly recommend Google Maps. Although both of us are north side residents, even Alex and I had trouble finding the place when we tried it for the first time. For this trip, I took Joe, a xiao long bao virgin. He was just as confused as to where we were going until I stated, “this is it!” Tucked away in the old cafeteria of the Edmonton Flying Club’s building, the place doesn’t exactly scream out “get your delicious soup dumplings here!”
A standard open kitchen and barely English menu welcomes you when you seat yourself. (This means you know it’s the real deal.) Most the servers speak very little English so be prepared to point at pictures and go from there.
We decided to order two dim sum items and a noodle soup. First to come was the “san jeen bao” or pan fried bun, available in pork or beef. We had the beef one and they were delicious! The dough is similar, if not exactly the same as a regular steamed bun but something about pan frying it makes it that much better. Super juicy and super flavorful!
The noodle soup with pork chop came out next. The broth is nice and light, very homemade. The noodles were a bit bland and a little overdone but the pork chops were the star of the dish. Extra crispy (but not greasy) and well seasoned. The dish was a good palate cleanser in between the buns and dumplings.
Lastly, our xiao long bao. Six delicate two-bite buns filled with pork and hot soup just waiting to explode in your mouth. Be careful when you bite into it! Your dining partner will not enjoy hot soup squirting into their face while they try to eat their own dumpling! I’m no expert in xiao long bao but I would like to think that there should be a nice balance between the dough’s thickness, the pork filling, and the amount of soup. Shanghai 456’s soup dumplings contain a lot of soup. And I mean a lot. I usually bite a small hole in the bottom of the dumpling and pour my soup out into a spoon. That way I can take a bite out of the dumpling itself and sip some soup at the same time. These dumplings contain at least two small spoonfuls of soup inside! Yummy!
After each meal, they usually give each table a complimentary dessert. Ours this time were small cubes of jello made out of herbal tea. (Sorry, no photo, they were demolished immediately). Other times I’ve had a red bean paste filled pastry or some sort of pudding. For more pictures and other item menus that I’ve ordered in the past, please scroll down to the end of the post!
Not sure if this will affect their business, but with city plans to tear down the municipal airport and redevelop the area, I wonder where Shanghai 456 will go. I would ask them but communication is not their best forte. Does anybody know if they plan on moving? I hope they don’t close down. I’ll be sure to visit more often in the upcoming winter months to get my xiao long bao fix. Better visit before they’re gone!Shanghai 456
Buildin 18, 49 Airport Road