The restaurant space next door to London Drugs on Kingsway near Joyce has been a restaurant black hole over the past 20+ years. In the 90s the space used to be a Taiwanese restaurant called “Lingering Flavour” which was really quite good. After Lingering Flavour closed down, the space turned into a few different restaurants before becoming a Bubble Waffle Cafe location last summer (review here). But then that closed down and became something else (possibly dim sum-related?), but NOW for the past month it’s been a Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine. I really hope they stick around because their xiao long bao (XLB) are great.
If you’ve been to any of the previous restaurants in this space, you’ll know that it’s tiny. Seats maybe 30 people at most.
I think lots of local XLB fanatics may be cheering their return. The guy that appeared to be the owner said they’ve been open a month.
Menu page one. Runs the gamut of Shanghainese food. Unexpectedly comprehensive. For this initial solo visit, I ordered their Steamed Pork Buns (xiao long bao) and Pan Fried Pork Buns (sheng jian bao).
Menu page two.
Back page with bubble drinks.
Tableside condiments. White pepper, salt(?), a unique-looking chili oil, soy sauce, and black vinegar.
The chili oil had a sandy texture. I put a ratio of about 2-1-1 of black vinegar, soy sauce, and chili oil (scooped as much of the sandy bits as I could).
Steamed Pork Buns (XLB).
I’m not an ultra-picky XLB fanatic. As long as it hits my criteria for tasting good, I’m happy. A thin, strong skin is a big plus, as is plentiful, flavourful soup.
Wang’s uses the straw-like mat underneath the XLB. They serve it to you right in the steamer without a plate or anything underneath, so they must be confident that their wrapping is strong enough to not spring a leak all over the table, or confident in your skills not to puncture them by accident 😉
Thin and strong wrapper. The pinched part at the top is a bit thick, but not so thick that you get a bite of undercooked dough.
The soup was clear, aromatic goodness. I like to snip ‘n sip a bit, then put the whole thing into my mouth to get a little burst of soup as I chew. Nice balance of sweetness, porkiness, fattiness, and juiciness. No overt flaws other than the slightly thick pinched part.
Pan Fried Pork Buns (sheng jian bao aka SJB).
I’ve had these at Xu’s Wonton in Crystal Mall (see comparison below). They do the wrapper here a bit thicker. The flavour was good, with plenty of soup inside, however overall I didn’t like these as much as Xu’s version. Slightly burnt, and the frying didn’t turn crispy so much as hard. Not terrible, but they could’ve been better. I’m still searching for the best 😉
Side note: I probably prefer the version of SJB that uses the fluffy steamed bun dough rather than the denser steamed dumpling dough. I’m also searching out a good rendition of those.
Cheap, filling, and starch-heavy cuisine. Despite the just-ok SJB, I’d come back for the XLB.
They let me take some photos of the glass partitioned prep area. 😀
I’m sure it’s harder than it looks.
Bonus comparison with Xu’s Wonton House in Crystal Mall:
According to Sherman’s review of Wang’s, Wang’s used to be in Crystal Mall about five years ago and was taken over by Xu’s Wonton House. I visited Xu’s back in May 2015 to satisfy an XLB and Sheng Jian Bao (SJB) craving:
The XLB at Xu’s are comparable to Wang’s. Thin wrapper, a bit less thick at the pinched part than Wang’s.
The SJB at Xu’s has a slightly thinner wrapping than Wang’s, so I prefer these a bit more than Wang’s. I don’t find a huge difference between the two restaurants though. Both good and recommended. I’m glad to see a good XLB option in the Kingsway and Joyce area where Wang’s is located.