ChineseBites #9: Shanghai Élan Restaurant 上海粗菜館

After quite a few Cantonese style dinners around East Van with the ChineseBites dining crew, we headed off to Burnaby's Crystal Mall to try out Shanghai Elan.

One of the dishes that I enjoyed the most was the jelly pork, which is traditionally made from braised trotters, where the aspic comes together to form a nice jelly.  This was probably the most nicely plated jelly pork I've seen (my standards aren't high), and I really like the soft gelatin-y portion of the rectangular prism.  (No, they're not cubes.)

The mouth watering chicken was alright.  I didn't enjoy it as much as the one at The Place, since this one had much less peppercorn and sesame oil.  The xiaolongbaos were pretty good and juicy, though I found the skin a bit thicker than I would have liked.  Size-wise they were good though.

The wild vegetable with pine nuts, a traditional Shanghainese dish, was fairly neglected throughout the dinner.  It was a bit boring compared to the other dishes, but in fact wasn't that bad.  We also had the jellyfish "head", which is what it would be called in Chinese.  This part of the jellyfish has what seems like cartilage and doesn't have that nice crunch the long thin strands has.  I don't enjoy it as much as the cheaper variation.

The shredded pork with steamed pancakes was good, and I'm generally a fan of most things with this type of thin crepe-like wrap.  It had the right amount of dou ban sauce and wasn't overly salty.

I wasn't a fan of the beef rolls -- it reminded me of the ones from Long's Noodle House since they both have a similar wrap.  I much prefer the one from Peaceful Restaurant, with it's flaky pancake instead.

The fried fish in sweet and sour sauce was definitely a highlight, and we were all pleasantly surprised.  The fish seemed quite fresh and was quite nicely fried.  It had a very good crisp exterior, and the sauce reminded me of what we usually have at home -- just the right amount of sweet and sour.  The pineapples weren't cooked either. Perfect! I hate it when they overcook pineapples.

Of course, with a Shanghainese meal, we had to have rice cakes.  This was done "Shanghainese-style" with a soy sauce base, not dissimilar to that of the stir fried thick noodles in Shanghainese-style next to it.  I preferred the chewy rice cakes, since they're one of my favourite types of carbs, but I didn't find the two dishes to be all that special.

I was glad we ordered the ham and duck soup since it was quite different from any other soups I've had before.  Chunks of taro gave the soup a slightly beigey-grey tinge, and the taro pieces were actually quite soft.  I couldn't finish more than one though since the soup was served at the end of the meal.  The ham gave the soup a nice kick of flavour, and I couldn't help myself to seconds.

I enjoyed the meal at Shanghai Elan and found it a nice change to the typical ChineseBites dinners.  Most of the dishes were quite standard, but several ones, including the jelly pork, fish, and soup, were really quite well done.
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