Shanghai cuisine is the newest type of food on my radar. Although I am a quarter Chinese, and for most parts, look Chinese, it’s difficult for many to understand that the only type of Chinese food that I’ve devoured for my first 20 years of life was a $5.50 food court standard of pick a rice or noodle and two protein dishes – my options ranged through sweet & sour pork, chow mein and pork balls… All which I thought were an absolute indulgence and entirely delicious. So, my most recent visit to Shanghai ShiKuMen was a total eye-opener, each in terms of ingredient-uses and flavours.
Shanghai ShiKuMen was opened by the owner and her husband after seeing that the Chinese food scene in Toronto was missing authentic Shanghai cuisine. As part of Asia Food Fest, the premium-priced Shanghai ShiKuMen are making their contribution with two discounted set-menu options, for a 4-person comb ($27/pp) and 6-person combo ($24.5/pp). You can see the menu on offer for these two here.
We were served every item of the “Combo for 4” with an exception of the second dish. In addition, we enjoyed four house specialties which I will list ahead:
Combo For 4 $27/Person
- Shaoxing Style Cold Chicken
- Served with a vinegar soy sauce
- Jellyfish Mixed with Shredded Radish in Green Onion Oil
- House Special Braised Pork
- Crab Meat Tofu
- I couldn’t hint crab meat throughout, but this was a delicious soft tofu dish
- Vegetable with Twin Mushroom
- Mushrooms which I could slurp all day, the bok choy gave me a wonderful break from the oiliness each earlier dish brought.
- House Special Steamed Pork Buns
- Pigeon Soup with Conch and Chinese Caterpillar Fungus (4)
- Very interesting soup. The flavours are divided into two – a familiar Chinese mushroom and conch. The pigeon, which everyone else was convinced was chicken (how can you tell?) tasted like a very dry chicken. Pieces of conch to bite into. The fungus is delicious, and I wonder why it takes on such a strange shape… Then, you do some further research and find out what caterpillar fungus really is and how it develops. Let’s see if you can finish it off now.
- Classic Crab Meat Steamed Bun ($14.99)
- The “XLB” or Xiaolong Bao, a Shanghai classic. This is a dumpling which is capsulated with cubes of concentrated broth and meat – upon heating, the cubes become a soup and with a final bite, the goodness bursts and you experience heaven. It’s my second time enjoying these and it’s very well done here.
- Stir Fried Longjing Shrimp ($19.99)
- These are basically the shrimps from cheung fun. So you can enjoy all of that tender and bouncy shrimp goodness without the tangles of the beautifully soft rice rolls. The sauce that is served with this is a soy sauce and vinegar mix.
- Eel in Sizzling Oil ($40.99)
- Sticky Rice Stuffed Lotus Root
I was most excited for these, they would have been extraordinary. For the price tag, it’s difficult to comprehend, but when understanding the hard work put into taking the bones out of a whole eel, it’s granted. The eel dish on it’s own was very strong and deep in flavours.
Pork that has been boiled then braised, you could see the love through the colour of this dish. It’s the rich flavours in this dish that sprung the idea to open the menu to the public. The oyster sauce flavours and spices are cooked through, and fat rendered to create the finest bite that definitely had me longing for rice.
They have thought very deep into the Sticky Rice Stuffed Lotus Root. Sticky and sweet like dates and stuffed with a chewy sticky rice, this is a dessert. This surprised me.
Steamed buns which are fried before serving, a pork filling bursts with juices of fat upon bite.
I was dining with three others, all three who praised dish item upon bite, with the exception of three, the wine-infused chicken/innards, shaoxing chicken and crab meat tofu (which was absolutely peculiar to me, because these were my favourites). I like cold dishes, so the two chicken dishes were excellent or me! The wine-infused chicken innard and edamame dish for it’s tanginess and bitter aftertaste. Honourable meets and eats mentions go towards the classic xiao long bao which is served to be dipped in a red vinegar & ginger sauce.
View all photos at Shanghai ShiKuMen Fine Cuisine here.