Yu Garden - Shanghai Style Dimsum
Toronto is known for its great Chinese food including dim sum. Many of the best dim sum spots can be found just north of the city in the areas of Markham and Richmond Hill. During a recent visit to Yu Garden, we got to sample and taste a variety of Shanghai style dim sum items. Typical dim sum restaurants in Toronto serve Cantonese style dim sum, where you eat things like shrimp dumplings (har gow), BBQ pork buns and lotus leaf wrapped rice. Whereas, Yu Garden offers an extensive menu of dim sum items unique to the Shanghai region of China. Dim sum is most often enjoyed with family and this meal was no different. I brought out my whole family and we indulged in 20+ tasty Shanghai dim sum dishes from savoury cold dishes to giant soup dumplings. Here is a run down of foods we ate!
The minced wild Chinese vegetable dish was basically minced veggies disguised as a bowl of rice or grains. Really interesting texture and freshness in each bite.
A variety of rice wine marinated meats and veggies were served cold as appetizers.
Deep fried cashew nut pastry was filled with sweet crushed cashews.
Soup filled dumplings (aka Xiao Long Bao aka XLB) are quintessential to Shanghainese cuisine and Yu Garden steps it up with traditional pork flavour and also a black truffle version of these famous soup filled dumplings. Original pork flavour is always my favourite, but the black truffle version was also impressive as the black colored dumplings were filled soup that had a strong truffle/mushroom aroma.
The dumpling wrappers were thin and delicate, but with just the right amount of strength to stay intact as you move the dumpling from plate to mouth. Pro tip: Eat with a bit of vinegar and sliced ginger, then carefully bite a hole into the dumpling skin and enjoy the hot soup first.
We were also served King Size Nan Xiang soup filled buns- gigantic sized buns with straws to drink the soup from. The king size buns came filled with either Shark Fin soup or Crab Roe soup. We enjoyed taking pictures and videos of these massive buns just as much as we enjoyed slurping the soup from the straw. These buns were thicker and breadier than their XLB counterparts, and most of us just left the bun after downing the soup.
Blocks of sticky rice were fried and stacked to make crispy rice cakes. This was one of the lighter items, which was a nice contrast to all the savoury dishes.
A traditional Shanghai style bamboo shoot soup was also served. Pieces of salted pork belly were used to make this soup and cooking results in lighter tasting pork belly meat, unique to this soup.
Braised Pork Knuckle is one for sharing. Tasty chunks of fatty braised meat.
We also tried 2 more types of dumplings- steamed dumplings filled with sticky rice and pan seared pork dumplings.
Shanghai style rice cakes, braised minced meat balls, stir fried yellow eels, fried pea sprouts with crab meat. Big selection of tasty Shanghai dishes.
Jello like Cinnamon scented soft cakes and savoury Suzhou Mooncakes were served for dessert. Not your typical mooncakes, as these have a flaky crust and were filled with savoury pork.
We had an amazing time eating at Yu Garden! Everyone left with a full stomach, along with lots of extra food to take home. The variety and uniqueness of the dishes makes this a must try spot, especially if you want something that is a bit different than the typical Cantonese dim sum at most places in Toronto. Yu Garden originates from Shanghai, and has restaurant locations across China. The original Yau Garden has a 100+ year history with their Toronto restaurant being their first North American location. They also have plans to open more location across North America.