Reader. Writer. Romantic.

Location: 520-5149 Country Hills Blvd NW
Website: http://www.shanghaipalacecalgary.com/en/

Like I mentioned in a previous review, this is one of the restaurants that our family goes back to time and time again. The price is decent for the amount of food we get and there are always leftovers for one or two more meals.

Tonight we went for an early Father’s Day dinner. I thought it’d be crazy busy, but we were somehow able to get a table, walking in at 6:30. Usually we get four dishes which comes with a complementary soup and dessert and of course steamed white rice. However, since it was a special occasion we went for six dishes. Since we come here so much, the waitresses thought we’d be going the usual route of four dishes and brought out the complementary soup as we perused the menu. That meant we ended up having two soups because we ordered the three course Peking duck. For those who don’t know, the three courses consists of the duck and pancakes course, the soup course, and the fried rice or noodle course. The name in Chinese roughly translates to really thinly shaved duck skin and traditionally, in Beijing (Peking is the old name for Beijing, by the way), that is how it’s done. However, in coming to Canada and the Western world, ordering a plate of skin isn’t exactly cost effective. People here want to eat meat, so here it’s primarily thinish slices of duck. I honestly prefer it this way because this is what I grew up eating. When we visited Beijing and tried the Peking Duck there I was so surprised. The duck had a far gamier taste and it was just the skin, which had been crisped up. The duck is served with green onions, cucumbers, and hoisin sauce and wrapped up in a steamed pancake. I’ve had a lot of Peking Duck in my lifetime and I can say that the pancakes here were not well done. They were far too thick and were more like tortillas instead of crepes (they should be slightly thicker than crepes). The soup was also different from most other duck soups I’ve had. Usually the soup consists of the duck bones boiled in water and mixed with soy milk and ginger and siu choy. This one had shitaki mushrooms, mung bean noodles, duck, and some other things was thicker. Next came the fried rice. Depending on the restaurant, sometimes they do fried noodles instead. Even though I’m a noodle person, the duck fried rice is always better. I find that with the noodles, it gets way too greasy, whereas I don’t really notice the grease with rice since the rice absorbs it all anyways. But this place takes the cake with weird things thrown into a fried rice. There were peas, duck, tomatoes, and pineapple. The strangest combination I’ve ever tasted. Essentially, the point of the three courses is to utilize the entire duck. However, I’m sure, based on the amount of meat in each of the three dishes, more than one duck was used.

Most families would probably stop at that. It’s already a three course meal, but my family doesn’t. Ever. We ordered three more dishes to go along with it. The first of the three was a shrimp and egg tofu in a salted egg yolk batter, deep fried, and served on a bed of fried mung bean noodles. Salted egg yolk has a very distinct taste that is hard to describe and a texture that is kinda grainy. This is one of my favourite dishes. The second was bok choy with imitation abalone. It seems to be a staple at most Chinese banquets, so I’m not super fond of this dish and for me it’s rather ordinary. The final dish was a fish dish. Apparently my father’s favourite dish: wanyu and he prefers it prepared rather simply (steamed and served with soy sauce, ginger, and green onion). Again, not a fan, because of it’s slight “dirt” taste and its many bones.

The desserts at this restaurant vary by season. In the winter it’s always a hot bowl of soup: tapioca, taro, and coconut milk or red bean. In summer it’s either a jelly (coconut, mango, etc.) or it’s mochi. Both options are very good, but I’d prefer a jelly cube or mochi over a red bean soup.

This time the food was not as sweet and not as salty as it usually was. My father speculated that it was due to a change in the head chef. But hey, lower sugar and sodium intakes aren’t all that bad. If you want it a little saltier, all you’d have to do is grab the salt shaker.

I’ve tried so many foods at this place that I can hardly remember everything. It may not be the best restaurant in the world, but for the price we pay for a four course dinner, I’d say it was worth returning to time and time again.

I would rate this place a 3.75/5 simply because it’s not a place I’d want to be taken to for a date, but it is a nice place to go to for a warm family dinner.

Peking Duck

Peking Duck

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