Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Modern City Chinese Restaurant 新上海酒家

A friend of mine is not a picky eater and loves to follow the hype regarding restaurants. She enjoys the atmosphere more than the food, is always one of the first to follow the newest food trend in Vancouver, and declares a dish as great because it is from a certain restaurant. Furthermore, her expectations are not very high and if something sucks, the food must be bad. Having said all of that, I was a bit hesitant when BF suggested to try Modern City because my friend did not like it one bit. Honestly, she only dislikes a restaurant once in a blue moon. Well,  around every half year is more realistic.

After finally finding an optical retail store that carries Victoria Beckham and the style/color I actually want, I was happy enough to not care where dinner would be and the choice was Modern City. Modern City is located in Kerrisdale and is the only Shanghainese restaurant in the area. However, there are a few Chinese restaurants in the area and our choice was actually between Chongqing or here.

Modern City is a clean restaurant and the interior is a well lit. There are booth seating arrangements along one side of the restaurant, and a good amount of tables which are not cramped. As for the food, there is a mix of Cantonese style cuisine, Szechuan as well as Shanghai, and live seafood is available.

Rating: 0/5.
You know how usually the photos on the menu are just an example of what a dish may look like? And how there is always a fine print stating the pictures are just for references? Well, there is a difference between a reference and something that is plain different! Before ordering, we asked if the pork is thinly sliced because the proper way of making sliced pork with garlic and chilli, is. The waiter responded "not too thin, but thin..." and we received the opposite!

The pork is sliced too thick as well as uneven, and the lean portion tastes extremely dry as well as chewy. Furthermore, the fatty portion of the pork does not even taste tender! Forget about even a fattiness or a melt in the mouth kind of deal… Honestly, this is reboiled meat. The pork is pre-cooked, sliced to order and boiled, then slabbed with some sauce. I am not saying this "appears to be", I am saying this is exactly what the kitchen literally did. Asides from the texture, this is not even "蒜泥白肉"! Do not offer something on the menu if it cannot be made, and give the customer a totally different dish. Also, 蒜泥白肉 is one dish that needs fresh garlic rather than jarred. New Szechuan in Burquitlam is one of the few restaurants that properly makes 蒜泥白肉.

Rating: 1/5.
Another incident where the photo may not be a true representation of the dish, is the cauliflower in spicy sauce. We also added sliced pork for an additional $3.00, which is kind of odd because this type of dish always includes pork belly and is pictured on the menu with it as well.

As for the taste, the cauliflower has a nice crunch and the sauce is pretty much a chilli oil base. The sauce tastes boring, bland and not flavourful. It is literally only chill oil, chives and soy sauce. As for the meat, the pork belly tastes chewy (but not as bad as the other dish) and asides from a few slices, the rest is a different cut of the pork! The other cut of pork tastes dry as well as stiff, and what restaurant does that?

Rating: 0.5/5 (The half point is for the use of fresh bamboo shoots).
The soup tastes very light and the salted pork was forgotten. In other words, the broth tastes bland, there is no flavour whatsoever, the soup should have been cooked longer and a main ingredient is missing. However, there are fresh bamboo shoots which provide a nice crunch… despite having no flavour. The best Shanghai style soup seems to be Shanghai Elan's (based on one visit) and Modern City serves the worst, compared to every Shanghainese restaurant that I have been to.

Rating: 2/5.
The slices of pork are very chewy as well as dry, and even Bubble World's tasted better! However, the sauce has a nice consistency along with a slightly sweet flavour. There is a nice sweet brown sauce flavour along with a hint of star anise, and it is such a shame the meat tastes dry because the sauce is fairly good. Also included are three marinated eggs sliced in halves. The eggs do not taste dry or rubbery, which has happened.

Rating: 0.5/5.
I rarely order Shanghai style seafood because not many restaurants in BC make a good variation. However, since Modern City is a Shanghai cuisine restaurant, we decided to give it a try. Also, there is an additional $8.00 charge for the rice cake which is not stated on the menu or mentioned when ordering. There is nothing with an additional charge but it should be disclosed when ordering. Plus, even most restaurants charge only an extra $4.00 - $6.00.

Modern City makes the crab a bit different compared to most restaurants, where the seafood is not deep fried and is pan fried instead (a very homestyle dish). Having said that, the crab does not have a nice crispiness and oddly has a fishy smell. As for the very few amount of rice cake which is not worth the additional $8.00, the slices have a pleasant chewiness. In addition, this is not a Shanghai style crab because there is only a soy sauce and ginger base. There is not much flavour and despite having fresh crab on the table, it was meh and not worth the hassle of eating. 
The taste was not appealing enough to care it is a fresh crab. Furthermore, that watery and fishy flavour? When is there ever a fishy flavour in live seafood? If anything, Modern City's Shanghai style crab is not even comparable to Chen's Shanghai's.

Rating: 3.5/5.
Oh man, finally a good dish! The xiao long bao is really good as well as juicy. In addition, the soup has a flavourful broth along with a hint of garlic, and does not taste salty at all. As for the pork, the meat could have been smoother with the use of more fatty pork, but is neither gritty. The XLBs are definitely a Top Five and the skin is not too thick nor thin. The highlight is definitely the flavourful soupiness.

Rating: 4/5
Another highlight throughout dinner are the pan fried buns! Honestly, one of the best doughs I ever had. The skin resembles the taste of deep fried buns and taste very good. Furthermore, the bottoms are perfectly crisp and the dough tastes really tastes good! As for the meat, there is a very small amount which does not even matter, since the buns taste great and are very juicy. In addition, the meat tastes moist as well as flavourful.

TOTAL: $126.85 + TIP $13.15 = $140.00.

Overall, the saving grace is the XLB along with the pan fried buns. As for everything else, surprisingly horrible for a restaurant in Kerrisdale. Asides from the food, some of the waitresses looked miserable and slammed dishes on the table. However, the only waiter at the front of the house did not slam anything on the table and his face was neutral. Luckily, plate changes were not needed because the crab was off-putting.

- Only Shanghai cuisine restaurant in Kerrisdale
- Great XLB and pan fried buns (4/5)
- Clean restaurant

- Below average food
- Quality does not match the prices
- Crab tastes fishy as well as watery, and $8.00 for a handful of rice cake?
- No service as well as unfriendly ladies, despite ordering plenty of food for two
- Restaurant does not even make 蒜泥白肉!

- XLB and pan fried buns are a Top Five and a must order
- Why not make the drive to a better Shanghainese restaurant?

Food: 2/5
Service: 2.5/5

Modern City Chinese Restaurant 新上海酒家 on Urbanspoon


  1. sometimes the buns aren't fully cook so need to be careful but prices are not too expensive~

    1. The buns are the same prices at many restaurants, and taste delicious! Yikes about the possibility of being undercooked though, hopefully that is rare



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