Surprisingly I’ve never been to Dinesty even though it’s one of the popular Shanghainese restaurants in Lower Mainland. Now that I’m in Richmond, of course I took the opportunity to visit one of the locations — the one on Ackroyd Road.
With the four of us, we ordered a few appetizers and a few entrees to share. For appetizers we started with a cold dish, Chinese Spinach with Bean Curd. The Chinese spinach has more fibre than regular spinach, so it had a nice bite to it. The combination, served cold, was quite refreshing. I like that it’s in a small dish so there wasn’t too much to share. The Stewed Duck Leg in Brown Sauce was rather ordinary. The meat was tender, but wasn’t very flavourful. The thinner slices seemed to have more flavours; it may be helpful if it’s served with a little bit of sauce on the plate.
The Bean Curd Mushroom Roll is one of our favourite dishes, so we were excited about ordering it. It was good, with a lot of diced shitake mushrooms in the filling. It was a bit too crispy for our liking, though, as we prefer the pan-fried version. The dipping sauce was a hot, sweet and sour sauce, and it worked well with the fried bean curd. The Marinated Beef Wrapped in Pancake was a bit of a letdown. The pancake was thick, doughy, and there was not enough sauce inside the wrap. The one from Long’s Noodle House is still my favourite preparation of this.
Of course, you can’t go to a Shanghainese restaurant without the classic, Steamed Pork Dumplings, or known to many, Xiao Long Bao or XLB. This was probably one of the best I’ve had. The wrapper was nice and thin, the meat was seasoned well with juicy burst out at first bite. My only complaint is that they were too small in size. I had to eat a few more to satisfy my craving for XLB…or perhaps that’s their intention to make you order a few more orders!
Moving onto the more entree-style dishes, the Shredded Pork with Hoi Sin Sauce + Pancakes were really good. The hoi sin sauce had a good combination of sweet and savouriness, and the pancakes were paper thin! Making your crepe was a lot of fun, but I wish they had more cucumber slices or something with a crunch for texture.
The Spicy String Beans with Minced Pork was a standard affair, and it tasted good. The stirfry was really nice with a good amount of heat in the seasoning. Mr. really likes a dish called “Squirrel Fish”, which is called Sweet & Sour Grouper here. The trick is to score the fish meat after flipping it inside out, so it would be fried up to a nice pine cone shape. In this case, perhaps the fish was too small, or the scoring wasn’t perfect, so the fish meat didn’t fluff up and didn’t look right. That being said, the sauce was really good with the right amount of acidity, and I appreciated the addition of a few shrimps in the sauce.
Lastly, Fried Rice with Tung Kang Shrimps is supposed to be one of Dinesty’s signature dishes and it’s often advertised in Chinese newspapers. It was good, but I didn’t find it very interesting. The Tung Kang Shrimps were the only protein in the rice, and I think it would be better if it had a small amount of pork for another layer of flavour. Right now it’s a bit bland.
Unfortunately, we didn’t order any dessert. It wasn’t because we were full. It was because we were given the bill before we even finished eating. Seriously, if you take a look at the photo below, you can tell that we’re nowhere near finish yet we’re already getting the boot. There wasn’t any lineup at the door, and even so, it’s rude to be kicking out your customers when they were clearly still working on the food! Papa Lam wasn’t impressed.
[Update: According to Mr. it’s actually quite common in China that you get your bill way before you’re done, and you can just take as long as you want to pay up and you can hang around for as long as you want. I eat out at Chinese restaurants a lot here and frankly I don’t often receive such treatment, which is why I was taken aback. I guess I’m too used to the North American restaurant culture.]
Overall, Dinesty was quite good and I especially enjoyed the Xiao Long Bao and Shredded Pork with Hoi Sin Sauce + Pancakes. There was no major disappointment in other dishes, so I think this is a good option for Shanghainese food. Let’s hope that you won’t get rushed out the door during your visit!
Dinesty Chinese Restaurant 聚
8111 Ackroyd Road, Richmond