Dumpling Dance at City Temple of Shanghai


Note: this post was imported from

UPDATED: City Temple of Shanghai is sadly now closed.

There are few things I love to eat more than dumplings so when Sherman put the word out for a Shanghainese dinner at The City Temple of Shanghai Restaurant, it didn’t take long for me to respond and a few days later Elaine, Kim, Sherman and I (with some other non-blogging guests) sat down to a feast. I’ve been to City Temple a couple of times before on the recommendation of fellow Foodist Nancy Wu and I was looking forward to the pillowy soft dumpling goodness that comes out of this Main Street hole the wall. When he made the reservation, Sherman also ordered us a Peking duck, so we had that to look forward to as well.

crispy duck skin
We ordered 2 types of dumplings, Pekin duck (which comes in two dishes – the skin and the meat) and several other delicious sounding thingsย  from the multicolored strips of menu tacked to the wall.

The duck (skin) was the first to arrive and I’m sad to say that it wasn’t amazing. Traditionally, it’s served with a crepe,ย  green onion, cucumber and hoisin sauce and here was no different. The skin was crispy and salty and I enjoyed it on its own but the crepes were cold and a little chewy, not to mention unmatched to the portion sizes of duck skin, meaning that there were a few mouthfuls of dry crepe for every bite of duck deliciousness. The duck meat was served stir-fried with lettuce wraps and this one I found to be very tasty.

pan-fried dumpling love
But enough about the duck! We were here for the dumplings and they came in spades. We got two orders each of both pan-fried and xiao long bao, my favorite. Good, flavourful broth served nice and hot – they’re not as good as Lin’s but I’d been too long without an XLB fix so I can’t complain at all. The potstickers, however, were better and here you have some photos of both sides of them.

pan fried dumpling au verso
After that there were some tan tan noodles, fried noodles, and fried pork with rice cake that paled in comparison to the first part of the meal. Tan tan are some of my favorite flavours but they could have been stronger here and the fried pork I could have done without entirely.

City Temple of Shanghai
3755 Main Street, Vancouver

*Cash only.



  1. Chef Helena

    First of all….LOVE YOUR SITE!! I really do not need to say more but i have one question for you. When I am craving a dumpling, i think I would try out this place so my question to you is… What is the price range?? can you give ma a bit of a breakdown. Keep up the great site.
    From Chef Helena

  2. Joseph Wu

    I’ve been meaning to write about City Temple for some time now, but have never finished the review. Here’s what I had so far:

    From the outside, The City Temple of Shanghai Restaurant looks a little dated and run-down. Inside, it’s not much better. It hearkens back to the day of little mom-and-pop Chinese restaurants opened by new immigrants. In fact, it reminds me of the sorts of Chinese restaurants that were common here in Vancouver when I was growing up, over 25 years ago. However, just like some of those little holes in the wall, this one is a gem waiting to be discovered.

    The smiling face of Mrs. Huang greets visitors to the restaurant. She’s the entire front of house, welcoming customers, taking orders, and serving the food. Although she’s originally from Shanghai and speaks Mandarin as her primary language, she’s managed to pick up a fair amount of English in her 17 years here. Even more impressive, she has also managed to learn Cantonese in order to communicate with the local Chinese community. (The majority of the Chinese living in Metro Vancouver are Cantonese speakers.) In the kitchen, her 34-year-old son is the head chef, and her husband is the sous chef. Mr. Huang Sr. worked for many years as a line cook in Shanghai, while Mr. Huang Jr. learned from various Shanghai chefs here. Mrs. Huang says that her son’s wider exposure to different chefs gives him an edge over his father.

    Basically, I go for the dumplings. I love the XLB, and I would rate the texture of the filling as better than Lin’s, although Lin’s has better skin. As you say, the potstickers are superb. The crowning glory, however, are the pan fried bun dumplings (sahng jeen bao in Cantonese). Mrs. Huang makes these to order (which means they can’t be had if the restaurant is too busy). Sort of a cross between XLB and steamed buns, these feature a dough made with leavening that rise as they are pan fried. Delicious!

  3. Matt

    Cheap, yummy goodness. We’ll have to go back for dumplings sometime. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Sherman

    Nice to dine with you and Matt! Yup, agreed on all of your points. Yes, do the XLB database. Then we’ll know which one is king! or queen… We should do this again, maybe in Richmond? ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. degan (Post author)

    Hey Joseph! I just read an article about you in Montecristo! That’s so awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks so much for your comments. Your writing is beautiful and evocative. It really makes me want to go back and try the sahng jeen bao immediately but I’m not sure I trust my pronounciation. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Joseph Wu

    Thanks, Degan! You should go anyway. Or, if you want, we can go together!

    I really should go back soon. I know that in the past half year, they’ve had two failed attempts to sell the restaurant. Who knows how long they’ll still be there?

  7. Joseph Wu

    Ate there tonight, and they said that August 25 might be their last day.

  8. Joseph Wu

    And it’s official. They’re gone. Drove by today and their windows are papered over.

    1. degan (Post author)

      Oh that is so sad. ๐Ÿ™ where should we go now?


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