Review: Urban China
10604-101 St., Edmonton – Website
Date of Visit: July 7, 2015
This was one of the spots I had discovered online when I was planning the culinary portion of my July trip to Edmonton. It has a pretty interesting looking menu online, as well as a few good reviews and, accordingly, I made my way there one morning at 11am for a leisurely dim sum brunch…
Ambience and Service
The front of the restaurant is a rather pleasant atrium sort of affair separated from a larger, and somewhat congested, main dining area. All told, the place would easily seat 200 or so as far as I could tell. When I arrived at 11am on a Tuesday morning, the place was already quite full, almost exclusively with an Asian clientele, and by the time I left an hour or so later it was packed, with a good line-up at the door. The noise inside, what with the chatter of both staff and patrons, was considerable indeed but it wasn’t unpleasant by any means and actually seemed to add to the atmosphere of the place.
There were at least 5 dim sum trolleys being pushed around and a large number of additional wait staff as well. I was probably served by at least 7 different people in all and I actually found the regular solicitations of the dim sum ladies to get a bit distracting at times. Some of the other wait staff were also a little bit abrupt in manner (one even wandered off as I was trying to ask a question), but, to be fair, they were all extremely busy the whole time I was there.
Urban China has an extensive regular menu, as well as providing dim sum at all hours, but I was also pleased to discover that you could order dim sum items from a printed list instead of trying to choose from the trolleys as they went by. I much prefer this as it allows you to make your choices in a more relaxed and considered way rather than haphazardly and impulsively.
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling – These were the old dim sum house favorite known most commonly by the Cantonese name ‘Har Gow’, and they came 4 to the basket for $4.95. Unfortunately, though generously stuffed with large chunks of shrimp, they were not the best quality. The wrapper was very thick and stodgy and the size of each dumpling (the largest I have seen), made them very unwieldy and liable to fall apart when picked up. The shrimp was fresh and nicely seasoned but the steamed wrapper had a very raw, paste-like quality. I gave these just a 1 out of 5.
Steamed Beef Balls – This consisted of three very large meatballs (the waitress snipped each in two with scissors at my table), served, I think, on a bed of bean curd skin strips. The body of the meatballs was quite light and spongy, but some chunks of water chestnut, along with chopped scallion, provided a nice textural contrast. The seasoning was very light, maybe a little soy and white pepper, but I also fancied I could taste a little orange peel in a few bites. I actually prefer my own home-made version but these were not bad and I gave them a 3 out of 5.
Curry Squid – Normally this dish is made with rings or squares of squid flesh but here I was served whole baby squid on thin noodles in a thin ‘curry’ sauce. The body of the squid was very thick from the steaming process, and a bit bland and soft for my taste, but the tentacles were nicely chewy. The noodles didn’t add much to the dish, I didn’t think, and the sauce really didn’t have a great deal of curry flavor. This wasn’t bad but I have had much better elsewhere and I rated it at a 3 out of 5.
Grilled Rice Crepe with Dried Shrimp and Green Onion – Although the menu described theses as ‘grilled’ that was obvious an editorial error as these were the typical steamed ‘Cheong Fun’ you can get with a variety of fillings in almost any Dim Sum palace. These ones were very nicely formed, thus very easy to pick up and eat, and the thickness was just right. The scallion taste came through nicely but the dried shrimp was apparent only in a few bites here and there. They would have been a bit too bland for my taste but the nicely sweet soy based sauce did a lot to help. I liked these and gave them a 4 out of 5.
I can’t say that I was overly impressed by my meal at Urban China but I think I would still go back and try some of the other dishes, both from the regular menu, and the dim sum list. I was a bit disappointed with a few of my choices but I generally enjoyed the experience and I rated the place at an overall 3 out of 5.