Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家) – Shanghai iapm branch
Categories: Cantonese, Dimsum
Address: iapm 5/F, 999 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Shanxi Lu (淮海中路999号环贸广场5楼， 近陕西路路)
Hours: Daily, 11am - 10pm.
Price: ~¥200-250 per person
Verdict: Yes for a quick lunch around the area. Take out available too. However, for a proper dimsum meal with friends and family, I would go elsewhere.
Telephone: 021-64483552 | Dianping
Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家) is a Hong Kong-based casual restaurant chain that serves traditional Cantonese cuisine. Think comfort food and casual dimsum. Despite serving humble foods like noodle soups and congee, the institution’s been awarded the “Best of the Best Culinary Award – Gold with Distinction” from Hong Kong Tourism Board and its original branch (Ho Hung Kee) even carries a prestigious Michelin one-star crown.
Having visited all its Hong Kong locations and feeling consistently satisfied every meal, I had moderately high hopes for its Shanghai branches to be decent. I happened to be near its iapm location on Sunday and gleefully hopped inside. I was surprised to find the restaurant (or should I say fancy food court enclosure?) situated in an open area on the 5th floor. What is partially so admirable about Tasty Congee in Hong Kong is its successful integration of the luxury and the modest—having the refined atmosphere and décor of a high-end restaurant but serving down-to-earth unpretentious and simple dishes. The interiors are clean, contemporary and spacious—complete with fitting traditional Chinese ornaments and gold accents. I mean, what’s there not to like when you can enjoy affordable and tasty “jook,” shrimp rolls and wantun noodles at a full-service restaurant without having to worry about sanitation? You also won’t find yourself swimming in a sea of clattered shrieks and voices that’s typical at a cha chaan tang. Hence my astonishment when I found Shanghai iapm’s Tasty Congee to be located in a shared area with Bistro BB1 Vietnamese Delights. Ermm, okay. But maybe I shouldn’t be too quick to judge. Perhaps the food lives up to its name, I told myself. The environment is upscale considering its fast-service restaurant positioning here—at least the food seems to be cooked to order, the waitresses are reasonably attentive, and the seats are fairly comfortable. Let’s see if the food’s any good.
The menu is not extensive but enough to have a reasonable selection. I ordered the dimsum staples: steamed shrimp dumplings (晶莹鲜虾饺), steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce (百味酱蒸凤爪), steamed pork buns (叉烧包), mixed steamed rice noodle rolls (混酱肠粉), original beef brisket noodle soup (原汁柱侯牛腩面), sliced tenderloin beef congee (生滚牛肉粥), stir-fry Chinese broccoli (芥兰) and stir-fry flat rice noodles with beef (干炒牛河).
Food arrived in a jiffy. Everything was served onto our table with 5 to 10 minutes. Devour mode: on.
The chicken feet, beef brisket noodle soup and rice noodle rolls were standard. The steamed shrimp dumplings came out smaller than average and although the prawn-pork filling had a good commixture of savory pork and prawn, it lacked a springy texture and juiciness. The semi-translucent skin wrapping was a tad too thick as well. The char siu baos (pork buns), however, were fantastic. The meat to bun ratio was on-point. The buns were clearly freshly steamed, all soft, plump and fluffy encasing a center of nicely mixed sweet and savory honey-glazed barbecue pork.
Most of the dishes weren’t memorable and not on par in terms of taste and quality as their Hong Kong counterparts, but satisfying. For a food court meal, it was outstanding. I wouldn’t complain if the meal came out to a justifiable price but unfortunately it did not. I still do not understand how the bill came out to be 450RMB for two people eating your run-of-the-mill dimsum dishes at a communal dining area. We didn’t even order drinks.
For ~$75USD dollars, I could’ve gone to Lei Garden downstairs. Heck, I could’ve gone to Ah Yut Abalone Restaurant for an all-round perfect dimsum meal. I guess I can’t say I would come back here again even if I am in the area.
Tasty Congee, see you next time in Hong Kong.