- Capital Eats
- Bitten by the Bite & Bite bug
Bitten by the Bite & Bite bug
Savoury buns and more.
Name + address: Bite & Bite Shanghai Fried Bun, 1465 Merivale Rd.
Type of food: Chinese
Diet: Everything has meat
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes (one step up)
It was a happy accident that I stumbled upon Bite & Bite. Another restaurant was my destination that afternoon but when that didn’t work out, I went exploring.
Bite and Bite Shanghai Fried Bun opened in that same Merivale mall last October. It’s the site of several other Asian eateries that have come and gone but I have a feeling that this restaurant will be with us for years to come.
It’s a small, charming restaurant that seats approximately 18. The menu is modest but once you’ve tried their food, you’ll be back for the rest of what they offer.
Sixi braised wheat gluten. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
On one wall a chalkboard listing any specials they have that day. I did start with the Sixi braised wheat gluten as I was feeling in the mood for something a little out of the ordinary.
It’s a salad served cold and consists of wood ear fungus, shitake mushroom, lotus flower shoots and cubes of wheat gluten. All of it comes braised in a sweet and savoury dressing of soy with hints of five spice seasoning. It was an interesting exercise in textural contrasts as all ingredients had their own profile. The slight crunch of wood ear, the tenderness of slippery lotus shoot and the fleshy chew of gluten and shitake rounding out this appetizer experience.
Shanghai buns. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
But it was the Sheng Jian Bao that I was looking forward to. The name refers to “raw” dumplings and “raw” in this context means not steamed before frying.
The service here is very quick and within minutes four buns ($8) were inviting me to take a bite.
Properly bitten bun. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
In case you’re new to this pork filled pastry, Bite & Bite provides instructions on how to eat these treats safely. You’re advised to take a small bite as the soup filling is lava hot. Let it cool a little and then drink the broth. The remaining seasoned ground pork is magnificent and moist and the pastry makes for a convenient vessel.
Chili soy paste noodle soup. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
You can always win me over with a well-done Asian noodle soup and at Bite & Bite they go the distance in giving customers their best: the chicken broth for all their soups is made from scratch.
Yet what’s the point if the additions are substandard? They also go one better by having the noodles made to their specifications.
I had a rather large bowl ($15) of chili and soy paste noodle soup that came with firm marinated cubes of tofu and tender pork. These had then been braised causing them to become little flavour bombs with every bite.
I respect the efficiency of the kitchen because everything came to the table shortly after ordering.
The tofu and pork for example had been added at fridge temperature suggesting that these had been pre-cooked and then added to the hot broth. By the time a couple of minutes had passed all ingredients were at the right temperature and the broth was now safe to consume.
Before leaving I ordered the dry scallion noodles as takeaway. You’ve likely had these fried wheat noodles at dim sum but here the execution was a little different. It consisted of the same noodles as in the soup but the sweetish soy dressing was saucier and the scallions deliciously charred.
The sad reality was that these noodles didn’t travel well and were a bit of a clumped and overly soft mess when I reheated them at home. Lesson learned.
Yet that’s what makes an education like this so satisfying — you’ll need to go back again and again. At Bite & Bite this kind of learning is no hardship at all.