Updated: Mar 11, 2022
“Food from the heart always tastes better.” Meet Lan Sun, a woman true to heart and owner of Shanghai Alley Gourmet, one of Downtown Oakville’s newest and quaintest restaurants. “When you cook with love, the food just naturally tastes better. It’s rather magical!”
Shanghai Alley Gourmet opened in March and offers Pan-Asian cuisine the healthy way. Their menu includes a wide variety of options, and the emphasis is on the use of all fresh ingredients. “We make everything from scratch, using only the highest quality natural and local ingredients, to ensure our dishes are always as fresh as can be. We don’t believe in MSG or additives.” Their methods of cooking such as grilling, steaming, and stewing also ensure that the flavour and nutritional value is retained. Translation: all-things-yummy! “While quality is so important, I’m equally as passionate about the presentation of the food on the plate. An artful plate of food always seems to enhance the taste. I want my guests to remember everything about my food; the taste, the smell, and the style.”
Lan has a passion for introducing new food concepts to customers in subtle and interesting ways, which is one of the things that inspired her to open Shanghai Alley Gourmet. “I would often try new and unique ways of creating, preparing (from scratch), and presenting different dishes at my son’s restaurant. Eventually, I came up with my own signature dumpling collection; each specialty dumpling has its own natural ingredients and flavors. This is what led to me crafting my own recipe book, and eventually opening my restaurant.”
Downtown Oakville was a match made in heaven for her. “The location made the most sense as there aren’t any restaurants that offer what’s on my menu, which also gives me the perfect opportunity to stamp my identity on this gourmet cuisine!” What Lan loves most about the Downtown is the amazing people and their incredible support, and the strong sense of pride in the community, customers, and business owners alike. “I love the feeling I get when I’m here…the intimacy, the small businesses, the support local, our Towne Square hub…it all feels so European.”
At Shanghai Alley Gourmet, you can savour authentic traditional Shanghainese-style cuisines such as Sang Ji Bao, Xiao Long Bao, and Yangchun Noodles as well as traditional Dim Sum. The chef is also happy to accommodate any dietary needs and there are many delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes on their menu that will surprise, delight, and excite your taste. And, not to be missed: their café juice bar offers a wide variety of freshly made juices - all healthy and refreshing choices.
Born and raised in Shanghai, Lan moved to Canada in 2012. Lan grew up in one of the ‘lane houses’ of Shanghai – an English term for the Shanghainese ‘shikumen’, small clusters of three-story terrace houses built around the city in the early 20th century. They incorporated both Chinese and Western influences in their construction, showing the international influence within Shanghai at the time. Walking down the lane from the street-side entrance, there were smaller, narrower lanes on either side which housed the apartments, hence the English term, lane houses. “The name Shanghai Alley Gourmet was the perfect way for me to capture these memories. Our food is not old-fashioned Chinese food; rather, our menu offers a great balance - a hint of traditional with a modern twist. It’s like East meets West – a perfect blend of Asian and European cuisines.”
What most don’t know about Lan is that in her free time she adores ballroom dancing. She began dancing 6 years ago and has started dancing competitively throughout Europe and North America as part of the Arthur Murray Dance community with her dance partner, who is a World Champion several times over! Be it Salsa, the Cha Cha, or Tango, Lan has first-hand knowledge and is trained in all the hot Latin dance styles and moves!
So, be sure to get out and enjoy some Asian fusion, spiked with flare, in the heart of Downtown Oakville. Visit Shanghai Alley Gourmet and experience the elegance of old Shanghai with a modern twist. Oh, and by the way, they have Happy Hour specials Mondays to Thursdays from 1:30-3:30 pm!
Shanghai Alley Gourmet is located at 191 Lakeshore Road East. You can also check them out on Instagram @shanghaialley or online www.shanghaialley.ca.
Photo Credit: Vlad Lunin