Oh what a difference! Asking for the Chinese Menu resulted in amazing service (not condescending at all), great recommendations, and some amazing food.
First, the Crab and Pork Juicy Buns ($5.95 for 6) Steamed, full of luscious soup with deep flavor, lovely crab/pork/veggie mix. Dangerous to eat for the unwary, but I managed just fine to nip a corner while sucking slightly, and also being careful not to get too much hot soup in my mouth at once. 10 on a scale of 1-10 for authentic, and almost too good to be true.
Our timid friends ordered steamed dumplings from the American menu--big mistake. Really bad.
Their soup for two however, Shanghai Wanton soup with seaweed I think, was even better than ours: shredded cabbage with pork and tofu. Too bland.
I missed the price on our friend's shrimp dish in some sort of lemony sauce, but it was fab, even when I got to have my cold taste after they were done.
Left the best for last. Have you ever heard of "middle fish"? I didn't know you could order the tail, middle or head of this huge fish, which no one in the place could give an American name for. Anyway, it was the best fish dish I have eaten, by far. Not like any fish I ever ate before. Sauce was great--but the fish itself, three huge slabs, was succulent, moist, soft, and not at all fishy. Apparently it is a fish that Asians relish, but American's know nothing about. Looked a tad like swordfish, but far juicier; a melt-in-your-mouth quality that I did not tire of. $11.95!
Husband's dish off the American menu--chicken with garlic sauce was OK, but the Chinese menu is THE way to go. And, the dishes on each menu were totally different.
Decor is lovely, but the service is the other aspect that set this place apart. Leisurely service, because that was what I asked for.
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