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A great education in Shanghai cuisine at New Joe Shanghai (long)

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A great education in Shanghai cuisine at New Joe Shanghai (long)

Julie | Apr 10, 2003 01:29 PM

It's time to give major thanks to Jian Xu, who together with Cathy (Phantom Violist) was the driving force behind last night’s delicious dinner at New Joe Shanghai, at 915 Arch St. in Philly.

The lucky 13 Chowhounds who attended this event were regaled with items from the following menu. I’ve annotated with post-meal comments:

Starters (except for the soup dumplings, all were cold appetizers):
- soup dumplings, one steamer with pork and the other with pork and crab (delicious, although some Shanghai experts found the dumplings a little too big to be able to eat gracefully)
- smoked fish (excellent)
- vegetarian duck (a very interesting little cake made of many layers of tofu skin wrapped around a filling of mushrooms)
- kaufu (wheat gluten, similar to dried tofu, in a light sauce)
- jellyfish salad (a new experience for me--I could taste the sauce, but to me the jellyfish itself was more texture than taste)
- drunken chicken (very light and delicate)
- braised sliced beef (thin slices of pressed beef, lightly flavored with no sauce)
- soy marinated crab (hey, I never got this one! Someone else talk about it!)

- yellow fish with snow vegetable soup (a big hit around the table, with a lovely slightly sour flavor to the broth – watch out for bones)

Entrees:
- braised pork shoulder (probably the evening’s best-loved dish – super-tender pork with a thick barbecue sauce)
- Lion's head (meatballs made from pork, which then appeared to be deep fried and covered in a salty sauce – our Shanghai experts gave these a thumbs down for inauthenticity; I thought the best taste on this plate came from the braised baby bok choi that came alongside the meatballs)
- mei tsai (fresh bacon with preserved vegetable – I was a little afraid of this since it was basically fresh pork fat, but the general consensus was high praise for this one)
- braised carp belly (delicious, super-tender carp in brown sauce – again, be careful of bones)
- crispy duck (well-executed with a nice crispy skin, and not the least bit dried out, as sometimes happens with this dish)
- clam with beer sauce (served in a clay pot with a light “drunken” sauce - another major thumbs up from the whole group)
- eggplant with garlic sauce (a familiar dish for many, well made here)
- sauteed pea shoots (super pea flavor, a very light and spring-like dish)
- shredded eel with yellow chives (everyone took a taste, but the consensus was that the fish taste was overpowering – the use of frozen eel was a no-no)

Incredibly, the per-person charge for this BYOB dinner was a shockingly low $17 – tax and tip included. The restaurant staff were extremely friendly, patiently answering questions, fetching endless fresh plates for all of us, and responding to every request promptly and with good humor. This dinner was a real pleasure for me, as well as a great learning experience. I hope to replicate it again soon with experts in other cuisines!

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