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Killer Shanghainese in Highland Park

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Killer Shanghainese in Highland Park

Mao | May 9, 2002 10:03 PM

OK, let’s start the confession: I like, but am not the world’s biggest fan of, Shanghainese food. Its sort of homey and plain in the pantheon of Chinese regional possibilities. Given the choice, I am in Hong Kong chowing on Cantonese prepared fresh fish. That said, I can appreciate New Green Bo’s virtues enough to know that they serve up some real good stuff. I also have eaten more Shanghainese food than most Westerners, only because my roommate in graduate school was from Shanghai, and I ate leftovers of the stuff virtually every other day. I have now been twice to this place in Highland Park called Shanghai Park (Da qian mei shi lin) if you want to know the Chinese (239 Raritan Ave). The second time was last Saturday with two good friends from Shanghai.

Anyone entering the joint should be forewarned that there are 2 kitchens here: devil kitchen and angel kitchen. Enter heaven or hell. Hell produces dishes like Roast Pork Egg Foo Young, Moo Shoo pork and any pseudo-Szechuanese dish you would like (as part of your lunch special-white rice or brown rice?!) when requested. Don’t go there! Then there is this kitchen that offers up dishes shown under the Shanghai style section of the menu. GO THERE. Like New Green Bo, before you even enter the restaurant, you can see one of the women who owns the place making the meat mixture for Xiaolong Bao (Hsiao-lung Bao). These must be ordered. They are so spot on, and just RIGHT, down to the scallioned vinegar they serve with them. Almost anything and everything else I have had from the Shanghainese section of the menu is fabulous and the real deal. Yummy. The jellyfish is slightly over salted, but wonderful. The noodles and soups excellent. I have only been twice, but it’s the only decent and authentic Chinese I have found in the area in Mercer or Somerset counties. When I was there, there were no non Chinese in the joint, and everyone was speaking Shanghainese. I am heading back as soon as I am down in Central Jersey again. Time will tell if its in the same league as New Green Bo. Initial impressions are rather definitively yes.

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