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Little Shanghai San Mateo dinner report


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Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area Dinner

Little Shanghai San Mateo dinner report

K K | | Jun 20, 2008 10:35 AM

Tried this place last night with family, and first time dine-in. A previous take-out experience wasn't bad either but not as mindblowing as sit down dinner.

1) Shung Fung Er - nice way to re-label pig's ear. Giant slices but thin. Lightly crispy but smooth. Heavy hints of soy sauce, but not salty, but even heavier was the sesame paste marination (a different interpretation that I am used to) which gave it a peanut butter like feel. Big plate so we had leftovers. This was the cilantro version, supposedly not spicy but they did add some pepper to it. I believe they have a very very spicy version of this.
So far the best pig's ear cold appetizer I've had is at Every Beijing, but sadly they make it too spicy by default for some.

2) Yen Du Xien - claypot soup with bow tie tofu skin, salted pork belly, bamboo shoots. I've been pretty disappointed with a lot of renditions, and the last good one I had was Su Hong in Palo Alto. I dare say LS did the best one and even topped theirs and definitely trumped Joy in Foster City. The soup was unbelieveably good (arguably from the cured/salted pork belly and bones that gave it a good hint of smokey) and had a creamier texture than most other versions. The salted pork belly was not salty either, and it was like Dong Bor Rou melt in your mouth goodness (but in soup and not stewed/fried/steamed). A+++.

3) Xiao Long Bao - I took a bite of the first piece, and ate about half of it. Stared at my spoon for a sec and noticed a 4 inch hair sticking out of the pork (good thing I did not eat the whole thing in one bite). Showed the waiter who took away my spoon and notified the folks behind the counter. Immediately they took away the remaining XLB (without apology) and proceeded to have the kitchen re-do the order. Perhaps it is a cultural thing that they don't show admission of guilt per se (and this can be debated to death) and show actions rather than words. Luckily mom's XLB from the intiial batch was hairless. And lucky for me the hair was not the "other" kind, so let's leave it at that. We got our re-do order about 3/4 of the way through the meal, and without hesistation I dug in as if nothing happened. The skins were maybe a micron-ish thick but the overall experience was excellent and now Shanghai East up the street is totally forgettable (even if they make it a bit more refined and a little smaller in appearance). Simple broth/soup on the inside that was just right and not fatty or greasy, but not flavorless either. So much tastier after dipping in black vinegar. I still think Su Hong Palo Alto does a better rendition, but for San Mateo I have to say this is the best (yes better than Happy Cafe).

4) Ji Kuo Hwei Mien - chicken and salted ham noodle soup, bottom line. Absolutely nothing like the versions in Hong Kong where the noodle is soggy and absorbed the broth of the soup and where bak choy is finely diced to pair with small chicken cubes. But LS's version had a nice broth, pretty decent noodles. Had we not ordered the YDX, this chicken broth would have been great on its own.

5) Bamboo, dried tofu strips, and julienne pork stir fried - great rendition. They have another version stir fried with yellow chive instead of bamboo for $1 or so more. But this was good enough.

Way more than enough food for 3 adults and 1 young 'un, so there were lots of leftovers.

Other than the hairy XLB which was forgiveable due to the quality of the food, I like this place enough to come back again, especially since some of the standards were done very nicely.

And which is also why I'm curious how this place stacks up with Sunny Shanghai.

LS has two menus. One 2 pager that is cold appetizers, northern "dim sum" and noodle/rice dishes. "dim sum" section mentions nothing about which items are weekends only. The other menu is the standard one which explains the cuisine of the restaurant (nothing in English that I recall) on the first page, then all the other dishes. Some items categorized as Shanghainese, some as Jiangsu.