I wrote off this Shanghainese place after a disappointing meal (in particular kaofu was too sweet, and didn't have much star anise flavour) there about 6 months ago, but after hearing good things about it from a Beijing friend and reading a mention from Da Wei on these board, I decided to give it another whirl. Did much better this time.
Xiao long bao was better than Taiwan Cafe's middle-of-the-road version. The filing was tastier, had a bit more soup, and a more generous meat filling made for a better meat/dough balance. One could wish for more delicate skins on these dumplings, but overall, it's a good version and I would probably return for them.
Small plates of cold dishes are common in Shanghai cuisine, and I opted for a plate of baby bamboo shoots here. They're cooked just nicely to a snappy crunch and tossed in an even-handed sauce that probably consists of soy sauce, sesame oil and a dash of sugar.
On my way to Chinatown, I snagged an amarena zeppole from Modern after an excellent sfogliatelle at Napoli. Good stuff -- got it filled with ricotta (the same filling they use for their cannolis) for a nice rich and slightly chalky texture that plays off very well against the light application of tart cheery cherry preserve. The best part though, was the zeppole shell, made of a similar stuff from the familiar profiteroles and other choix pastries. But this one is an exceptional chow experience because of the way it's swirled into a ring with ridges and spikes -- these give a texture a varied landscape, the thiner spikes crunchier, the flater ridges more given to the wafery softness.
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