My family had a delicious meal at China Blue. The food and presentation is homestyle and reminds me of being back in Shanghai. The restaurant is spacious, tastefully appointed, with dark wood, subdued hues and lighting.
The restaurant was very peaceful at 5:30pm and progressively became louder and louder, and by 7pm was very noisy. Jazzy music was playing in the background,
Service was friendly and solicitous at 5:30pm. But as diners filed in, service became spotty, harried and scattered. Our waters were refilled sporadically, we chased down waitstaff for tea we ordered. Waiters who looked so crisp at the beginning of the evening, looked overwhelmed. I'm not sure if it's because of the holidays (Christmas day), or if they are understaffed or if it's growing pains, but don't expect attentive service once the restaurant is full.
The food was very, very good.
Drunken chicken had a beautiful texture, silky meat, fragrant.
Kaofu was a solid rendition, much less greasy than many other places.
Shrimp shumai was excellent, chunks of shrimp that were distinct and tender.
We tried both the pork and crab xiao long bao and both were thin skinned, with rich mouthfeel in the broth, very well executed.
Loofah with bean curd puff was perfectly cooked, refreshing and light.
Snow pea shoot was delicious. The snow pea shoot itself was fantastic, really tender with slight crispness and very fresh, but the garlic was a little roughly chopped.
Fermented tofu flavored pork was standout. The texture of the meat was pillowy, smooth, satiny, and full of flavor.
Lion's head with crab was well prepared, the meatball is very soft and there were no complaints but we all prefer red cooked lion's head with Chinese cabbage. Also, it's only one meatball, and not particularly big.
Dongpo pork was standout. Again, the texture was superb, absolutely creamy and very clean, rich pork flavor. It comes with excellent lotus buns and the combination is... for those whose only reference for lotus buns are Momofuku Noodle, China Blue's dongpo rou make's Momofuku's pork belly buns seem like food you'd get out of a vending machine or in coach class on American Airlines. My only complaint is that you should get 4 lotus buns instead of 3, when there is enough meat to generously fill four.
The West Lake vinegar fish was very fresh, the flesh was tender and firm, skillfully prepared. The sauce was a little less gloppy and not as sweet as some of the others, more restrained.
I had some issues with the sesame rice balls, the rice wasn't quite soft enough and didn't have enough chew/glutinous quality. The soup itself was delicious, although a bit too sweet.
The red bean puffs are quite delicious, nuttiness from the coating of black sesame, but the puff is a bit too big and domed. The filling to pastry ratio is a little off.
We ordered they jasmine tea, and it is a bit too bitter, I would not recommend it.
It was very cold today and the restaurant was a comfortable temperature but cool enough where the dishes cooled rather quickly. Many Shanghainese dishes have sauces that congeal when cooled so eating quickly makes the food more enjoyable.