Stan, you wrote a few days ago that you tried the same fish in chile sauce dish at Hua's Garden, Meilong Village, and King's Palace. You wrote:
"The dishes at King's Palace and Mei Long Village were very straightforward, and gave the impression that they could be whipped together in a couple of minutes. (In fact at Mei Long Village it seemed more like thirty seconds between my order and the food appearing in front of me.) The dish at Hua's Garden, by contrast, was a complex and dangerous scary-red soup with some ingredients I couldn't identify along with the fish. It was scaldingly hot and took a long time and much care to eat."
It might be useful to note that King's Palace and Mei Long Village are Shanghai places, and that Hua's Garden is a Yunnan/Sichuan place. Hua's Garden's cuisine is the multi-flavored complicated spicy stuff. Mei Long is much better at quiet, single-prepared-note stuff - like a pork/crab broth that hits a single note of sweet and deep.
So I think you were hitting King's Palace and Mei Long in an off place - like comparing the spaghetti puttanesca at two Parisian (sp?) restaurants with a Southern Italian joints'. I mean it - Shanghai is a lot more like Parisienne (sp?) cooking, I think - concentration on fat-based flavors, slow savory flavors. Hua's Garden's stuff is a lot more like Mediterranean - loads of high, bright flavors singing in harmony. Mei Long you might be better suited by braised greens, crab soups, etc. Not the chile stuff. Shanghainese, I think, get spice about as badly as the Parisssiens. (Have I gone through every possible spelling?)
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