The search for dandan noodles brought me back to try the soupy style that looked so good my first time here. The version here is a big bowl for $6 with thin chewy noodles. The garlicky broth has a hint of sweetness and is slightly thickened. Some red oil floats on top, but its not nearly as fiery as a traditional style. I didnt see any peanuts, but theres a background taste of roasted nuts (sesame, peanuts?) and an almost creamy richness on the palate that a spoonful of nut paste in the sauce/soup might lend. Theres also fermented brown bean paste in the mix and red chili sauce. The chopped pork has a chewy texture with bits of fat. The bowl was topped with minced scallions but no cucumbers. Again, the flavor of Sichuan peppercorns was almost nonexistent and the smoky nuance of dried Sichuan chili peppers was also absent. This serving was big enough to satisfy two light eaters people for lunch. A nice meal, but not the dandan noodles of my dreams.
On another visit I tried the small steamed dumplings with crab as a follow-up to my first encounter with the very good xiao long bao (aka soup dumplings) here. This version has a filling of pork with crab meat and roe, eight for $11. The wrappers are still tender and thin and the juices, flavorful and sweet. This time I had only three gushers, one dribbler, and four drywells. At that price, Id expect a higher hit rate.
This was the venue for a Chowhound dinner a few months ago that passed unreported. What other dishes do you like at Old Shanghai?