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Dinner at Shanghai East in San Mateo

Liz | Jul 30, 200502:38 AM

My family and I had dinner at Shanghai East Restaurant in San Mateo tonight.

We enjoyed green onion pancake, peanuts with small dry fish, xiao long bao, crispy eel, Shanghai chow mein, and meatball casserole.

The green onion pancake was crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, with lots of green onion to give it good flavor. The peanuts with small dry fish was addictive: plain old skin-on dry peanuts covered with a slightly sticky, sweetish coating and mixed with a sprinkling of small (about 3/8-inch-long dry fish). The sticky coating made them much easier to pick up with chopsticks. The mixture of peanut with sweet and fishy flavors made us think of our favorite Vietnamese dishes, though the balance was completely different. My husband wants to bring them to the ballpark for a game day snack one day. The xiao long bao had a thin wrapper, nicely balanced filling, and generous amount of soup. They came on paper rather than cabbage leaves, though, a bad thing in my book, because they stick less on the cabbage leaves and I like to eat the cabbage leaves. Even so, none broke, and that’s a good thing.

The crispy eel seemed to be baby eel (no more than two inches long) deep fried and served in a brown sauce. We all enjoyed them. My six-year-old daughter pronounced them delicioso. The Shanghai chow mein was good, if fairly standard issue. It is tasy, filling, and less oily than the version served at Shanghai Dumpling House. By the time the meatball casserole (aka lion’s head soup) arrived, my husband and I were both stuffed and our kids were both asleep, so we didn’t do more than pick at it lethargically. The broth was strongly flavored and seemed to rely less on MSG than does the version at Shanghai Dumpling House. There were lots of noodles and cabbage. I didn’t taste a meatball.

Service was attentive and friendly, even though they were packed. When our server noticed how much food we had left over he asked whether everything had been acceptable. I told him it had all been delicious; we had just ordered too much. He replied, “Thank you. The portions are large. Lunch for tomorrow!,” and boxed it all up for us. Portions ARE large. The only things we finished were the green onion pancake and the xiao long bao. More than half of everything else came home with us.

Total for all this food plus two Tsing Taos and two Sprites plus tax and tip came to about $60.00.

I didn’t count while I was there, but from memory I’m guessing that seating includes about eight 2 tops, two 4 tops, and four or five banquet tables that seat 10 apiece.

105 W 25th St
San Mateo, CA.

About 1-1/2 blocks west of El Camino Real.

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