Driving back down to Santa Cruz on Saturday night, Barbara and I stopped in at the Grandview Restaurant in Burlingame. This Hubei/Shanghai/Sichuan place was mentioned on Chowhound back in April and May, but was closed the last time we went by.
It was around 9 pm and they were "out of" the Shanghai Style Braised Grass Carp Tail, and it was "too late" for the Hubei Style Lotus Root and Sparerib Soup. So we ended up ordering:
Preserved Mustard Greens with Lima Bean and Tofu Skin - although we'd already eaten this earlier in the day at Jai Yun, I usually order this favorite as a marker of the stylistic leanings of a Shanghai-ish kitchen (kind of like how I always order a taco Al Pastor at a new taqueria). The tofu skins were tender, lima beans fresh-tasting and not overcooked, but preserved greens looked much more preserved than green. This presentation was a little more "wet" and the broth had a very delicate and not too salty flavor.
Steamed Sea Bass with Spicy Ground Soybeans - asked them to make it extra spicy. Came out moderately spiced with a very interesting almost sweet hot oil paste. Barbara and I couldn't tell if the fish was slightly oversteamed, but the sauce was good enough for me to lick the plate clean. At $16.50 this was one of the more expensive dishes on an otherwise moderately priced menu.
Hubei Seasoned Rice Powder with Spareribs - to satiate that "what is Hubei food?" curiosity. Didn't notice anything particularly Hubei about it at the time, but I was also pretty full by the time it came out (the dishes came out about 15 minutes apart from each other). Bowl of rib pieces steamed in rice powder, with sweet potato slivers. A little more dense than other versions of this dish that I've tried. Pretty much ate a bit then got the rest to go.
I'd been listening to the owner? (Jack?) discuss Shanghai style cuisine with the banquet at the other side of the room for a good half-hour, when the other host (his sister?) came over to the table. We talked for little bit- she recommended the:
Grandview's Original Eight Treasures Sweet Rice Cake - for desert. It was good! Black rice steamed with red bean paste and dried fruit. Fully satisfying, not too sweet. She says ship them frozen and sell them in large quantities special order. Shanghai style deserts seem to be a specialty here.
On the way out, I asked her what the characteristics of Hubei food are. She said "lamb or freshwater fish, sometimes hot and spicy influence from Sichuan, also roots, like lotus root". Other specialties include certain type of noodles, and she mentioned that they've recently started offering Hubei-style dim sum (with Shanghai-style dim sum) on Sat and Sun from 11-2pm.
I'm definitely going back to check out more of the menu. Owners were very, very friedly and happy to discuss the food (much more so than the waiter), and they're totally fluent in English and have made a real effort to make the menu accessible to non-Chinese readers.
Hubei dim sum anyone?
1107 Howard Ave.
tel: (650) 348-3888