Well, Shanghai Dumpling House had a line out the door, so rather than waiting in the rain, my small group decided to take a stroll down Balboa in search of another Chinese restaurant.
Walked one block to Tai San (on Balboa btwn 35th & 36th Avenues) which has only about 7-8 tables and the clientele is 100% Chinese.
The walls are covered with the usual Chinese menu selections (written in Chinese only) and they're a better choice than what's on the munu that's handed to you (who woulda thunk it?).
Asked the waitress what the house specialties were and went with these:
1) Salt & Pepper Short Ribs (sorta like Korean Kal Bi except deep fried a bit rather than BBQ)
2) Deep Fried Tofu squares with jalapeno peppers, salted fish, and green onions.
3) Chinese broccoli with garlic
I must say that the food was better than many of the other more established Chinese restaurants I'v been to. Everything was cooked perfectly, especially the tofu: it was crispy on the outside but very very soft on the inside (like it was melting in your mouth). The salted fish added a nice touch of flavoring.
So if you're in the neighborhood and don't want to wait for a table at Shanghai Dumpling House, this place may be the type of Chinese restaurant you've been looking for.